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 …

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…

2020; surely it must get better from here?

We had a fair amount of bad weather here last week, including a few gusts to 80mph or so.As usual this brought down a few roof tiles, including two at the back of our own house where we are exposed to northerly gusts from the Irish Sea.Fortunately, both tiles were still sitting on the roof a few feet from where they should have been although one was sitting precariously half over the guttering, ready to crash down.My brother’s house too had some roof damage, with one cracked roof tile, and one ridge tile that had come off.
Given that it still gets dark here at this time of year about 5pm, nothing happened to fix these until Saturday afternoon.My brother dislikes heights, so I was the lucky ‘volunteer’ who got to climb up on his roof to cement the ridge tile back in place and replace the broken tile.I’m not big on working at height myself, but the job needed to be done, and getting a roofer around here for a small job like this is next to impossible. The two on our own roof were lower…

Problems, problems, problems.

It is said that problems come in threes, and this rule has certainly proved true in my transportation tribulations since the start of this year.No sooner had I posted my last piece here about the car problems that we have suffered since New Year ’s Eve, than my Suzuki decided to join in too!
I paid a visit to my brother’s house on my way home from work at the end of last week, but when I returned to my bike to go home, the starter solenoid just clicked, and the engine would not turn over.There had been absolutely no warning signs for this.Since the lights and other electrical components still worked, the battery did appear to be charging.The clicking starter solenoid, but inactive starter motor meant the problem had to be in this part of the bikes electrics.
I found a wire in this circuit where the previous owner had used a crimped connector.It fell apart when I touched it!Unfortunately this very crudely crimped joint is not the first bad repair that I have found on this bike, but after…

Problems, Problems.

It has been a busy but inauspicious end of 2019/ start of 2020 for us.
We made a New Year’s Eve trip to the beautiful, pristine beach at Portrush’s East Strand.It was crowded with surfers and walkers, many of who, like us, had brought their dogs out for a romp in the clean Atlantic air.Half the population of the town must have been scattered along the two and a half miles of golden sands between Portrush town and the start of the chalk cliffs at Whiterocks.Credit is due to all those people because despite the number of dog walkers, I didn’t spot even one un-lifted dog poo.Since the weather was mild, a few groups of kids were even sledging down some of the larger dunes behind the beach.
It was on our way home that things started to go wrong.  While there is no ideal time for car faults, being 80 miles from home on a New Years Eve evening adds a little more spice to the mix.The engine warning light came on closely followed by a misfire that increased as the miles went by.A stop at the App…

Christmas Quiz Answers

Happy Christmas everyone.  See you next year.

Haddon Sundblom:Sundblom is best remembered for his advertising work, specifically the Santa Claus advertisement.It was he who drew Santa Claus in a red suit during the twenties and he painted for The Coca-Cola Company starting in 1931.[1][2] Sundblom's Claus firmly established the larger-than-life, grandfatherly Claus as a key figure in American Christmas imagery. So popular were Sundblom's images of Claus (Sundblom's images are used by Coca-Cola to this day) that Sundblom is often credited as having created the modern image of Santa Claus.[ The Greedies, originally The Greedy Bastards, formed as a part time band with members of Thin Lizzy and Sex Pistols combining with sometime members from Dublin act The Boomtown Rats and even one time Nucleus guitarist Chris Spedding dropping by for the odd gig. The idea was to play small gigs and get paid cash in hand so as to avoid paying tax, which possibly led to the name. They …

Christmas quiz

OK, this isn't particularly Irish, except that the Christmas season is in full swing here too, but what the hell.

If you can answer all of these without having to resort to Google, you win this year’s star prize: A smug sense of Christmas superiority.  Answers will be posted here on Sunday.

Who made Santa wear red? Who were ‘The Greedies’? Which singer has been on the most Christmas number one singles? What chance is there of a white Christmas (in the UK)? What Christmas carol was the first song ever broadcast? In which Christmas movie does ‘the Donald’ make an appearance? How much would you have to spend to match the most expensively dressed Christmas tree? Which Christmas movie was investigated as possible subversive by the FBI?

Flying pigs, and other natural wonders.

What is there to say that hasn’t been said already?The election is already fading into history, and on this side of the border we have a split EU/ UK personality to look forward to, with a border in the Irish Sea.Since both the DUP and Sinn Fein lost out at the polls, a new attempt to make our local politicians actually go to work in Stormont now may have some leverage, since even her in good old Northern Ireland, their near three year absence from work is starting to get to even the most staunch DUP and Sinn Fein voters (these two parties lost votes in this election to more centrist ones J).It’s about time someone held these absentee idiots to account.
So what happens next?In the long run, I still hold by my comments here:, that the Irish sea border could be used to Northern Ireland’s economic advantage by encouraging British companies who trade with Europe to relocate, but our politicians, especially th…

'Ello, 'ello, 'ello; what's all this then?

It was a strange day yesterday, not least because of the election (more of which in the next post).I finished work early, so had Tilly out for her evening walk shortly after 5pm.We walked a circuit near to the shore that brought us to the top of Grey’s Hill, one of the roads that leads to Bangor’s seafront.
There the road was cordoned off with police tape, and a real life policeman to make certain of compliance.I was initially inquisitive as to why the cordon was there, but the upside down wreck of a car that was blocking the road quickly filled in the missing details.According to the BBC, the accident involved 4 cars ( picture below is taken from here).

First, let me admit that I cannot comprehend how this accident happened on a narrow hill that has a lot of very large speed humps?It was the young policeman that really puzzled me though.As I went past the cordon and did a double take when I saw the wreckage (the car was there, a…

The sound of Stormont

A great spoof from those very funny guys at The Ulster Fry.  (

The Sound of Stormont

Christmas Jokes: Go on, you know you love them really!!

'Tis the season to cringe at all the bad Christmas cracker jokes (and there are a few of those included here!).  Lets get the only Irish joke in this selection in first.  As usual, I make no claim that these are in any way tasteful!

Enjoy.  :-)

Knock Knock
Who's there?
Irish who?
Irish you a happy Christmas ____ I went to the garden centre today and bought a Christmas tree. The assistant asked me, "Will you be putting that up yourself?"

I replied, "No, you sick bugger. I'll be putting it up in my living room!"

A Marks and Spencer’s advert claims that it wouldn't be Christmas without M&S.

They're right too. It'd be Chrita.

Nigella’s new Christmas recipe……..Cold Turkey

Maybe not presented in the same giddy style but will keep Scotland Yard off her trail.

A couple were out Christmas shopping and the shopping centre was so packed that they became parted. The woman was not …