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On Tuesday the 4th the cars arrived at the Dunloe Hotel & Gardens in the South-West on the green island.
Few were delivered by the Cars Lorries, some on trailer and many on their own wheels as many participants
started their journey at the Owners Club own hill climb event at Prescott as held the last weekend. After the
Ferry-crossing the cars faced a lot of rain and so the very warm welcome by the other Bugattisti and the
excellent hotel staff were more than appreciated. The annual meeting is somehow a class meeting as most of
the entrants know each other for ages as with minor changes the entry list is somehow the hard core of the
clubs. As expected the parking lot did show more of the smaller cars as nowadays the Type 57 is more
common on the concours events were the main focus is more “matching numbers” rather than driving events
were the cars have to be authentic as show by several “bitsas” with Bugatti Club numbers. In Ireland the
drivers were more important enjoying their beloved “family member” rather than comparing the value or
importance of the cars. The organizers called this meeting “by friends for friends” that summed up very much
the relaxed atmosphere over the week, at the dinners one was looking unsuccessful for ties and jackets as
the casual look just matched the character of the meeting.
After a welcome reception and the first dinner at the hotel exclusively reserved for the Bugattisti for the entire
week the participants the day came to an end in the comfortable hotel bar lounge were the glasses were
raced on the marque and the glorious week ahead. Just a few of those making the more exhausting way from
Prescott went to bed early.
The next morning saw a relaxed start as only 200 km were on the program. Fortunately the weather cleared
up a little bit and apart from a few showers the week saw more sun than expected by the weather forecast, a
phenomenon seen on various locations throughout Europe in May/June. Certainly nobody expected the week
to be hot and sunny every day as the lush vegetation on the green island does not come by chance. The first
leg was the Ring of Kerry just west of the starting point in Killarney and after passing the Ballaghbeama Gap
the route led by the coast to reveal the great scenery of the Wild Atlantic Coast that attracts a lot of visitors
from all over the world. Sometime the roads are getting quit narrow, in particular when a bus full of tourists
makes its way through. The lunch stop was in Waterville where the cars were parked at the beach near the
restaurants. After lunch the cars went back towards the Ring of Kerry climbing steep hills with a splendid
overview over the coastal line including the Isle Skelling Michael know to all Star Wars fans as the refugee of
Luke Skywalker. Fortunately the road book was very clear and all crossing in question were marked by the
typical Bugatti signs showing directions leaving the passengers enough time to enjoy the landscape rather
than only staring in the book.
In the evening the teams had the opportunity to do another small slope around Lough Caragh to finalize a
great first day leaving huge expectation for the days to come.
Some say the second day was the most spectacular of them all as not only the weather cleared up nicely
over the day but the Thursday contained everything one could hope for in this part of Europe. After passing the
city center of Killarney the roads entered the Killarney national parc with a drive over Molls Gap and the Healy
pass winding up to a spectacular view over the region. Reporting some cars did drive the pass two times as
both the driver and his passenger took the wheel once. Unsurprisingly the pass is very popular among Austin
Healey drivers due to the very similar name so a few of the straight six sports cars could be seen there and
although Healey drivers really love their own cars they were certainly impressed by several dozens of Bugatti
coming up the hill. Being back on see level the cars took a round at the coastal road of the peninsula on their
way back to Kenmare where they could either go back the way they came over Molls Gap or take the smaller
detour through the highlight of the week, the Dunloe Gap, name giving for the hotel. On most parts not wider
than a single lane road the Gap went over lovely bridges and by mountain lakes and it is not surprising that
that Gap is very popular with hikers, bikers or people being transported up the hill by small horse carriage.
After a great day all the horseless carriages named Pur Sang by their founder were back on the parking to
cool off for the next day.
Friday went even further south as the lowest of the peninsulas was visited that day. The first stop was at
Bantry House near the fisher’s village Bantry. This house is one family owned since 1739 and open to public
since the middle of the last century giving a great insight into the life in the region over the last centuries. The
turning point of the day was the Mizen Head Signal station in the south-west of the peninsula overlooking the
Wild Atlantic. The way back was the same as in previous days so the cars already knew their way back to
the hotel were the cars were not parked in the parking as in the previous days but near the Hotels own castle
ruin were the drivers had a champagne reception before going to barbecue. As Saturday was the day off the
evening became a little bit longer for some in the hotel bar with typical local music and a few Guinness.
As said the Saturday was the day off and some had to work on the cars, others were free to do some
shopping for souvenirs or to buy something green as the dress code for the last day should include
Stephen Gentry from Gentry restorations was busy during the day to bring a few cars back on the road after
they dropped out, few of them even did their first miles of the week only after the healing hands of the Bugatti
specialist who was again the tour service.
Sunday was the second to last day and most of the drivers were well recovered after the day off so the route
led to the northernmost of the peninsulas with the tourist village of Dingle. Typical with its colorful houses for
the region it might have been a little bit too well known in the tourist guides so it was less populated by locals
but overrun by tourists. Still worth the visit when around anyway the small walk in into Dingle was taken by
most of the drivers, a few did not want to leave behind their Bugatti as the horseshoe radiator was seen on
several places in the village center.
Back at the lunch stop the entrants were entertained by a local music and dance combo showing the
traditional dance of Ireland. On the way back to the hotel over the coastal and mountain roads the cars were
chased by the rain and the last on the road did not make it dry back to the hotel, the view on the lakes of the
region was rather dull.
All good things have to come to an end and so the Monday was the last driving day of the week in Ireland.
Unlike the days before the sea was rarely seen this day as the journey led south towards Skibbereen. On the
way the entrants had the chance to visit a small toy soldier factory with a great display of the Battle at
Waterloo including thousands of the small hand painted soldiers. The lunch stop was at Inish Beg where the
Bugatti could take a short dirt track around the estate under their wheels bringing some more driving fun on
the last day. Up north was unfortunately the wettest part of the week when all of the sudden even a hail storm
treated the crews in the open cars. Some insatiable ones even took the last chance of the week to do the
Dunloe Gap once more before the cars were loaded for the journey home.
Monday evening it was time to say good bye and as said before the final gala dinner was held in green.
Beside Irish national football jerseys and polo shirts a few green wigs could be seen as some members of the
Dutch Bugatti Club exchanged their well-known orange wigs with green ones.
This also leads us to the future as the members of the Dutch Bugatti Owners Club will be in charge for the
meeting in 2020 that will be based in the Belgian Ardennes with tours into Belgium, Germany and the
Netherland. As the Dutch / Belgium organizers pointed out the current ones left a big challenge to top the
week in the most dramatic scenery one can imagine and the character of the next meeting will certainly be
different. And this is also the strength of the IBM all over the world, they always deliver new impressions and
not few are planning way in advance as besides the German meeting following in 2021 there are also future
meetings in New Zealand and in Japan in the making.
We were happy to join the week among friends having the opportunity to follow the prewar cars in the wild and
to give some impressions and memories of one of the best events in recent years. Ireland is well worth a visit
alone even if one is not a Guinness drinker but with almost 100 Bugatti in the mix it does not get much better.
So all that is left to say is “vive la marque”.
Report & images ... Peter Singhof
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