The Bowman family, formidable competitors in the sport of Horse Driving Trials, are to undertake a 140-mile journey across Ireland by stagecoach, in aid of Barretstown, a specially designed activities camp for children with serious illnesses.
George Bowman, who has been British National Champion a staggering 19 times, has meticulously planned the four-day trip, in which Team Bowman will travel the highways and byways from Limerick to Dublin, retracing the steps of the coaching era.
They will set out on Monday 21 September.
“We had always planned to drive from Galway to Dubin. It was only about two months ago that we decided on this route and so we have been a bit tight on time to organise things,” explained George.
“Luckily, we are entirely self-sufficient regarding the horses, as the horseboxes have portable stables and carry up to 500 gallons of water.”
The Molly Malone Stagecoach, which was recently discovered disused in a barn in County Galway with old musket balls embedded in the woodwork, has been fully restored to its former glory for the trip.
The coach, originally built by O’Shea of Mullinger in around 1865, once completed the journey from Limerick to Dublin in only 2 days, averaging a speed of 12mph.
During this more leisurely journey, the driving will be divided between the Bowman team, consisting of Robert, Barnaby, George and George Senior, with horses and drivers changing after seven- to ten-mile stages.
“With 16 horses, horseboxes, grooms, drivers, a bus and supporters coming from Germany, England, America, Belgium and France, it has been a tricky manoeuvre to organise,” explained Tracy Dawes, marketing director of Team Bowman.
“We’ve also just realised that the trip coincides with a ploughing campaign in Ireland so everywhere will be very busy — although that will be good for the fundraising.”
The team plan to stop at historic coaching inns and hotels along the way to make the most of the Irish hospitality, and are encouraging people to join them for social evenings.
“We have an Abba tribute band travelling with us, and they are planning to perform at several of the pubs so it should make for some memorable evenings,” added George.
For more information on the trip, see www.teambowman.co.uk