I am hoping for forgiveness in place of permission in sharing one of Danielle Duddy Meeke’s posts of the family in Sunny Spain this weekend as they got their picture taken in front of the Citroen at the finish of the World Rally on Sunday evening.
It was just a perfect end to a perfect rallying weekend seeing Kris Meeke’s wanes and wife getting into the picture with him to celebrate his win at the finish of the world rally in Spain.
It was such a difficult year for the Dungannon man but he summed it up the best himself: “It’s not about how many times you fall down, it’s about how many times you’re willing to get up again.”
I was nearly afraid to log on to check the results when Kris Meeke was in the lead this year, such was his spate of bad luck. It’s the story of my life when I am gunning for someone to win, I can hardly watch them until they cross the finishing line that I have any enjoyment in their success. This win is no more than Kris Meeke deserves, his talent gave him a much-needed win both for himself and for his team, Citroen.
Rainy Day in Donegal
Meanwhile back in Ireland, we hadn’t much sun on Saturday for the final rally of the season as the rain poured down for the most of the morning around Dunfanaghy where the harvest rally was based.
Kris Meeke would only be the same age as his children are now when John Lyons brought his Escort over the line in 1981 to win his first of two Donegal Internationals. It also brought Kris Meeke’s father Sidney his first success on an International Rally as the John Lyons car builder.
John Lyons was on hand on Saturday to stick it out in the rain until all the rally cars went through the starting ramp and even waved through a Ford tractor which went the wrong way around the carpark looking to do a bit of shopping on Saturday morning!
Days like this
When it’s not always raining there’ll be days like this,
When there’s no one complaining there’ll be days like this,
When everything falls into place like the flick of a switch,
Well my mama told me there’ll be days like this.
Saturday looked like it wasn’t going to be like the words of the song by Van Morrison. A bad start when I got as far as rally headquarters at the Shandon Hotel to sign on only to find no press information packages left. To make things worse John Lyons was already waving the cars off in Dunfanaghy while I was sitting in Marblehill!
When we got as far as the square in Dunfanaghy, John was still there waving the crews through. Days like this I am so glad of “Donegal Time” when 10 am means around 10am or so!
A lovely MK2 Escort was making its way through the start ramp and we coaxed the driver to stop and get out and brave the pouring rain for a picture with John Lyons. As we got set up the crowd that was standing back made their way forward from under their raincoats and umbrellas and started to cheer on the driver and take photos of him and john with their phones.
We quickly got our pictures not to hold up the already delayed field and as the car pulled away I ask some of the locals what was the name of that driver. “Sure that’s Shaun Doherty,” was the reply, “and that’s his mammy over there!”
His mammy was a bit reluctant to go into the photo and was even more reluctant to tell me her name. But it was a moment in the rain in Donegal of pure pride not unlike the pride in the photo of Kris Meeke and his family at the finish of the rally in Spain.
The sound of music
It was like a riff on a guitar for the intro of a song you hadn’t heard in years. It just takes you right back in time travel. That is what the sound of that Opel Ascona 400 of Donagh Kelly sounded like in the hills on Saturday around Dunfanghy and Falcarragh where like a massive ancient natural amphitheatre it introduced the roar of the Ascona long before it appeared on the stage.
Between that classic Opel being pushed through those familiar slippery autumn stages and a rallying hero like John Lyons braving the driving rain to wave off the competitors on Saturday morning from the Market Square in Dunfanaghy. It really felt like a blast from the past at the weekend.
The sound of that Opel sharpened the taste buds to memories of years gone and then out of the blue, a Sunbeam of Neil Campbell passes by on the stage just hit a chord with me from memories from the past.
We were raised in Glencar in Letterkenny on the the sound of rally prepared Sunbeams; James Cullen, Eamon Harvey, Danny Caddye, Jeremy Shields all had Sunbeams of different kinds some with twin forty Webers and some with SU carbs but they all had the same note when you lifted of the gas or when you were using the gearbox to slow down the car.
I’m not saying Campbell was lifting but when he did his Sunbeam had that same old familiar note. Derek Mc Mahon, John Joe Boyce, James (Deis) McDaid, Robert Ward, Vincent Bonnar, to name but a few all come to mind remembering them all rallying Sunbeams in their day.
Wouldn’t it be an idea to take an autumn leaf of Donagh Kelly’s book and do what he did this weekend with his classic Opel Ascona and honour some of these great Donegal Drivers by recreating their memory in future events in a Sunbeam?
Happy Motoring FolksTags: