'Respected and loved by all': Tributes paid to councillor Manus Kelly after Donegal Rally crash

'Respected and loved by all': Tributes paid to councillor Manus Kelly after Donegal Rally crash
Manus Kelly. Photo: Sportsfile.

Tributes have been paid to racing champion Manus Kelly who was killed in a crash while competing in the Donegal Rally.

The newly elected county councillor, a father of five whose youngest child with wife Bernie is just two, was fatally injured when he was involved in a single car crash.

His co-driver Donall Barrett was injured and is being treated at Letterkenny General Hospital. His injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.

The incident happened at around 12.30pm yesterday on the final day of the three-day Joule Donegal International Rally event at the Fanad Head loop section of the course.

An extremely popular competitor on the Irish rallying scene, Manus lived in Glenswilly close to Gartan, where a stage of the rally was run on Saturday and was regarded as his home stage. Manus was recently elected to Donegal County Council where he won a seat for the Fianna Fáil party.

He was widely respected and loved by all of the rally community here in Ireland.

Party leader Micheal Martin has expressed his sadness at Mr Kelly’s death, offering his condolences to his wife, five children and wider family.

“As three time consecutive and reigning champion of the Donegal International Rally, Manus’s racing talent was limitless,” he said.

“He was widely respected and loved by all of the rally community here in Ireland.

“Manus had just embarked on a promising career in local politics having recently been elected to Donegal County Council representing the Fianna Fail party.


“It was obvious throughout his recent election campaign that he was passionate and entirely committed to serving the people of the Letterkenny electoral area which he cherished.

“Manus made a huge contribution to his community.

“As a self-employed businessman, he employed 60 people in Letterkenny. He was an active fundraiser and advocate for the Letterkenny University Hospital. He had great commitment to the GAA and managed his local club, Glenswilly to Junior B success in 2016.

He will be sorely missed by his family, friends and all those closest to him. My thoughts this evening also remain with Manus’s co-driver and loyal colleague, Donal Barrett. Manus’s death is an immeasurable loss to us all.

A Garda spokesman said officers are investigating the incident.

In a statement, Motorsport Ireland said Donegal Motor Club is liaising with the family of the competitor involved.

“It is with regret that Motorsport Ireland and Donegal Motor Club announce that a fatality has occurred during the final day of the 2019 Donegal International Rally on Sunday 23rd June. The Donegal Motor Club are liaising with the family of the competitor involved,” a spokesman said.

“The three day annual event takes place in June each year and attracts large numbers of spectators and in excess of 200 competitors took part in this years’ event.

“The relevant authorities have begun a full investigation into the incident and will be assisted by Motorsport Ireland and Donegal Motor Club. Motorsport Ireland and its affiliated clubs are recognised internationally for operating to the highest standards of motorsport safety for competitors and spectators in line with the best practice of the FIA.

“The entire motorsport community extends its fullest sympathy to the family of the bereaved. More information may be released later.”

PA & Digital Desk

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