Motoring columnist Brian McDaid looks at the experience of many who make the pilgrimage to Donegal for the holy grail of rallying – the Joule Donegal International Rally.
If your emails have not been answered from Donegal today don’t annoy yourself looking for them until Monday or even Tuesday at least next week!
Lawnmowers were seen working late into the night this week getting gardens cut and hedges trimmed, hay was saved, and even the shopping is done, all the bonus points were accumulated by rally competitors and fans to clear the path to escape to soak up “The Donegal” for the weekend.
If you are not a fan of “The Donegal” us followers will know as soon as you call it “The Rally” which is a dead giveaway. People travel from all over the world to be in Donegal for June, which now is recognised as the holy grail of rallying.
Some Donegal fans believe it’s sometimes easier in June to seek forgiveness after you come back from a day in the hills enjoying “The Donegal” than look for permission to get away. Some fans even let on they are still at work and are regularly overheard standing in a field on their mobile dealing with a work related call as a Mk2 Escort powers it way past!
Talking about escorts I counted 77 of them in the entry for the Donegal this year. A Mk2 Escort and “The Donegal” is like strawberries and cream to a fan or a competitor, “The Rally” might be remembered for the 0.5% of the tens of thousands of people that pour into our county for the weekend that give bother, some of them don’t even go to the rally when they come up here. While the other 99.5% of fans and competitors sporting calendar revolves around their pilgrimage to “The Donegal” in June.
This Donegal is shaping up to be one of the best in years. Donegal men like last years winner Manus Kelly along with Declan Boyle and Donagh Kelly have it in their grasp to win the 2017 event and not forgetting the most successful navigator in Ireland Rory Kennedy who is on with one of the top favourites Gary Jennings.
Donegal’s new Big Ds
Sadly The Donegal Motor Clubs President Milford’s Derek Mc Mahon passed away last year but Donegal has three new Big Ds in the modified section this year.
Donegal’s Big Ds are no other than Damien Gallagher, Damien Tourish and Declan Gallagher who all look fit to lift the national title as does our club chairman Brian Brogan.
I have a box of old black and white negatives and digital hard drives which I continually retrieve from the bin for years. They are no good to anyone anymore as it is now considered too much bother for anyone to scan them. Every so often I delve into them looking for one thing, and forgetting what I was looking for and ending up with something completely different.
I was asked by the Donegal Motor Club to write a piece for the programme this year and decided to give an account of what it was like taking photographs at “The Donegal” for the last 40 years. With the write up filed and sent I was left with another file full of memories which we decided to put
With the write up filed and sent I was left with another file full of memories which we decided to put a up in a little slide show on YouTube of some of the more off beat photos I captured at the sport I truly love. I think you will enjoy the photos of people from the motorsport world some of which were never seen before. Enjoy the great memories they gave us when they were part of our lives.
I think you will enjoy the photos of people from the motorsport world some of which were never seen before. Enjoy the great memories they gave us when they were part of our lives.
Friends rally round in cycle to remember Ambrose
The community of the Broad road outside Convoy were deeply shocked and saddened by the untimely death of one of its most popular young men, Ambrose Given.
A talented precision welder by trade Ambrose was also a brilliant rally driver setting amazing times on the Clanree Hotel Mini Stages Rally in a Honda Civic. Ambrose also was into pedal power and was a talented cyclist. If Ambrose was still here he would be more than likely getting ready for the Donegal Rally this weekend and would also be taking part in the Donegal Ultra Cycle which falls this year on what would have been Ambrose’s 40th Birthday.
I only met Ambrose for the smallest amount of time possible on the the 30th of January in 2016 on a very wet and slippery single stage where I was fortunate enough to capture his flight through the air in a Honda Civic. It was by far the best action photo I have taken at a rally in years, so much so that I printed it down the week after the rally and it lay in my office until I got a phone call one Sunday Morning in October from one of Ambrose’s friends and neighbours wondering if they could get it as a memory for his funeral.
Now less than a year on friends of Ambrose are not going to let his great memory of his short life go.
The Broadroad Wheelers, an 8 person team was set up earlier this year with the sole intention of tackling the 555kms of the Donegal ultra cycle in memory of the late Ambrose Given Jr whom passed away suddenly last October.
