A young Cashel rally fan had his lifetime dream come true this week, when he was presented with his very own, custom-made rally car.
Stephen Ryan, from Knockgraffon, is a student at Cashel Community School and on Monday night he was absolutely stunned when the bright yellow, Toyota Starlet rally car appeared out of the winter rain in Friar Street car park, complete with his name emblazoned across the windscreen!
To make the occasion even more exciting, on hand to present the car were his rally heroes Eugene Donnelly and his co-pilot Pat, who travelled from Donegal especially for the occasion. Also there were Munster rugby star and Cashel man Denis Leamy, and Tipp hurling star Brendan Cummins.
Stephen, who is 17 and a sixth year student, is the son of rally driver Donal and his wife Nicola, and suffers from muscular dystrophy. He was amazed to be presented with the special car.
A huge rally fan, Stephen was in Killarney earlier this year to watch Darren Gass win the Rally of the Lakes.
This ‘secret’ project has been underway since last September, with Stephen’s uncles John, Damien, Martin and Gary spearheading a close network of friends. They obtained the car and brought it to renowned rally car designer Mark Smith in Monaghan to be built, after they had done a lot of the preparation work themselves. The work continued right up to last Monday evening!
Family, friends and supporters gathered for the special event, including Stephen’s sisters Chloe and Lilymai.
The committee would like to thank all the sponsors who helped to make this special dream come true for Stephen, especially at a time when things are so hard. John Ryan had a special word of thanks for Eugene Donnelly, who he said was “fabulous” during the project and would have done anything for them.
Stephen now plans to keep the car at his home in Knockgraffon, and as it has been built to complete rally specifications while he doesn’t plan to compete on the rally circuit himself he hopes his dad, Donal, might get a chance to take the car for a ‘spin.’