Cavan Motor Club Celebrates 40 Years In Motorsport - (Sat) 4 Dec 04

Posted: December 1, 2004 1:41 PM - 5970 Hits

Thanks to Gerry Buckley
The 60’s are guilty of introducing the world to many things, but Motorsport in it’s present format is just one of the fonder memories we have from that period. In terms of rallying, and other necessary items, it will always be known as the “Mini” era. The achievements of the BMC Competitions department in the early sixties with John Cooper’s incarnation of Alec Issigonis’s iconic creation live to this day, and from a purely Irish perspective the “David and Goliath” acts of Paddy Hopkirk in his Cooper S, which gave him victory in the most famous rally in the world – the Monte Carlo rally in 1964, inspired a lot of motorsport enthusiasts to pool their interests here at home and form Motor Clubs across the Country.

Posted: December 1, 2004 1:41 PM

In the early part of 1964 just such a group of enthusiasts assembled at the Ulster Arms Hotel, now Dunnes Stores Hardware on Main St. Cavan town, to discuss the possibility of setting up a motor club in the county. After many hours deliberation a committee was elected and Co. Cavan Motor Club came into existence. Mr Maurice Jackson was elected Chairman with the committee consisting of – Derek Morris, Paddy Hanley, Norman Cinnamond, T.J. Connolly, Mervyn Johnston, Willie McCormick, Vincent Bartley, Kevin Dolan, Billy Morris, Joe Fletcher, Mrs Maura Maloney, Mrs Isobel Morris and Mrs George Fairbrother. Mr H. Carty was elected Honorary Auditor.

The first event run by the new club was a navigation rally in October, which was won by Vincent Bartley and George Hillis, both sadly no longer with us. So successful was the venture that the format was repeated in November, - this time the husband and wife team of Derek and Isobel Morris, proved victorious. The first year in the life of Cavan Motor Club concluded with a third navigation rally in December – with Jackson’s Garage employee’s Noel Bartley and Norman Cinnamond, taking the honours on this occasion. At a dinner dance held in the Ulster Arms Hotel, trophie's and plaques were presented to the winners by Mr. John Wyre, Sales Director, Henry Ford and Sons Ltd. Cork.

Humble beginning perhaps, but Co. Cavan Motor Club was up and running, its success or failure would depend on its members………forty years later, the success story continues - Cavan Motor Club in 2004 boasts 280 members, from Competitors to Marshals to Licensed Officials. The centre point of our motorsport calendar, The Cavan Stages Rally has been a counting round of the National Rally Championship for many years as well as a counting round of the Border Rally Championship since its inception in 1986. Winners of our Stages Rally have went on to become National, Tarmac and Border Rally Champions

As we recount the actions of those inspirational founder members of our club, let’s take a look at where the last 40 years has taken them. Our first Chairman Maurice Jackson was the proprietor of Jackson’s Garage Main Ford Dealers, Farnham St. in Cavan Town, and Chairman of Cavan Urban council in 1972 & 1974. He passed away quite suddenly while staying at the Europa Hotel on his way back from a business trip to England in March of 1987, he was 72. Derek and Isobel Morris ran a Plumbing business beside the Ulster Bank on Main St., they later moved to Dublin where Derek set up business selling BP Natural Gas Central Heating, he and Isobel are now retired and living in Malahide Co. Dublin. Norman Cinnamond was a Store Manager in Jackson’s Garage for many years, a life long bachelor; Norman dedicated his life to Cavan Golf Club and still runs the Golf Shop in the Clubhouse. T.J. “Toggy” Connolly ran a shoe shop in the premises that now holds Patsy Boyle Menswear on Main St., He now resides in St. Margaret’s in Swords Co. Dublin.

The sixth member of the Committee was Mervyn Johnston, the Insurance salesman from Swellan, Cavan Town rose through the Hibernian Insurance plc to manage its Cavan Branch on Farnham St. passed away suddenly in 1994 at the age of 56. In 1964 Willie McCormick worked for Tyresoles Ltd. later to become Advance Tyres, selling remoulded tyres to garages around the midlands – in a Ford Thames van, he lived in Abbey St. then but now resides in Swellan with his wife Eileen and family. Willie, who is still actively involved in the club, is the only member to have recorded 40 Years unbroken service to Cavan Motor Club.

