Answering Johnny’s final call

Words and photos by Sean Moriarty

Answering Johnny’s final call

In the weeks and days leading up to the Rally of the Lakes and the Killarney Historic Rally, competitors near and far could be sure of one thing – they would get phone call after phone call from Johnny Hickey cajoling them into entering his home events.

Only a top-quality entry would do Johnny and he would stop at nothing to convince a driver to place their entry.

More often than not he would be encouraging entries from drivers who he would have to compete against in the event, but that didn’t matter to Johnny.

“The best of the best are coming,” he would say weeks before the event and long before the official entry list was published.

Aidan and Mike Buckley pay their respects

He knew, even before the entries secretary knew, who was coming.

He had spoken to the competitors himself and he had received the promises.

And, if during the first phone call the driver’s excuse for not coming did not stack up, Johnny would be on the phone again and again until they eventually relented – sometimes even withdrawing from a previous commitment just because Johnny was not going to take no or a lame excuse for an answer.

So, it was fitting on Tuesday afternoon that drivers and co-drivers from all over the county gave Johnny the send-off he truly deserved.

As Johnny made his way to his last time control, competitors lined the road from the top of Madam’s Hill to the entrance of Aghadoe Cemetery.

Over 40 rally cars, from a state-of-the-art World Rally Car to entry-level junior Honda Civics, formed an automotive guard of honour to pay respects to a man that did so much for rallying in Kerry.

He would have been proud of the top-class entry that he attracted.

The best of the best came to see him on his final journey. They answered Johnny’s call.

This article was published in the April 30 edition of the Killarney Advertiser. A second tribute to Johnny is also published in this week’s Killarney Advertiser and on:

Shane Doyle and Donagh Crowley pay their respects
Denis Hickey and Sean Nolan pay their respects
“All good lads, all good”

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