'Twice I experienced at close range the thrills and spills of the East African Safari Rally'

File: http://www.lifehistoriesarchive.com/Files/FGS13.pdf

Dublin Core


'Twice I experienced at close range the thrills and spills of the East African Safari Rally'


Frank remembers driving in Kenya.


Frank Gaynor


Trinity College Dublin




This item is protected by original copyright

Access Rights

This content may be downloaded and used (with attribution) for research, teaching or private study. It may not be used for commercial purposes without permission.


Frank Gaynor

Is Part Of

Adolescence and Early Adulthood


Life Story

Spatial Coverage

Kenya, Africa

Temporal Coverage


Life Story Item Type Metadata


About six months after my arrival Vincent decided to leave Eldoret and return to Ireland. This pushed me into getting my own car. JBH gave me an advance on my salary, which was 700 pounds per year, and I bought a second - hand VW Beetle. For the next few weeks Fintan regularly travelled with me until I became more confident with my driving and more familiar with the locality. I did my first driving test in Kitale. Part of the test involved moving a toy car along lanes and through roundabouts on a kind of billiard table. The examiner for my test had the same kind of mentality as the staff in St Finian's. After howling at me to pull in and park, he then told me to get out and have a good look at the 'no parking' sign that was next to the car. A couple of weeks later I got some pleasure out of seeing my examiner striding briskly and silently into Kitale, in the company of a learner driver, after they had run out of petrol a couple of miles out of town. In my VW I travelled to most parishes in the Diocese where there were Irish priests. I was always afforded a warm welcome and a bed for the night. Some of the priests were in very isolated mission stations where they had few visitors. In addition to the regular pastoral work they were kept busy doing maintenance work on buildings, vehicles and other motors. Most missions had two small motors, one for pumping water and the other for generating electricity. Invariably when I would arrive at a mission I would find the priest engaged in some maintenance work. For some this kind of work was a joy, for others it was a curse. In an effort to help the priests remain sane and sensible the bishop encouraged as many as possible to come to Eldoret town every Monday, where they played golf and bridge, shared a meal and drank a few beers. This is where my interest in golf and bridge started. I felt very comfortable in the company of these priests. In Ireland both parishioners and priests placed the ordained priest on a level that was always above the ordinary man and woman. With these Kiltegan priests I had the feeling that I was working and relaxing with ordinary men who happened to be ordained. This changed my attitude to all priests. From then on I was no longer in awe of their status or surprised by their failures. For this alone I was glad that I had travelled all the way to Kenya. One evening in Eldoret I took a phone call from Kenmare. It was a message for Fr. Tommy to say his father had died. I drove through mud and rain to Iten to deliver the message. That night in front of a log fire Tommy tried to picture the scene in the sitting room back home - there would be some reflections on the final days and hours, funeral arrangements would be made, and some neighbours would call in to offer their sympathies and stay for a drink. For further details Tommy would have to wait for a couple of weeks for a letter from his mother. The Eldoret/Nakuru road crosses the Equator at Timboroa. I was under the impression that it was always very hot at the Equator. At a height of 2,800 meters above sea level Timboroa can be quite a chilly place. Nakuru Catholic Mission was one of my favourite stops. I was sure of a warm welcome from Fr. Tony and I enjoyed exploring the surrounding area. I could spend hours watching flamingos on Lake Nakuru. A visit to Menangai Crater, on a ridge overlooking the town, was always interesting. A wooden signpost at the edge of the crater showed distances to places like London, New York and Tokyo. A couple of miles outside the town there was a swimming pool. It was here that I lay for hours one morning, enjoying every moment of it as the heat of the sun pleasantly played on my back. That night I felt a bit ill. The following day as I drove back to Matunda I first became aware that I had serious sunburn on my back. Fintan brought me to a doctor in Kitale who applied some ointment and then wrapped me in cotton wool. For a few days the pain was severe, and then the itching started and nearly drove me insane. It was my first lesson in learning to respect the African sun. Twice I experienced at close range the thrills and spills of the East African Safari Rally. The first year I watched the cars as they came off a dirt road and on to the Eldoret/Kitale tarmac road. The second time I was in Ortum, at the foot of the Cherangani Hills. It was very exciting watching the cars, travelling at speed in clouds of dust, as they negotiated their way along the very rough narrow winding road.


Irish Research Council for Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences (IRCHSS)

Research Coordinator/P.I.

Dr Kathleen McTiernan (Trinity College Dublin)

Senior Research Associate

Dr Deirdre O'Donnell (Trinity College Dublin)


This item has no location info associated with it.

Social Bookmarking