Vincent Bartley from Butlersbridge was a Salesman in Jackson’s Garage in 1964, he later moved on to the Anglo Celt in 1966 where he was part of a well known two-man Sales team, with the late John Sharkey for many years, he passed away a year after his retirement in 1986 aged 74 years, his son Noel is the present Chairman. The Clerk of the Course of some of those early club events, Kevin Dolan, was a mechanic in Jackson’s Garage, he later kept the An Post fleet in Cavan town on the road for many years, he now lives in Carrick On Shannon Co. Leitrim. The first PRO of Cavan Motor Club was Billy Morris; the amiable giant owned a light hardware shop on Church St. where he also sold Corgi toy cars and Scaletrix racing car sets. The shop now houses Maudi’s Bakery and Billy lives in Walthamstowe in London.

Joe Fletcher was the son of Charles H. Fletcher proprietor of the Star Garage in Killeshandra and later ran Fletchers Sawmills in the town, a teenager in 1964 he now divides his time between his families home at Castle Hamilton, Killeshandra and the Isle of Man. The second lady member of the 1964 committee was Mrs Maura Maloney, wife of prominent solicitor George V. Maloney and the founder of the Cavan Song Contest, she and her husband still reside in Cavan town. The final Lady member of our first committee was Mrs. Hilda Fairbrother, wife of solicitor George Fairbrother; she lived in Swellan until the family moved to Limerick, where they still reside.

Of the final two members of that first committee, Paddy Hanley and Mr. H. Carty, not much is known. They are both believed to have been employees of the Provincial Bank, later through amalgamation with Munster And Leinster Bank to become Allied Irish Bank, situated beside Jackson’s Garage in the building that now holds the offices of Kelly-Rahill and Co. Ltd. Accountants on Farnham St.

Most of the early club events organised at the time were navigation trials, such as the famous Circuit Of Cavan Trial, which was contested by Paddy Hopkirk and Terry Harryman in 1966. There were also autocrosses in Lord Farnham’s field, John Woods field in Oldcastle and Jimmy Brady’s field at Errigal outside Cootehill.

Cavan Motor Club has always been centred on the area’s of most interest during it’s existence, from the late sixties to late seventies the club was based in Oldcastle where most of the club events were staged, navigation rallies, autocrosses and forestry rallies. The secretary of the club at this time and for many years was Mrs. Maureen Curran, wife of the late Sean Curran who starred on the local and national scene at this time.

Following the creation of the Modern day Stages Rally in 1983 the activities of the Club were centred on the Town of Cootehill where the stages rally was run from the White Horse Hotel and the Autocross events were based in Brady’s field and Clarke’s Quarry in Drung for many years. This was the case until the Stages Rally moved to the Kilmore Hotel Complex in Cavan Town in 1998 centring the activities of the Club on the county town where it remains to this day.

In 1995 Cavan Motor Club achieved what was to mark it apart from any other Irish Motor Club, following a lengthily fund raising effort in involving a rallycar, an autocross special, 150 Life Memberships of the Club and a Lada a disused Quarry off the Ballybay Road outside Cootehill was purchased and became The Hut Cross Autocross Track, which remains the only autocross venue wholly owned and managed by an Irish Motor Club.

It also became the venue for the V-MAC Silo’s Autocross Championship which has become one of the largest and best supported local Championships in the country with entrants from as far away as Donegal making the trip to Hut Cross on seven Sundays during the year. This years Championship has just come to a close with Ronnie Coulter from Fivemiletown being crowned Champion for the third time on Sunday last.

Cavan Motor Club’s Club Championship follows competitors through each of the club events in the motorsport year and awards points for top 15 finishes. The events include the 7 rounds of the Autocross Championship, 2 Navigation rallies and the Stages Rally in May. This year the only competitor to score consistently on each round was Patrick Higgins from Granard Co. Longford and he joins a long list of Club Champions which include the 2004 Pirelli Tarmac Rally Champion Eugene Donnelly.

To celebrate this milestone in the clubs history, present and past members of Cavan Motor Club will gather in the Hotel Kilmore, Dublin Rd. Cavan on Saturday night next the 4th of December where a great nights entertainment is promised. Some past winners of the Cavan Stages Rally will attend and the Autocross and Club Championship awards for 2004 will also be presented. The Awards will be presented following Dinner at 8:30pm with dancing later to music from Breege and Startrek, some tickets are still available from any committee member or by calling 087 6343267.

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