History of Pembroke Kilkenny

Looking back down the road that brought us here

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Back to the beginning

The 1930s were a very special era in Irish motor racing. The three successful Irish International Grand Prix held in Dublin’s Phoenix Park between 1929 and 1931 encouraged many enthusiasts to become involved and led to races being held on street and road circuits throughout Ireland.

For those that could not afford a purpose-built racing car, there was an alternative – designing and building your own ‘Special’. This was a very popular route into motor racing for Irish enthusiasts and these ‘Specials’ were often of a very high standard and very competitive.

The Statham-Ford Special

One of the most famous Specials was the Statham-Ford Special built in the garage of the same name. Driven initially by it’s designer and builder, George Statham, the car was driven to several notable successes by MJ Hynes, who took over driving duties in 1930.

Powered by a Ford V-8 engine it had such a notable success at the 1934 Phoenix Park Senior Race that it won outright in a new record time. But it’s greatest success came in the 1935 Limerick Grand Prix, a street race that attracted some of the world's best drivers. There it placed 7th overall against some of the finest purpose-built racing cars of the day built by such legendary names as ERA, MG and Bugatti. Watch the video below to see the car in action.

Pembroke Kilkenny Today

Our hotel now stands where that garage used to be. Our bar and restaurant are named in honour of Statham's Garage. Offering 4 star accommodation in Kilkenny city centre, with fantastic business facilities in our Business Centre and delicious food and drink in Statham's Bar and Restaurant, we've come a long way since the days of the Statham-Ford Special. But given the fantastic history of our building it seemed only right to dedicate part of our offering to the family who made it great. We have lovingly restored the Statham-Ford Special and it is on display at the hotel. Visit our bar to find out more about the history of the car and pick up our driving routes brochure so you can explore the same Irish roads as the Statham-Ford Special in it's day.

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