11 March 2024

~3 minutes read

Aoife Raftery inspiring the next generation of Galway rally drivers

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Aoife Raftery inspiring the next generation of Galway rally drivers

Two rural villages in County Galway are fast becoming centres of rising female talent in Irish motorsport.

Craughwell’s Aoife Raftery,  the only female member of the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy attended a special event, organised by the Motorsport Ireland Women in Motorsport Commission to mark International Woman’s Day in Portlaoise on Saturday.

The networking event brought women from all disciplines of motorsport together.

“It was great to attend the event Motorsport Ireland Women in Motorsport Commission event on Saturday. I got to meet lots of wonderful ladies and hear all their stories,” said Raftery. “Hopefully, we can see more women getting involved in motorsport.”

Raftery hosted a panel discussion with teenagers Gemma Hallinan (Craughwell) and Nicole O’Leary (Ardrahan) in front of an estimated audience of 100 people.

Both youngsters are taking their first tentative steps in the sport and are being mentored by Raftery, a regular competitor in FIA European Rally Championship events.

Hallinan made her rally debut in Kerry in February driving a low-powered 1000cc Nissan Micra in the Junior 1000 Rally Series.

The class was specially created by the sport’s governing body, Motorsport Ireland, to allow 14-to-17-year-old drivers the chance to compete in forestry rallies in a controlled manner.

O’Leary competes in Junior Autocross, an off-road time-trial style event that follows similar youth rules to the Junior 1000 Rally series.

“It was great to be able to highlight the girls on the stage and hear their stories of how they got involved and their plans for the future,” added  Raftery, the first and so far, only female driver to be selected by the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy.

“They all spoke excellent and it’s really exciting to see what lies ahead in the future for them.”

Earlier in the evening Raftery and Rally Academy co-ordinator Kathleen Kennedy were interviewed on stage by Motorsport Ireland Women in Motorsport Commission secretary Noelle Horan.

“It was great to explain to everybody in the room how the Academy works, the idea behind it and the great work it is doing with Irish rally drivers by getting more young drivers out into the European and World stage,” said Galway Motor Club member Raftery.

“It was fantastic to be able to share my own story and also to hear Kathleen explaining how it all works and what goes on behind the scenes.”

Guests of honour at the networking seminar at the Midlands Park Hotel in Portlaoise included Erika Murphy from Sports Ireland and Aiden Harper, President of Motorsport Ireland.

Aoife Raftery Racing is supported by Des Lyons Plant | Kenny (Peugeot) Galway | O’Neill O’Malley Architects and Project Managers | Loughrea Auto Parts | Craughwell Tyre Centre | Sean Fleming Motors | Aertec Vacuum and Ventilation | Quinn Hardware | Liscon Transport | Kerry Motorsport News

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