Rose Hotel Circuit of Kerry preview

A record number of previous winners have entered the Rose Hotel Circuit of Kerry Rally – the second round of the Triton Showers Irish National Rally Championship

Seven past winners of the Kerry Motor Club event are on the entry list but ironically, the top seed has never won in Tralee.

Defending Triton Showers Motorsport Ireland National Rally champion Josh Moffett (Hyundai I20 R5) from County Monaghan and his Limerick co-driver Keith Moriarty will have the hour of leading the 150-car field away on Sunday morning.

Ahead line nine classic Kerry tests including three runs over the daunting Desmond’s Grave, one of the most popular and challenging roads in Ireland.

Winners of the Midland Moto Rally in early March Callum Devine (Derry) and his Killarney co-driver Noel O’Sullivan start at two in their Volkswagen Polo GTI R5.

They led the opening round of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship from start to finish 

The first of the seven previous winners, Darren Gass, starts at three. The Armagh-based Citroen C3 Rally 2 driver won the Circuit of Kerry in 2011. He and co-driver Barry McNulty are in third place in the 2023 Triton Showers National Rally Championship.

Donegal’s Declan Boyle won the rally in 2014 and 2006. He and his Welsh co-driver Patrick Walsh return in another Polo Giti.

Walsh is also the first of many overseas competitors in the rally.

Waterford’s Andrew Purcell will have London-based Kerry co-driver Shane Buckley on the notes in their Skoda Fabia R5

Both Walsh and Buckley and many more will be fighting to take home to London Irish Motor Club Perpetual Shield which is presented to the highest-placed overseas competitor in the event.

Gary Kiernan and John McCabe top the Modified entry in their Ford Escort, one place ahead of Mark Alcorn and Donal McAleney in a similar car. Both drivers won the national section of the first two international rallies in Ireland this year.

The top ten is completed by the Wicklow/Mayo pairing of Daniel Barry and Lorcan Moore (Skoda Fabia R5), the all-Cork crew of Daniel Cronin and Donnchadh Burke (Polo GTI R5) and Monaghan’s Richard Moffett Darragh Kelly (Toyota Starlet RWD).

Triton Showers Paul Barrett will drive a Citroen C3 Rally

The latter two drivers are previous winners of the Kerry Winter Rally and will be hoping to bring home even more silverware from the Kingdom this weekend.

Other top modified drivers include Ed O’Callaghan from Limerick and Donegal’s Kevin Gallagher in a Darrian T90 GT9r.

Fan favourites Gary McPhillips from Monaghan and Frank Kelly from Tyrone are also on the modified entry list.


It is four years since the Circuit of Kerry last ran. Daragh O’Riordan and Mikey Walsh from Cork were the winners last time out in a Ford Fiesta R5amd they are the third previous winners to take to the start line.

Others include historic class drivers Alan Ring (BMW M3) who won in 2015 and Welsh visitor Gwyndaf Evans (Ford Escort) a double winner in `1992 and 1994.

Ken Lyons was the 1987 winner, and the Limerick driver returns in a Ford Escort.

Tim McNulty won the last Circuit of Kerry that was based in Dingle back in 2006 and he returns in another Polo GTI R5.


Kerry Motor Club has attracted a sizeable overseas entry to the Circuit of Kerry Rally.

Aside from the aforementioned, multiple Scottish champion David Bogie makes his first appearance in Kerry in a Ford Escort.

Welshman Hugh Hunter has won several forest rallies in his native land, and he will make his second visit to the Circuit of Kerry in his Ford Fiesta. He will be joined by his Countryman Steve Woods, a previous podium finisher in Tralee and former Circuit of Munster winner.

He will be followed over the start ramp by the English/Welsh crew of John Stone and Dafydd Evans in a Polo GTI R5.

London-based Cork man Michael O’Brien will steer and Ford Focus on the event and he will be joined by fellow London Irish Motor Club member Paul McDevitt who is the top historic seed in the rally.

Son and father Tomas and Ian Davies will drive an Escort and a BMW M3 in the rally. Tomas finished third overall in Kerry four years ago and the Welsh man was the inaugural winner of the London Irish shield on that occasion.

Kerry brothers Ross Hilliard and Joey Hilliard are another crew to represent the London Irish Motor Club in their Ford Escort.

Tralee businessman and sponsor of the RallyTown event in Tralee town centre on Saturday afternoon will drive an Opel Corsa. His co-driver Niall Mulcahy will travel from the Netherlands for the rally.

Three drivers will return home from Australia for the rally. Kerry’s Amy Burke and Limerick’s Donal Balfe are both based in Perth and East Kerry’s Billy McCarthy currently lives in Brisbane.


The rally is also a round of the Top Part West Coast Rally Championship. The championship is 30 years old this year and Tralee-based motor factor group Top Part has been the title sponsor since day one.

Kenmare’s Vincent O’Shea had the honour of being the first-ever West Coast champion in 1993 and he is back this year in a Darrian T90.

He was co-driven by Brian Hickey 30 years ago and he is also on the entry list but as a driver this time out.


There are nearly 50 cars on the entry list representing the hosts Kerry Motor Club and neighbouring Killarney and District Motor Club.

Leading drivers from Kerry include Mike Quinn (Ford Escort) Tom Relihan (Escort Mk2) and defending Moriarty’s Central Car Sales Kingdom of Kerry champion Darren Young.

Mark Murphy will drive a Toyota Starlet while both Sean Enright and Conor Walsh are Escort mounted. Eddie Kennelly will be celebrating the 30th anniversary of his first Circuit of Kerry start.

Top Killarney drivers include Denis Hickey, Tadhg O’Sullivan, Charlie Hickey, Dave Slattery, and Thomas Randles in a fleet of Ford Escorts. Kevin O’Donohoe will drive a BMW M3 in the event.

Raymond O’Neill, Cyril Wharton, and Peter Kelly are another trio of Killarney-based Escort drivers.


The Rose Hotel Circuit of Kerry gets underway on Friday night with an overseas visitor reception in the rally headquarters.

Saturday is devoted to sign-on, route recce and mechanical scrutiny which will take place at Kelliher’s Toyota garage.

RallyTown – a static display of some of the top cars taking part in the event, returns for a second year and will run in The Mall, in Tralee town centre from 1 pm until 5 pm on Saturday.

The nine-stage rally starts at 830 am on Sunday, there will be a service halt at the Rose Hotel after every three stages at 10:55 am and at 1:45 pm ahead of the finish celebrations at the hotel around 4:30 pm.

An official programme will be on sale in local outlets before the end of the week and this official publication contains the full entry list, timetable and route maps. The purchase of a programme helps the club offset some of the costs it takes to put on an event of this scale.


1Josh MoffettCo. MonaghanKeith MoriartyCo. LimerickHyundai I20 R5
2Callum DevineDerryNoel O’SullivanCo. KerryVW Polo GTI R5
3Darren GassCo. ArmaghBarry McNultyCo. FermanaghCitroen C3 Rally 2
4Declan BoyleCo. DonegalPatrick WalshWalesVW Polo
5Andrew PurcellCo. WaterfordShane BuckleyCo. KerrySkoda Fabia R5
6Gary KiernanCo. CavanJohn McCabeCo. CavanFord Escort
7Mark AlcornCo. DonegalDonal McAleneyCo DonegalFord Escort Mk2
8 Daniel Barry Co. Wicklow Lorcan Moore Co. Mayo Skoda Fabia
9 Daniel Cronin Co. Cork Donnchadh Burke Co. Cork VW Polo GTI R5
10 Richard Moffett Co. Monaghan Darragh Kelly Co. Monaghan Toyota Starlet RWD

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