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County Kildare History and Heritage

Gordon Bennett Motor Race 1903

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Leinster Leader, Saturday 24 January 1903 Page 8.


The Committee of the Automobile Club of Great Britain and Ireland have decided to hold the race for the Gordon-Bennett Cup in Ireland, provided they can obtain the necessary authorisation from Parliament. The first race was run in France, and was won by a Frenchman. The same result occurred in 1901, but in 1902 Mr. Edge an Englishman, won the coveted trophy. There can be no question but that the success of the French cars gave a great stimulus to the motor car industry in France. In 1900 the value of exported motor cars from France was 290,360; in 1902 the figure had reached the sum of 1,062,040. It is calculated that 180,000 workmen are engaged in France in this industry. From these figures it will be easily understood why English motorists are anxious that the next race should be run in the United Kingdom. They have selected Ireland because an open course was more easy to be found. The course suggested forms a rough isosceles triangle, with Naas at the apex, and Maryborough and Carlow at the base angles... The race will start at 3 a.m., and end about 1 oclock in the afternoon. Elaborate precautions we understand will be taken to prevent accidents.

Leinster Leader, Saturday 31 January 1903 Page 5.


In connection with the great motor race for the Gordon-Bennett Cup, proposed to be held in Ireland (starting and finishing at Naas) there is much correspondence in the current issue of the Automobile Club Journal. A Bill must be obtained to enable the race to be held in Ireland, and the Automobile Club are seeking support for a petition in its favour. This they are absolutely certain of obtaining from almost every public body and representative public man in the country. Already almost all the Irish members of Parliament have promised their hearty co-operation whilst numbers of the County and District Councils follow suit.

The Most Rev. Patrick Foley, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, writes:- In response to your circular, I have much pleasure in declaring myself an ardent advocate of the proposed route for the Gordon-Bennett Cup Race, 1903. As all the towns and most of the rural districts through which it passes are situated within my diocese, I am well acquainted with their inhabitants, and have no hesitation in stating that with the proviso respecting proper precautions contained in your circular, the proposal will be received with acclimation alone the whole line of route. Wishing the project every success.
Mr. S. J. Brown (chairman of the Kildare Co. Council) writes:- In response to your circular of 24th inst., I can safely promise, on behalf of my Council, that your committee may count upon their support for the proposed Bill to enable the Automobile Race to be held in Ireland and that they will do everything in their power to have the roads in good order for the occasion. There will be no meeting of the Council until the 9th prox., but I shall then bring the matter formally before them. If I might make a suggestion, it would be that it would be hardly necessary to begin the race at such an early hour as 3 a.m.
The Early of Mayo, Sir Algernon Coote, Sir A. A. Weldon, Mr.. J. L. Carew, M.P., Mr. Wm. Delaney, M.P., Mr. M. J. Minch, M.P., County Court Judge Fitzgerald, Colonel R. Cosby, the Queens County Council, etc., have also promised their support.

Leinster Leader, Saturday 31 January 1903 - Page 7.

The Chairman said that in connection with the above race, which was proposed to be held in this country, he had received a communication from the Secretary of the Auto Mobile Club. It might seem strange that such a letter was addressed to him - [laughter]- but he saw by the chart before him that the course ran almost altogether through his diocese. He was glad to see that the project was supported by their worthy Member of Parliament Mr. Hammond. [Hear, hear]. What we are asked is to declare that we are prepared to petition Parliament that the race may be permitted on the course laid out. He did not think there was any objection save that of danger to the public which he believed could be obviated. The race would bring a great deal of money into the country.
On the motion of Mr. Engledow a resolution was passed expressing the willingness of the Committee to petition Parliament for permission to have the race run on the track indicated by the Secretary of the Automobile Club, the starting and finishing point being at Naas.