AN Ennis man’s love for classic cars is the driving force behind a fundraiser for Cahercalla Hospice. Motor enthusiast David Queally has launched a brand new book titled ‘Early Motoring in Clare’ which explores vehicles registered in the county from 1904 until 1940.
As well as bringing the county’s motoring history to life, the book is also raising funds for the Ennis community hospice. David explains he had the idea for the book for some time, and he is delighted to see it come to fruition now.
“A gentleman approached me many years ago wondering if I could tell him what was the registration of his uncle’s car which he had in the 1930s. I always had an interest in old cars, ever since I was a young child, and over the years I had picked up a lot of information from older people about them.
“There are some records of cars in other counties around Ireland, but strangely enough there were no records for County Clare, so I began gathering this information.
“I was able to tell that gentleman that yes, the car was registered to his uncle. From then on, people started to ask me who owned such and such a registration. The first records of IE registrations go back a long way, so I obtained all these. people can actually look up the numbers.”
As well as detailing the early car registrations the book is a collection of early motoring photographs and anecdotes from around the country.
It contains photographs of some well known names with their cars including Lord Inchiquin and Fr Rodgers who was to become the Bishop of Killaloe. Records and photographs of old garages and hackney services in Clare also feature in the book.
“There are many photographs in the book, and the most amazing thing is a lot of the cars which feature still survive to this day,” says David.
One of these vintage cars which is still running and features in the book is a 1914 Calthrope Minor which was owned by Dr Daniel Hayes from Kilmaley.
Dr Hayes was appointed medical officcer to the Killanniv Dispensary in 1912 and served there for 52 years. The car is still in perfect running order thanks to the dedicated restoration work for present owner Pat Keenan.
“When Dr Hayes passed on the car was left in a barn attached to a house in Kilmaley for about 45 years before it was discovered and rebuilt to brilliant condition.
“One of the items in the book is a receipt that Dr Hayes received from Calthorpe Motor Supplies in Birmingham in 1927. He had been looking for spare parts for the car and they are more or less telling him in the letter that the car is so old that it is hardly worth getting spare parts for.
“To think that this is the car he did all his rounds around Kilmaley in, and the car is still running now. We have the number of it, the name of who owned it, the paperwork. That is all history to me and I think it should be recorded, it shouldn’t be lost.”
He admits when the idea for the book first came to him he thought it would have limited appeal, however he has been amazed at how well it has been received.
“This book is all about motoring, if you are not a motorhead you mightn’t look twice at it. To be honest I thought very few people would be interested. I went to a printer and said maybe I could do 50 copies for charity.
“He came back to me and said, having looked at what I had given him, that I would want to print a lot more than 50 because there is going to be interest in it. It has only been word of mouth since it’s been out but over the past week believe it or not there are nearly 50 copies sold already. I was absolutely taken aback by the interest in the book.”
David himself appears in the book, photographed behind the wheel taking part in the the Limerick Grand Prix Celebrations in 2011 as well as other motoring events.
“I’ve been involved with motorclubs in Clare, Limerick and Galway for years and I have a real love of old racing cars from the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s. I had a great opportunity to actually race a car in the celebrations that took place in Limerick and Cork to celebrate 75 years of Grand Prix which took place there in the ‘30s.
“The first Limerick Grand Prix took place in 1935 and in Cork they were held in 1936 – 1937 and 1938. I actually raced the circuits around the city centre for the 75th anniversaries and it was absolutely a super experience, it was unbelievable to see and the crowds that came out to see it were huge.”
When it came to releasing the book, David was determined that it would help raise funds for charity and he was delighted to show support for Cahercalla.
“I have always had great admiration for the work that they are doing, they are super people. Very few of us don’t know somebody who ha been cared for there, and who knows maybe we will be there ourselves some day. I worked in Ennis for 51 years and am now retired so I thought with this book it would be nice to give something back to the town and county that would be worthy and that is why I chose Cahercalla.”
So does David have plans for a sequel taking in the years after 1940?
“People have been saying it to me already, but I certainly have no plans at the moment. Like every book you write people have rang me and said if they’d have known they could have told me another little element, or they knew somebody who had something to do with it. But that always happens, you can’t always get everything in. Maybe I will revise this book sometime in the future.”