The Donegal Harvest Rally, the last major rally of the rally season, returns to Killybegs for the first time in 16 years this year.
This year’s Harvest Rally, which is set for Saturday, 8th October, was officially launched in Killybegs on Tuesday evening by clerk of the course Karl Reid. The 2016 rally is officially known as the Bayview Hotel Martin Howley Memorial Rally.
The rally is being sponsored by the Bayview Hotel and is extra special in that it is in memory of popular local businessman and fisherman, Martin Howley, who sadly passed away last year.
The late Martin Howley was a rally enthusiast and was one of the main organisers when the rally was last based in the fishing port.
He was also an active member of the Donegal Motor Club right up to his death.
“The rally is a salute to Martin Howley and his contribution to the Donegal Motor Club and to rallying in the North West,” said Damien Crawford of the Donegal Motor Club at Tuesday night’s press conference in the Bayview Hotel, following the earlier launch on the Killybegs Pier.
The launch by clerk of the course, Karl Reid, was done under the shadow of the Atlantic Challenge Super Fishing Trawler, skippered by the late Martin Howley.
The Howley family were represented at the launch by the late Martin Howley’s daughter Marguerite and sons Pauric and Shaun.
The rally is over eight stages and has a 9.30 am start from outside the Bayview Hotel on Saturday, 8th October. The stages are challenging and take in some of the most spectacular and scenic Wild Atlantic Way coastline to fast and twisty inland stages.
The rally will be the ideal test of car and crew on new terrain in what are the final rounds of the Triton Showers National Championship, the Sligo Palletts Border Rally Championship and the Donegal Commercials Donegal Motor Club Championship.
The two Kilcar, Glencolmcille stages are in the morning and are run twice. And the two Bruckless stages are in the afternoon and are again run twice.
The Bayview Hotel, the main sponsors for the rally, is also Rally Headquarters.
“The rally is very special for me because I had a long association with Martin Howley dating back to 1998 and we are delighted to be back in Killybegs again after 16 years,” said Karl Reid at the post launch press conference in the Bayview Hotel.
“Because of Martin’s association with the Donegal Motor Club and rallying we are hoping to make it a special rally in his honour and memory.”
The secretary also reported a big interest from drivers and that at the end of the first week the entry opened 50 crews had signed up for the rally.
Declan McBrearty, is the rally manager and he said that they were delighted to be staging the rally and especially in the memory of Martin Howley.
“It has been 16 years since the rally was last here and back then Martin (Howley) was one of the main organisers and it is only fitting now that it is back that it is in honour of him, “ said Declan McBrearty.
Pauric Howley said that it was an absolute honour for the family to have the rally named in memory of his father.
“He was a fisherman and a businessman but rallying was in his heart and I know he would love to be here to organise the rally,” said Pauric Howley.
“The family really appreciate the rally being staged here in Killybegs in his honour.”
Others who spoke at the press conference were Tracey McGill, manager of the Bayview Hotel; garda sergeant Tom Mitchell, Francie Devine, chief marshall for the rally, Brendan Flynn, co-ordinator of the Sligo Palletts Border Championship.
After the official launch of the rally on the pier the St Catherine’s Band, Killybegs, led a number of local drivers including Declan McShane, Declan Gallagher and Adrian McElhinney up the pier to the Bayview Hotel.