RÁS Breezed Through in a Blur

Red for danger: Gerdie Murphy directing the Rás Tailteann cyclists onto the Killarney Road on their way between Listowel and Glengarrif on Wednesday. ©Photograph: John Reidy
Back to 2011 and what a welcome to Castleisland: Bulgarian cyclist and French team member, Nikolay Mihaylov raises his arms in triumph as he crosses the line ahead of Oleksandr Sheydyk of the Ukraine at the end of the gruelling stage between Kilrush and Castleisland on this day in 2011. ©Photograph: John Reidy 24-5-2011

It may not have had the street lining audiences as in days of yore, still, yesterday’s blurry Rás Tailteann peloton peddled through as if the devil himself was after it – and it drew more than a passing interest.

To be Avoided

Marked as a town to be avoided for Rás participation a few years ago because of cars backing out of parking spaces on Main Street and onto the path of the cyclists, Castleisland yet again featured as a pass-through town in one of the greatest Irish sporting events of the year.

Castleisland’s brief moment in the sporting sun brought the normal business to a halt and shopkeepers came to their doors to pay their respects to the athleticism and bravery of the riders.


They were on a hell-for-leather trip from Listowel to Glengarrif on a 153 kilometer long, fourth stage with some tough Kerry mountains coming in the way of the ambitions of most.

Shouts of ‘keep it going’ ‘great stuff boys’ and ‘you have ’em now’ abounded even if it all fell on unheeding ears as the speed of the peloton increased fearlessly with the fall of ground as they hit the Latin Quarter and Killarney Road.

Gerdie’s Red Flag

There, they were directed away from the street narrowing island by a red flag waving Gerdie Murphy – who had several relatives travelling with the Rás in a back-up capacity.

We probably need some local involvement – or at least a stage finish in the Rás Tailteann to revive the local interest the area knew a generation or more ago.

Link with the Halcyon Days

There was a link with the halcyon days of interest in the great event. Éamonn Breen – a Kerry team Rás Tailteann cyclist in the 1960s was on the street with the stewarding team for the duration of Wednesday’s local involvement.

Couple of Stage Ends

Then there was some enthusiastic and serious street side lining. There have been a few stage ends here in relatively recent years.

Now that the town would appear to have had the sins of its absent minded drivers forgiven, maybe it could be considered for a stage end in the 2019 Rás Tailteann.


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