Iconic IRA vehicles roll into Cork

Both are vehicles associated with some of the Ireland’s most turbulent times, and they made history when they arrived at separate locations in Cork yesterday.

At 6am, for the first time in 92 years, the armoured car Sliabh na mBan, which was used by Michael Collins, was parked outside the Imperial Hotel for filming for the RTÉ Cork series Great Irish Journeys, which will be broadcast next month.

The series recreates infamous Irish journeys, with celebrity presenters retracing the route taken by noted figures.

In this particular episode, John Creedon retraces the last journey taken by Collins, who left the hotel at 6am on Aug 22, 1922. He was shot dead 14 hours later at Béal na mBláth.

The programme, produced by Peter Mulryan and Colin Crowley, will examine new evidence of what happened on the day.

Meanwhile, another Rolls Royce Silver Ghost which was used by the IRA arrived in Cork after a three-year restoration undertaken by James Black, who owns a specialist restoration company in Co Antrim.

Incidentally, Mr Black also restored the Sliabh na mBan with the help of Defence Force fitters.

He drove the car down from Belfast yesterday, at speeds of up to 110km/h, to a house near Glanmire where it was reunited with the man who found its chassis.

Andrew Daly had spotted the rusted metal in a scrap yard in Waterfall in 2006 and knew it was all that was left of the famous “Moon Car” used by the IRA for a number of operations against the British.

The Rolls was built in 1919 and once owned by Oliver St John Gogarty.

After a number of events, which culminated in the shooting of a number of British soldiers in Cobh in 1924, the Free State government put up a £10,000 reward for information leading to the capture of the IRA unit.

The IRA decided the bright yellow car was too hot to handle and buried it near Donoughmore. It was discovered by the late Liam O’Callaghan in 1981, but ended up in the scrap yard before eagle-eyed Mr Daly realised what it was.

The Rolls Royce enthusiast congratulated Mr Black on the magnificent job he’d done. The car, which had a purring 7.5-litre engine, even has a Lewis machine gun of the time mounted on its side.

Mr Black said he believed the car could be worth up to €700,000 and was planning to sell it. “I’d like to see it stay in Ireland, but I have had a lot of inquiries from people in the States.”

Anybody wealthy enough to buy the car should also have a wallet big enough to fill it up — it does about 12 miles to the gallon.

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