THE Donegal International Car Rally is firmly established as one of Donegal’s premier sporting events and it gives a major boost to the businesses of Letterkenny and the local economy.
For the past three years, St Eunan’s GAA Club has opened its grounds at O’Donnell Park as the official rally campsite. Last weekend, more than 1,500 supporters converged on the Letterkenny venue – helping to boost the club’s coffers by well in excess of €50,000.
With showers, toilets and a fully licensed bar in the club house it has proven to be hugely popular with rally fans all over Ireland.
On Tuesday afternoon, club chairman Cathal Greene and Andrew McGlynn, who was in charge of logistics, were still out at the Park making sure the grounds were cleared of any rubbish and ready once more to host to gaelic games.
“It’s a massive voluntary effort by the local GAA community. It’s an expensive business running a GAA club in a big town like Letterkenny and the Rally weekend has become a significant fund-raiser for us over the past few years.
“We help to take people off the streets and all the facilities are in place at the club – toilets and showers as well as a bar,” Mr Greene said.
“We’ve had over one hundred volunteers involved throughout the weekend. Both young and old as well as under age players and their parents. It was a real community effort,” he added.
Andrew McGlynn, who works alongside camp-site co-ordinator John Haran, was in charge of logistics over the weekend.
“This is the third year we’ve been doing the camp-site and it’s getting bigger each year,” he said.
Over the course of last weekend, more than 1,500 people in 800 tents, 600 cars and thirty camper vans and caravans set up camp in O’Donnell Park.
Approximately one hundred rally supporters were on site last Thursday night with the numbers rising on Friday (1,000) and then Saturday (1,500) with a few stragglers still there on Sunday night.
Parents of the club’s Minor girls team – who are fund-raising for a trip to Boston – cooked and sold breakfast baps all weekend while local businessman Pat Brady was on site with ‘The Kitchen’. There was also a shuttle bus operating between a local night club and the camp site.
“Given the numbers of people who were there all week-end they were very well behaved. By today (Tuesday) we’ve filled five skips full of rubbish,” Mr McGlynn said.
“We hired in a security company and installed floodlights and lighting towers together with putting in over a kilometre of fencing around the pitches.
“We also marked out lanes on the training pitches for use by emergency vehicles. It’s become an annual fund-raiser and it’s one that’s getting progressively bigger,” he added.
While the club declined to comment on how much revenue is generated through the official rally campsite it’s understood that it has brought in more than €100,000 over the past three years.
According to the official rally campsite it costs €25 a person for one night or €50 for three nights.
A two-night stay is also discounted to €40 (or €20 per night per person).
Posted: 5:30 pm June 21, 2018