At the launch of the Birr Stages Rally, L to R: Mike Garahy, Mary Garahy, Thomas Garahy and Kieran Garahy.

Countdown continues to Birr Stages Rally

Organised and promoted by Birr & District Motor Club, the Garahy Family Birr Stages Rally takes place this Sunday, April 21. The rally is sponsored by the Garahy family, T.J. Garahy Ltd, Garahy's Garage and Garahy Tractors.

Rally crews from all over Ireland and abroad will be converging on rally headquarters at Garahy's Garage, Birr to tackle three stages to the east of Birr set out by Clerk of the Course, Eoin Longworth and his team. A maximum of 165 cars will start the event, which is a counting round of the Border Rally Championships.

Top seeded entries on the rally are the Moffett brothers from Co. Monaghan. Carrying the number 1 for the event will be Josh who claimed the win at the last running of the Birr Stages Rally back in 2022, but this time will be in his new Citroen C3 Rally 2. His brother Sam is seeded at 2 and currently leads the National Rally Championship in his Hyundai i20 R5. Seeded at 3 is Daniel Cronin with his VW Polo GTI R5, just ahead of Declan Boyle in a Citroen C3 Rally 2.

The sole Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy entrant is Jack Brennan from Mooncoin, with navigation to be provided by John McGrath in their Peugeot 208 Rally 4. It will be a quick turnaround for the crew as they were competing last weekend in Rally Hungary, where they finished 5th in the Junior FIA European Rally Championships.

Event sponsor, Mike Garahy of Garahy Tractors, stage sponsors Paul O'Brien of Sola Energy Solutions and Eoghan Fogarty of RAE Autofactors will all vie for class honours. Other stage and service sponsors include Doolan's Service Station, Kilcormac, Transpec and KTS Tyres.

Other local drivers include David Forde/TJ O'Brien (Nenagh), Liam with his brother Gary Higgins (Birr), Damien Brophy/Gerard Buckley (Laois), Kieran Guinan/Ronan Mooney (Birr). Gearóid O'Regan (Banagher), Tom Holton Jnr (Enfield) and Bobby Cooper (Castlerea) are also in the hunt. Another driver to watch is Aidan Bourke/Pierce Doheny Jnr in his distinctivly liveried Ford Escort MkII.

Aside from the overall and class awards, Birr & District Motor Club will be awarding the highly coveted John Finnegan Memorial Trophy. This is presented to the highest placed navigator in the overall results who is a current member of Birr & District Motor Club. Previous winners of the trophy include Paul Nagle (World Rally Championship navigator) and Greg Shinnors (British Rally Championship co-driver champion).

This year, Mark Kirwan will be looking to be a triple winner of the trophy having won in 2013 and 2016. However, TJ O'Brien will also be looking to reclaim the trophy that he lifted back in 2018. Not to be discounted are Iarla McCarthy (2023 Class 10 Navigator Forestry champion), Alan Keena, Ronan Mooney and Gary Higgins.

There are many women who will be involved in all aspects of the event from officials, event secretary, marshalling and timekeeping to competing. Taking on the stages are Hazel O'Callaghan and Katie Quinn in the driver's seat, while navigating will be Ruthann O'Connor, Kirsty O'Callaghan, Sarah Hennessy, Megan Costello, Pauline Knowles, Katarzyna Galinska, Gillian Gilmartin, Niamh Pickens and Caz Somers. The only all women crew, will be Katie Quinn and Caz Somers.

A reminder for any youths aged from 12 to 18 years old, who want to train to be a youth marshal/official, that training will take place on Saturday, April 20 at Dooly's Hotel, Birr from 5.30pm to 6.30pm. Register by e-mailing

The eagerly awaited rally programme will be available shortly. This bumper issue includes the stage maps/times, seeded entry list, a keepsake sticker and is packed full of articles along with the up-to-date Championship information. Keep an eye on the club's social media pages to find your nearest programme outlet.

For those who are intending to see the action on the stages, please obey the instructions of the marshals and officials. They are following a safety plan that has been agreed in advance of the event. As has been seen at other rallies, should spectators refuse to move, the organisers will have no option but to cancel a stage. Safety is paramount for spectators and for the competitors. Please obey the Marshals, they are there to look out for your safety. The club asks that spectators arrive in plenty of time to their viewing point, always stand in a safe area.

Spectators intending to visit the service area at Grennan's of Rath are asked to use the parking provided in the vicinity of Rath village and not to park on the household verges or entrances in the vicinity of the service park. Any illegally parked vehicles will be towed away. The road between Rath and Fivealley will be closed to the public on Sunday from 8am to 5pm and local diversions will be signposted.

Birr & District Motor Club is grateful for the support of the residents, farmers, landowners, sponsors, club members, motor clubs, marshals, officials, competitors, local businesses, spectators, An Garda Síochána and the local county councils as without them, this event cannot be successful.

If anyone is available to marshal or help at the event, they are asked to contact Birr & District Motor Club or the Chief Marshal, Ger Brophy, (087) 693 1369. All help is greatly appreciated by the club.

Birr & District Motor Club wishes everyone a safe and enjoyable rally. For further information and event updates, refer to the club's social media channels (Facebook, X and Instagram) and the club website (