Tandragee 100 memorial garden planned

Martin Finnegan on the JMF Millsport Yamaha R1 at the Tandragee 100 in 2008.
Martin Finnegan on the JMF Millsport Yamaha R1 at the Tandragee 100 in 2008.

Competitors and spectators who have sadly lost their lives at the Tandragee 100 are set to be honoured by a memorial garden at Clare Glen in Co Armagh.

Since the famous Irish national road race was first held in April 1958, a total of 11 people have been killed in accidents at the event, including two spectators – Ernest Wortley and Sylvia McClure – who died in the same incident in 1960.

Former racer RJ Woolsey, who has also fulfilled the role of Clerk of the Course at the Tandragee meeting, is leading the project.

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council will consider the application and plans for the project have received favourable feedback.

Around £5,000 will be required in order to fund the memorial and a series of events will be planned to help raise the money needed.

It is envisaged that the centrepiece of the memorial garden will be a motorcycle placed on top of a stone block and bearing a marble panel, which will feature the engraved names of those who have lost their lives at the race.

Along with spectators Ernest Wortley and Sylvia McClure, the memorial will also pay tribute to nine competitors, including Bob Thompson, who was the first rider to die in 1961.

Michael Shanahan became the first Sidecar competitor killed in a crash in 1977 at the event and the class was banned from the meeting a short time afterwards.

Rab Duncan was killed in 1977, Oral Watson in 1992, Daniel Humphreys in 1996 and Maurice Wilson in 2004.

Two high-profile victims also paid the ultimate price at Tandragee, with Ardglass rider John Donnan killed in 2007 while Martin Finnegan from Lusk in North County Dublin lost his life in 2008.

The most recent fatality was Noel Murphy in 2014, who was also from Lusk and is buried in the same cemetery in Dublin where Mr Finnegan was laid to rest.

RJ Woolsey is appealing to anyone who may have an old motorcycle – in whatever condition – they may consider selling at a reasonable price to get in touch with him.

A bike is needed to form part of the memorial garden and if anyone is able to help, please contact RJ on 0759 8714039.