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Local Studies Department

The Gordon Bennett Motor Race 1903 - Leinster Leader June 1903

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Leinster Leader, Saturday 20 June 1903, Last Edition - Page 5
District Doings,
IN QUEEN’S CO.

The members of the Queen’s County Council would do well to study the proceedings of their Kildare brethren on Saturday last, and the numerous difficulties and liabilities which the hitherto neglected question of extra police has raised in connection with the Motor Race.
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It will be seen that the Automobile Club, though very satisfactory in the verbal assurances made on their behalf, were significantly reluctant to put their names to any document indemnifying the ratepayers against cost.
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A sense of false security we know prevails amongst Queen’s County ratepayers on the subject of extra police, and at any rate it is now too late, since the Council have sealed their order permitting the Race, to absolutely compel, though not perhaps to induce, the Automobile Club to guarantee the County against expense in this matter.
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The Queen’s County portion of the Motor Course has been so well prepared as to evoke expressions of surprise from the Club officials, who state that they never anticipated that such an improvement could be effected in so short a time.
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In Naas and North Kildare
Elsewhere we publish the full circumstances attending the sensational rumour of the stoppage of the Motor Race. We also publish a special wire from our own correspondent in London anent the negotiations to which the Treasury the Automobile Club and Mr. Brown, chairman of the Kildare County Council, were parties.
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The fact that these negotiations have been necessary showed that there was really a “hitch” in spite of official denials and contradictions.
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Mr. R. J. Mecredy’s letter on page 7 confirms the impression that has prevailed with respect to the exploitation of local accommodation by speculators.
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Mr. Mecredy publishes a letter he had from a house agent complaining that he was not “letting as many house as he expected”. The people had “changed their minds” and “doubled their charges.”
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If they (as we are informed) had come to the conclusion that their houses and rooms were being “farmed” out for the profit of middleman[sic], it was perfectly natural for them to “change their minds.”
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There is a considerable difference from the point of view of the average householder on the Gordon-Bennett territory, between a visitor making a bargain for himself and an outsider seeking to reap a harvest out of both visitors and residents.
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The question of whether really “extravagant” sums were demanded is, however, one to be settled by specific details, and not by the generalities of house agents. Mr. Kelly, of Kilmeade, Athy, for instance, was represented as having charged “six pounds,” but on investigation the story acquired quite a different complexion from the one sought to be put on it.
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The owner of a house, willing to undertake the domestic disorganisation and inconvenience which the admission of tourist lodgers would necessarily involve, would naturally look for the very biggest price that the state of the “market” would permit. There is no great distinction between his case and the case of the owner of “land on which to erect grand stands.”
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The element of “rent” would rule in both cases, for rent, in economics, means a special value arising from “demand and position.”
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This brings us to Mr. Mecredy’s comparison between accommodation prices in Down, Cork, Kerry and Kildare. There can be absolutely none. The “position” rent of houses on the verge of the course and houses a hundred miles from it would be influenced by two varying sets of considerations.
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The hotel-keeper in Kerry and Cork might naturally anticipate a brisk demand, but he could not count with the same practical certainty upon fierce competition and famine prices, as the house owner whose premises virtually overlook the course.
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There may have been a falling off in inquiries for accommodation, but if so we believe that it can be explained by other reasons than the so-called exorbitant demands made for local rooms.
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We know ourselves cases where hotel-keepers have demanded as low as 5s. and 2s. 6d. for the storage and care of motors!. This was not “extortion” – it was something more akin to folly.
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Considering that a writer in the “Pall Mall Gazette” (Mr. Mecredy himself, we think) forecasts the probability that the Gordon-Bennett motor roads will be selected as a permanent motor course, we think no uneasiness need be entertained about motorists warning their friends off. If a permanent motor course is ambitioned[sic], we think that those concerned in the project would be wise in saying as little as possible in offence to local opinion. Local sanction alone will decide whether or not the course will be “permanent.”