Wednesday 28 September 2016

Around Ireland in a vintage Massey

We talk to the flying Scotsman who clocked up 3,500 miles around Ireland

Chris McCullough

Published 23/09/2015 | 02:30

Retired police officer Peter Matheson spent two months driving around Ireland on a 1974 Massey Ferguson 135
Retired police officer Peter Matheson spent two months driving around Ireland on a 1974 Massey Ferguson 135

A journey of endurance, dedication and good 'craic' ended for a tractor enthusiast from Scotland ended earlier this month when he completed a 3,500 mile trip around Ireland. Originally from Essex but now living in Inverness Peter Matheson finished his epic drive on September 6 after spending two months on the roads.

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His journey started on July 6 when Peter arrived in Larne on his trusty 1974 Massey Ferguson 135 tractor and his sidekick Amber the labrador.

The duo are no strangers to this type of endurance test as they spent six months driving the same tractor 8,000 miles around Scandinavia last year.

"This idea of driving around a country on a tractor came about after a night on the whisky in Inverness. Along with a few friends we were having a bit of a party until one of them bet me to drive around Scandinavia on a tractor," he said.

"Foolishly I took the bet but as a retired policeman I had no tractor or no interest in them. However, it wasn't long before I bought my pride and joy Massey Ferguson 135 on the internet and started to prepare for the trip.

"I towed a caravan all the way around Finland, Sweden and Norway exploring the countries from August through to January. What a trip! Amber (the dog) came with me the whole way but boy was it cold there.

"I had no windscreen on 'Annie', the name we gave to the Massey, and I had to get one fitted in Finland. It was dark by 2pm each day there and the caravan was cold at night but it was worth it."

It was that adevnture that prompted the trip around Ireland. Peter travelled along the coasts and also ventured into some areas well off the beaten track.

He originally had a co-driver who drove Peter's Landrover Discovery and caravan along too but he took ill and had to return to Scotland leaving Peter with nowhere to sleep as he could not drive both vehicles. The solution was to sleep in the tent which he carried in his support trailer attached to the Massey.

"We travelled firstly around Northern Ireland from Larne in an anti-clockwise direction before venturing across the border.

"I was hoping to get down the Atlantic Coast in time before the winds came but they beat me to it. The weather certainly was not our friend for the journey. After losing my co-driver the tent became my home but I did splash out on a proper bed and bath some nights which was heaven after being bounced around on the tractor for days.

"I have to say, the roads in the Republic need some attention as the number of potholes really is astonishing. One of the highlights of the trip was visiting the Puck Fair in Killorglin in County Kerry. What an amazing few days that was. Travelling around the Glens of Antrim was breathtaking. I have to say the people I met all along the way were very friendly and very supportive. They welcomed me everywhere I went, and some even fed and watered me. The pubs were great craic too."

But even with all the fun there was a serious side to Peter's adventure as he was collecting money for the Irish Cancer Society and Teenage Cancer Trust.

"People were very generous," said Peter. "I bounced around on the roads with Amber in her cage on the back for around six to ten hours per day. It was all worth it though as I have collected over £2,000 (€2,750) for the charities. People continue to donate on my website www.tractorbumble.com."

Peter's journey was not without its problems as Annie the 135 had to have her head gasket replaced and his Landrover Discovery is currently resting outside Dublin with a gearbox problem. "Once I get the Landrover sorted and back up to Larne I will go home and consider my next adventure," he added.

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