Irish Trials is a Trials Guru ‘section’ to read about motorcycle trials, events and the people who live in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Terry Hill Trial – The History
The Temple MCC, having run a Reliability Trial last in 1930, ran their inaugural trial on 25th November 1963 at Carse’s Farm, Lisban, Saintfield where it continued as an annual event until the venue was sold in 1998. Trials had been in the doldrums hence road racing clubs at that time were required to promote a trial to boost this branch of the sport.
Terry Hill presented the club with the Terry Hill Trophy for the 1964 event which according to the News Letter, despite the frightful weather, frozen hands and water logged engines, Terry Hill failed to win own cup by 3 points to the winner Jim Lemon. Even in his twilight years, Terry, usually the first man home, continued to compete in this event for some more 15 years.
The trial became the first round of the Irish Championship in 1967 and continues to retain this status.
Foot and mouth restrictions imposed on 23rd November 1967, prevented such events.
Terry Hill had an illustrious history in motor cycle sport, his main notoriety was competing in International Six Days Trial (now Enduro), which is incidentally is the oldest form of motor cycle sport. When war broke out during the 1939 Austrian event Terry made an arduous journey home riding his machine via Switzerland. Link attached which gives a full flavour of the event. http://speedtracktales.com/index-of-isdt-events/isdt-1939-germany/
His association with 6-day eventing continued as Ireland Team manager with other Temple participants and supporters such Marcus Blain, Davy Mills, Derek Hamilton, Winston Buchanan, Archie Lappin and Derek Carse as the driver of the Ulsterbus team transporter to Czechoslovakia in 1963. Hence the presentation of the Terry Hill Trial Trophy to the Temple Club had its essence in this association.
Words: Temple Club Archive
Image: Pat Ewen, Dublin
Image: Rob Edwards, Middlesborough, England
Temple MCC – Terry Hill Irish Championship Trial – 6 February 2016
at Wightmans, Dunmore, Ballynahinch.
Photos by: Roger Singleton
The 2016 Irish Championship got under way on the 6th February when the Temple club ran the Terry Hill Trial at Wightmans, Ballynahinch. The club had set out ten challenging sections around the popular County Down venue. The main talking point of the day, unfortunately, was the weather. Heavy rain all day meant that the number of laps had to be cut from 4 to 3. Given the terrible conditions it’s a credit to the club that they attracted 102 starters to this year’s Terry Hill Trial. Here are some action shots.
More Irish Trials, From The Vee, Clougheen, Co. Tipperary – Courtesy of Roger Singleton
A little more Irish trials history from Pat Ewen of the Dublin & District Club:
Pat Ewen: “I don’t know if these old photos are of interest to people, but it occurred to me recently that as our sport is changing quite rapidly it is not a bad idea to share our history, which is nostalgic if not stunningly interesting and how we made it, shared now with the current generation of riders”.
Image 001 – Here is Johnny Foxes public house on the 18th of December 1965, a pleasant, typical, small country hostelry, unlike the huge tourist infested stage set that it has morphed into – where the Leinster Club was holding it’s Turkey Trial. That’s ‘Chick’ Gibson’s Ford Zephyr 4 car in the foreground with Chick standing behind the boot lid. His Greeves is leaning against the trailer with my father’s similar machine beside it. They always travelled to trials together. Freddie Dixons BSA is on the trailer to the left with the owner and Jonathan Bewley beyond it. Chick’s son, Michael, is on another machine on the same trailer with David ‘Murph’ Murphy, giving advice. Old Moore (Arthur Edward Garret Moore) or ‘Teddy’ as he was known to all, has parked his scooter beside the pub door, possibly while inside warming the inner man before the event.
Image 002 – Is a summer scene, the 10th of July 1965 to be exact, at Milverton near the town of Skerries in north County Dublin, during the Dublin & District’s Skerries 100 road race. In front of the timing box which contains a full time keeping team, who, if I remember correctly, came from the North, are four ‘D & D’ stalwarts. My father, Douglas Ewen, on the left, ‘The Maltster’ – Bill Topping, who was a bank manager in Templeogue and whose outer office was ‘The Morgue’ across the road from the bank; that doyen of Irish motorcycle sport, Ernie Lyons and on the right, with his trademark smile in place, my godfather ‘Chick’ Gibson who appears to be advising Bill Topping to put something other than ‘John Jamieson’ in his tank. It was always sunny for the Skerries race! – Pat Ewen, Dublin
Photo above from a Leinster Club ‘Patland Cup’ trial in the 1950s. Doug Ewen on the 200cc Triumph Cub, which he really liked and on which he had done quite a lot of development work such as building a swinging arm rear suspension. It had arrived with a plunger arrangement. The Patland was one of the premier events in the Irish trials calendar. It was trade supported and attracted quite a few entries from ‘across the water’. The course was a long lap around the Sugarloaf mountain in County Wicklow and this particular section was known as the ‘Goats Pass’ in the Rocky Valley near Kilmacanogue. One of the significant things in this photo is the large number of spectators and their cars that are visible, how times have changed!
