MINIS TO IRELAND 21st – 28th September 2017
After the great success of Minis to Ireland in 2013 and 2015 the MCR returned to the fabulous roads of Ireland for the 2017 run. We will be headed up to Sligo in the north west for a three night stop then heading south to Connamara for two nights at the superb Renvyle House Hotel where the food is exquisite and the location superb.
Day 1 the morning of the off after breakfast, saw 40 international crews from six countries line up in car number order and depart the hotel car park at 30 second intervals. We took short route for the first overnight stop to the superb Ferrycarrig Hotel in Wexford. Food and drink a plenty and the first of many local Guinness’s.
Day 2 was a route from Wexford to Sligo and it was eyes peeled for the fiercely competitive route master questions – a bit of a treasure hunt from the seat of your Mini and it’s a tester. You certainly need to stop or crawl by some of the clues if you want to stand a chance of getting the correct. The excellently put together Roadbook Minis in their element on Irish country roads with questions and answers for everyone to join in the fun. The day’s route took us past Avoca (as in the Ballykissangel TV series) over the picturesque Wicklow Mountains, and within a few hours we had a chance to blast along a classic Circuit of Ireland stage where we witnessed hand cutting of peat in numerous peat bogs. This was certainly a very rural part of the Emerald Isle.
By the end of day 2 it became apparent to the ‘Minis to Ireland’ virgins that this 40 strong army of Minis marches on its stomach with plenty of coffee stops, followed by plenty of resulting toilet stops!
Day 3 was a circular run which took us briefly into Northern Ireland and along some of the rally stages of the famous Circuit of Ireland rally, as well as the start of a World Rally stage, not to mention several stunning Lochs or Lough’s as the Irish call them including, Loughs Gill, Allen and Erne.
Now, whilst all the cars were thankfully running trouble-free, some of the roads were difficult for some of the drivers to negotiate or manoeuvre around. It’s not easy to do a three point turn when your co driver lets you miss a junction.
Day 4 started with a drive by the spectacular Benbulin Mountains as part of another very interesting and challenging circular route from Sligo, heading North and hugging the coast past Mullaghmore Head, once the residence of Lord Mountbatten. Then it was way west to Killy Pegs, returning via another Circuit of Ireland rally stage. After lunch the route went along another Circuit of Ireland stage and past Lough Eske, before travelling through Dungel and onto Ballyshannon and back to the Hotel in Sligo. The diary stated ‘Day four – views both on land and sea were simply spectacular’.
Day 5 saw us pack up and travel out of Sligo heading for Connemara across the Black River and via Bellmullet and West Port to Renvyle. As we left, the early morning mist with the sun starting to burn through was almost mystical, and the closer we drove to Connemara the more jaw dropping the scenery became. Then the tour took us along more Circuit of Ireland stages. As we arrived in Renvyle, we witnessed a cow being towed through the freezing water from a small Island called Shanvallybeg, by a farmer in a rowing boat. You could only see this sort of cattle movement in Ireland! Here we were booked in at The Renvyle Hotel – a bucket list must visit for its culinary experience, and our first evening meal at the hotel was double tops in terms of choice, service and gastronomic quality.
Day 6 was a circular route from the Renvyle Hotel but, with no morning coffee stop evident in the itinerary, there was almost a riot by those who had become accustomed to their mid morning fix. No Costa coffees, but plenty of Minis pulled off into small villages for their morning fix. The Roadbook route then took us over the Partry Mountains, Lough Mash and onto another stage of the famous Circuit of Ireland.
After lunch, whilst on a Circuit of Ireland stage, we came to the top of an incline and were met by a menacing flock of Irish big horned sheep with nerves of steel. Slowly all crews made it past.
Day 7 was a great drive from Renvyle to Wexford across the mighty River Shannon. The route was not quite as interesting as previous days but, to be fair, we were now heading home from Connemara to Wexford via a particularly nice, if not wet, Circuit of Ireland stage.
Day 8 was a final short run from Wexford to the Rosslare Ferry Port, and a final chance to catch up and reminisce on the week’s adventures whilst on the ferry. Once we disembarked it was time to head for home and it was every man, woman and Mini for themselves.
One thing we particularly enjoyed about the Minis to Ireland tour was the great roads and accuracy of the Roadbook.
The event witnessed friendships being made amongst the Mini family from the start in Fishguard and the end of the tour a week later. Everyone’s aim seemed to be to have fun and keeping all the Minis rolling until we got to the return ferry home. The fact that all 40 cars made the finished is a miracle because, by day 8, the cars were all carrying more kilos and straining at the weight following all those coffee and cake stops! We did manage to find an unnamed pub, in an unnamed village, with no front door and no license to sell Guinness which, according to local myths, sells the finest pint of Guinness in Ireland if not the World. Sorry but it’s a secret! Not sure I could find it again if I tried.
There is nothing quite like joining a Minis to Ireland non-competitive scenic car tour and quiz. This year’s route took us through lots of stunning Irish countryside, through small Irish rural villages, along spectacular roads with a few narrow ups and downs. Along the way we met several farm dogs with death wishes that certainly had their day’s exercise having chased the wheels on 40 Minis.
This was the full itinerary.
Thursday 21st September – Meet in Fishguard at 13.00 for the 14.30 sailing to Rosslare arriving at 18.00 and travel to the 4 star Ferrycarrig Hotel, Wexford.
Friday 22nd September – Leave hotel and travel via Wicklow Gap, Mullingar, Longford, Carrick-on-Shannon, Sligo to 4 star Radisson Blu and Spa Hotel. (Rosses Point)
Saturday 23rd September – Round trip, Mullaghmore, Donegal Town, Killybegs, Glencolumbkille, Glenties, Dunglow, Gweedore, Doocharry, Ballybofey, Ballyshannon, Manor Hamilton, Sligo Radisson Blu Hotel.
Sunday 24th September – Second round trip, Dromahir, Drumkeeran, Drumshanbo, Ballinagleragh, The Poorhouse, Blacklion, Belleek, Enniskillen, Ballinmore, Ballygawley, Sligo, Radisson Blu Hotel.
Monday 25th September – Leave Radisson Blu Hotel and travel via Ballina, Bellmullet, Westport, Louisburgh, Leenaun, to Renvyle House Hotel.
Tuesday 26th September – Round trip Leenaun, Toormakeady, Loch Nafooey, Maam Cross, Oughterard, Kinvarra, Carna, Cashel, Roundstone, Clifden, Cleggan, Letterfrack, Cashleen, Renvyle House Hotel.
Wednesday 27th September – Leave Renvyle House Hotel, to Recess, Maum, Cornamona, Headford, Athenry, Loughrea, Portumna, Birr, Abbeyleix, Carlow, Hacketstown, Glenmalur, Rathdrum, Arklow, Enniscorthy, Ferrycarrig Hotel, Wexford.
Thursday 28th September – Leave Hotel at 08.00 hours for Rosslare 09.00 Sailing to Fishguard.
Contact the Membership Secretary, Lesley Young, by email – firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01580 763975 for further details on our Minis to events.