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Rosemarie Stuart of Tony’s Bar Bridgetown and Mike Carey, of Mike Carey Agri, launching the annual Tony Horan Memorial Tractor Run which takes place on Sunday 24th October, starting with a Kiddies Tractor Run at 11.30am in The village. This is the third year of the run and monies raised will go to local charities including Equine Assist Therapies, based in Killaloe. Photograph by John Kelly.

Bridgetown gets into gear for the Tony Horan Tractor Run

MOTOR and tractor enthusiasts are revving up for the return of the Tony Horan Memorial Tractor Run in Bridgetown on Sunday, October 24.
This eagerly-awaited social event, which is run in memory of popular Bridgetown publican Tony Horan, is expected to attract up to 100 trucks, tractors, motor bikes and vintage cars.
Starting at 1am, the tractor run goes from Bridgetown to Broadford, onto Ardnacrusha and Bridgetown for the pig on a spit at 4.30pm.
It has been organised by Rosemarie Stuart, who now runs Tony’s Bar, Bridgetown.
“It is a great day in the village, and everyone is looking forward to it. In view of Covid-19, everyone needs a lift,” she said.
An auction and raffle will be held in the pub after the tractor run. A mini tractor run takes place for children in the back yard early in the morning.
Families can look forward to availing of a face painter for children, pig on a spit and two bands.
While prizes are continuing to be donated, Rosemarie confirmed the response has been bigger and better than ever before.
Born and reared in Killaloe, Rosemarie moved to Ogonnelloe when she got married.
Her father, Tony Horan (81) previously ran the pub for 12 years before he died in February 2018.
The Killaloe native started out his working life as a carpenter, became a butcher and then started working as a farmer and cattle dealer.
In 1983, Tony moved to be near his farm in Bridgetown. After selling this farm in 2002, he lived and worked in the pub.
The mother-of-six recalled her father was well known in the local community.
“Tony was a very sociable person. People came to the pub to meet him. I helped him out in the pub for some years before he died. Tony was very well known in South-East Clare.
“He had a good pub trade, as good as any rural village and better than some. He loved the pub.
“This pub is known as Tony’s. While I am here it will remain as Tony’s. That is the way I want it.
“Tony was buried on a Thursday. We opened the bar on Saturday. I left my home in Ogonnelloe at the time and moved into live in the pub.
“Myself, my husband, Michael and the two younger kids moved in to the pub and have been here since.”
It was very important to Tony that the pub would be kept open with his name over the door, which his daughter has always strived to do.
In 2018, she held her first Tony Horan Tractor Run with all the proceeds being donated to the Clare COPD Support Group in Ennis.
The following year the number of vehicles increased from 80 to 90, which resulted in a €7,500 donation to Mental Health Ireland. Last year, Covid-19 scuppered any plans for a tractor run.
With plans for an even bigger tractor run this year, Rosemarie will donate the profits to a local health charity, Joe Slattery, an equine assist therapist in Killaloe, and the local Tidy Towns’ committee for a bench engraved with her father’s name.
In addition to hosting music on Saturday nights, Rosemarie and her husband, Michael drive their customers home at the end of every night, even if they are living eight miles away.
She thinks it is very important that customers don’t drink and drive and should always get home safely after leaving her licensed premises.
She was delighted to reopen after Covid-19 restrictions resulted in the closure of pubs who weren’t serving food for long periods.
Open seven nights a week from around 4pm, she notices customers are socialising and going out earlier.
She feels people appreciate meeting people in their local pub even more since the virus resulted in restrictions in April 2020.
“Small village are dying. The rural pub is vital in a village. The Guinness representative who does deliveries has told me a lot of pubs are now closed on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
“I have a few elderly customers who come to the pub because it is a social outlet. It is not about the drink.
“They will come in and talk about what they did during the day. They met their friends and we all have a chat about the local deaths and news.”
She visits the family farm regularly in Ogonnelloe where they have a suckler cow herd and also breed sport horses for the past 30 years.
The family sell foals to horse owners every year. “The birth of a foal is very exciting. All horses are different, so you are anticipating all year what I am going to get.
“Breeding horses is good for the local economy. We purchase all our requirements locally,” she added.
Rosemarie thanked all the local businesses for donating prizes to the raffle and everyone who gave prizes for the auction

by Dan Danaher

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