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Local Studies Department

The Gordon Bennett Motor Race 1903 - Leinster Leader May 1903

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Leinster Leader, Saturday 30 May 1903, Last Edition – Page 5
District Doings,

In Athy and Carlow.

Dogs will certainly be a source of danger on the day of the great motor race. They are to be met with everywhere, and the question of ownership and consequent responsibility is often a difficult matter to decide. Many of the nondescript crowd have “no fixed residence,” and the summary despatch of any of those hungry wanderers found straying on to the course on the day of the race would appear to be an imperative necessity.
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The South Kildare Agricultural Society have advertised their splendid grounds for the purpose of letting for the erection of stands or camps.
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The grounds will be very suitable for the purpose. They are just outside the town of Athy, bordering the course, and commanding a view of both the “control” and racing ground.
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Numerous private stands are also being erected in every direction around the course. At Gracefield, Colonel White is having one erected for the accommodation of his friends.
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It is understood that the Moate of Ardscull, which was alleged to have been “secured by Messrs. Mecredy and Percy for the use of their friends,” will be open to the public without fee or demand of any kind. The landlords, “the trustees of the Duke of Leinster would not permit of a charge being made, as was the intention. Their action has met with public approval.
* * *
The Athy Sports come off on the 29th June in the new show-grounds of the Agricultural Society. An attractive programme has been arranged. The most valuable trophy offered for competition is the “Leinster Leader” Cup, which during the past year has been in the custody of a Limerick athlete.
* * *
As the sports come off two days before the motor race there is likely to be some cosmopolitan patronage.
* * *
A special meeting of the magistrates of Castledermot district was convened for Friday to consider the question of granting occasional licences on the day of the motor race.

Whilst returning from Birr in his motor a few days since, Mr. Weekes overtook a cart in which were Mrs. Joyce of Shannon Harbour, and another lady. As the motor whirred past the horse took fright, and the ladies were precipitated on to the roadside. Mr Weekes at once dismounted, and assisted the frightened ladies.


Mr. William O’Brien’s chief literary Hooligan is engaged in the congenial task of stirring up a panic amongst the residents along the Gordon-Bennett course. The following specimen of the drivelling bosh[sic] penned by this rameis[sic] artist, shows him as much at home in the work of manufacturing a panic as in the more congenial task of assailing the private character of King Edward the Seventh:-

“What may be expected when the mighty engines set out to traverse the borheens[sic] of Ireland at a rate of littleless than 100 miles an hour? If any man, woman or child wishes to be a witness of bloodshed, and to run the risk of being a victim at the same time, all that need be done is to stay within fifty or a hundred yards of the roads chosen by the foreign motor-speculators for their wild experiment next July.” He adds:- “Those Unionist newspapers whose contention is that there are still too many Irish people in Ireland, and that emigration is a natural result of “over-population,” must welcome the advent of the new foreign engines of murder to this country. Doctors and coroners will be busy in Carlow and Kildare next July.”

It is noteworthy that Mr. O’Brien’s newspaper is the only Irish journal lending support to the efforts of a number of envious Britishers, whose aim it is to deprive Ireland of the money and world-wide advertisement that will accrue from the great Race. The residents along the course, who are investing considerable sums to meet the requirements of the huge tourist invasion, will appreciate these tactics.
However, no one need concern himself very seriously as to the outcome. One sentence from the garbage scraped off the noisome intellect of Mr. O’Brien’s virtuoso in vulgarity graphically forecasts the exact effect of his exertions to stop the motor race. They are indeed bound to be – “as effectual as the efforts of a barking cur to stay the progress of a hundred horse-power motor car, were the cur to yelp in the neighbourhood of the course on July 2nd 1903.”


Mr. James Kelly, D.C., Kilmeade, Athy, writes with reference to the statement in the “Motor News” that he asked £6 a night for the use of a room in Kilmeade Post Office. His version of the occurrence is that Mr. R. J. Mecredy, Editor of the “Motor News,” called at Kilmeade Post Office on a Sunday evening in March, and asked the writer if he would set a bedroom to accommodate Mrs. Mecredy and children and the governess, for the night before the Gordon-Bennett race, as he did not wish them camping out. He told Mr. Mecredy that he never did the like nor was he thinking of it. Mr. Mecredy asked to see the bedrooms and on inspection said one of them would suit, and asked what he would take for it for the night? He replied that he had no idea of what it would be worth, and asked Mr. Mecredy what he would be inclined to give? Mr. Mecredy then said “What would you think of 10s?” Mr. Kelly continues:- I was too much surprised to be indignant and on the spur of the moment, without consideration I said I would not knock about the house for less that £5 or £6; intending this answer not as a price for the room but as an intimation to Mr. Mecredy that he might look farther for a room for 10s. Mr. Mecredy then asked me would I take no less, and I answered shortly “No” for I looked upon his offer as an insult and wished to have no more to say on the subject.