Jan 30, 2006 [Noel Guiden]

cross_country_2_110The 2006 Clonliffe Grand Prix Series kicks off on Saturday the 18th of February @ 3.00 p.m. with the Grand National for the Irwin Memorial Challenge Cup, sponsored for the first time by Paddy Tuite/Kinseally Motors. This is a six mile open handicap race which will be run over the country in Santry Demesne and for your pleasure will feature jumps and ditches. The Irwin Memorial Cup will go to the first across the line, this wonderful silver cup is a fabulous looking trophy and is one which is of immense historical interest.

Carmichael Irwin, a Clonliffe Harrier, was a member of the RAF and was a Flight Lieutenant with Britain’s Airship Programme.

The British Government’s airships experiment had commenced in the 1920’s, the British were fearful of the technological lead that Germany was developing in airships. It was decided to develop two airships, the R100 which was developed by Vickers Limited and the R101 which was developed by the British Ministry. Carmichael Irwin was a Flight Lieutenant on the R101. When the R101 was originally flown in 1929 it was the largest flying object every built. In 1930 the airship was modified and was lengthened to 777 feet (over 250M). The airship was moored at its home base at Cardington, England, despite the fact that its testing performance had been unsatisfactory political pressure caused the ship to be sent on her maiden voyage to India on the 4th of October 1930 with a refuelling stop in Egypt. The airship crossed the English channel and at 2.00 a.m. reached Bauvais in France, she got into difficulties with gusting winds and was put into a steep dive crashing into a hillside and bursting into flames, killing 48 of the 54 passengers and crew onboard including Clonliffe’s Carmichael Irwin.

In 1932 Carmichael Irwin’s friends and family donated the Irwin Memorial Challenge Cup to Clonliffe. The cup is inscribed as the “Grand National” and since its inception was run over the jumps on the country over six miles. Over those early years the race was held at Finglas golf course (Clonliffe of course did not come to Santry until 1955), the first winner was G. Kerr, the most recent winner in 2005 was N. Guiden. The first winner of the cup when Clonliffe relocated to Santry was D. Appleby in 1956, other interesting names appearing on the cup are Noel Henry in 1958, Johnny O’Leary in 1959, Lar O’Byrne winner in 1961,64 and 66, George McIntyre 1967 and 68. The winner of the 50th running of the race which was held in Santry in 1981 was Dominic Branigan.

The Irwin Cup was “rested” for a number of years in the late 1980’s however was resurrected again in 2003 and for the first time in 2006 is now featured in the Grand Prix Series. This truly is an historic race and your support on the 18th of February would be very much appreciated.

Entries are now open for the 2006 Grand Prix Series, for a mere €30.00 any club member or indeed guest, by invitation, can take part in the Series, this provides entry into 16 of the 18 races (the exclusions being the two open road races). Non-affiliated guests entry is €45.00 as they must be temporarily registered with AAI for the duration of the Series for insurance reasons. In an effort to facilitate the smooth running of the opening race and also to make the handicappers job a little easier the organising committee propose taking entries in the club bar on Thursday February 9th from 8.45 p.m. If you plan to enter the Series you are requested in order to make life easier to enter that night rather than leave it until the day of the Irwin Cup itself.