There’s more to Killarney than Moll’s Gap

Rallying in the south-west corner of Ireland is not to be missed. Nor are the scones


Just don’t be trying to buy a jumper on Saturday morning. One of Ireland’s finest jumper shops will be quieter than usual this weekend. While the world outside goes completely bananas.

It’s Killarney. At just before half eight on Saturday morning, around 150 rally cars will line up near the carpark for Dinis Cottage, on the southern shores of Muckross Lake. One by one, they’ll drop the clutch and let rip up the N71. The Ring of Kerry. Just short of nine miles later comes the first junction of any significance. Turn right and you’re onto the R568, the back road over to Blackwater. Nobody turns right.

Everybody follows the road around to the left. Welcome to Moll’s Gap.

If you’re planning a visit on Saturday, get in there early. Early like, er, now. In fact, if you’re reading this and you’re not already parked up on the R568, you’re already too late. This is one of the most evocative and awesome places to watch rally cars in the world.


The Rally of the Lakes' stages offer some of the best viewing in world rallying

You hear them first. Anti-lag bouncing off the hills of the Killarney National Park and then they’re on you – rounding the left-hander in the distance, pressing on through the deceptive right and onto the straight before jumping on the anchors to slot left between the rocks.

It’s awesome. And even better in the rain. Naturally, the lead Rally2 cars – the likes of Keith Cronin, Callum Devine, Matt Edwards, Jonny Greer and co. – will have their line picked, apex nailed and away. Don’t leave after them: the fun’s only just beginning. The Escort Mk2s will be outstanding, slipping the clutch on turn in, believing the slight incline will slingshot them through to the exit in a dazzling display of full-bore oppo. Sometimes it does.

Sometimes it doesn’t.


Last year's winner, Callum Devine, returns aboad Volkswagen Polo GTI

The International Rally of the Lakes isn’t all about Moll’s Gap. How could it be when Healy Pass, Ardgroom and the like sit in wait? Across two days, there’s more than 120 miles of flat-chat competition in 14 stages. Saturday afternoon, the cars are back in town just before four, meaning you can be in O’Connors for a pint soon after.

A day later and the whole job’s done with the champagne being sprayed in Gleneagles car park by half-four. But who’s going to be on the top step? Volkswagen Polo man Cronin took Galway and West Cork, but Edwards hit back on the Circuit aboard his Ford Fiesta Rally2.

As is always the case with Irish rallying, slapping the back of the winner’s just grand, but the event is an occasion worth celebrating in itself.

And if it’s a jumper you’re after, get back to Moll’s Gap on Monday morning and take a look in Avoca. There’s a shop that knows what to do with lambswool. Then head upstairs and have yourself a scone with a view. And a cup of tea. Naturally.