EAMON de Valera’s famed black Dodge is to be returned to Clare as a tourist attraction.
Restoration work is nearly completed and the imposing car is gleaming once again — thanks to the skills of motor mechanic and county councillor, PJ Ryan.
However, Mr Ryan would like it to be displayed in a more prominent location than the room at the de Valera library.
Built in Detroit by the Chrysler Corporation Company in 1947, the car is 18ft 10” long, 6ft 3” wide and 5ft 6” in height.
Built like a tank, it wasn’t the most economical and Cllr Ryan estimates its consumption is about 10 miles to the gallon.
It can transport eight people plus the driver.
When it was first used by former President, Sean T O Ceallaigh, the vehicle was maroon but Eamon de Valera changed it to black in 1959. It also had a badge on the roof like one of the vehicles used by the royal family in England to signify it was used by the president.
When Cllr Ryan first collected the Dodge for refurbishment at the request of mayor of Clare, Cllr Christy Curtin, it was in a dilapidated state. It needed a new battery, tyres, brakes and repairs to the exhaust as a result of flood damage and age deterioration.
Using his wealth of experience as a motor mechanic, Cllr Ryan has painstakingly given the car a makeover free of charge.
Clare native Danny Moloney, who lives in New York, helped him to source an original set of Whitewall tyres and a six-volt battery which were shipped over to Mr Moloney’s depot in Ardnacrusha.
Body work has been carried out in John Browne’s Auto Bodyshop in Cratloe.
Two new flags have been ordered from a company in Dublin — a tricolour and a presidential flag.
Cllr Ryan derived immense enjoyment from carrying out the necessary repair work. “I felt it was a great honour to be asked to do this work, which wasn’t done for political reasons.
“De Valera was recognised as a great statesman and was known worldwide. It was only right to bring his car back to its original state.
“Cars used by other world leaders have been restored and kept in immaculate condition. I would like to see it in a better display area if possible. The de Valera library is a fine building but it is not in a very prominent place for secondary school students.
“I would like to see it placed in a heated glass area in the county council officers, which would be very accessible for a few local Ennis schools.”
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