This time round he is taking the road less travelled in a new TV series, weaving his way around the country in a car that once belonged to former taoiseach Jack Lynch.
Driving on three different routes and avoiding the motorways, John travels the scenic landscapes and streetscapes, enjoying the people, the places, and the craic along the way while unearthing little-known stories and local legends.
“It’s based on an idea I had about 10 years ago,” says John.
“I told RTÉ I would love to travel and do folklore along the way; everything from nice landscapes, stories, and curiosities.”
Starting on July 22, on RTÉ 1, the first of a three-part series explores the Cork to Dublin route before the M8 motorway was built. It’s a route he knows well.
“I would have gone up and down that old road thousands of times, going to All-Irelands, FA Cup finals and to work at RTÉ.
“It was amazing to see how much, and yet, how little has changed.”
The old plastic road sign in Kilbehenny is still there, reminding me of when I would pass the county bounds and be greeted with “Welcome to Cork — home of the Dixies.”
On this show John goes to Kilworth Camp to relive his days in the FCA, where the army puts his shooting skills to the test.
“It brought me back to my time as a teenager in the Free Clothing Association, as we called it.”
In Cahir he meets the internet comedy duo The Two Johnnies. He then heads to Thurles to meet Leo Moran of the Saw Doctors to reminisce about Féile 1990 and the coming of age of the musical youth of Ireland.
Jack’s startlingly white 1967 Mark II Cortina looks like it just came off the Assembly yard at Ford’s plant in Cork. John is of a slightly older vintage but still in his prime and rarin’ to go, almost as giddy as the old motor.
“The suspension is gas. The first day of serious filming took several hours.
“The Cortina was lovely to sit in but when I finally got out it was like getting off the ferry in France. It must be the old suspension.”
“Nowadays cars have independent suspension which means you are kept level at all times but the Cortina sashays around corners. It was very comfortable but when I got out, I was a bit wobbly.”
He might have been even more wobbly if it had not been for the help of two members of the West Cork Vintage Club who own Jack’s old Cortina and loaned John the car.
“The crew were Stephen and Fachtna. They were our constant companions and they were fantastic.”
The tail-end of the Cork to Dublin run took him to Mondello Park where he tested his driving skills with former rally driver Rosemary Smith.
“Rosemary is a gas character and a great advert for old age. She is as fit as a fiddle, good-humoured and a very modern woman. You couldn’t meet Rosemary without falling for her.”
He asked about her rally driving days and what it was like being a woman in a man’s world.
“She said that at the start they saw her as a novelty when she was being photographed over the bonnet of a car but she won their respect by winning races.”