The team name comes from the local name for the area where all team members live and where Ambrose also hailed from, while the team boasts riders ageing in range from 20 – 50 all the members were close friends with Ambrose and had shared many a cycle with him in the preceding number of years in many events including The Sligo to Letterkenny run, Gran Fondo, An Post series runs, and many other club and charity events.
Ambrose and crew member Danny Mac Bride even had a unique race from Convoy to Derry with their pace setter non other than the Stranorlar to Derry Bus Eireann Express! When the original idea of setting up a team for the 2017 ultra was talked about late last summer Ambrose was to be a competitor on the team.
Earlier this year the idea of going ahead and setting up a team to take part in the cycle in his memory was put forward by team member Karol Mac Bride and with a great deal of enthusiasm from all sides and no shortage of potential members and crew putting their names forward a team was entered for the event with the kind blessing and support of Ambrose’s parents and family members. All team members and support crew will carry a tribute to Ambrose on their shirts for the event and his beloved bike will be put to work on sections of the course with his brother in-law Alan Witherow on board.
Other team members include Adrian O’Donnell whom is never less than enthusiastic and it wouldn’t surprise anyone who knows him if he turns up in chaps and a cowboy hat to do his shift on the bike. Also we have the Mc Elhinney brothers Brendan and john who both have a few good cycling miles under their belts but would be more familiar these days shouting out pace-notes in rallies throughout the country.
Jay Mac Bride, father of Aaron is the elder of the team but who’s exploits in years gone by in cycling and indeed motorcycle racing is probably in no small part responsible for Aaron’s exploits and successes in both codes, they seem to have a thing for bikes with or without pedals.
Finally Daniel Mac Bride is the youngest team member and having done some cycling events a few years ago has come back to the sport for what could be a one off appearance and whom is taking on the challenge due to the reasons behind the team being entered as Ambrose had been a major influence on him and indeed Daniel has followed him into a career in pipe welding.
The team would also like to thank all the crew members who have pledged their time and help over the event, the event organisers for having our team, DMG motors for a crew car, Mac Bride Bros Joinery for use of vehicles, Helena Witherow for help sorting team wear, and all other supporters, but especially to the Given family for their support in this endeavour, they will do Ambrose proud!
And finally .. Left Over Roundabout maybe!
The Donegal women who will be busy for the weekend as organisers, drivers and navigators for the forthcoming Donegal International Rally.
The girls were pictured last weekend when they took time out from their busy motorsport calendar to appear on a calendar of a different kind!
The girls are pictured for the forthcoming Irish Rally Girls Charity Exploits in aid of Pieta House where they will represent ladies in Motorsport from Donegal.
The calendar will include different counties from all over Ireland of ladies involved in motorsport. Included were Loretta Kelly, Grainna McElhinney, Shannon & Louise Mc Carron, Eileen McCloskey, Michelle Doherty, Sinead McCafferty.
Happy Motoring Folks
The Passing of Driver/Firefighter Eddie Curran
As I am finishing off my motoring column I just have received the sad news of the passing of my friend and former fellow fireman Eddie Curran. This popular Letterkenny man passed away in Letterkenny General Hospital this week after a short illness. Eddie Curran and the late Eamon (Sam) O’Donnell and I started our service on the same day in 1985 with the Letterkenny Fire Brigade.
Eddie followed in his father’s footsteps Bobby Curran into the Fire Brigade. But Eddie Curran was on call long before he joined the Service, as a child he would regularly run from And O’Donnell when a fire call would come in to his home to the Old Fire Station on the High Rd. and had to get a chair out to reach up to put of siren to call the men out as his father was getting the details of the fire call over the phone at their home. As new
As new recruits Eddie and I were wile to drive the fire engine and the Late Eamonn Harvey who was one of the main drivers would take us out and teach us to drive the fire engine.
Eddie and I both passed our lorry driving test the same day in a fire engine, a Ford D Series registered AZP 999, Eddie was soon promoted as one of the main drivers on call at Letterkenny Station and also looked after all the fire engines for all the fire stations throughout Donegal, collecting them and delivering them after the were serviced and maintained in Lifford.
Eddie also had a great mechanical mind and was a great man on the pump to get much-needed water to the firefighters to fight the fire.
Our picture shows Eddie in happier times when he got the “call” to Dublin for the presentation of his long service Fire Brigade certificate and medal which was presented by the then Environment Minister Batt O’Keefe T.D.
Rest in Peace Eddie.Tags: