Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Urney Chocolates and Motor Racing


Earlier today I accidently deleted a telephone voice message left by a gentleman enquiring about my grandfather, Redmond Gallagher, and his contribution to Irish motor racing. So, if by any chance you are reading this, I'm really sorry but I haven't got a contact number for you. Maybe you could call again? Or maybe this will help...

Redmond Gallagher took over from his father as MD of Urney Chocolates in 1950 on the condition that he would concentrate solely on the factory and give up his lifelong passion for motor racing. His very first racing car was a H.E. 2 litre bought for £8 in the 1930s for a race in the Phoenix. Park. This was replaced with a 3 litre Sunbeam that been driven by Sir Malcolm Campbell in the Irish Grand Prix. Redmond never raced the Sunbeam and for some reason eventually sold it on. His next car was a supercharged Austin 7 that he was not entirely taken with. Maybe because it cost him a broken neck which was only discovered years later. Deciding to take things up a notch, Redmond next purchased an engineless Bugatti. With help from his brother in law, Dermot O'Clery, he fitted it with an early Ford V8 engine and called the car the USR- Urney Special Racer. As WW2 approached Redmond put his racing on hold until after the war when engineer and racing associate Nick Flynn helped build "Leprechaun I". It was a 500 cc car with a J.A.P. engine, especially adept at hill climbs. This was later adapted with a Norton engine and chassis redesign to become "Leprechaun II". Then came "Leprechaun III", an entirely new car with a 1000 cc supercharged engine. It did very well in speed events. His final racing car was a 1.5 litre Gordini that Redmond raced extensively at home and abroad. It had 2 wins in the international tourist trophy at Dundrod and another in the Wakefield trophy at the Curragh. 
In 1959 Stan Ryan bought Leprechaun III. Stan had a garage at 152, North King St. and raced the car for two years in several events around the country before eventually selling it on to Robin Rennicks. It was destroyed by fire while Mr.Rennicks owned it.

Above photo courtesy of the 500 Owners Association.

6 comments:

  1. Actually the engine in the Leprechaun was always british and not japanese: JAP comes from John Alfred Prestwich the founder of JA Prestwich Industries and was very popular in Formula 3 racing in Britain in the early fifties.

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  2. Yes I later figured that out- It's amended in the book. But thanks you so much for pointing it out. I really must amend this post!
    best Karen

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    1. Just for information, Karen,
      The Leprechaun 111 was bought in 1959 by Stan Ryan who had a garage at 152, North King St.
      Stan raced the car in several events around the country and eventually sold it to Robin Rennicks in 1961. It was destroyed by fire while Mr.Rennicks owned it.

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  3. Hi Frank thanks so much for taking the time to leave a message. I recall happening on an interview with Robin on RTE 2FM several years re Leprechaun III. But I never took any notes... I've added your info to the post. Again many thanks for the helpful input!

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  4. hi.ive worked on the leprechaun 1 , it had a mank norton engine for a while but had a J.A.P. (john alfred prestwich) installed aroung 2005 .i have several pics of the car and can copy some of the documented history if it was wanted .

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  5. Thanks Tony for taking the time to comment. 2005- is that a typo? I thought the car had long been destroyed in a fire? Anyhow, any info would be most welcome. Kind regards.

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