The colourful, wonderful spectacle that is the An Post RÁS will glance in a brief courtship with Castleisland today at about 12.10pm or so. On its hurried way between Charleville and Caherciveen the riders will head down the N21 Bypass and through the Dooneen, Knocknagore and Sandville roundabouts and thereby giving spectators ample viewing space between the three spots and in between.
An incident here in Castleisland town during a recent pass-through of the great event spooked the organisers from bringing the riders through the town this time.
Apparently, a car backed out and away from its kerb-side parking spot and into the path of the racers. That, temporarly at least, ended Castleisland chance of seeing the RÁS pass through its still accommodating wide street – as it had done so many times before.
The town has a long and fond association with the RÁS with names like: Ahern and Breen and Brosnan and Drumm and many more tripping off the tongues of historians who recall its great days.
It has stopped here on many occasions down through the years with huge welcomes each time. If you’re back on the bypass today hold on to a special cheer for our own Ahern’s BMW / Opel Sponsored Kerry / An Post Rás team for 2014. The An Post Rás is an annual, eight-day, stage race around Ireland. The race is Ireland’s number one cycling event and is taking place from May 18 – 25, 2014.
This is the fourth year of An Post’s sponsorship of the celebrated Rás Tailteann, which is more commonly known as The RÁS. The epic race began in 1953 and has been held every year since. It is one of Ireland’s top sporting events bringing world class action and a significant economic boost to towns and villages nationwide. It was only a couple of years old before a Kerry man, Gene Mangan won it in 1955 and he was followed in 1956 by Dingle’s Paudie Fitzgerald. Castleisland has a tentative claim on the 1958 and, probably, the most famous winner of the event, Mick Murphy from Caherciveen won the RÁS in 1958 and he worked here in on the farm in Castleisland with Neily Horan. Known widely as The Iron Man, Mick Murphy speaks fondly of his time in Castleisland and of the people he met here.
I’m just back from the Mullaghmarkey fly-over and the cyclists flew under at their usual unrelenting pace. The usual cavalcade of coloured cars, jeeps and motorbikes with lights blaring preceded them and in the blink of an eye they were gone. Wouldn’t it be terrible if Castleisland is remembered in RÁS history as the only town in the country where you can back out into the oncoming flow of traffic – and the consternation that caused in the course of one of the great events.