Photo above: Doug Ewen again on a 500 Norton, early 1950s, in a great Time-and-Observation trial, the Dublin & District MCC ‘Nicholson Memorial’ Scramble, in the Slade of Saggart, Co Dublin. He loved this event and was quite successful in it with, I recall, a couple of wins.
My father’s signature is on the photo because I used it as the front cover of a booklet of his motorcycling reminiscences a few years ago.
Photo above – One more, not even a trial, but it is a trials bike and one of the few photos that I have of my own long riding career. Yours truly hopping the early (radial fin) Bultaco over a bank in the Dublin & District ‘Dunlop Cup’ Scramble at the Butts course at the Curragh of Kildare in the early 1970s. – Pat Ewen
Davy Malcolm (aka – The Owl) – Words: Pat Ewen
Davy was a friend known to me since childhood. A most ingenious, curious and intelligent person cast in a mould outside the ordinary. A Dubliner by birth, the son of an equally unusual father who was, among other things, a professional photographer with the ESB, a successful band leader and a Member of the Magic Circle of Magicians.
Davy was, by trade an expert and highly regarded Avionics Engineer holding positions of responsibility with Aer Lingus and latterly with Shannon Repair Services. He moved West about 30 years ago settling in a small terraced house in Sixmilebridge, the content and layout of which reflected his fertile and inquisitive mind. He built and sailed a Mirror dinghy mostly on inland waters and was a well known and loved member of the Sixmilebridge community. Davy never married but had a keen interest in the gentle sex. His natural habitat would have included such watering holes as the Honk, or Nellies (as he called that hostelry) or one of the pubs in ‘the Bridge’ where he would take up station in a corner with his pint of Harp and a book. Despite his sometimes shy manner he was an excellent conversationalist particularly with the people among whom he lived and played. A good and well informed travel companion, he entertained but did not bore.
Davy was, since childhood, a keen and sporting motorcyclist and took part in numerous Reliability Trials (an off road competition involving balance and throttle control, without speed, over courses through rough mountainous terrain). He would have been the first to agree that he was not an expert but enjoyed the craic and the social side of the sport. It was in this company that he acquired his nickname ‘The Owl’ or, properly, ‘The Boiled Owl’, a moniker of which he was proud. The title originated when a motorcycling team manager took one look at a rather tired breakfast time Davy after a hard nights socialising and declared that he looked like a boiled owl … which he did!
It seems, probably incorrectly, that the world is becoming shorn of interesting characters which is a great pity. Davy certainly came into this category, a great friend who will be missed by many.
Many thanks to Pat Ewen for these memories of Irish motorcycle sport, some great characters there.
Youghal Motor Cycle Club – Established 1971
Kate is the first!
Words: Kate Callaghan
21 year old, Kate Callaghan is the first Irish female to compete in the Scottish Six Days Trial, this she achieved in 2018, here is her account of her week in the Scottish Highlands in her own words.
Photos: Neil Sturgeon, Darlington
“I decided to compete in the Scottish Six Days Trial in October 2017. My fitness was good but I knew I really had to improve both my strength and overall fitness in order to compete. I started off in November 2017 by cycling to work. I cycled on the motorway for 24 kms to work and 24 kms home again. It was very difficult as I had the dark mornings and dark evenings. It was also a very cold winter with a lot of frost, rain and windy days. Once I left the house I knew there was no way of returning as I had to make it to work on time.
I built up a lot of fitness from cycling but I knew my strength needed attention. I joined the gym just after Christmas, starting my day at 6am, I lifted weights for my arms back and shoulders I also swam every morning. Apart from fitness and strength I had to practice a lot on my bike to maintain my high level of bike fitness.
I had to learn how to maintain my bike for it to run at its’ best every day. I really enjoyed learning how to work on my bike I now understand how the bike runs. The week before we set off for Scotland I had a lot of preparation rebuilding my bike to ensure it would run at its best. I had to organize tyres and spares for the week just in case I had any bike issues. My uncle Stanley Callaghan kindly lent me his bike to have with me just in case I needed any spare parts. This was a huge help as anything could have happened.
