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Tommy Flanagan from Gort, who will be promoting Gort Cancer Support while competing in the Galway International Rally in February. Included in the photo are his son and co-driver Kieth Flanagan and Mary Nolan, events co-ordinator, Gort Cancer Support.

Rally to drive South Galway economy

THE  Galway International Rally will drive business in South Galway and raise awareness of local charities, according to organisers.

The Colm Quinn BMW Galway International Rally 2014 takes place on February 7, 8 and 9 and will see drivers compete over 13 stages in the vicinity of Gort.

Kieran Donohue of Galway Motor Club explained why so many people are likely to attend.

“Stages will be based around Gort over the two days are servicing will be here.  We would encourage people to come out and support the event and cheer the competitors on. We already have 110 entries and more are expected. Confirmed so far are seven WRCs or world rally cars. The leading drivers so far would be Irish Tarmac Championship winner from last year Gary Jennings, Donnagh Kelly, national champion Declan Boyle, Peadar Hurson, Enda McCormack, Sam Moffatt and expected entry from Eugene Donnelly. There will be a few lads from around Gort and some from Clare too,” he outlined.

One local man taking part t is Tommy Flanagan. Next month’s event will be his 14th Galway International Rally since 1985. Of those, he finished 13 and won 11 trophies.

“Two days of this year’s rally are in Gort. We felt it was the ideal opportunity to bring the rally back to South Galway because it hasn’t been in Gort for a long time. Myself and Patrick Curley picked the stages. The course will be fairly demanding we hope and the drivers will get good long stage distances on it and hopefully we will have a trouble-free run and no accidents.

There are five stages on the first day, with services in Gort Mart on both days. The rally is mainly based North of Gort going from in around Kinvara and Ardrahan and between Loughrea and Gort,” Tommy explained.

The rally enthusiast, who will be joined by his son Keith in their Mark 2 Escort, on the day, believes the event will be a big boost for the local economy.

“There will be a large following of rally fans and this will do a lot for the local businesses because there will be a lot of accommodation used up and a lot off food and fuel needed too so I think the town of Gort will benefit greatly,” he said.

Tommy also believes the rally is an opportunity to highlight the work of local charity Gort Cancer Support. He recently approached the group and offered to promote the service, for free, on his car.

“I wanted to do something for this local charity because it is doing so much in the community. I approached them and asked if they would come along with me on this and they said yes,” he recalled.

Carmel Kerins of Gort Cancer Support said she is delighted to have the chance to further raise the profile of the service.

“We are trying to raise awareness to show that we are here and to let them know about the services we offer. Tommy offered to put the stickers on the car and he said he thought there might be other drivers out there who would be willing to do the same. We are not raising money through this, just awareness, and Tommy has offered us the advertising on the car for free. We are hoping now that other people will come on board and highlight our services which are open to people across North Clare and South Galway. Certainly if there were other rally drivers interested in doing what Tommy has done for us we would be delighted to arrange that too,” Carmel stated.

While Gort Cancer Support will be promoted on Tommy’s car, another Galway charity will raise funds at the rally. The official charity partner of the Galway International Rally 2014 is Domestic Violence Response, an organisation which provides a number of supports for those affected by domestic violence.

“DVR is based in Oughterard but their service covers all of Galway. They will be doing a bucket collection at the ceremonial start at Eyre Square on Friday and in the services in Gort. We would encourage everyone who sees them out and about to give generously to them,” Kieran Donohue concluded.



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