Irish Trials

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

Terry Hill - Bultaco - Pat Ewen
Terry Hill on his Bultaco at the Dublin University Club’s Grafton Trial on Old Boleys section on 5th February 1966 – Photo courtesy of Pat Ewen, Dublin

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.

1963 - SSDT Day 1
1963 – SSDT Day 1 – No. 166 is the Greeves of Doug Theobald; 170 is an Irish rider not in programme; 168 is Rob Edwards (Cotton); 175 – Sammy Miller (500 Ariel GOV132); 169 – Terry Hill (250 BSA – LOH42). – Photo courtesy: Rob Edwards Private Collection

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.

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

Modern Trials:

Temple MCC – Terry Hill Irish Championship Trial – 6 February 2016

at Wightmans, Dunmore, Ballynahinch.

Photos by: Roger Singleton

Here are some action shots.

Terry Hill Expert 2nd Robert McCrory
Terry Hill Trial – Expert Runner Up – Robert McCrory (Scorpa) – Photo: Roger Singleton
Terry Hill Expert 4th Andrew McCrory
Terry Hill Trial – Expert fourth placeman – Andrew McCrory (GasGas) – Photo: Roger Singleton
Terry Hill Expert Elite 1st Stuart McClurg
Stuart McClurg (Sherco) Expert Elite winner – Photo Roger Singleton
Terry Hill Expert 1st Alex Lennox
Alex Lennox (Scorpa) Expert winner – Photo Roger Singleton
Terry Hill Semi Expert 1st Mark Harris
Mark Harris (GasGas) Semi-Expert winner – Photo: Roger Singleton
Robbie Jenkins (Sherco) – Clubman winner – Photo: Roger Singleton
Terry Hill Sportsman 1st Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones (Beta) – Photo: Roger Singleton

More Irish Trials, From The Vee, Clougheen, Co. Tipperary – Courtesy of Roger Singleton

Aaron Smith2
Aaron Smith (Montesa 4RT) at The Vee – Photo Roger Singleton
Adam Milner 2
Adam Milner (Beta) at The Vee – Photo Roger Singleton
Brian Dempsey 2
Brian Dempsey (Sherco) at The Vee – Photo: Roger Singleton
Dave Coughlin 2
David Coughlin (Montesa 4RT) at The Vee – Photo: Roger Singleton
John Heenan 2
John Heenan (Gas Gas) at The Vee – Photo: Roger Singleton
Jonny Lunney 2
Jonny Lunney (Sherco) at The Vee – Photo: Roger Singleton
Kate Callaghan 2
Kate Callaghan (Beta) at The Vee – Photo: Roger Singleton
Neil Moore 2
Neil Moore (Scorpa 250) at The Vee – Photo: Roger Singleton
Roger Callaghan 2
Roger Callaghan at The Vee – Photo: Roger Singleton

Some Irish Trials History:

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”.

Johnny Foxes 1965 - PEwan
Image 001

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.

D and D - PEwen
Image 002

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

Doug Ewen (250 Greeves), Dublin University Carville Cup Trial, 28.12.63 at Agh Farrell, Co Wicklow. – Photo Pat Ewen, Dublin
Time check at Templeboden Bridge, Co Wicklow. St. Patrick’s Day Trial – 17.3.1965 with John Poynton, 250 Greeves & Aubery Flood, 250 DOT – Photo: Pat Ewen, Dublin.
Willie Harris, 250 Greeves at the start of the Irish Experts Trial, Inishcarra, Co Cork, 5.12.1965 – Photo: Pat Ewen, Dublin
Benny Crawford (250 BSA C15T – probably a factory machine) at the start of the Irish Experts Trial, Inishcarra, Co Cork. 5.12.1964. Benny is the father of Rob Crawford – Photo: Pat Ewen, Dublin
Doug Ewen, 200 Triumph Cub, D+D St Patrick’s Day Trial, 17.3.1965. Black Hill sections – Photo: Pat Ewen, Dublin
Brian Lamb, Dublin University Grafton Cup Trial, Barnaculia, Co Dublin, 6.2.1965.  – Photo: Pat Ewen, Dublin
Dublin & District St. Patrick’s Day Trial 17.3.1965, Lunch stop at Clara Gate, Co. Wicklow -Norman Greene examining the electrics of his 250 DOT – Photo: Pat Ewen, Dublin
Eric Richardson, 500 AJS, Leinster Turkey Trial, 19.12.1964, Glencullen, Co Dublin – Photo: Pat Ewen, Dublin
Chick Gibson, 250 Bultaco, MEC Castle Cup Trial, 4.1.1969, Manor Kilbride, Co Wicklow – Photo: Pat Ewen, Dublin
Davy Malcolm – aka The Owl (250 DOT) riding up the Kilbride Firebreak in the D+D Manders Cup Trial 16.1.1965 – Photo: Pat Ewen, Dublin
Robin Powderly, 250 DOT, riding in the D+D St. Patrick’s Day trial, 17.3.1965, at the sections at Templeboodir Bridge, Co Wicklow – Photo: Pat Ewen, Dublin
Jonathan Bewley, 350 AJS, at the roadside sections in Glassamucky, Co Dublin, in the Leinster trial 18.11.1967 – Photo: Pat Ewen, Dublin
Kevin Keegan. BSA. Riding in a D+D trial in the 1950s. Above the Devils Elbow in Glencullen, Co Wicklow – Photo: Pat Ewen, Dublin
Cecil Coard (who is still competing in 2016). BSA. Riding in a D+D trial in the 1950s at Ballyfolan, Co Wicklow – Photo: Pat Ewen
Mick Tracey’s 200 Triumph Cub having retired with gearbox problems in the Irish Experts trial at Inishcarra, Co. Cork – 5.12.1964 – Photo: Pat Ewen, Dublin
Davy Malcolm – aka the Owl on his 250 DOT, riding sections at the Glendasan Lead Mines, Co Wicklow, during the D+D St. Patrick’s Day trial. 17.3.1965. This was a long distance event, a sampler for the SSDT and riders always wore helmets where there was a significant amount of road work or the expectation of tight time sections – Photo: Pat Ewen, Dublin

