Our meeting point was the Loughrea Hotel and Spa, where our early arrivals Tony from Monkstown and Darragh from Roscahill tucked in to a hearty Irish breakfast and a good catch-up chat. Our departure was bang on time and within minutes we were well into the Slieve Aughty mountain roads. A little damp with light showers kept the pace steady. We arrived into Killaloe at 12.00 sharp and stopped for a brief photo op and to see if there were any stragglers about. Back enroute and arrived in Birdhill by 12.15. There we met Mervyn, Colin and David from Limerick. We gathered round and ordered up a fresh brew and the chat got lively around makes models, how and where they were purchased. Amazing to see how the horse trading was and is done. There was Mervyn with his Def Leppard - "Joe Elliot" Black 968 bought for his girlfriend originally. Next on the scene was Vincent and his junior Co-drivers Ciaran and Jack.
But where are the SR delegates? A few coffees later and thunder can be heard in the distance. In rolls Clive ‘The Bantry Bandit’ followed by Robert and Kieran-Linda combo, followed by Brian (the ‘Shirt’) and kids. Some Stigs wanted a chat with a few of our ould lads and this delayed them en route to Birdhill.. It’s already 13:15 and whilst difficult to be an interrupter of chat amongst great friends it was time to get moving. As the cars roared into life we set out on leg 2 for Ennis, taking in some twisty bits as we traversed to Broadford and onto Sixmilebridge, into Clarecastle and onto Ennis for a short lunch to try and buy some time back... A quick tally of men and machines revealed Mervyn was missing. Soon verified all was ok .. Anyway lunch developed into another story telling session, and desert was required by Vince & Rob before they would entertain a move out. Onto the carpark meant the customary 'under the bonnet inspection’ before the team would even contemplate leg 3.
Finally off we set for Corofin - Kilfenora and Lisdoonvarna where we lost our ‘Shirt’ (Brian) who took a more scenic route to Doolin and the Cliffs of Moher. Our official photo shot was at the top of Corkscrew Hill where it is quite evident from the pics that nobody is enjoying this blast. Again too long chatting on the hill meant we let 2 x Tour buses & some "N" drivers get between us and an epic piece of road. We struggled to reach Bell Harbour where we exited to head for Gort across the lower end of Slieve Carran. Some nice long straights allowed for a good blow out of the cats, and into Gort for a 4.45pm finish. We also released KT and Linda into the wild somewhere close to the Burren Chocolatier, the official line is that they went back to Ballyvaughan to find the ‘Shirt’ and head south. Nobody headed home empty handed.... compliments of the Burren Perfumery. I hope the whiff of the handmade Burren perfume will act as a catalyst to bring back many memorable flashbacks of the day.
It was a pleasure to have you all ‘Into the West' for the day, and may we have many more great days out together. I'm sure the rest of you were there in spirit!