A BRIGHT yellow Rolls Royce which was involved in a savage ambush of British soldiers – sparking the country’s biggest manhunt – is being donated to the Irish State.
Owned by Ballineen’s Pat McSweeney, it was used by the IRA in an attack in Cobh in 1924 which resulted in the death of one, and 18 others being injured.
A £10,000 reward for its recovery was offered as part of the manhunt that followed, but the car remained buried for 70 years to avoid detection.
It was discovered in a boghole in North Cork in the 1980s by an individual, using a metal detector, who kept it in a scrap yard for 20 years.
It was eventually located there by an historian who, knowing Pat McSweeney was chairman of the Rolls Royce Club of Ireland, got him involved.
Known as a ‘moon car’, as it was used in late night attacks, it had armoured sides and hidden compartments for machine guns.
Pat, of McSweeney Brothers Quarries, explained the lengths that were required to get the car authenticated.
‘The chassis was sent to an expert in the UK and then the British Army carried out a DNA test on the steel used, and it was traced back to a Hunt House blueprint from 1919.’
Pat, and an expert in Northern Ireland, then took on the epic task of restoring the 1919 Silver Ghost Open Tourer to its former glory.
Restoration took around five years and in 2015 Pat decided to buy the car for nearly half a million euro, as he felt strongly that it should stay in the country.
Now Pat has made the decision to generously donate the vehicle, now valued at several million euro, to the Irish State.
This required further vetting over a few years, but the handover is now taking place this week.
The handover, the first donation of a car to the State, was organised for the National Museum of Ireland at Collins Barracks, Dublin.
Pat said he wants to keep it ‘in good company’ and so it will be beside the Sliabh na mBan Rolls Royce armoured car which is at the army museum in The Curragh in Co Kildare.
Pat is also the owner of another rare Rolls Royce. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1907 Phantom Silver Ghost model, in 2007 the manufacturer built just 25 models, one of which is in his collection of seven.