Rolls Royce ‘Moon Car’ donated to National Museum

One of the rarest cars in the world has been donated to the National Museum by Ireland’s biggest collector of Rolls Royces.

Rolls Royce ‘Moon Car’ donated to National Museum

One of the rarest cars in the world has been donated to the National Museum by Ireland’s biggest collector of Rolls Royces.

The armoured Silver Ghost, which has a mounted machine gun in the back seat, was used by the IRA in both the War of Independence and Civil War.

The bright yellow Rolls Royce, which was dubbed the “Moon Car” because of its colour and the fact that it largely operated at night, came into IRA possession at some point prior to 1924.

But before it was eventually bought by classic car collector Pat McSweeney, it had spent much of the next 70 years buried in a bog in a remote hilly area near Donoughmore.

On March 24, 1924, the IRA — disillusioned that the British still ran the ports — decided to attack a contingent of British troops disembarking on the quayside at Cobh.

The troops had been due to arrive on Spike Island, which had remained under British ownership as part of the Treaty terms.

The ‘Moon Car’ came into Irish Republican Army possession around 1921. It was involved in the attack on British forces in Cobh on March 21, 1924. Picture: Paul Sherwood
The ‘Moon Car’ came into Irish Republican Army possession around 1921. It was involved in the attack on British forces in Cobh on March 21, 1924. Picture: Paul Sherwood

Five men pulled up in the car, which was once owned by Oliver St John Gogarty, with two mounted Lewis guns and opened fire, killing a soldier, a civilian, and wounding many others.

Speeding away, the vehicle stopped briefly to fire on the Royal Navy warship, HMS Scythe, which was spared any damage.

The attack was, in fact, carried out by senior officers of the Cork No 1 Brigade, who intended to spark violence between the Free State and British forces, and thus deepen the crisis within the National Army.

An embarrassed Free State government put up a £10,000 reward for information leading to the capture of the IRA unit.

The car had been used in a number of previous attacks and the IRA decided that it was becoming too hot to handle.

They set it on fire and subsequently buried it.

It was discovered 85 years later by a man with a metal detector.

Andrew Daly, who found the chassis of the car in a scrapyard in Cork. The historic car was only the fifth Silver Ghost to be built after the First World War. Picture: Paul Sherwood
Andrew Daly, who found the chassis of the car in a scrapyard in Cork. The historic car was only the fifth Silver Ghost to be built after the First World War. Picture: Paul Sherwood

He kept what remained of the car in a scrap yard for about 20 years before it was bought and then lovingly restored by James Black Restorations, a company based in Lisburn, Co Antrim.

Pat McSweeney, from Ballineen in West Cork, was the main driver behind the restoration project.

The vehicle was only the fifth Silver Ghost built after the First World War and it was originally sold to the Adamson family in Co Galway.

Their home was burned by the IRA in 1921 and it is believed that is when the IRA acquired the vehicle.

Mr McSweeney handed the car, believed to be worth over €2m, over last week at Collins Barracks, Dublin.

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