Welcome to Old Ireland.
My initial idea for this site was to cover only classic vehicles, but since was already taken and the best alternative I could find was this one, my thoughts for the site began to broaden.A lot of the inspiration for this comes from the few magazines for which I have written articles.Let’s get these mentioned early, because you should not be surprised to see a little of their influence here.Real Classic is subscription only in print, but also has an excellent site at, where Frank, Rowena and a host of writers entertain and inspire.Then there is Minnesota Motorcycle Monthly, formerly in print monthly, but now only on line at’s archives could keep you reading happily for months, and the like it or not truths told by Thomas Day (Geezer with a grudge: see his own site at, should make everyone on two wheels pause for thought.If you have time on the …


My father would have celebrated his 100th birthday yesterday, all be it in lockdown, had he made it past his 57th year.He had cancer, and had been ill for a number of years before eventually succumbing to it.He had complained of back pain for a few years, when suddenly, or so it seemed to me, he started stumbling, and was very soon confined to a wheelchair.Only at this point was the cancer diagnosed.A man of his generation; when healthy he was a strict disciplinarian who was listened to but never questioned.He was a small business owner too when we were very young, so we saw very little of him except on Sundays, since he worked long hours.Even on Sundays, a strict Presbyterianism left a gulf between him and young kids who wanted a weekend of action and excitement.
Since he was nursed by my mother when ill, all four of us kids were suddenly released from that strict discipline, and given lots of time and little supervision.Our reaction to that, and against all the teachings we were brou…

Corona jokes

While there is a lot of trouble and sadness out there, Corona has at least brought out a lot of good jokes to counter this.  I'll post some here, and links to videos that I deem worthwhile.  Keep your eye on this post and I will update it from time to time when I get a chance.  These are unashamedly copied from elsewhere, but we all need this stuff.

Keep smiling, and keep safe.

Just heard that famous American actor John Travolta has been hospitalised with suspected corona virus.
But doctors have now confirmed now that it’s only Saturday Night fever and have assured everyone that he’s staying alive.
Apparently he had the chills and they were multiplying.



Fresh cow dung will stop COVID-19 spreading FAST.

Dip hands in fresh cow dung before going out.
This will ensure that:-

(1) You will NOT touch your eyes,nose, ear or mouth.

(2) No one will SHAKE hands.

(3) No one will come NEAR you outside.

(4) You will WASH your hands before you eat.


Sports f…

Looking on the bright side.

It has been a very busy week here, and I am fortunate enough to remain fully employed throughout this mess.  Others are less fortunate; many even having to take an enforced break, often without pay.  I don't envy those people living in crowded and cramped accommodation in Corona hot spots like London.  If that is you, you have my sympathies.  Still, at least the daylight hours are stretching, and the clocks change to summertime this weekend. If like us, you are lucky enough to have some outside space, then at least there should be an opportunity to use it.

Free entertainment for kids and adults alike is becoming increasingly important because those expensive subscriptions to the likes of Netflix or Amazon may be unsustainable for many.  So, here's a plug.  I have received a few emails from recently.  They have a load of stuff on there from video games, to movies, to books, music, magazines and much more.  You could keep yourself entertained for years with the conte…

Uncharted territory

It's becoming a strange world out there.  There were probably more buses in Belfast city centre this lunchtime than people (see the pictures).

We have been experimenting in work with letting vast numbers of people work from home via a bespoke VPN connection.  I and a few other unlucky 'volunteers' are still in the office to monitor the result.  It has been very busy.

Better yet have been some of the very irrational things that our staff have done or queried.  Like the woman trying to keep in contact with the rest of her team via Skype.  When this didn't work, she called in angrily complaining.  Yet, a little questioning discovered that she was using her home PC, which had neither a camera, or speakers.  Skype didn't have a chance against this person.

Then there was another staff member who could not connect.  Our questioning eventually revealed that although they had followed the connection instructions properly, they had switched their work PC off before leaving…

In view of the current corona related shortages in the shops...... ;-)


Crazy Corona!

Ok, it’s a serious subject, but don’t you just love some of the more weird and wonderful stories that have cropped up because of the Corona virus? A Chinese woman who believed that Garlic was a cure/ preventative ate 1.5kg of raw garlic, but then ended up in hospital because her throat was burned and inflamed as a result.After eating that much garlic, I’m surprised that the doctors could get near enough to treat her.  Imean, 1.5kg of Garlic!That must be one hell of a lot of individual cloves.Surely there must have been a point during what is bound to have been a long eating process where she questioned whether her actions were sound? There are a few other ridiculous stories on there too about the crazy things that people are doing in their Corona related panics.Most seem to be spread via social media.The gullibility of some people never ceases to amaze me. Panic buying:My local supermarket at the weekend had empty shelves in a number of areas.T…


I seem to have spent an inordinate amount of time recently getting nowhere.While I should be getting on with some of my pending household tasks, or indeed with the resurrection of my poor old Triumph 5TA, I seem instead to have got into a time consuming conflict with a highly un-recommended tradesperson.Let me explain.
Last October our oil boiler developed a leak.It was made by a local company (Warmflow), and is the second of their boilers to fail since we moved into our current house (20 odd years ago).This is not a good record, and these devices aren’t cheap, so because of the failures I was unwilling to put yet another Warmflow boiler in as a replacement.I contacted a few local fitters and went with one who could do the job reasonable quickly.The boiler engineer that we had been using for the annual service was unfortunately on holiday, so did not respond to my initial search.Since the weather was growing colder by the day, I wanted this job done quickly.The boiler is in our garage.

