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Wednesday 6 December 2023 Dublin: 6°C
roads to remember

My Favourite Drive: Art McCarrick on the breathtaking twists of Moll's Gap in Kerry

‘Moll’s Gap for a motorsport fan is like Croke Park for the All-Ireland.’

Journeys, even everyday ones, can mean a lot. Art McCarrick is Motorsport Ireland‘s Sport Development Officer. As someone with a passion for motoring, he told about the drive that means most to him.

First up – describe the drive.

As well as working for Motorsport Ireland I’m a competitor too, so a few times a year I indulge in my passion which is rally driving. My favourite route is Moll’s Gap in Kerry, from Killarney to Kenmare.

It’s used a lot in the Rás for cycling but it’s generally regarded as one of the toughest and most famous rally stages in the country. It has amazing history to it, it’s just held in such revere. It’s very quick, it’s very bumpy, it’s very scenic. And it’s generally run as the opening stage of the Rally of the Lakes.

You leave Killarney, past Muckross House, and the start line is right there. To me anyway, there’s very little like it.

Growing up as a motorsport fan, you hear about Moll’s Gap. It’s like Wembley for a cup final, or Croke Park for the All Ireland.

Eamonn O'Riordan Art McCarrick coming through Moll's Gap in the Rally Of The Lakes Eamonn O'Riordan

With Moll’s Gap, because it goes up into the mountains, the conditions at the bottom can be very different to the conditions at the top. It can be dry at the bottom and wet or foggy at the top. Or it can be wet at the bottom and dry at the top – it can be above the clouds.

You go all the way up through it, and the the top of Moll’s Gap is kind of like a natural amphitheatre. There’s lots of room for spectators, so it’s always a big spectator spot. There’s great atmosphere, and you can feel that from inside the car.

Is there a view or a moment that sums it up for you?

ritesh3 Ladies View ritesh3

Obviously when you’re at speed you don’t get to look at it that much. But the day before you’re allowed to drive the route at road speed and make your pacenotes. And there’s a place about halfway up to Moll’s Gap, you can just pull in at a place called Ladies View. We always make a point of stopping there to take it in. And from there you look out over all the lakes of Killarney, with a completely uninterrupted view. There’s very few places like it in the country.

What is it that made it special?

Having driven it in a number of times in a normal car over the years, to finally do that bit of road in a competition car – it was like getting to drive a Ferrari around Monza. It mightn’t mean much to most people, but it means the world to me.

You can watch an in-car view of Art’s race through Moll’s Gap in the video below:

Rally Focus Media / YouTube

Art McCarrick is also a platelet donor. You can find out more about platelet donation by texting the word “platelets” to 53377.

More: My Favourite Drive: Philip Mallon on Wicklow, two mountains and a lot of memories>

More: My Favourite Drive: Andrew Whitaker on taking a campervan to Munster’s Heineken Cup Final>