'Widely respected and loved by all' - newly elected councillor and father of five dies in horror crash during rally
Tributes pour in for champion driver and businessman
Tributes have been paid to a Fianna Fáil councillor and father of five killed at the Donegal International Rally.
Manus 'Mandy' Kelly (41), an experienced racer who was defending his title, was involved in a devastating crash at Fanad Head loop, around 3km from Fanad Lighthouse, at around 12.30pm yesterday.
His co-driver Donall Barrett was injured in the accident which involved just their vehicle and saw the car end up in a field.
Mr Kelly was well-known in the rallying community and recently entered electoral politics, winning a seat on Donegal County Council.
He lived in Glenswilly, Co Donegal, with his wife Bernie and five children, the youngest of whom is just two years old. He is also survived by his parents and eight siblings.
Mr Kelly was the founder and managing director of Tailored Facility Solutions, a provider of facility management, recruitment and logistics services. Based in Letterkenny, his company employs 60 people.
Having been politically active for 15 years, he decided to put his name forward for the local elections in Letterkenny last month. He was one of three Fianna Fáil candidates elected in the district.
In his pitch to voters, Mr Kelly said he was proud to come from a farming background and to have been "reared in a family and community that respects hard work, integrity and community spirit".
Along with Mr Barrett, he was honoured with a civic reception in recognition of his achievements in winning the Donegal International Rally in 2016 and 2017 together with the National Rally Championship in 2015.
The pair continued the winning streak in Donegal last year and were hoping to complete four titles back-to-back this weekend.
Last night, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin led the tributes to Mr Kelly, saying his "racing talent was limitless" and he was "widely respected and loved by all of the rally community here in Ireland".
"It was obvious throughout his recent election campaign that he was passionate and entirely committed to serving the people of the Letterkenny electoral area.
"Manus made a huge contribution to his community. As a self-employed businessman, he employed 60 people in Letterkenny.
"He was an active fundraiser and advocate for the Letterkenny University Hospital. He had great commitment to the GAA and managed his local club, Glenswilly, to Junior B success in 2016.
"My thoughts this evening also remain with Manus's co-driver and loyal colleague, Donall Barrett. Manus's death is an immeasurable loss to us all," he said.
Fellow Fianna Fáil councillor Donal Coyle said he was in "deep shock" at the death of Mr Kelly, whom he had got to know over the election campaign.
"I was looking forward to working closely with him and I want to offer condolences to his wife Bernie and to his children, mother and father and to his siblings and all his relatives and friends.
"Manus was considering his rally future, as he ran a very successful business and he'd just been elected to the council."
In a statement, Motorsport Ireland said its clubs were "recognised internationally for operating to the highest standards of motorsport safety for competitors and spectators".
"The entire motorsport community extends its fullest sympathy to the family of the bereaved," it said.
In 2016, Mr Kelly won what has been described as most dramatic Donegal International Rally in history, claiming victory with just three yards and 0.5 seconds to spare.
But he was primarily remembered last night as a person who worked hard for his community. After leaving school, he spent 12 years driving cancer patients from Donegal to St Luke's Hospital in Dublin for treatment.