2005 Irish National Rally

Classic motorcycles on the Emerald Isle

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Classic motorcycles lined up at the Irish National Rally.

Photo by Phillip Tooth

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Broken frame? Buckled wheel? Snapped spokes? They’re all part of the Irish National Rally. But that doesn’t stop riders from coming back year after year. Once they’ve had a taste of the Irish, they won’t miss this annual dose of bouncing along narrow, rain-soaked roads while dodging sheep and potholes for all the beer in County Cork.

The Irish National Rally has been bringing classic bike fans to the Emerald Isle for 39 years. Each day of the four-day event covers about 140 miles, taking in spectacular scenery along the rocky Atlantic coastline and through the dramatic mountains of County Cork and County Kerry. That might not seem far to ride a bike in a day, but remember, these are Irish roads — most of them have grass growing down the middle.

Ride the Irish and you’ll meet people like Ian Thompson, who has ridden every single rally on his 1936 Norton 500cc International. And then there’s American stunt rider Bud Ekins, who is always excellent entertainment, telling tales of Hollywood daring-do. Or former European motocross champion Dave Bickers, who rode the last Rally on a BSA Gold Star outfit. Besides Ireland and the UK, riders come from Germany, Sweden, France, Switzerland, New Zealand, Canada, the U.S. and even Japan.

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