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Limerick GP Ireland

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#1 Boniver

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Posted 27 August 2004 - 11:26

From the archives of Bob Montgomery, motoring historian

The Limerick Grand Prix:Between the years of 1935 and 1938 the City of Limerick was the scene of a series of exciting Grand Prix races. They came about when the enterprising Irish Motor Racing Club (IMRC) was urged to take advantage of strong local support for a 'round-the-houses' race in the city. Following much preparation, the IMRC announced that the first race, to be known as the Limerick Grand Prix or Cuirt Luimnighe race, would take place on Bank Holiday Monday, August 5th 1935.

The course chosen was a real street circuit measuring 2.76 miles and from its start in the city's main street, O'Connell Street, continued in a clockwise direction along William Street to the Roxborough Road, Carey's Road, down Rossbrien Road to Punch's Cross and then turned back along O'Connell Avenue and into O'Connell Street again where two chicanes were positioned. Grandstands were erected at the O'Connell Street/William Street junction and seats for spectators were also et-up beside the start/finish line.

The race was run over a distance of 151 miles (55 laps) and a fine entry of 25 cars was received for the inaugural race. Pat Fairfield in his white ERA, Luis Fontes in an Alfa Romeo - the recent winner of the Le Mans 24 Hour Race - and Fetherstonehaugh in a Maserati were the fastest cars entered while the fastest Irish drivers were expected to be Tallaght winner Jack Toohey in his Ford, MG driver Marsh in his MG and David Yule in an Austin. Flagged away by the City's Lord Mayor, Pat Fairfield went into a strong lead but believing he had the race in the bag, he slowed considerably after his pit-stop. This allowed Fontes to close right up and overtake Fairfield just 250 yards before the finish. Peter Whitehead took third in his Alta in front of ffrench-Davis in a Fiat.

The race proved a great hit with both drivers and spectators and plans were immediately put in hand for it to be run again in 1936, this time with full international status.

Run on the Bank Holiday Monday once again, the 1936 race attracted a fine entry of overseas drivers including Anthony Powys-Lybbe (Alfa Romeo), Peter Whitehead and Arthur Dobson, both in ERA's and the Siamese Prince 'Bira' in another ERA, his famous 'Remus'. On the very first lap tragedy struck when the young Duke of Grafton crashed his Bugatti at the Roxborough Road Corner. The Bugatti burst into flames trapping its driver. Dragged from the blazing Bugatti by a marshal, the Duke of Grafton was taken to hospital where he died later in the day.

The race continued, despite cars having to take to the pavement to avoid the conflagration at the scene of the accident. Bira had led from the start from Dobson but on lap 36 hit the wall at the Punch's Cross Corner. Meanwhile, Alan Hutchinson from Belfast driving an MG made the most of his handicap to come through and take the victory from Arthur Dobson and Percy Maclure (Riley).

Plans to run the race again in 1937 despite the tragedy had to be shelved due to a disagreement regarding finances between the IMRC and the local race committee and in was 1938 before the streets of Limerick again reverberated to the sound of racing engines. Although the entry was down to 17 cars, its quality was high and included Tony Rolt in an ERA, one of the top cross-channel drivers of the day. Despite being the 'limit' man, Rolt took the win with a fastest lap of 68.74 mph with R Campbell (Morgan) in second place and W A McQuillan (McQuillan Special) in third.

Financial disagreements then once again reared their head and in December 1938, IMRC announced that the races were to be abandoned and no further racing was held in Limerick. The three Limerick Grand Prix provided close and exciting racing on a tough street circuit but sadly once again financial disagreement led to their demise as had been the case with other Irish street circuits of the time.

© The Irish Times


#2 Graham Clayton

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Posted 19 July 2011 - 22:41

In 2010 the Limerick Classic & Vintage Car Club commemorated the 75th anniversary of the inaugral Limerick Grand Prix in 1935.

They have an excellent website:


which features some period newsreel footage of the 1935 and 1936 races.

A "revival" will be held in early September 2011.

#3 Vitesse2

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 20:29

A couple of useful sources.


This has links to scans of the programmes for both 1935 and 1936 and newsreel of the 1935 and 1938 races: The Grand Prix Races of the 1930s in Limerick


Contemporary local press reports and scans of the relevant chapter from Brendan Lynch's book 'Green Dust': Motor Racing in Limerick 1935-1938