Media / Press Release on behalf of
THE GORDON BENNETT COMPANY
Athy Heritage Centre, Emily Square, Athy, Co. Kildare
Irelands Biggest Sporting Event was in 1903
June Bank Holiday Week End Launches the
THE CENTENARY CELEBRATION
of the 1903 Gordon Bennett Race in Ireland.
The 1903 Gordon Bennett Race was held in Ireland - through Kildare,
Laois and Carlow because in England at that time a motor vehicle
had to be preceded by a person with a red flag or it would not be
allowed on the Queens highway. A special law was passed to allow
the race to take place here. Even so the cars had to be preceded by
a cyclist when travelling through the towns in the race. In Ireland
32 counties there were only 250 cars, so many of those
who came may never have seen a car before, certainly they had never
seen a racing car.
The Race created a circuit that ran through counties Kildare, Carlow
and Laois, rather than the city-to-city races that had preceded it.
So the 1903 Irish Gordon Bennett Race probably invented Circuit Motor
Racing, which was henceforth to become the norm throughout the world.
Racing Green, the colours of the English Motor Racing Team ever since
was as a tribute to that first British Motor Race, The
Gordon Bennett, on Irish soil.
Councillor Michael English of Athy Town Council has been charged
with organising the Opening Celebrations of the Centenary Year in
Athy Co. Kildare, which will also be the launch the Gordon Bennett
The three Counties of Carlow, Kildare and Laois have come together
in a unique attempt to bring the route which links their counties
to the attention of the world. Then the Gordon Bennett Route, over
80 miles long, will be signposted as a Tourist Route to be marketed
around the world. Towns and Villages along the route will have the
opportunity to take advantage of this marketing effort to attract
Tourists to stay in their Towns and spend money in their shops. This
is an opportunity that has been lost to most places along the way
because of Bypasses and Motorways.
It will be a 1903 day in the Heritage Town of Athy Emily Square
and environs and everyone is encouraged to come in Period Dress.
No modern cars will be allowed in the Square even if they pay the
parking fee! Vintage cars from all over the 3 counties will assemble
in the Emily Square area.
Athy Town Council is running a Competition for the Shop that most
enters the Spirit of the Occasion, not just in its window display
but also by the manner in which Staff and Management Reflect that
1903 feeling. They may be dressing up for the occasion but, the organisers
have yet to hear of any 1903 prices - but heres hoping!
The whole town will take on the atmosphere of that great day 100
years ago that kick started the motor industry and some say has blighted
our lives ever since! Minister Brennan where were you when there were
only 250 cars in the whole of Ireland, North and South.
The original Gordon Bennett Race was a Time Trial so the car that
completed the course in the shortest time was the winner. Time trials
with Racing Cars from 1903 to the present day will be held on the
original road at the Moate of Ardscull, on the Kilcullen to Athy road
on Saturday 31st May, in Bagenalstown Co. Carlow on Sunday June 1st.
and on The Heath Portlaoise on Bank Holiday Monday June 2nd. Over
60 Racing cars are expected to take part on the first day building
up to 100 by the third day on the Heath. Racing cars through the century
will participate including the 1903 Gordon Bennett Era
There will be commemorative Medallions for cars that complete the
trials and winners each day. Overall winners will be declared on the
third day in Portlaoise.
There will be major road closures and diversions for the time trials
so do listen to AA Road Watch if you intend travelling through Athy,
Bagenalstown or The Heath-Portlaoise next weekend. Do not forget it
is the June Bank holiday too.
For Further information contact Sean Cleary, Chairman / P.R.O. of
The Gordon Bennett Company Ltd. at 0507 24164 or 087 9090044.
Background information on The Race and on Gordon Bennett the man
can be obtained on various Internet sites -
Gordon Bennett Ltd. is a company set up by Kildare, Carlow and Laois
County Councils to promote the Gordon Bennett Route as a Tourism Enterprise
Issued on behalf of the Gordon Bennett Company
by Athy Training And Enterprise Centre