05 Jul 2022

Mementos of Gordon Bennett race in Laois wanted

Mementos of Gordon Bennett race in Laois wanted

Jenatzy, 1903 Gordon Bennett winner, driving a Mercedes. Source: Postcard, published by Hely's Ltd., Dublin

Laois residents are being asked for mementos and tales from the first international motor race to ever take place in Ireland. 

The Heritage offices of Laois, Carlow and Kildare County Councils, working with video makers Bailey and Blake, are looking for the memories from local families about the famous Gordon Bennett motor race of 1903.

This was the first ever international sporting race in Ireland, which brought the biggest ever crowds, and was probably the first time many people of Ireland had ever seen a car.

Laois County Council Heritage Officer Catherine Casey said: “We want to find anyone who has old photos, maybe a postcard, a flag or just stories handed down the generations about this momentous race.”

“Did your family rent out a field to watch? Does your family have memories of RIC members coming to the area ? (Over 2,000 of them were drafted in to work at marshalling from all over the country). Did one of the cars break down outside your house? Did someone in your family sell food or water to the hungry spectators?” she asked. 

The Heritage Office of Laois County Council, with the support of the Heritage Council,  want to bring those memories and photos together for documentary makers Bailey and Blake to help illustrate this event for everyone locally to be proud of, and to tell the story to the worldwide motor racing fraternity, and learn about the race that is said to have saved motorsport.

Ms Casey said: “Many people will know of the original race through the Gordon Bennett Classic Car Rally, which makes its annual come-back after Covid on the June Bank Holiday this year. We are delighted to be working with Bailey and Blake on this film project and we hope that as many people as possible will take par  and share their family memories"

To share a memory , or maybe a photo or two, please contact the Bailey and Blake team on or text 087 2539010.

The Gordon Bennett Film is a project of the Heritage Offices of Carlow, Kildare and Laois County Councils, supported by the Heritage Council.

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