For the first time since 1980, Newcastle West and surrounds will play a significant part in “The Rás”. Stage 3, on Friday June 17th, will see riders roll out from Newcastle West Community Centre, through the Square and onwards to Ardagh. It’s traditional to have a short, neutralised section at the start of most stages. On this occasion, cyclists will get to experience the Limerick Greenway section from Newcastle West to Ardagh as a neutralised section.
“The Rás” is Ireland’s number one elite cycling race and one of the country’s top sporting events. The race itself began in 1953 and has been a major event on the national and international calendar for many years. It’s renowned for its role developing both Irelands top domestic riders as well as some of the world’s top names. The Rás has a worldwide reputation of being a grueling challenge where the open racing style allows amateur county and club riders to pit themselves against domestic and international professionals. The 2022 edition returns to the sporting calendar after a three-year absence and begins in Dublin on Wednesday 15th June. It finishes five days later in Blackrock, Co. Louth on Sunday 19th June. It is an event that has consistently brought an economic boost to towns and villages nationwide.
Next Friday is an opportunity to showcase some of what we have to offer in the area. The Desmond Castle, the Demense, Limerick Greenway and the Ardagh Stationhouse will all receive national and international media exposure. Stage 3 will begin in earnest in Ardagh village with riders heading towards Adare via Reen’s Pike and onwards to a stage finish in Lisdoonvarna, Co. Clare. The neutralised Greenway section is also an opportunity for the Irish racing community to acknowledge the contribution, the effort and the support from local and national Government that has been given to cycling and recreational infrastructure. Friday’s race start wouldn’t be possible without the co-operation of Limerick City and County Council.
There are a number of riders with local connections that are competing in The Rás. Brothers Joel and Jordan Luke began their cycling careers with Newcastle West CC before transferring to UCD to continue their studies. Joel is the current National Hill Climbing Champion. They have been selected as part of a strong college team that may challenge for the coveted county rider Jersey. Likewise, with Paul Kennedy who will be cycling with the Burren Club from Co. Clare. The Adare man headed up the NCW CC racing effort for a number of years and was part of the club’s team in the 2017 edition of the race. Another local interest next week is Tomas Quaid. The Quaid’s arguably have one of the richest sporting pedigrees in West Limerick through their involvement in a multiple of disciplines, most notable hurling. Tomas himself would have played Gaelic games at underage level with Drumcollogher/ Broadford . He converted to cycling and now competes at the highest amateur level on the UK circuit. He is part of the UK based Foran CC team .
The Rás organising committee, Cáirde Rás Tailteann, under the stewardship of Race Director, Ger Campbell, have put a tremendous amount of work and planning into the organisation of this year’s race. Twenty-two domestic teams and twelve International teams, 170 riders in total, are taking part.
A large entourage will follow the race and it will mean a significant boost to the hospitality sector in the greater Newcastle West area. For local spectators, roll out will begin at 10.40am from Newcastle West Community Centre and proceed to the Square via Nash’s Lane, exiting the Square and on to Churchtown Road. Expected arrival in Ardagh circa 11am for race start proper. We look forward to welcoming all our visitors on Thursday evening and Friday morning. (16th and 17th of June)