Sliabh na mBan, referred to as ‘Slievenamon’ in its earlier, anglicised form, is one of thirteen 920 pattern Armoured Rolls Royce cars which were acquired from the British by the Irish Free State after the Anglo-Irish Treaty of December 1921. The 1920 car itself was a slightly modified version of the 1914 pattern Rolls Royce armoured car, which had originally been produced for the British Admiralty (Royal Naval Air Service) during the First World War.
The first 1920 pattern ARRs were destined for service with British Armoured Car Companies in Mesopotamia. However, the worsening situation for the British in the War of Independence, which had broken out in January 1919, led to the cars being diverted for service in Ireland with the 5th Armoured Car Company of the Royal Tank Corps.
The armoured Rolls Royce cars were deployed in Ireland, in the same theatre as the Peerless and Lancia armoured cars, but were seen as having the edge in terms of mobility, their slim line design later earning the nickname ‘the Whippet’ in Ireland.
What has assured Sliabh na mBan’s special place in history is the fact that it formed part of General Michael Collins’ convoy which was ambushed on 22nd of August,1922 at Béal na mBláth in West Cork. The ambush resulted in the tragic death of General Collins, who was then Commander in Chief of the National Army (with General Richard Mulcahy as Chief of Staff).
By March 1947, the Defence Forces had been reduced to a strength of 8,803 personnel and there was no longer a place for the ARRs in the peacetime Army. They were quietly retired in the Curragh Camp, where unofficial efforts to preserve Sliabh na mBan ensured its survival during the lean years of the late 1940s and early 1950s. Records at Military Archives show that on 28th April 1954, twelve of the ARRs (less their turrets and armoured plate) were publicly auctioned at McKee Barracks, fetching values of between £27 and £60. However, the secretary of the Department of Defence, in a letter to the Minister of Finance dated 26th March 1954, mentions the preservation of one Rolls Royce armoured car as a museum piece in the Cavalry workshops, as well as another of the ARR engines for instructional purposes in the Cavalry depot. Accordingly, the Rolls Royce vehicle YI 6450 - which is ARR 2 - Sliabh na mBan - does not appear on the auction list for that day. The expertise of military and civilian personnel at the Cavalry Workshops since the 1950s has ensured the survival of Sliabh na mBan as a unique piece of Irish military heritage.
Another 1920 pattern Armoured Rolls Royce (though not one of the Irish ARRs) has been preserved at the UK’s Royal Tank Corps Museum in Bovington, while a private collector has recently restored Tom Keogh, ARR1. Sliabh na mBan, however, retains its historical pride of place as the oldest Cavalry Corps vehicle and one which now remains in perfect working order following extensive refurbishment in the Summer of 2011, under careful supervision of the Defence Forces’ Combined Vehicle Base Workshops.
|Sliabh na mBan Stats|
|Manufacturer||1920 Rolls Royce and Vickers|
|Engine||Rolls-Royce 40/50 H.P 6 Cylinder|
|Cubic Capacity ||7434cc|
|Power||40/50hp Silver Ghost|
|Gearbox||4 forward + reverse|
|Suspension||Leaf springs, with friction type shock obsorbers|
|Wheels & Axle||2 front and 4 rear pneumatic wheels, 2 axle|
|Speed||60 MPH on road|
|Weight||4.57 ton Laden 3.56 ton Light|
|Armament||Vickers .303 machine gun|
The Sliabh na mBan Rolls Royce armoured car is now on display in the Curragh Military Museum. This car can be viewed by the public without prior notice during the museum's opening hours.
To avoid disappointment please ring to find out if the vehicle is on display the day of your visit as there are days that the vehicle is not available.