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Donegal rally heroes honoured at Civic Reception in Lifford


Manus Kelly and Donal Barrett Civic Reception


Two of Donegal’s most prominent motor sports heroes Manus Kelly and Donall Barrett were honoured at a Civic Reception in the County House in Lifford yesterday evening in recognition of their achievements in winning the Donegal International Rally in 2016 and 2017 together with the National Rally Championship in 2015.


Manus and Donall were joined by family, friends and colleagues as well as other sporting greats at the special event with Cathaoirleach Cllr. Gerry McMonagle leading out on the tributes.


Manus Kelly and Donal Barrett Civic Reception 2


“On behalf of the elected members of Donegal County Council and indeed the management and staff of the Council I am delighted to be in a position to welcome both Manus and Donall to the County House this evening and bestow this honour of a civic reception in recognition of their outstanding achievements in the world of motor sports.”


Manus and Donall have been involved in rallying for many years and they had their big breakthrough in 2015 when they won the national rally at the Donegal Rally by 43.9 seconds in a Mk2.


In 2016 they won the most dramatic Donegal International Rally in history. In fact they won it by just three yards and were just 0.5 seconds ahead when the sums were totted at the end of the rally.


And again in 2017, they came back and won the Donegal International Rally again for a second time making them the first Donegal crew to win the rally twice.


Manus Kelly and Donal Barrett Civic Reception 3


Cllr McMonagle added “their achievements have been outstanding, but more than that their journey has been an example to us all. 


“They toiled at their sport for many years and I am sure they were disappointed on many occasions but they kept going.  They were determined.  They put in the hard work and the long hours and they reaped their rewards with their momentous win in their own county, on their own roads, with their own people to encourage them along the way”.


The Cathaoirleach also described both men as top ambassadors in their sport and acknowledged their support of the Donegal Joint Policing Committee’s campaign to promote safety and respect during the rally and he thanked them for supporting and promoting this campaign.


Manus Kelly and Donal Barrett Civic Reception 4


Chief Executive Seamus Neely also spoke at the event and said that winning the Donegal International Rally not just once but twice means that these sports men are at the sharpest end of their sport in terms of skill, technical capabilities, endurance and determination.  He also acknowledged the organisers of the Donegal International Rally saying that it is the only three day event left on the island and it attracts in the region of 100,000+ spectators to the county each year and is worth approximately €25m to the local economy.  He believes that the Donegal International Rally has a special place in life in Donegal and is an event that has been embraced by the community and is appreciated not only for the enjoyment it brings but for the way that those involved with the sport and in particular sports men such as Manus and Donall use the popularity of the event and indeed their own popularity to highlight and promote important road safety messages.


A special message from the Chair of the CLG Dun na nGall Michael McGrath was read out and a representative from each party grouping paid tribute to Manus Kelly and Donall Barrett. 


Brian Brogan Chair of the Donegal Motor Club also spoke at the event and said that having an event such as this was a big step for the club and the sport and to have two sports people from the motor sports fraternity recognised in this way was a tribute to everyone involved in the sport.  He also thanked Donegal County Council for their ongoing support of the Donegal International Rally.


Manus Kelly and Donal Barrett Civic Reception 5


Manus Kelly and Donall Barrett each addressed the audience and paid tribute to their families, their sponsors and to their competitors and to all involved in motor sports in Donegal. 


Manus Kelly said “winning the Donegal International Rally is every rally drivers dream and you don’t get it easily”. 


He also announced that Donall and himself would be back on the road in the next few weeks competing in Kilarney and that they now have a new sponsor on board, Applegreen Ireland.

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