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Ulster Pre-War Austin Club


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      A short review of the UPWAC  Donegal Weekend Run by “Winged Wheel”


Where you at the club’s weekend of the year?  If you were, then I hope you will agree with me that this was one of the highlights of the motoring year for us vintageants. If you were unable to go then I hope that I can whet your appetite with this brief account of what happened.


Firstly let me state that this event was superbly organised by Chris and Godfrey and was well up to their usual standards. The amount of effort that they put in to ensure that the event runs smoothly and like clockwork has to be seen to be believed.  They catered for everyone from the young to the not so young.  Nothing is left to chance and all we have to do is turn up on time with a handful of Euros in our pocket, a suitable car of course, and the rest is all done for us.


A total of 19 cars and 39 people participated in the event.  The majority of us started with a snack lunch at the Mellon Country Hotel which was an opportunity to renew old friendships and meet new members for the first time. It was great to see several pre-war Austins out of hibernation and being enthusiastically used in the hands of new members.  Although not part of the official run we headed off after lunch to the Tropical World Garden Centre at Letterkenny.  Here we were treated to a guided tour of exotic animals and butterflies which most of us had not seen before; it certainly is well worth a visit if you are ever in that part of the country.  Then it was a leisurely drive with hoods down to our base, the Beach Hotel in Downings. Of course we had our obligatory ice cream stop on the way into Millford.


Saturday morning was the start of the run with another fine day and we were joined by our friends from the Donegal Club.  Just before 11am Godfrey handed us our route instructions for the day.  They were so good that it was impossible to get lost, although I did try!  The standard would show many a modern motorsport club just how it should be done. I think that Godfrey had set himself a challenge, find roads that the Donegal men do not know.  I think he found roads that most of Donegal did not know existed. Within a short distance from the start he found a road with grass growing up the middle (his trademark) which pleased the Tyrone men no end, and the efforts by all to negotiate that hairpin; let’s say that caused some amusement.


After travelling up into the hills and stopping a few times to admire the spectacular views looking down over Mulroy Bay we arrived at our mid run halt at Lurgyvale cottage in Kilmacrenan at exactly our designated arrival time for 1pm for first class soup and sandwiches etc served outside in glorious sunshine.  Lunches do not come any better than this.  Then it was on to the butter making demonstration and tasting.  Finally with a quick change of clothes our demonstrator made rope making from hay look easy.  One member who cannot be named wanted to know if he could make a noose.  Strangely none of our members had ever seen either of these traditional crafts being done before!


We headed off at 2.30pm across the county taking in more scenic routes and outstanding views on quiet roads, passing Lough Glen, over to Lackagh Bridge where we had a great view of Doe Castle. We were now on the homeward straight, or at least we thought we were until we turned off into the hills again so that we could get a lovely view of Sheep Haven Bay, eventually arriving back at the hotel at 5pm. We finished the evening with a good meal, a few speeches and adjourned to the lounge to continue the banter, slagging and trying to decide whose car was the best puller on hills.  Sunday morning came all too quickly and Godfrey offered to guide those who could remain around part of the Atlantic Drive.


As usual the hotel was first class.  This family run hotel really knows how to cater for large groups with excellent service, good food and brilliant value for money.  This is the third year that we have been there and standards have not dropped, they take nothing for granted.


By: Wesley Lamont

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