It was a “breath taking spectacle” as hundreds of people lined the streets of Blackrock and Haggardstown to witness the dramatic finishing laps of Rás Tailteann 2022 last weekend.
“We had five incredible days, which really have put Blackrock on the map,” said Pat O’Shaugnessy, from the local organising committee.
The “deafening roar” of almost 150 cyclists racing through the village was the “showstopper” the committee had in planning for months.
"We simply couldn’t have asked for better,” added Pat. “After the pandemic we knew there was a real appetite for live sporting events, but the people of Blackrock, Dundalk and surrounding areas really did our county proud with the reception they gave the event.”
The race itself was witnessed by thousands of people across the region, as it manoeuvred through Slane, Collon and across to mid Louth over the last week.
"People came out of their homes to watch the race along the roads around the county, it was incredible to see country roads lined with crowds cheering on the cyclists.”
The Blackrock finale drew to a close the hugely successful return of Rás Tailteann after a four year hiatus.
The village had initially planned to host the international event in 2020, but with the onset of of Covid restrictions it was put on hold.
The additional two years in planning “gave us even more time to make it the success we always knew it could be,” said Pat.
"It is a huge logistical challenge to take on an event like this. But it has always been a dream of mine to bring Rás to Blackrock. It has a stunning coastline, picturesque streets, everything that is needed to put it right up there with the Tour De France, and other major cycling races.”
“The icing on the cake was both the weather, and that we had a brilliant Irish winner in Daire Feeley.”
The Roscommon native, of the Cork – ‘All Human Velo Revolution Team’ retained his yellow jersey as overall leader, and was a hugely popular winner.
Pat adds: “The publicity an event like this gives to Blackrock, and all of Louth where the race passed through… you just couldn’t buy it. It puts our wee county up there with some of the towns and villages on the continent where cycling events have been.”
There is a “real knock on effect, for tourism and hospitality in particular”, and the hope now is to “build on that profile Blackrock has gained.”