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County Kildare History and Heritage

Gordon Bennett Motor Race 1903

Intro and Menu | May Articles

Leinster Leader, Saturday 23 May 1903 – Page 6


Present:- Messers. Thos. Hickey, J.P., chairman, presiding; M. J. Minch, J.P.; J. B. Deegan, P. Dooley, M. Doyle, T. Plewman, J.P.; M. Malone, Joseph P. Whelan, M. Kelly, W. P. St. John and M. E. Doyle.

Mr. Deegan said that at a recent meeting of the magistrates a resolution was passed considering it advisable not to grant special licenses in connection with the motor race. He would ask them to pass a resolution:- “That we, the members of the Athy Urban Council, believe it would be useful in the interests of the public-.

Chairman: Mr. Deegan, will you allow us to go on with the other business. We can discuss that afterwards. Mr. Deegan: I think you may let me go on. Chairman: These matters should come on at the end. Mr. Deegan: You might allow me to finish. I beg to propose that we ask the magistrates to grant licenses in special cases, considering the great influx of people we will have to this part of the county. The Chairman asked if there were any members in favour of passing the motion. There was no response. Mr. Deegan said the question was a very important one. They should make some provision for the people who would come here on the occasion of the race. When there was an application for a licence the magistrates should deal with it considering the suitability of the site. It was a matter that would be most useful to the public and all classes of the community. Chairman: Whom do you suggest that we send it to? Mr. Deegan: To the magistrates or the Chairman stating that they consider each application on the merits, providing they were satisfied as to the suitability of the site. Mr. St John: I would move a contrary resolution to that: that we support the action of the magistrates. Not only do we oppose the granting of special licenses whatever, but to put it beyond the possibility of any outsiders bringing in intoxicating liquors at any portion of the race course. It is too serious a time to trifle with life. It will require all the safeties and discretion of the police authorities to protect the lives of the public during that very serious time. We have no experience in dealing with vast crowds in this part of the country. It would put it beyond the possibility of the power of those who have the safety of life under control to do so if we agreed to such a resolution.

Mr. Murphy seconded Mr. Deegan’s motion. He was sure the magistrates passed the resolution with the very best intentions. Anyone going to see the motor race from 7 o’clock in the morning until 4 o’clock in the evening could not be expected to live on air. It would not be Irish to treat the foreigners in that way. He believed there was only one place of refreshment between Athy and Kilcullen, and he did not see why a special license should not be granted for the Moate or beyond it. Many of them did not think but thy might like a sup on this occasion (laughter). Mr. Deegan: Certainly to sustain life. Mr. Whelan: Bring a good half one with you (laughter). Mr. Deegan: In a case of necessity a little brandy is a great reviver.- There was no seconder to the amendment. Mr. Deegan: It does not follow that the magistrates will alter their decision. Mr. Minch: I won’t vote on the question. Chairman: I will take a show of hands: there is no harm in that. It will be for the magistrates to deal with it. Mr. Deegan: Certainly, sir. Chairman: Let them take each case on its merits. Mr. M. E. Doyle said he thought the resolution a good one –
particularly as the neighbouring towns did not fall into line with the movement. It would be most unfair to Athy traders if other people got licences.

A show of hands being called for. Messrs M. Doyle, Deegan, Malone, Murphy, and the Chairman voted in favour of the motion. Mr. St. John: I think the motion has fallen through. Mr. Chairman: - The motion was declared lost. Mr. Deegan: I may tell you I have no particular interest. It is not my intention to apply to the magistrates but I think it is only fair that the visitors who will come here should be provided with the necessaries of life.

Mr. St. John gave notice that the following be considered at next meeting: - “That Athy being a great centre of the Gordon-Bennett race, and the town expected to be crowded with a vast concourse of sightseers, that the Council will consider what its responsibilities are with regard to the roads, requirements, regulations, and control, water and food supply: and also to call the attention of other Councils to the responsibilities that these crowds entail.”