Limerick Motor Club - A Brief History
Our Club, one of the oldest in the country, takes pride in celebrating its sixtieth anniversary this year. In 1948 Richard Kemp brought a group of motor enthusiasts together at the old Royal George Hotel to found the Limerick Light Car and Motorcycle Club.
The club’s first event was a hillclimb on Gallows Hill just outside Limerick, on May 12th 1948, where the entry was composed mostly of motorcycles, perhaps reflecting the post-war cost and scarcity of cars. A competitor at that first event was a founding member Stan Russell, who has served the club in so many capacities over the last sixty years. The club had a busy programme for the remainder of 1948 running a number of sealed speedometer tests, a motorcycle grasstrack event at Thomond Park, a treasure hunt, a night navigation trial and Lahinch Strand Races. By the start of the Fifties a regular club calendar was well established which featured an event every month including the Circuit of Munster, Circuit of Clare, Winter Trial and Hillclimb. These were open and in many cases championship events
The Circuit of Munster has always been our premier club event having run every year, except three, since the first one in 1949. The first ‘Munster’ was a two day event run over the Whit weekend with an estimated entry of 55-60 made up of cars and motorcycles. The start was at the Dock Road in Limerick and the first day’s route took competitors through South Tipperary, over the Vee to Dungarvan, on to Youghal and West Cork to the overnight stop and knees-up at Glengarriff.. The pace on the first day, we are told, was a fairly leisurely one with a stop en-route for lunch. However entrants had to contend with a ‘regularity’ (hillclimb) on the Vee, many crossroads tests, navigation, time checks, passage checks and controls all of which, even today would test the endurance of driver and machine.
Day two brought competitors over the Tim Healy Pass, on to Caragh Lake, down Moll’s Gap to Killarney and back to Limerick with more regularity sections and navigation tests on the way. Final spectator tests took place before a large crowd at the open area on the Dock Road now occupied by the Steamboat Quay development. This was the start and finish location for most club events over the next two decades. The first Circuit of Munster was won by Irwin Catherwood and Clerk of the Course was Mick O’Connell. Well known names that have won the event over the years include Billy Coleman, Paddy Hopkirk, Ger Buckley, Donie Keating, John Price, Gerry McNamara and Charlie Gunn to name but a few.
As rallying has changed over the decades the Circuit of Munster, which remains a major fixture on the Irish rally calendar, has also changed with the times. It is now a one day special stage event with headquarters at the Woodlands House Hotel in Adare and attracts up to one hundred and fifty top crews and has a strong reserve list..
First published in the 1998 Circuit of Munster programme for the 50th anniversary of the club updated for 2008 website launch
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