Vintage Rally celebrates its 13th successful year

Aisling Cahill is pictured with her children Tiarnan and Mia at the Vintage and Heritage Fair in Carnlough. INLT 31-006-PSB
Aisling Cahill is pictured with her children Tiarnan and Mia at the Vintage and Heritage Fair in Carnlough. INLT 31-006-PSB

A NEW booklet looking back at the last half century in Carnlough was officially launched at the village’s 13th annual Vintage Rally and Heritage Day on Saturday.

Memories of Carnlough – which has also been launched as a website (www.memoriesofcarnlough.com) – is a celebration of the village’s Civic Week Festival down through the years, and was unveiled by Larne mayor, Councillor Gerardine Mulvenna as part of this year’s Carnlough Festival.

The village’s reputation as a lively tourism spot dates back to the 1960s and early 1970s. Back in 1962, local residents decided to put Carnlough on the tourism map, formed the Carnlough Civic Committee and set about organising an annual community festival. The first ever Carnlough Civic Week was held in July 1963 (the first ever Community Festival to be held in Northern Ireland) and, apart from a break between 1974 and 1981, this annual event has continued to entertain many thousands of visitors and locals to the present day.

And, thanks to the discovery of an array of photographic negatives taken by the late Jim McNeill, a founding member of the civic committee, there is now a photographic collection that takes people through time to a bygone era.

Carnlough Vintage Society chairman Tony Magill said: “The booklet is a record of the early years to the present day of Carnlough Civic Week Festival. It is a tribute to the many people who, down the years, worked tirelessly to make this community festival the success it was and remains. It says much for their vision that as we enter the early days of the 21st century, tourism is indeed the mainstay of our economic security.”

Another thing that distinguishes Carnlough from other vintage events is that it is held on the street, with everything practically there at your fingertips. And there was much to entertain the crowds, with the usual selection of vintage cars, stationary engines and tractors on display. Seven tractors made their way over to Rowandale Residential Home, a visit much appreciated by the residents.

There were the usual favourites such as Armagh man Michael Cowan’s fascinating model farm, plus a return visit of the Royal Glen Miniatures Mobile Animal Farm from Ballygawley. And new to Carnlough this year was a demonstration of metal work by Aaron Leitch from Islandmagee.

Apart from the vintage vehicles, there were also demonstrations of threshing, butter churning, making soda bread, horse shoeing, dry stone walling, rush weaving, sheep shearing with the old fashioned hand scissors, wood turning, a wheelwright and bog oak carving.

There were also rare breeds including miniature ponies, while the younger generation were not neglected with face painting, a bouncy castle and other children’s entertainment.

And there was the unscheduled appearance of a horse drawn carriage leading a newly married bride and groom through the village.

It wouldn’t be a Vintage Rally in Carnlough without Anna May Wharry and Carnlough Women’s Institute, who were demonstrating a variety of craftworks, including crocheting. There were also homemade baking and cards on sale, while a hand made quilt was raffled. The money raised by the Women’s Institute goes towards Red Bay Lifeboats and the ACWW Project in Cameroon. Top prize in the draw was a five-day return sea crossing to Scotland for a car and two passengers, sponsored by P&O Ferries, the winner being a Mr Fleck from Broughshane.

Meanwhile, there was entertainment from the ‘Singing Trucker’ Steven Beckett, and the rally came to its traditional close with the cavalcade out towards Cushendall and back.

The organisers would like to thank sponsors Larne Borough Council, CP Hire, P&O Ferries, all the exhibitors, demonstrators and artists, and everyone who helped in any way to make this latest event its usual resounding success.