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County Kildare History and Heritage

Gordon Bennett Motor Race 1903

Intro and Menu | May Articles

Leinster Leader, Saturday 9 May – Page 3



Mr. John Coleman, T. S., reported as to the roads and lanes under his charge, together with the amount of material and expenses incurred or[sic] their upkeep for the year ending 31st March, 1903. He also gave report of the prices previously paid per perch to contractors for each road on their hands, and which were the “lowest possible” tenders:- Streets, 275 perches at 12s, £165; Carlow road, 192 perches at 3s, £28; Castlecoer road, 136 perches at 4s 9d, £32 6s; Fever Hospital road, 163 perches at 6s, £48 18s; Bert road, 240 perches, at 3s, £36; Gallows Hill road, 150 perches, at 4s 6d, £33 15s; public lanes of the town, 654 perches at 10d, £27 5s; repairs of Market square, Offaly square, and paved channels, gate crossings, flagged and gravelled footpaths of the town, £50; total £421. Roads falling out of contract:- Crib road 129 perches at 1s 11½d, £12 12s 8d; Geraldine road, 103 perches at 1s 10½d, £9 13s 8d; Fort Barrington road, 107 perches at 1s 8d, £5 18s 4d. Total price paid to contractors, £452 8s 8d. The cost of the above roads worked by direct labour, viz., 1,600½ cubic yards of material and drawing same £151 1s. 11d., cost of labour and stripping gravel bank £170 10s. 2d., amount paid to present contractors £31 4s. 8d., overseer’s salary £30, total £382 16s. 9d., showing a saving of £69 11s. 11d., less the cost of brushes, shovels, etc. The above included the cost of cleaning and repairing 13 private lanes, measuring 143 perches, that were never under contract, but charged on the roads account during the past year. Last year, not including the Market Square, they had kept in good repair and undoubtedly improved 1,810 perches of roads. Three new roads came on their hands, amounting to 339 perches, and he was forced to ask what the Council intended doing with reference to the overseeing of those extra duties. He was obliged to ask for an increase of salary equivalent to the extra mileage, as there were now 2,292 perches, equal to 794 miles, to be maintained and looked after by him, together with the work of the whole district, such as sewers, pumps, wells and lamps of the town. He asked what the Council intended doing with regard to preparing the roads for the motor race. The Automobile Club intended to pay a quarter’s premium to contractors for the keeping in good order of all roads on the course. They would use 489 perches of their streets and roads, and would be entitled to over £31 for the quarter. If the roads required extras this was the best time to see to the surface. He had 732 cubic yards of material on the roads for the coming year.

Mr. Plewman said they there were not in Ireland better kept streets, with one exception, than those of Athy. Chairman: What is the estimated cost of the lanes? They were never done before. Mr. Coleman said that the cost of the 15 lanes referred to would be about £10. The Chairman said that those lanes were now kept in a clean state. Mr. Whelan said they were wasting time discussing this matter now, as the whole thing would come up for consideration.- The matter dropped.

The following was received from Mr. J. W. Orr, secretary Automobile Club:- “We have noticed in the papers that certain parties have been driving motor cars at a furious rate over the road mapped out for the Gordon-Bennett Cup Race. We should esteem it a favour if you would assist us in putting a stop to this so far as it lies within your power. We are most anxious that there should be no accident of any kind, either before, during, or after the race, and are using our utmost endeavours to prevent people driving to the public danger. If, therefore, you could send us the names and addresses of any of those offending, we could then deal with them in such a manner as to put a stop to it. I feel sure that if we co-operate in this we shall not only be rendering a service to the motor movement generally, but to the great event of July particularly.”

The following was also read;- “Sir, - I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter of 27th ult. I have issued orders to my men to take the necessary action in preventing any violation of the Local Government Regulations as regards the speed of motors. I must, however, point out that my men have on several occasions stopped and cautioned motorists who were exceeding the legal limits as regards speed. This action was taken before your Council took any action. I beg to draw your attention to Section 7 of 34 and 35 Vic., cap 105, which seems to have been overlooked as regards the town of Athy.- Yours etc J. R. SHARPE, D.I.”

Mr. St. John: I think we should make it clear that we don’t at all refer to the Automobile Club or to their cars. This has been caused by private visitors who are touring for their pleasure, and finding the road in such good order and the county so fair to pass through, have enjoyed themselves to the fullest extent. If there is any means of stopping these cars we will try to do so in future. The Chairman said they should assist the Automobile Club in any way possible. They should take steps, conjointly with the County Council and other public bodies, to ascertain the best means by which they could recognise and control those motors. It was an outlandish thing to have vehicles going at such a speed on the public road. In the event of accident the cars were out of sight before any action could be taken. Some form of registration ought to be demanded and the number printed on the machine. Mr. Whelan remarked that it would want to be printed in very big characters to make recognition possible. Mr. Malone said he saw three of them in the town on Saturday. They were going so slow that they kept in the way of an ass’s cart (laughter). The Clerk said that the last part of the District Inspectors letter referred to the sale of petrol.– No action was taken on either letter.