THE 48th National Stradbally Steam Rally is being held in Stradbally on Sunday and Monday August 5/6, and as this is the 300th anniversary of the steam engine the organisers are expecting even more steam engines than usual to attend.
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.
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. Another new and popular event that will be in Stradbally this year is tractor pulling, which requires tractors to pull a heavy sled along a length of 100 meters. 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. The 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 participants into the main arena after which the first ever Steam Queen will be announced at 2.30pm.
Mr Ken Graham, president of the Irish Steam Preservation Society said: ‘We are particularly grateful this year to all at Laois Partnership for their grant-aided assistance. 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.
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. Gates open from 10am to 6pm on both days. Admission is €10 adults and 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’.