Shock and sadness at passing of Craig Breen
World Rally Championship driver Craig Breen, a former winner of the Rally of the Lakes, lost his life in a tragic testing accident today.
Craig, who was 33, was Ireland’s top rally driver and a full-time professional competing with the Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team in the World Rally Championship.
A prodigious karter in his younger years, Breen started competing in rallying in 2006 as a co-driver before making the switch to the drivers’ seat in 2008.
His rise thereafter was nothing short of spectacular. In 2009 he made his first foray into the World Rally Championship, winning his class and finishing 25th overall on Rally Portugal. In that same year, Craig won both the Irish and UK Fiesta Sporting Trophies, was crowned Irish National Junior Rally Champion and won the Billy Coleman Award, the youngest driver to do so. In 2010 Breen competed in the Irish and British championships and won the Pirelli Star Driver Global Shootout Final. Winning the Pirelli Star Driver Shootout afforded Breen the chance to compete in the World Rally Championship in the WRC Academy series in 2011 which he dramatically won on the final stage of the final round netting him a €500,000 prize fund.
In 2012 Breen won the Super 2000 World Rally Championship despite the tragic death of his long time co-driver and friend Gareth Roberts in an accident half way through the season.
A factory seat with Peugeot was secured for 2013 and Breen would stay with the French marque for three seasons securing four European Rally Championship event wins including a memorable Circuit of Ireland win in 2015 which saw him emulate the 1992 feat of his motorsport hero, the late Frank Meagher. For the 2016 season, Breen signed with Citroen to drive in six rounds of the World Rally Championship. In his first season in a top car, in the top flight of the sport, he scored a memorable podium finish with a superb third place on Rally Finland.
In 2018 Breen was on the podium again, this time going one step higher with a second place in Rally Sweden.
Without a factory contract for 2019, Breen returned to Ireland and reunited with co-driver Paul Nagle with the pair having pulled together a deal to tackle the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship. They dominated the series winning the Galway, West Cork, Killarney, Easter Stages and Ulster rallies while also winning the iconic San Remo and Ypres rallies on the continent. A call up to Hyundai half way through the season would see a return to top flight competition and despite truncated campaigns with the Korean manufacturer, Breen was always on the pace and regularly on the podium including three consecutive podiums in three events (Estonia, Ypres and Finland) in 2021.
The lure of a full-time seat with M-Sport as the sport entered a new hybrid era was too much for Breen to turn down but after a strong start to the season in Monte Carlo, results were hard to come by and Breen returned to Hyundai for 2023 taking another second place on his first event back with the team in Sweden.
Whenever he got the chance, Craig still continued to compete on local events in Ireland and in recent months, support younger drivers. Earlier this year a sponsorship deal was announced that would see him directly supporting the Junior 1000 category within the Sligo Pallets Forest Rally Championship and as recently as last Tuesday, he attended a J1000 tuition day where 18 young drivers got to meet and learn from their hero. Craig was a model competitor and there was no greater advocate for Irish motorsport.
Speaking on today’s tragic news Motorsport Ireland President said; “The Irish motorsport community is numbed by this tragic news. Craig was a world class driver and a world class person. To Craig’s family, his parents Ray and Jackie, his sister Kellie, brother-in-law Darragh and nephew Bobbie, I wish to extend my deepest condolences and all our thoughts remain with Craig’s co-driver James Fulton. May they all find the strength and support they need at this unimaginably tragic time.”
Fire warning in National Park
The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Housing has appealed to the public not to light fires or barbecues in public places […]
The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Housing has appealed to the public not to light fires or barbecues in public places this summer.
As they appeal to the public to exercise renewed care and responsibility when outdoors the National Parks and Wildlife Service has increased ground crews on fire patrol and has ramped up aerial monitoring with helicopters and drones.
Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien TD said:
“If you notice a fire, please call the emergency services on 112 immediately. NPWS teams are upping their patrols to identify potential fire incidents and act quickly should one break out. However as we know, prevention is better than cure, and we’re asking all members of the public to avoid lighting fires in open areas.”
Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan TD commented further:
“Our National Parks and Nature Reserves, coastal sand dunes, mountains and upland areas, forests, meadows and urban parks are all places where we enjoy spending time in nature, but they are also home to our precious wildlife and their vulnerable young. This is a really important time of year for wildlife, especially vulnerable ground-nesting birds and mammals who are now rearing their young. We all want to get out and enjoy the good weather but let’s do it responsibly – without putting nature at risk.”
The Director General of the NPWS, Niall O Donnchú, has also asked for everybody’s cooperation to protect nature and said:
“While NPWS has increased ground crews and monitoring from the air this week, we still need to enlist your help to protect nature at this high risk time. We ask that members of the public not light fires or barbecues in any National Parks or Nature Reserves, or indeed in nature generally. We are also asking that the public be vigilant and report any fire activity without delay.”
Killarney Looking Good Competition returns
Over three decades after it was first initiated, to help improve the aesthetic values of the town, the Killarney Looking Good Competition is back with a vengeance with a new […]
Over three decades after it was first initiated, to help improve the aesthetic values of the town, the Killarney Looking Good Competition is back with a vengeance with a new committee, new categories, new sponsors and a whole new approach.
When the project was first launched in 1991 it was a relatively low-key community event but it grew in importance with each passing year, culminating in some style when Killarney won the prestigious overall award in the national tidy towns competition in 2011.
After an enforced three-year absence since 2019, due to the pandemic, the competition has now been given a whole new lease of life and the 2023 version was officially launched this week by Mayor of Killarney, Cllr Niall Kelleher.
Awards will be presented in 26 different categories and high achievers in the business and residential community will be honoured at a gala prizegiving ceremony at the close of the tourist season.
This year two new categories are being introduced in memory of two remarkable people who played massive roles in keeping Killarney looking its best down through the years.
Yvonne Quill, who passed away last October, was the driving force behind the Killarney tidy towns campaign for several years and she was at the helm when the sought-after overall award was secured 12 years ago.
This year the Yvonne Quill Memorial Award will be presented to the volunteer of the year – a person who the adjudicators consider to be a standout contributor – in the overall effort to keep Killarney tidy.
Up to the time of his death in January 2020, Fr Michael Murphy was the public face of tidy towns and he played a huge part in Killarney, Kenmare and Sneem winning the overall national award in 2011, 2000 and 1987 respectively. Affectionately known as Fr Tidy, this year the Killarney Looking Good Competition will honour his memory with a special Pride of Place award.
In the business community, there will be awards for the best large and small commercial premises, best newly painted premises, best signage and the best retail award with prizes also for the most impressive hotel, public house, restaurant, café, guesthouse and best public building as well as the most improved premises.
In the residential categories awards will go to the best large and small estates, best private residence, best roadside garden, best floral display and best friendly planting award.
Other categories include a green hospitality award, a corporate special responsibility award, a restoration award, best school and a special biodiversity award.
Several highly commended awards will also be up for grabs and the winner of the prestigious overall award will be announced at the prizegiving ceremony.
The Killarney Looking Good Competition is organised by Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce and Killarney Municipal District Council and the new committee comprises Sandra Dunlea – a daughter of the late Yvonne Quill – Kathleen Foley, John O’Mahony and Johnny McGuire who is spearheading the project.
MD O’Shea & Sons are the new overall sponsors of the competition and O’Mahony Media Ltd is the media sponsor.
The competition will run throughout the tourist season and businesses and residential areas will be monitored on an ongoing basis.
Fire warning in National Park
The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Housing has appealed to the...
Killarney Looking Good Competition returns
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