by Padraig Reddington
In 1978 a number of members of the Kerry Motor Club from Killarney and other parts of South Kerry decided that they had the makings of an organisation of their own and left to form the Killarney & District Motor Club. It was envisaged from the outset that the flagship event of the KDMC would be a new two day tarmac rally, based on the then Sunday Run route of the Circuit of Ireland. The Kerry Motor Club continued to organise events in North Kerry, including the Circuit of Kerry, and now both clubs lend each other personnel for major events.
In December of the following year, the first Rally of the Lakes was run. Club founder member Mike Marshall was the Clerk of the Course, a role he continues to carry out to this day. In 1980 the event had the Gleneagle Hotel as its Headquarters, from which all the Club`s Tarmac rallies have been run ever since.
The "Lakes" joined the National Rally Championship in 1981, and was granted international status two years later, becoming the final round of the Tarmac Championship. It remained a December event until 1993, when it moved to the May Bank Holiday Weekend, so as to attract a larger entry and run all daylight stages.
However, many rally followers missed the "end of term" atmosphere created every December. In addition to this, the KDMC recognised the increasing number of competitors becoming involved in Historic Rallying. In 1996, the club decided to revive the date on the first weekend in December as a rallying occasion, by holding a one day event for Historic and Post Historic cars. Maurice Nagle, another founder member, was elected to take charge of the new event, which would use the familiar Circuit of Ireland/Rally of the Lakes stages.
So as to make the rally financially viable, a section for Classic cars built before 1980 was also incorporated. Initially, it was hoped that the Killarney Historic Stages Rally would attract sixty entries. The final figure was over 110, and the first Historic Stages was adjudged a resounding success. The entry for the 1997 Historic Stages exceeded that number.
In addition to the two Tarmac rallies, the Killarney & District Motor Club organises a number of other events during the year, including a Retrospective Rally, three Autotests (including the final round of the Munster Championship), and it also runs its own five round Autocross Championship during the summer.
KDMC members have won awards in various branches of motorsport in Ireland over the years. On the rallying front, Liam O'Callaghan, Denis Cronin, John O'Sullivan, John Moynihan and Noel O'Sullivan, to name but a few, have taken awards in the Tarmac and National Rally Championships, as well as successes in individual events. Ger Brennan won the 1996 National Autocross Championship, as well as the both the Munster Autocross and KDMC Killarney Autocross Championships in 1996 and 1997. 1996 also saw Alan Ring capture the Ford of Ireland FF1600 Championship, which was decided at the Mondello Park, Kirkistown and Phoenix Park venues during the year. In 1997, Jimmy Devane was a class winner in the National Autocross series.
As the Killarney & District Motor Club heads towards its 21st Anniversary, it has a record number of members, over 160. Recent developments include the establishment of a club newsletter, KDMC News, published about eight times a year. Future plans include the addition of a Hillclimb to the Club's calendar of events.