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Local Studies Department

The Gordon Bennett Motor Race 1903 - Leinster Leader May 1903

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Leinster Leader, Saturday 23 May 1903, Last Edition – Page 5
District Doings.

In Athy and Carlow.

* * *
At the same meeting a motion by Mr. J. B. Deegan, V.C., asking the Athy magistrates to re-consider their decision not to grant occasional licenses for the day of the motor race, was declared lost.
* * *
Mr. Deegan argued that the people would require refreshments, and broadly conveyed that Adam’s ale did not deserve to be dignified as such.
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Mr. St. John thought that the granting of those licenses would be trifling with life. He gave notice to move at the next meeting that they consider their responsibilities with regard to providing all the necessary accommodation in view of the great influx of visitors on “motor day”.
* * *
In Athy and Carlow a good deal of indignation has been caused by the reports which are being circulated with regard to hotel charges and other accommodations. Those reports, where not untrue, are grossly exaggerated.
* * *
In the last number of the “Motor News” a lot of capital is made out of the fact that “£6 for the night” was asked for a single bedroom in the Post Office at Kilmeade, which is adjacent to the Moate of Ardscull, whence a good view can be obtained.
* * *
The fact is not mentioned that Mr. Mecredy offered for the bedroom the munificent sum of 10s., when Mr. J. Kelly, D.C., the proprietor, or acting proprietor, replied that he wouldn’t break up his house for £6.
* * *
It is not mentioned that Mr. Mecredy obtained for the modest sum of £10 a site at Ardscull on which to erect his stand, and that the Automobile Club had obtained at Ballyshannon Cross Roads, the starting and finishing point, a site of about half an acre for a similar sum.
* * *
On this site will be erected a stand, on which the Viceregal party will be accommodated.
* * *
It would be interesting to know what exactly the Automobile Club will net on this stand the site for which was procured for the moderate sum of £10.
* * *
Then “a friend in Athy” told the writer in the “Motor News” that at the local fairs, when, of course, the hotel accommodation is nothing like sufficient, a charge is made of something like 10s. a night for sleeping accommodation, although in many cases the best that can be offered is a couch or shake-down on the floor.”
* * *
The “friend” argued from this that those with accommodation “for the Gordon-Bennett” might reasonably expect “a very special price.”
* * *
There is always abundant hotel accommodation in Athy on the occasion of fairs, but no such charge as 10s. a night ever obtained or was ever asked.
* * *
It would appear as if some motorists required hotel accommodation for nothing, and that their chagrin is great because their expectations have not been fulfilled.
* * *
Hotel proprietors and occupiers who have accommodation to offer will certainly charge extra during motor week, but they have too much prudence and foresight, we are sure, to injure their interests in the future by exorbitance on the coming eventful occasion.
* * *
Mons. Boufflis has taken some grounds near Kilcullen on which he will erect tents to provide accommodation for from two to three hundred Frenchmen.
* * *
Mr. Goff, the well-known motorist has taken Fontstown House for a French competitor. In the lawn, accommodation will be provided for from 100 to 200 people.
* * *
I learn that £80 has been given for a field in Kilrush, in which it is proposed to erect a stand.
* * *
On Thursday Mr. Singleton, assistant Inspector-General, visited Athy accompanied by County Inspectors Crane and Babbage, and District Inspector Heard, for the purpose of regulating police arrangements in connection with the motor race.
* * *
On Wednesday Mr. James Talbot Power, Leopardstown Park; Mr. Percy, and some officers of the Channel Squadron, accompanied by a number of ladies, visited Athy for the purpose of seeing portion of the motor course.
* * *
They started from the Hibernian Hotel at 11 o’clock in a four-in-hand tandem and motor car, and proceeded to Newbridge via the Moate and Ballyshannon.

In Naas and North Kildare.


* * *

Mr. John S. O’Grady has a pretty wit. He compared Naas to another Lazaraus[sic] on Wednesday, when he referred to the local efforts made to secure a share of the patronage that will follow the motor race, and said that it was a case of “picking up the crumbs that fall from the rich man’s table.”
* * *
Really, we should describe it as legitimate enterprise. Mr. O’Grady did not elaborate his simile, nor tell us what town occupies the position of Dives. Naas must console itself for the reference by the reflection that Lazarus came out on top in the long run, and was not an undue length of time scraping himself with potsherds. All we can hope is that Mr. O’Grady was more charitable than to assume that Kildare was the local Dives, or to condemn it inferentially to the fate which befel[sic] its historic prototype.
* * *
Much word-spinning has been indulged in latterly as to the prices asked by proprietors of hotels and lodging houses for accommodation on the occasion of the motor race. We are confident that business people in this district have too intelligent a regard to their own future interests to kill the goose, suck the golden egg and break up the bipeds nest all at once.
* * *
They are disposed to give the bird a chance. We have heard of high prices being asked and given, but that is only what would be anticipated on an occasion when tens of thousands will swarm into the district. Besides, the highest prices are asked by people who do not as a rule accommodate “paying guests” at all, and, in their case, no hard-and-fast line can be drawn as to what is moderate and what is exorbitant.
* * *
For instance, we are reliably informed that Mrs. Bardon, of Kilcullen, asked £50 for a five roomed house for two nights, and not only was her offer accepted on the spot, but in addition she was given £30 for the use of the out-offices.