1961 Triumph Speed Twin, 5TA - Part 2 – Rebuilding the Wreckage

So the old Speed Twin was pretty rough by the time the number plate was eventually sold.Since the short runs I had used it for couldn’t have added more than 100 miles to the bike, it was clear that the last owners claim to have rebuilt the engine was a lie.Selling it in this condition back then would have eaten into the profit I had made on the number plate, and besides, despite its problems, I had grown to like it.Well, parts of it anyway, but you will read more of that later on.
Since the bike now cost me nothing, I decided to reinvest some of the number plate profits in fixing the engine.At that time, I had a few big advantages when starting such a project.Firstly, I worked for an engineering firm that had a very well equipped tool room.Better yet, my boss, to whom I and many others will be eternally indebted, was bike mad, a damned fine engineer, and always willing to share both his knowledge and time.His name is Bert Johnston, and at one stage in his career he ran a tuning shop ca…

1961 Triumph Speed Twin, 5TA - Part 1 - An introduction

First a few disclaimers.
This is about old bikes so my apologies are due to Thomas.I know you don’t think old bikes are worth more than their weight in scrap steel.Hard luck; this is one of the few things we disagree on. Sorry too to general readers.This whole series of stories relates to a motorcycle that is approaching 60 years old.If you have no knowledge of the bits and pieces that make infernal combustion engines work, you may need to use Google on some of this stuff. In my mis-spent younger years, my brother in law told me of an old Triumph motorcycle which was for sale.He reckoned that the number plate on it could be sold for more than the cost of the bike, which we could then sell as well, thus making a decent profit on the two transactions.Never one to ignore the chance to pocket a few quid, I agreed to go and see the bike with him.That was over 30 years ago now.

It turned out to be a 1961 Triumph Speed Twin, and had not run for years.It was complete though, the engine turned o…

Optimistic or what?

What is it about people that makes them think that their particular ownership of something actually adds to its value?I mean, let’s face it, you buy something, then walk out of the shop with it either physically or metaphorically, and the item you bought is then second hand.How can you having owned it, whether for a week or a couple of years add value? You want a few examples?See below. __________

This optimistic seller obviously doesn’t believe in depreciation.She is selling her two year old Benelli TRK500, a bike falling into the adventure touring category.It hasn’t seen too much adventure since it has only covered 1246 miles in its two years on the road.She is looking for £5600 for it.So what is the problem? Brand new ones are currently on offer for £4499 plus on the road costs.That is a whopping £1101 cheaper!Ok, new ones may not include the luggage that the second hand bike has, but if you are buying…

The Great Storm - 22nd December 1894

I’ve seen a few good storms in my time, although probably nothing that would match the one below.The description of a great storm in 1894 (in bold and italics), again comes from the local history booklet by C.F. Milliken.
In Bangor Town Hall you will see some photographs of old sailing ships which were blown ashore on 22nd December 1894.Out of six sailing ships anchored in Belfast Lough only one escaped.This was the Norwegian full rigged ship “The Malone”, which early on Friday morning slipped her anchor and went to sea.
The three-masted schooner “Doctor”, went aground on Ballymacormick Point and was in matchwood in about five minutes.The greater part of her crew were drowned.
The barque “Lancaster” ran aground at Grey Point, but the crew were all rescued by the rocket apparatus.
The Italian barque, “Espina” was demasted and afterwards brought into Belfast.
The “Noel”, probably on poor holding ground, dragged her anchor and was driven ashore on the rocks to the east of the Roy…

All I need is the air that I breathe.

I read somewhere that Belfast is the most car reliant city in the whole of the UK.Certainly, between all the diesel cars and the numerous busses spewing fumes, the air in Belfast stinks.  On the government air quality site (, nitrogen dioxide levels in Belfast are currently 77 µgm-3. , this being only level 2 on a 10 point scale despite being almost twice the EU permitted maximum 0f 40 µgm-3 .After commuting in or out of the city, I can often physically taste the fumes!

This is one of the few things that I really dislike about commuting by bike, but then again, walking, driving or using public transport in the city still exposes everyone to these pollutants.Some time ago, I had bought a few masks as above but there was insufficient space to fit them into my full face helmet.And so, recently, I bought a flip front helmet.With this, I can put the mask on before lowering the chin piece.To that extent it works, since the mask can now be worn…

Unionist/ Nationalist, Who Cares?

I love stories like the one below (in bold and italics) about our troubled little province.It make the point wonderfully, that nothing can be framed in the black and white terms that either the Unionists or Nationalists love.This particular episode relates to a bigoted, blinkered view that unfortunately still seems to hold sway in some protestant/ unionist circles.It is a great pity in all the years of schooling that each of us endures, that we cannot be taught to ask a few simple questions about some of the things our culture presents as the truth.I love too that the person who paid for the painting was Craig, a man who openly boasted that he did not, and would not, employ a Catholic.

The text comes from a booklet of reminisces called “My Bangor from the 1890’s”, published 1975 by our local newspaper, The County Down Spectator ( was written by C.F. Milliken, and I have included a picture of the inside cover to tell you who he was.Milliken has many…