Thrills, spills and good clean fun at Limerick soapbox race

Donal O’Regan

Reporter:

Donal O’Regan

THERE was daredevil driving, calm cornering and even crashes during the soapbox derby in Kilteely on Saturday, but the only thing hurt was pride.

THERE was daredevil driving, calm cornering and even crashes during the soapbox derby in Kilteely on Saturday, but the only thing hurt was pride.

The derby was the highlight of the Kilteely Dromkeen Community Festival at the weekend. Kilteely’s Main Street was turned in to a race track for the soapbox drivers.

The motorless vehicles, which are entirely dependent on gravity to move, proved a big hit with the watching crowds.

Tom Jones, chairman of the festival committee, said some of the 12 entrants were up late the night before and early the morning of the race to fine tune their vehicles.

“There was a fantastic range, one using a shopping trolley was the winner. We had three runs and they were launched off a trailer down a ramp.

“The initial part was slow but they picked up speed when they came down the hill, through the chicane and around the bend,” said Tom.

Each soapbox had three runs. The Miltown Flyers just pipped the Barry Butcher Boys on the last run. First and second won €200 and €100 and cups.

The best turned out prize went to Larry and Gerard Russell, while Gary O’Dea was named the most entertaining driver. Due to the attendance and number of entries, Tom says they will hold it again in 2013.

“People didn’t know what to expect but from the amount of people, who said they would definitely enter next year, we should have twice the amount of entries. This year gave us a great foundation and everyone now knows what is involved. We had stewards, medics, barricades - to set it all up and back in order again was a great community effort,” said Tom.

The festival kicked off with a children’s fancy dress parade led by a pipe band through the village.

“Spiderman, Batman, princesses, angels, wicked witches, you name it,” said Tom. The men’s soccer tournament took place on Friday night and a children’s event featuring 15 teams from all over East Limerick was on Saturday morning.

After the soapbox derby a street party with a barbecue, fire eaters, jugglers, family games and music drew the crowds.

Sunday featured a farmers market; family picnic day with a pet farm, clowns, magicians, Dave Brunnock’s dog show and more. Two Wii competitions were won by Jack Regan and Killlian Ryan. Hanly’s and Ahern’s were packed on each night for Gundy, The Limerickmen, Sean O’Dowd and Hanora. The skittles tournament was won by Brian O’Connell’s team.

Tom says their goal was to run a festival that cost the crowds as little as possible and they accomplished this thanks the support of Ballyhoura, local businesses and organisations.