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Historic Moon Car donation made to National Museum of Ireland

'The Moon Car', 1919 Rolls Royce ‘Silver Ghost’ luxury sedan, donated to the National Museum of Ireland by Mr Pat McSweeney. Image: Paul Sherwood
  • A 1919 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost, nicknamed the 'moon car' because of its use at night in Cork by an IRA unit Involved in the War of Independence and Civil War

14 January 2020: Today the National Museum of Ireland marked an important donation by Mr Pat McSweeney of a 1919 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost, nicknamed the 'moon car' to the National Museum of Ireland.

So called because of its use at night in Cork by an IRA unit Involved in the War of Independence and Civil War.

The vehicle in question is a restored 1919 Rolls Royce ‘Silver Ghost’ luxury sedan. The vehicle came into Irish Republican Army (IRA) possession at some point prior to 1924.

It was closely associated with the mid-Cork IRA (organized as the Cork No. 1 Brigade), which was among the most innovative and audacious IRA units of the revolutionary period. 

The Moon Car was involved in the Cobh attack of 21 March 1924, a major event in Anglo-Irish relations, which, it can be argued, marked a symbolic end to the Civil War. 

On 21 March 1924 a yellow Rolls Royce arrived in Cobh with two Lewis machine guns and five men dressed in National Army uniforms [See the Cork Examiner, 31 March 1924; the Freeman’s Journal 24 March 1924). 

They opened fire on a British harbour launch carrying unarmed soldiers, sailors, and civilians from the garrison on British-controlled Spike Island.  The gunfire killed one soldier and wounded seventeen more, along with five civilians.  Speeding away, the vehicle stopped briefly to fire on the Royal Navy warship, HMS Scythe, which was spared any damage. 

The attack was, in fact, carried out by senior officers of the Cork No. 1 Brigade, who intended to spark violence between the Free State and British forces, and thus deepen the crisis within the National Army.  [Paul McMahon, British Spies and Irish Rebels: British Intelligence and Ireland, 1916-1945 (London, 2008), pp. 202-203]. 

The Rolls Royce Silver Ghost is a highly prized car model known to collectors around the world.  The 1919 make is even more sought after, as this was the first year Rolls Royce resumed producing the cars, following wartime hiatus.  It is extremely rare.

Today, the ‘Moon Car’ was presented to Ms Lynn Scarff, Director of the National Museum of Ireland.

Ms Scarff noted that the NMI was honoured to receive this important donation, which will greatly add to the National Collection and be retained securely for future generations to engage with at the National Museum of Ireland.  

ENDS

*Images available from Paul Sherwood Email - paul@sherwood.ie

Press and Information Office
Maureen Gaule - Marketing Department- National Museum of Ireland
mgaule@museum.ie 087 9031690
Paul Sherwood, paul@sherwood.ie 087 2309096
 
ABOUT THE NATIONAL MUSUM OF IRELAND:
The National Museum of Ireland has 4 public sites, and a Collections Repository: 
National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology (Kildare Street, Dublin 2)
National Museum of Ireland – Natural History (Merrion Street,  Dublin 2)
National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History (Collins Barracks, Dublin 7)
National Museum of Ireland – Country Life (Turlough Park, Castlebar, Co. Mayo)
Collections Resource Centre (Swords) (Not open to the public)
 
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