OVER 50 YEARS IN IRISH MOTORSPORT
The club was founded in 1963 by a number of motorsport enthusiasts who worked at Dublin Airport and the club was originally known as Aer Lingus Motor Club. In early 1982 the club became a Limited Company and the name was changed to ALMC.
In those early years the club ran Autocrosses, Navigation Rallies and Social events and gained a reputation for good organisation and running enjoyable, affordable, non-car breaking events. Within a few years as these events grew in popularity and stature, membership was opened up to non-employees. The annual subscription in 1966 was ten shillings or 63c in todays money !! Membership was drawn mainly from Dublin City & County and Counties Meath and Louth, as most of the club’s events were run in these areas.
In 1966 the club (in conjunction with the MG Car Club) ran its first series of Rally Navigation Classes which became so popular in following years, that by 1978 numbers had to be restricted to 50 participants.
Many famous rally competitors have been long time club members such as, in former years drivers David Yeates, John Coyne, John Farrell and up to the present National Championship contender Michael Barrable. Navigators/Co-drivers include Ronan Morgan, Frank O’Donoghue, Christy Farrell, Joe Ffrench, Rea Inglis, Don Foley, Ted Gaffney, Vincent Fagan.
Our longest serving club member from the sixties, former Chairman and long time committee member, competitor and organiser is Chris McNally. Chris is a renowned navigator/co-driver and over the last 40 years has competed on all types of events in Ireland, Europe and the USA.
In the sixties and into the seventies, rallies were a mixture of navigation and loose surface forestry sections with the emphasis on navigation. Aer Lingus MC ran events such as the ‘Bunny Run’, ‘Try-out’, ‘Canbog’ and ‘Jumbo Rally’ the latter being a round of the National Irish Championship. In 1978 the National Championship was divided into a separate navigation and stages series.
In 1974 Aer Lingus MC organised the first Bellurgan “Mountaincross” which was really a single stage forestry rally with local resident John Coyne as C.O.C.
In subsequent years the Mountaincross was run on a tarmac road section (single stage rally format) in the Cooley Peninsula and was the forerunner of the first ALMC Multistage Rally in 1984 out of the Ballymascanlon Hotel with John Carroll as C.O.C. John was C.O.C of our Stages Rally for 10 consecutive years from 1984 to 1993 where the rally was run in the Louth/Meath area (except 1988 when it was based in Wicklow).
In 1994, Ian O’Flynn was C.O.C of the ‘Drogheda 800’ Stages and in 1995 Ian was in charge again with a Drogheda based event. The ALMC Stages Rally was a round of the National Stages Rally Championship for most of the years from 1987 to 1999 and was also a round of the Border Championship from 1991 to 1997.
In 1996 the Stages Rally moved to new territory in Co.Laois and the Montague Hotel Stages Rally with new C.O.C Noel Devlin in charge of the Rally. It was a big success and with the support of the area Tourism Board and business interests this raised the profile of the rally and the Club’s stature to a new level. In the following three years the successful format was repeated with Noel as C.O.C in ’97, Pat O’Connor in’98 and Ian O’Flynn in ’99.
For the Millenium year 2000 Noel returned as C.O.C to run the most ambitious and biggest event ever undertaken in the Club’s history. The ‘Dunlop Rally of Ireland’ was a two-day rally based in Tallaght with stages in Counties Dublin, Wicklow and Laois.
After a brief gap following the Foot and Mouth crisis of 2001 the club moved back to its natural home of Sheet 13, (County Meath and the North East to those who don’t remember ½ inch maps) to run a one day stages rally in County Meath headquartered at the Oasis Hotel in Carrickmacross. October saw the final autocross at Murphy’s Quarry in Balbriggan.
2003 saw a move to the Lakeside Manor Hotel for three successful rallies run by Ian O’Flynn and later John Carroll. 2007 was a big year for the Club, having been granted a one-off additional mini stages rally in January by Motorsport Ireland run out of the City North Hotel, with scrutiny and service at Murphy’s Quarry. This event went so well the July stages event was relocated there as well whilst club members Tim McNulty and Michael Barrable battled out at the top of the Tarmac Championship and National Championship tables respectively. James Cassidy and Lisa Roe took home the Class 12 trophies in the Dunlop National Championship.
ALMC ran many successful events from the CityNorth Hotel, including multiple Stages Rallies, Autotests and Charity Motor Shows, using much of Meath and occasional trips across the Boyne into County Louth. Indeed, the Motor Club celebrated its 50th Anniversary Gala Dinner at the CityNorth, bringing guests and VIP's from all over the country.
In 2013, the decision was taken to move the Rally and HQ to a different part of the Royal County, with the HQ relocated to Dunboyne, and Special Stages in the immediate area, and Service Area in Donboyne itself. For the first time in a few years, the Club ran a Ceremonial Start, and as a now established round of the REIS/MSA Rally Championship and the Midlands East Rally Championship, the Rally was a great success.
In 2014, the Rally and Club events moved to it's current home of Trim, and with a new HQ at the Castle Arch Hotel, the Rally and Motor Club continue to go from strength to strength, with the awarding of the 2016 Triton National Rally Championship Round to the ALMC. Coupled with a large entry of UK based competitors for 2016, the ALMC Stages Rally promises to be one of the best events of the year.