Limerick girl's memory lives on through soapbox derby

Siobhan Ryan’s life was tragically cut short at just 15 years of age

Donal O'Regan


Donal O'Regan

Limerick girl's memory lives on through soapbox derby

The late Siobhan Ryan, Old Pallas

SIOBHAN Ryan’s life was tragically cut short at just 15 years of age but her memory lives on through a spectacle she would have loved.

The first Kilteely-Dromkeen festival took place in 2008 – the same year that Siobhan passed away. Diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when she was just six weeks old, Siobhan was tragically next in line for a lung transport when she died unexpectedly.

The memory of the youngest of Peter and Anne Marie Ryan’s, eight children from Old Pallas, Nicker, is honoured during the annual festivities. The trophy given to the winners of the soapbox derby, sponsored by the Ryan family, on Sunday, July 16 is called the Siobhan Ryan memorial cup.

“Our whole family is very proud and delighted to be part of it. It means a lot to us,” said Tracey McCarthy, one of Siobhan’s three sisters.  Siobhan would have loved the fun and excitement of the derby.

“She was an absolute character. She was the friendliest, bubbliest girl you could ever meet.  She had a heart of gold. Siobhan was a pure tomboy, she would have loved seeing the soapboxes and the idea behind it.

“It’s wonderful to see a whole community coming together. We are actually in the parish of Nicker and to see what Kilteely-Dromkeen parish has done to celebrate the memory of Siobhan is incredible. It is amazing what a small parish can do,” said Tracey, whose other siblings are Pat, Barney, Bobby, Stephen, Aine and Mairead.

Last year was a special occasion for them all as Siobhan’s brothers Barney and Bobby were involved in the soapbox that won the derby.  

“Dad was up on stage and he presented the cup named after his daughter, and our sister, to his sons. It was a very proud day. There will be great rivalry on July 16 to try to keep it in the family and the lads in Kilteely-Dromkeen will want to keep it in the parish,” said Tracey, who has joined the festival committee.

“It’s a wonderful four days from Friday, July 14 to July 17. The sun always shines and huge crowds come out. We are absolutely delighted and very proud that Siobhan’s memory lives on and it will for a long time to come,” she added.

The race course is packed with spectators to watch the hotly contested soapbox derby. Handmade carts race down the steep incline of the Main Street in Kilteely over 300 metres to compete for the fastest time, a prize of €200 and the perpetual cup.

“Being a little mad or crazy helps,” say organisers, and it isn’t too late to enter.