bumper Weekend in millstreet
THE Cork 20 International Rally lured thousands of visitors into Millstreet for a bumper weekend that generated a terrific boost to the economy of the catchment area.
And not for the first time, Millstreet enhanced its reputation in terms of preparation and facilities available.
The vibrant local development group had worked in tandem with the Munster Car Club towards securing the nod for last weekend's rally, after coming up with a financial package to secure the 2013 event.
And the outcome saw Cork driver Daragh O'Riordan complete a hat-trick of wins, becoming only the second driver to do so and follow in the foot steps of Millstreet native Billy Coleman who completed a similar feat in 1972.
Millstreet Development Group chairman Tony McCaul said "all was well received by organisers, competitors and spectators, with everybody painting positive vibes".
"At the end of the two days it was a fantastic outcome to a brillant weekend that brought huge attendances into the town", he said.
It was the culmination of a journey that began last December when the staging of the Cork 20 was up for grabs after a decision to move the Rally out of its traditional city base.
"We have worked on the project for the past 10 months, often three and four nights per week," said Mr McCaul, adding: "It proved fantastic for the town and brought welcome business."
Rally weekend began on Friday with a ceremonial parade in the town square, where a large attendance saw Millstreet Pipe Band lead the top seeds and local participants over the starting ramp.
With rally cars and service crews based in the multi-purpose Green Glens Complex, brilliant sunshine set the scene for Saturday's competitive and classic stages in Mushera, Mullaghanish to the Clara loop.
Sunday, however, proved tougher in damper conditions at Caherbarnagh, Shamrock Bridge to Moll Carthy's Bridge and finishing with the Clara loop close to Millstreet Town.
Traffic jams into Millstreet on Sunday evening saw upwards of 2,000 fans salute outright victor Daragh O'Riordan and co-driver Tony McDaid in the Ford Fiesta WRC complete a hat-trick of outright wins.
And there was loud praise for all those who contributed to the success of the Rally and acknowledged by those far and wide.
"The entire community embraced the event," said Tony McCaul. "A massive thank you goes to the the stage sponsors and those who advertised in the rally programme. And the support of local organisations and stewards contributed significantly to making the rally viable."
Adding to the enjoyment for rally patrons was a display of model car driven by the great Billy Coleman at Millstreet Museum, co-ordinated by Kilcorney native Seán Buckley.
Plans for the 2014 Cork 20 Rally begin next week, with the Millstreet Development Group and the Munster Car Club expected to meet and look at a return to Millstreet.