Thousands tune in for speed festival in Limerick

Nick Rabbitts


Nick Rabbitts

THOUSANDS of people felt the need for speed over the weekend as a celebration of classic cars took place at Limerick Racecourse.

An estimated 14,000 people came from Britain and Ireland across two days for the second Irish Festival of Speed held both in the city and Patrickswell.

Throughout Saturday and Sunday, there were stunning displays from daring drivers, brave bikers and plucky pilots to mark the festival, organised by local businessman Richard O’Donnell, Conor O’Brien and Jack Kingston.

The largest celebration of car culture in Ireland, the first Irish Festival of Speed took place in Adare Manor in 2011. But to cater for more people, it moved to the Limerick Racecourse where a €50,000 investment has seen a permanent motor-racing track installed by the organisers.

Among 100 classic cars on display were a 1935 TT Sprite Riley, a 1931 Austin Special, a 1932 Alfa Romeo, and a 1968 Lamborghini.

There was also a motorcycling expo and a helicopter display, which saw pilots from the Red Arrows passing each other out at 400 miles per hour.

One visitor, Niall Bourke, from Roxboro, said: “I came to see some nice cars - and have not been disappointed. I am particularly impressed with the Lamborghinis. The motorbikes are very impressive too.”

Co-founder Mr O’Donnell said visitor numbers from Britain have risen by 5% since 2011.

“There is a need in Ireland for this kind of event. The Goodwood Festival of Speed [in Britain] is the world’s greatest model for this. Everything is under one roof,” he said.

“I think there is an untapped petrolhead inside many people throughout the country. What we find there are a lot of very good quality cars, but people hide them in their garage, because they have no place to put them,” he added.