Some shots of cream roses in colour and black and white
© Aisling Jennings Photography
Taking the Classic Marathon to Ireland for its 24th year makes perfect sense. The Emerald Isle is blessed with great rally roads and spectacular scenery, which will be explored to the full…
Competitors can look forward to a week of well planned regularities and enjoyable special tests (including visits to a number of private estates, which the ordinary tourist never sees). For 2012, shorter days with concentrated action will leave plenty of time to relax and enjoy the carefully chosen hotels and superb Irish hospitality.
A mid morning start from the renowned Ulster Folk Museum and Museum of Irish Transport sees crews heading out into the attractive Ulster countryside around mighty Lough Neagh for the initial regularities and special tests. Continuing west, the afternoon section explores the wild uplands of the famed Sperrin Mountains as we make for our first overnight halt in the ancient town of Enniskillen, sandwiched between the island strewn lakes of Upper and Lower Lough Erne.
Travelling south west from Enniskillen, the morning’s route takes in some classic rally roads in the lonely forested hills of Fermanagh and Leitrim before we stop for lunch at a fine Country House near Sligo. We then spend an enjoyable afternoon rallying amidst the wild and dramatic scenery of the Partry Mountains and Connemara before arriving in the vibrant City of Galway, where we stay right by the water’s edge on Galway Bay. Visit many fine estates for tests and relaxation
This is a day of contrasting landscapes. South of Galway lies the strange limestone karst scenery of the Burren and it is amidst this almost alien landscape that the first regularities take place. Further competition then follows in the Slieve Bernargh hills, which offer fine vistas over beautiful Lough Derg. After lunch, the terrain changes once more as we traverse the verdant rolling countryside of County Limerick before returning to the hills for the final regularities in the windswept Mullaghareirk Mountains. It is then just a short run to Killarney, where we spend two nights in a traditional lakeside hotel affording spectacular views of enchanting Lough Leane and the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks – Ireland’s highest mountain range.
The Atlantic-hewn peninsulas of Kerry and West Cork hide some of the most spectacular mountain and coastal scenery in Ireland and today we explore it to the full. You will never tire of the ever-changing views as the route switchbacks between mountain and sea. This area is also home to some of the most infamous roads in Irish motorsport – Borlin, Tim Healey Pass and the legendary Molls Gap to name but a few. So you can expect a great day of competitive motoring before arriving back in Killarney for a well-earned break. Great rally roads & spectacular scenery
Leaving Killarney behind, we commence a series of scenic regularities through the twisting lanes of the Derrynasaggart and Boggeragh Mountains during the morning. Then, having visited the famous town of Blarney for an exciting special test, we skirt to the north of Cork City for a busy afternoon of tests and regularities in the beautiful rolling countryside of the Blackwater Valley. The day concludes with a run across the attractive Knockmealdown Mountains to Clonmel – the cider capital of Ireland – where we spend our penultimate night.
Heading north from Clonmel, the final day is full of variety with a mix of special tests and regularities in the hills and lush farmland surrounding Kilkenny. These testing sections should keep crews on their toes as we make for the grand finale, right in the heart of this medieval city. A mid afternoon finish will allow time to relax and enjoy a celebratory drink in one of Kilkenny’s many bars and cafés before the evening’s gala prize giving dinner at Kilkenny Castle rounds the event off in style.
© Aisling Jennings Photography