Kerry Motor Club leads the way in promoting women in motorsport
Kerry Motor Club has become the first motorsport club in Ireland to gain 20×20 status.
20×20 is a nationwide programme to promote the active role women play in sports clubs all over Ireland, as competitors or on management and committee level.
The north-Kerry-based motor club will now work with the 20×20 organisation by setting out to reach the organisation’s three main targets.
Both hope to see a 20 per cent increase in media coverage of women in sport, a 20 per cent increase in female participation at a player, coach, referee and administrative level and more attendance at women’s games and events.
“We are creating a cultural shift in our perception of girls and women in sport. There is so much to celebrate when it comes to women’s sport in Ireland, but there isn’t enough noise. We’re making some noise because if she can’t see it, she can’t be it,” a 20×20 spokesperson said,
“20×20 is about creating a more inclusive, healthier Ireland – it’s not a ‘women for women’ initiative; it’s an ‘all of society for all of society’ movement. We’re asking all sections of Irish society to ‘Show Your Stripes’ and pledge one small action to support women and girls in sport and physical activity in Ireland.”
Kerry Motor Club is already active in promoting women in motorsport, both as competitors and as committee members.
In fact, in the early 1980s, the club ran a special stage on the Circuit of Kerry Rally which was staffed entirely by women marshals and timekeepers.
This is believed to be the only time in the history of Irish motorsport that this happened.
Since then Kerry Motor Club has not rested on its laurels and continues to encourage Kerry women to get involved in motorsport.
Current members include Katie Quinn, daughter of one of the club’s champion drivers Mick, won the ladies award in the 2019 Top Part West Coast Rally Championship.
Native Irish speaker and accomplished rally navigator Elaine Ni She from the West Kerry Gaeltacht promotes the sport through the Irish language on TG4 and Radio Na Gaeltachta.
Tarbert’s Megan Costello is the first third-generation rally competitor to represent Kerry. Her father Jason and her grandfather Joe are well-respected local rally drivers. Her neighbour Samantha Martin is Kerry’s only licenced female motorcycle racer.
Family ties are not just reserved for the club’s competing members.
It is fair to say that Michelle Walsh was born into the club.
Her parents Kevin and Noreen are club stalwarts. Their only daughter has taken on many roles including office manager and rally secretary during busy national rally championship weekends.
Abbeydorney’s Linda O’Neil is an award-winning rally co-driver but also serves as the club’s child protection officer. Christina Fealy is the current club treasurer.
Emma O’Shea encourages her daughter Kerry to get involved in club activities.
Brenda Duffin and her daughter Ciara have both co-driven for their husband/father Eoin in rally events all over Ireland.
“Most club activities have been postponed for this year, but this gives us a great opportunity to take stock of where we are as a club and what we have achieved,” club Chairman PJ O’Dowd said. “I’m proud to say that if you search into the past, present or future of Kerry Motor Club, you will find the names of many competitive and hard-working women at the backbone of our organisation.”
It is not just the current membership that has helped the club grow, Anne Talbot was one of the main organisers of the Circuit of Kerry rally in the late 1980s and early 1990s when the event formed a round of a UK championship.
Friendships formed then ensure the rally is still popular with overseas crews today.
Local florist and club member Suzanne Raggett prepares the winning laurels for awards ceremonies and has done for years.
Kerry Motor Club is the first motorsport club in Ireland to sign the 20×20 accreditation as confirmed by scheme officials this week.
The sport’s national governing body Motorsport Ireland is one of many national organisations to hold 20×20 accreditation but, no other local-level motor club has been included in the scheme.