Lunch Stop at Clara Gate. D+D St. Patrick’s Day trial, 17.3.1965 – Photo: Pat Ewen, Dublin

Stanley Woods - Dublin Ini Trial - 02-10-1965
Probably one of the last competitive motorcycling events that Stanley Woods took part in. It’s the Dublin University club’s ‘Fall Trial’ on the 2nd October 1965 at Barnaculia near the Lamb Doyle’s pub (where the trial started) in the Dublin Mountains looking over the, now built up, suburbs of Dundrum. Stanley is on a 250 Bultaco supplied by Harry Lindsay. For the record, in the background is, on the left, that great exponent of 200 Trials Cubs, Mick Tracey and (centre) Ken Newcombe is positioning his 250 Bultaco for his attempt on the section while Bruce Stokes keeps an eye on proceedings (right). Pat Ewen

Ernie Lyons 250 Bultaco, riding the sections known as the Moon in Glassamucky, Co Dublin. Probably a Leinster Club Octember trial in the late 1960s. ‘Old Moore’ (Arthur Edward Garrett Moore) – a gentleman and a character and Pat Ewen’s father’s friend stands on the right – Photo: Pat Ewen, Dublin

Doug Ewen, 250 Greeves in the Dublin University, Campbell Cup Trial at Glending near Blessington, Co. Wicklow 27.3.1965 a great section, a long straight blast up a very steep hill – Photo: Pat Ewen, Dublin

Chick Gibson, 250 Greeves during the Ballorney sections during the Leinster Patland Cup Trial 3.4.1965 – Photo Pat Ewen.

Doug Ewen, father of Pat Ewen on his 250 Greeves, riding the last section of the Dublin University clubs (The Dublin University Motorcycle and Light Car Club) Fall Cup trial at Barnaculia, Co Dublin, 3.10.1964. Doug’s riding gear is interesting! – Photo: Pat Ewen, Dublin.
Doug Ewen – Triumph Cub – Photo: 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!

Doug Ewen – Norton – Photo: Pat Ewen, Dublin

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.

Pat Ewen on a Bultaco

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 Malcolm (aka The Owl) – Photo: 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!

Kate Callaghan with her father, Roger at Leanachen on the Monday – Photo: Neil Sturgeon, Darlington

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 & Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven

Kate C

“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.

Roger Callaghan shouts words of encoragement to Kate at the Monday group, Leanachen near the Nevis Range at Fort William – Photo: Neil Sturgeon, Darlington

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.

It wasn’t all plain sailing for Kate, seen here getting off the Beta amidst the unforgiving Scottish rockery – Photo: Neil Stugeon, Darlington

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.

Kate Callaghan gets to grip with the Scottish bedrock – Photo: Neil Sturgeon, Darlington

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.

Watched by Yorkshire rider, Boyd Webster, Kate enjoyed her SSDT challenge – Photo: Neil Sturgeon, Darlington

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.

Photos by Iain Lawrie – SSDT 2018

Kate Callaghan and Dad Parade
2018 parade of riders, Kate is in company with father Roger – Photo: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven

Kate Callaghan Clachaig2
Watched by Roger, Kate negotiates ‘Clachaig’ – Photo; Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven

Kate Callaghan Lower Mamore
Kate on ‘Lower Mamore’ – Photo: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven

Kate Gallaghan Doire Damph1
Kate Callaghan on ‘Doire Damph’ – Photo: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven

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The Premier Trial Website – Recording the History of the Sport 'Established 2014'

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