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Local Studies Department

The Gordon Bennett Motor Race 1903 - Leinster Leader June 1903

Back to Introduction | July list of articles

Leinster Leader, Saturday 11 July 1903, Last Edition - Page 5
District Doings,
In Naas and North Kildare


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The proposal of “Motoring Illustrated” to provide a 250 guineas challenge cup for the purpose of an annual International motor race over the Gordon-Bennett course will be of considerable interest to the localities immediately concerned.
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So far as Naas opinion has expressed itself, we believe it is not favourable to sanctioning the use of the local roads for such contests again, unless the town is put in a position of deriving more substantial benefit from them than it did on the recent historic occasion.
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Naas, it seems, will expect that the original Gordon-Bennett course, which ran through the town, will be reverted to, more especially as the suggested contests will be a matter of endurance rather than of speed.
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Unless this concession is made to Naas sentiment, it is probable that its representatives on the County Council will receive a mandate to oppose the running of such races on any road in the vicinity.
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Some of the English journals have been quite profuse in their sneers at the accommodation offered by the Naas hotels. These critics fail to remember that such establishments cannot, and do not, subsist upon the customers whom a rare event like the Motor Race compels to spend a few hours in the town.
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The superior Briton evidently expects the Irish hotel proprietor to embark all his capital in providing elaborate bar accommodation for one day’s rush of motor tourists.
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Our French exchanges to hand are, on the contrary, full of complimentary references to all the local features of the Race. They dwell without reserve on the thoroughly cordial and courteous manner in which visitors have been received all along the course. The perfect organisation which marked the patrolling of the road, and the restraint preserved by the crowds, were such as our French observers did not previously consider to be possible anywhere.
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In the works of “Le Matin,” “tout etait impeccable” - everything was irreproachable.
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In Athy and Carlow.

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Many Athy traders who had made elaborate arrangements to cater for visitors on the day of the Motor Race were somewhat disappointed. Before six o’clock in the morning many people had taken up their positions along the course, and as the “specials” reached Athy Station from Dublin the passengers flocked out into the country.
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Athy was therefore not the seat of congestion that many, or rather most, expected, and traders who had made elaborate arrangements were certainly not recompensed for their trouble.
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In Stradbally and district the attendance was very small, and the prophecies of a large incursion of visitors indulged in by a certain section of the Press were not fulfilled.
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An amusing incident occurred in an Athy hotel on the night of the Motor Race. A Kilkenny gentleman, a member of the teaching profession, was mistaken for Jenatzy, to whom he bears a strong personal resemblance. He was seized upon and feted as if he were a prince.
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The object of all this hospitality was absolutely amazed at the reception he received. When he ultimately discovered that he was mistaken for the Gordon-Bennett Cup winner, and when his hosts were apprised of the mistake ‘twas only then the fun commenced.’
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By the way, Jenatzy was photographed in his winning car outside the Royal Arms Hotel, Athy, on the 3rd inst. Seated beside him was Baron de Caters, next to Edge and Winton the most popular of all the competitors.

For two nights in the Motor Week a party of Yankees paid the Hibernian Hotel, Athy, the handsome some of £61.