Special award presented in memory of Irish road racing chaplain Rev Noel Agnew

Highly respected Irish road racing chaplain Rev John Kirkpatrick has paid a heartfelt tribute to fellow Minister Noel Agnew, marking a year since he fell ill at the Cookstown 100.

Thursday, 16th September 2021, 10:26 am
Updated Thursday, 16th September 2021, 10:28 am

Rev Agnew, himself a popular chaplain in the Motor Cycle Union of Ireland (Ulster Centre), sadly died last September two weeks after suffering a heart attack as he attended practice at the Co Tyrone road race.

At last Saturday’s Cookstown 100, a special award was presented in his memory to racer Melissa Kennedy as the top female finisher at the event.

Rev Kirkpatrick, who officiated at the funerals of Joey, Robert and William Dunlop, said his colleague and friend had a ‘big heart and a big smile’.

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Rev Noel Agnew (right) with fellow race chaplains Rev John Kirkpatrick (centre) and Pastor Edwin Ewart at the 2017 Ulster Grand Prix.

“It’s a strange but very important honour to be able to do this and I’m so grateful that the club is acknowledging Noel’s part – not only in this club – but in road racing in Ireland as well,” said the Presbyterian minister, who has been a race chaplain to the MCUI for over 25 years.

“We called him ‘big Noel’ – he had a big voice; a big appetite; a big smile; a big heart and a big faith. He has left a big hole in the racing world and this award is very special.

“I think as well that we’d like to mention some of the other folks in the club and acknowledge the loss their families have experienced in the last year: Jack Wilkin, Billy McCosh, Larry Devlin, Keith Carson and Alex McVicker: each of them have had a part in this club and the history of this club, and they passed away in the last year.

“We want to remember them and their families, and acknowledge their troubles too. They’re all part of a big family and that’s what this sport is really well-known for.”

Enniskillen racer Kennedy finished on the podium in the Moto3 race behind Mike Browne and Nigel Moore.

The Cookstown 100 was one of only two Irish road races to go ahead this year along with July’s Armoy ‘Race of Legends’.