Wednesday, 12 March 2008

#044 - 1954 - Tour of Ireland - Part 3

The 4th stage took us on the long scenic stage to Killarney, going via Oranmore, Kinvarre to the cliffs of Mohir (pity we could not stop there as these cliffs are the highest in Europe). Then on to Ennis across the Shannon and so on to Limerick, on to Newcastle West, Abbeyfield, Castle Island to finish in beautiful Killarney. In all these towns we encountered large crowds all truly hyped up to see the race, we had good accommodation in Killarney, the communial dinner in the town hall being 1st class. In the evening Derek and I helped the mechanics, we were both awake at 5am the next morning - we had planned to go round the lakes before breakfast, the weather still being top class. We arrived back at the hotel well in time to join the team for a large breakfast, we were concerned that Dennis Weston had complained of being ill, I administered milk of magnesia and after about 20 minutes he said he felt better. At the “team talk” prior to the race Bill Henshaw as captain, announced they were ready to attack the current leaders, we cautioned Dennis to take his time up Tunnel Gap and at the summit if Dennis was not going well, we would fetch Bren Thorpe back to hopefully re-catch the main group.

The weather and scenery was so good that a pact was reached by every one in the field to “sight-see” as we passed the lakes and start the stage at the foot of Tunnel Gap towards Kenmare. This worked well for us, Dennis only falling back just prior to the summit. On the descent we fetched Bren back to pace Dennis back to the bunch, the descent was quite “hairy” but Dennis and Bren started to overhaul another small group, we on the motorbike telling Dennis not to work, and he took notice of us, so far so good. At the bottom of this descent the Aspro ambulance was going towards Glengarrif. Outside a pub was a farm horse and cart, and the ambulance tannoy system startled the horse which had not been tethered. It bolted towards the main group, who managed to avert any accident, everybody frightened to death. Meanwhile our two riders in the second group were almost “on” to the leaders. Dennis looked up from his position and saw that they were nearly “on”. He passed all the second group and ran head first into the horse and cart impaling himself on the shafts which killed him outright.

Derek had jumped off the moving motorbike and was cradling the fatally injured lad in his arms. After seeing Dennis into the ambulance, Deryck and I sat on a stone wall completely dazed and overcome, the race had stopped for us at that moment..We had to compose ourselves – we had work to do. Derek and I went to the Post Office at Glengarrif and rang the police at Long Eaton for them to convey the sad news to Mr. And Mrs. Weston. Meanwhile the three other members of our team were still riding well, oblivious to the horror that had happened at Glengarrif. We chased at maximum speed so as we would be able to give them the sickening news in a quite spot, luckily we caught them just before Cork and was able to draw them quietly together, but not before Bill and Fred wanted to know in no certain manner were the hell we had been, because of lack of information they had actually finished 3rd and 4th and had Dennis finished with them we would have won the team. A very glum team sat down to dinner where every other team in the event came to us with condolences.

No comments: