One of the most significant artefacts of Irish history will be the star attraction at this year’s annual show of the Clonmel Vintage and Classic Car Club which will take place this Sunday, May 6.
Sliabh na mBan, the armoured Rolls Royce that carried the dead body of Michael Collins following his shooting dead in Béal na mBláth in August 1922 will be the highlight and unrivalled attraction at this year’s event which is in its third year. Sliabh na mBan was the only armoured vehicle in the convoy of four that was ambushed as Collins, who was the commander-in-chief of the National Army, travelled into anti-Treaty territory during the Civil War of the time. It was said that Collins refused to travel in this car on his journey into West Cork, but it was the Slabh na mBan that evacuated the Big Fella that day, after he received a fatal gun shot to the head.
The restored Sliabh na mBan was officially unveiled at the Curragh Camp in Kildare in September 2011 when Taoiseach Enda Kenny referred to it as a ‘silent witness’ to the turbulent foundation of the State. He said while it may be an inanimate object, ‘it speaks to us, it shouts resistance, endurance, integrity, struggle and victory’.
Sliabh na nBan is Munster-bound once again as it will go on display this Sunday when it appears at the third annual vintage and classic car display held at Powerstown Park Racecourse. The 92-year-old vehicle will be brought to Clonmel on Sunday morning and while members of the Defence Force will keep it secure over the day, the car will be started up and people will have the opportunity to see this amazing piece of our history in all its glory. Secretary of the Clonmel Vintage and Classic Car Club, Michael Murphy thanked the input of local Fine Gael TD Tom Hayes for his assistance in securing the car for the day, as well as defence minister Alan Shatter for his role also. He said that it was a wonderful vehicle to have on show on the day, and an appropriate event to showcase it.
“This will be the highlight, the first public appearance of Sliabh na mBan since its restoration, it is a truly historic vehicle,” said Mr. Murphy. Sliabh na mBan underwent extensive refurbishment in 2011 at the Defence Forces Combined Vehicle Base Workshop.
Deputy Hayes said that Sliabh na mBan occupies a special place in Irish military history and in the history of the Irish Defence Forces in particular.
“This car has seen service through three wars with three different armies and serves to illustrate a proud military tradition which is upheld to this day,” he said.
“Having been present at the assassination of one of Ireland’s leading patriots, this car has solidified its place in Irish history. I have no doubt that the people of Clonmel and the people of Tipperary will turn out in huge numbers next Sunday to see this treasure for themselves,” he said.
The annual Clonmel Vintage and Classic Car show, which is held each year to fundraise for deserving local charities has raised in excess of 40,000 over the past three years. The 2012 vintage show will raise funds for Cancer Care, the Tipperary branch of Multiple Sclerosis Ireland and Place4U. Car lovers, motoring enthusiasts, families and anyone looking for a fun and enjoyable day will be treated to an array of vintage and classic cars from the early 1900s to the 1970s, as well as a display of tractors and stationary engines. The Cortina Club of Ireland, which celebrates 50 years, will also be in attendance with a selection of their wonderful cars. And as if that wasn’t enough, a fundraising raffle will award one lucky ticket-holder with a 1969 Morris 1100. An auction of old cars will be facilitated on the day and any pre-1970 classic or vintage car can be auctioned for an entry fee of 25. One of the cars already submitted for auction is a Maxwell 1918 as well as a Rover and an Austin from the 1930s.
There is plenty for the entire family this Sunday at Powerstown with a craft fair, kiddies funfair, a number of stalls and entertainment from Banna Chluain Meala on hand. All proceeds are for local charities and a good day out for all the family is promised.
“Clonmel has had a long tradition with transport going back to Bianconi’s time and we are trying to capitalise on that,” said Mr. Murphy.
“The goal of the club is to provide a platform for our members to enjoy all aspects of vintage motors and raise money for charity,” he added.
A veteran run on Saturday May 5 run will precede the annual show, commencing at Hotel Minella at 11am, and will be an excellent opportunity whet people’s appetites for the following day’s event.