Belfast Telegraph

Garden tribute to 12 casualties of Tandragee 100

Garden will be dedicated to riders and spectators

The Tayto Open Race at the Tandragee 100
The Tayto Open Race at the Tandragee 100
John Donnan
Martin Finnegan
Noel Murphy
Claire McNeilly

By Claire McNeilly

A new memorial garden and wall has been designed as a poignant tribute to the 12 people who have lost their lives in the Tandragee 100 road races, the clerk of the course has said.

Anne Forsythe was speaking after she lodged a planning application with the local council on behalf of the North Armagh Motorcycle and Car Club, which organises the Tandragee 100.

The idea is to build the memorial on a patch of wasteland within Clare Glen in memory of the 10 riders and two spectators who have died in the annual road racing event, which was first staged in 1958.

Ms Forsythe told the Belfast Telegraph that the families who lost their loved ones were at the heart of memorial, which she hopes will be a fitting gesture to their memories.

"We're doing this so that there will be a permanent memorial for everyone in the local area as a mark of respect to those who died," she said.

"The families are our number one priority and the idea of the memorial garden was conceived solely with them in mind.

"We contacted everyone before we began on this journey to make sure that they were all okay with the idea.

"Since then we've been working hard to gather up some funding to do it."

Spectators Sylvia McClure and Ernest Wortley both died in the same incident two years after the Tandragee road races launched.

Most recently, Italian rider Dario Cecconi (38) passed away in hospital three days after a crash on the circuit in 2017. Others who have lost their lives to the sport include Bob Thompson, in 1961, and sidecar competitor Michael Shanahan, whose death in 1977 led to the inclusion of sidecars being abandoned in future races.

The memorial will also honour Rab Duncan, who also died in 1977, Oral Watson in 1992, Daniel Humphreys in 1996, Maurice Wilson in 2004, John Donnan and Martin Finnegan in back-to-back outings in 2008 and 2009 respectively, and Noel Murphy, who died in 2014.

According to the plans, which are now before the council planning committee, the garden will be closed off behind a timber fence.

At its heart will be a red brick memorial - close to a metre tall - which will be capped with natural slate.

There will also be individual marble plates randomly fixed to each brick and each will bear the names of the late riders or spectators.

The centre of the memorial is to be filled with decorative gravel.

At its front will be three plates. These will bear the name of the memorial, the club's logo and an outline of the circuit and inscription remembering the fallen.

Ms Forsythe said that Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council would now consider the planning application and the race organisers are hopeful of hearing a decision by the end of the month.

She said that the council had been very supportive.

She added: "This memorial will show that no one who died in the Tandragee 100 has been forgotten."

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