In pictures: West Limerick vintage enthusiasts swap hotel rooms for cow boxes – Page 1 of 11

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DUE TO THE COST OF HOTELS, we could all do worse than copy West Limerick vintage enthusiasts who slept in cow boxes.

They left the five crossroads near Rathkeale at 9am last Friday and literally rode up and down the valley to reach Kilgarvan Fair Day in County Kerry on Sunday.

They walked paths seldom traveled crossing the Paps and Mullaghareirk mountains.

The cow boxes have all been watered, cleaned, mattresses installed and kitchen appliances installed. Indeed, they look much nicer than many one bedroom apartments in Dublin! They camped with friends along the way. The idea for the refreshed cow boxes came from a man in Northern Ireland who stopped driving and stayed in his cattle box whenever he and his wife didn’t get along. But in this case, it was purely for the sense of adventure.

The cow crates were towed by vintage vehicles including Ferguson 20s, Ferguson 35x’s, 1948 Land Rovers, Volkswagen motorhomes and Ford Escort Mark 1s.

The unique trip was entirely due to 70-year-old Tom Clifford from Rathkeale. Tom suggested to Bill Conroy that he would like to do a vintage tour on the Ring of Kerry. But Bill said it was not suitable because there were so many tourists. They were invited to Kilgarvan and decided to take an equally scenic but much quieter route.

Among the guests – many of whom came from the farming community – were Tom, Bill, Edward Ruttle, George Shorten, Michael Cremin, John Shaughnessy and two ladies, Mary Angela Downes and Leonara O’Sullivan. Some got off at Kilgarvan on Sunday but the majority traveled at a much slower pace.

Among the places they passed were Ballydesmond, Rockchapel, Brosna, Rathmore. Headfort, Barraduff, Ballinvourney to name but a few. They didn’t use google maps – in fact, there may have been no signal. They received local guides through the mountains and the forest. At some stages it was over 2,000 feet high on rarely traveled paths.

The cavalcade was even suspected of stealing sheep at one point because of the cow boxes! But after locals realized everything was overboard on board and the cow boxes were just for boarding, they bought the West Limerick band a few drinks in the pub that night.

They arrived in Kilgarvan without a single breakdown. Tom and his friends were given a hero’s welcome and settled next to the cemetery and the dance hall. They were back in Rathkeale on Monday evening.

Bill, who credits Tom and the rest of the group with all the credit for their adventure, said it was an “outstanding weekend”.

“We met some lovely people in Kerry. Everyone was so hospitable. We were at Mount Eagle Wind Farm and people don’t appreciate the beauty around the corner. Tom Clifford said the Mullaghareirks were “like the Amazon”. It was a great few days,” Bill said.

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