Saturday 5th May – 3:33am. We left Kildare to head to Fort William, Scotland. We drove two hours to Larne, Co. Antrim with a boat crossing of two hours to Cairnryan and a drive of five hours to Fort William.
Sunday 6th May – I signed on in the Ben Nevis Hotel and completed technical control. The Scottish Six Day Trial tradition is that all riders parade through Fort William, which we did at 3pm. We then parked our bikes in Parc Ferme.
Monday 7th May – Day one, I started at 8.40 am in dry conditions. I covered 71 miles with the first two sections starting at ‘Coire Na Cloiche’ and the last five sections finishing at ‘Lagnaha’. I was very excited as this was my first time at the Scottish Six Day Trial, I had never been before, not even to watch the trial. I was buzzing riding off the start ramp to see what sections were ahead of me. The sections were big but they were very rideable. Of course, because it was the first day I was full of beans and giving my very best in every section. Monday was a learning curve for me I was a little slow walking sections which left me very tight on time for getting back to the finish. I arrived at our last time check with a penalty of two minutes.
Tuesday May 8th – Day Two, I started at 07:52 this was our early day of the week we started off with getting the Ferry across the loch. The sections were very slippery as there was only 20 riders in front of us. It was a very wet and cold day. The sections were a lot harder today as it was very difficult to get grip. With massive boulders and plenty of holes in the rivers. Tuesday I managed my time better so I could allow enough time to work on my bike in Parc Ferme. My air filter, carb and a maintenance check over on my bike needed to be done after two days of solid riding.
Wednesday May 9th – I started at 11.40 this was my late day of the week. It rained from the time we started until the finish. It was the toughest and mentally draining day for me. The rivers were extremely high and some parts of the cross country were impassable. We had to go up a steep mountain which was like a sheet of ice, this was hell I thought I managed to get to the top, I caught my breath and we headed off again to be met by this massive fire-break climb up between the trees so I had to jump a bog and then attack the climb, I got half way up I was physically and mentally drained, it was horrific I felt I had to end it, I was in tears I have never experienced anything like this before. My Dad had managed to get his bike to the top and came back down to me we had a chat and he gave me a hug and together we got my bike to the top, we had lost a lot of time so we had to push on. Half an hour later we reached the lunch stop covered in mud from head to toe. With fifteen sections and thirty-five miles to go, (this day will never end) we grabbed a burger and drink and headed off again, the water in the rivers was rising so sections were even harder now, I had to make sure I didn’t drop my bike in the rivers so I did my best and my dad kept my spirits up, the rain never stopped and I was cold. I was so delighted to see the finish of this day. I had thirty minutes to spare.
Now I had to change the air filter clean the carb and fit a new rear tyre for the second half of the week.
Thursday 10th May – I started a little earlier 10.49 the weather was a little bit nicer we had showers of rain throughout the day. The sun was shining for the moor crossing which was helpful as it made it easier to see across the saturated mountain. Throughout the week I got stronger and more confident at riding the bigger sections my fitness and strength really helped me.
Friday 11th May – I started at 9:59 this was the first day that I started in dry conditions.
With a 28-mile road trip with a fuel stop to the first group of sections where I had a great start to the day. After that I had a short Moor crossing to the next group of sections. The other 60 miles of the day was mainly on the road. The road work is hard on the bike because you have to ensure the bike doesn’t over heat. Then the rain came down heading for the ferry to the finish but it wasn’t too bad as I completed day 5 and was looking forward to one day to go.
Saturday 12th May – Day 6!
The shortest day of the week, 56 miles 30 sections
But this turned out to be a very tough day. 9.09am, I head off to the first group of sections two cleans to start the day, a long Mamore Road to the famous ‘Pipeline’ sections and then a fuel stop on to the mountain for the next 35 miles of hard graft that seem to go on and on and on. Then I see the final petrol stop I must be near home, I fill up check over the bike and off to the last eight sections hoping now that I have no problems. Pushing hard for a good result I finish off with a couple of cleans. Down on to the road back to Fort William for the final section of the week ‘Town Hall Brae’ and in to Parc Ferme finish.
I have done it! – the first Irish female to compete and finish and that’s a piece of history! What an experience.
I’d like to thank Terrance & Kenny McKee, Audrey & Dermot Byrne, Clice Racing, Superior Express, John Lampkin and his team at Beta UK for all their help.
To everyone for all their support and encouragement throughout the week and most of all, my Dad, Roger for being there.”
Kate’s article first appeared in Irish Superbike Racing website, July, 2018
Who is Kate Callaghan?
Kate started riding trials at nine years of age and was taken to many events by her grandparents to watch her father Roger ride trials. She lives in Naas, Co. Kildare, Ireland