the organisers of the 48th National Steam Rally being held in Stradbally on Sundaynd Monday, August 5 and 6 are looking forward to an action packed and successful steam rally this year.
A national TV advertising campaign on RTE TV and Radio that will be broadcast on RTE TV and RTE Radio One this year thanks to funding assistance from Laois Partnership, should help to boost attendance at the rally.
Additional attractions at the rally will be ‘Sliabh na mBan’ one of the cars that was at Béal na mBláth in Cork when Michael Collins was killed. This will be on view by the Irish army, over the two day event.
Another new and popular event that will be in Stradbally this year is ‘tractor pulling’. Tractor pulling draws huge crowds to events internationally and it requires tractors to pull a heavy sled along a length of 100 meters, with the winner being the tractor that pulls the sledge the farthest. There are different tractor classes including superfarm tractors, modified tractors and standard farm class tractors competing as well. The sport is known as the world’s most powerful motorsport, due to the multi-engined modified tractor pullers.
The Steam Queen festival will be held for the second year running and this year there is an increase in the number of entries by local businesses. This Steam Queen festival involves local businesses sponsoring a female aged 18 and over who will be interviewed by an independent panel of judges and based on personality, character and a special quality that shines through. A Steam Queen parade will be held in Stradbally on Saturday August 4, where the entrants will meet with locals throughout the town. The Ratheniska Marching Band will parade the Steam Queen participants into the main arena after which the first ever Steam Queen will be announced at 2.30pm on the first day of the rally, on Sunday August 5 where she will receive a trophy, sash, crown and a monetary prize of €400. The monetary prize has been kindly sponsored by Supervalu, Stradbally and gifts have been kindly sponsored by Harris Transport of Laois.
Mr Ken Graham, president of the Irish Steam Preservation Society commented: ‘We look forward to welcoming old and new friends to the 2012 National Steam Rally. We are particularly grateful this year to all at Laois Partnership for their grant-aided assistance. We cannot emphasise enough how much the professional help and assistance we have got from Laois Partnership has helped us. We are tremendously grateful. For the first time ever at the rally, we have a separate viewing area for miniature steam engines – another wonderful sight. It is important to point out that the aim of the Irish Steam Preservation Society, under which the Stradbally Steam Rally is organized, is to preserve our Steam Heritage. To this end, we re-invest monies back into the organization in the following ways:
i) Development and ongoing maintenance at the Narrow Gauge Railway
ii) Full refurbishment and ongoing upkeep of the Steam Museum
iii) Upkeep and maintenance of the Steam Loco
The ethos of the Irish Steam Preservation Society is for the preservation and posterity of all kinds of machines using steam as its motion power. It is bringing the past to the future by remembering steam engines with all their nostalgic glory, Mr Graham said.
Mr Dick Dunne, chairman of the rally committee thanked all the local community in Stradbally and also the rally committee who make this event such a success every year. ‘Particular thanks also to our sponsors and to the Gardai, the local community and all the engine/vintage owners/enthusiasts. We have many additional attractions this year including tractor pulling, as well as a tremendous increase in the number of commercial vehicles present. This re-inforces our whole ethos of the preservation of steam and vintage for future generations’, said Mr Dunne.
In addition to the array of vintage on display, numerous family events will be held over the August bank holiday weekend including a carnival, sheep dog demonstrations, army tanks and a steam loco engine which will be giving train rides through the woodlands of the Cosby estate. Steam threshing, stone crushing and sawing timber will also be part of the fun.
A free car park and picnic area available to all attendees over the two day event. Gates open from 10am to 6.00pm on both days. Admission: €10 adults. Children (aged 12 and under) are free.
For further information, see www.irishsteam.ie or follow on Facebook at ‘SteamRally’ or on twitter at ‘@steamrally’.