I was in Westwood Trailers in Naas to hire a beavertail trailer for a mission I was on.

If you can keep occupied during the prolonged wet spell, it’s good. Now, while we do have an Ifor Williams livestock trailer that was bought from Westwood, it’s over 30 years old.

And boy, what a smart premises it is in Naas today. A showroom display of gleaming new Porsches or Ferraris wouldn’t look out of place in there.

Anyhow, I headed off on a long drive to west Clare and Ifor Williams trailers were on my mind. But our first livestock trailer was not a Williams but made by Jim Murphy in Tuam, whose family are still in business today building the Aerlite range of trailers.

In 1973 my father decided he needed a double axle trailer with decks to carry lambs to Trim Mart behind his two-tone chocolate brown and white (very 1970s) Mercedes 220D.

But the Merc was getting wrecked with sheep shit so in 1976, when Thomas and I were taking to the road, he bought a new Land Rover.

We were thrilled and it was the start of a Land Rover love affair for me that has remained to this day. Besides, the local movers and shakers had one, like Rickards, Conlon and McMahon.

We had arrived.

For the maiden trip in the blue and white LWB Land Rover (the two-tone colour system worked better on it), my father decided that we’d go on an overnight trip down to Lough Key in Roscommon.

My mother was from Roscommon so she’d be off at the drop of a hat. But we pointed out to Dad there was a problem. We didn’t have a caravan or a tent and we certainly wouldn’t be staying in a B&B, let alone a hotel with eight of us. It was too chilly to sleep outside.

My dad never saw problems, he just saw opportunities. “Haven’t we the Murphy trailer?” Dad said, “Thomas and Gerald can sleep in the Land Rover and myself and your mother will sleep on the top deck and the rest of you can sleep on the lower deck.”

And that’s the way it was. The trailer was roughly cleaned and bedded with a bit of fresh straw and off we went.

Range Rover

Three hours later and close to Boyle (the Land Rover was sluggish with the acceleration of a Honda 50), we spied a roadside Sahara dust-coloured Range Rover with the driver sitting on a flat trailer wheel.

Now I should point out that then it was hugely exciting just to see a Range Rover, unlike today when they’re common as cows. Dad shouted over the noisy diesel that he recognised the driver and, ever the good Samaritan, hit the (drum) brakes. Half a mile later, we stopped.

“Where are you going with that outfit, Elliott?” the cattle dealer asked. Dad replied he were off to Lough Key for a night or two. “For Jaysus sake,” said the dealer, “why didn’t you buy a comfortable Range Rover and a big caravan if you’re going to be at that lark?”

Dad didn’t like buying petrol and couldn’t reclaim the VAT. Range Rovers then were only available in the petrol-guzzling V8 engine (but beautiful) and anyhow Dad said they were for posers. We soon got the dealer going again. Shortly afterwards, we were in Lough Key and none of us have ever slept in a trailer since – not even a posh Westwood one from their smart showroom.

Anyhow, I returned home from Clare with a 1960 cherry red Austin Healey Sprite which I’d have killed for as a lad in 1976 for a blast down to Lough Key. And back – on the same day.