Two of Carrick-on-Suir Motor Club’s most senior members received the surprise of their lives when they became the subjects of a special “This is Your Life” night organised by their motor sport friends
Carrick Motor Club President George Clancy and Club Secretary Ann Fitzgerald tied the knot in early September after 14 years together and managed to keep the ceremony a closely guarded secret until after the event.
But their friends in Carrick Motor Club showed they were also good at keeping a secret by organising a surprise celebration to mark their nuptials and also honour their huge contribution to Irish motor sport.
Gerorge, aged 79, from New Street, Carrick-on-Suir is the only surviving founding member of Carrick-on-Suir Motor Club, which was set up in 1959, and has served as Club President since retiring a few years ago.
Ann, who hails from Mooncoin, has made an equally distinguished contribution to Carrick Motor Club as its secretary for the past 41 years and her work has earned her the Club’s nomination for Irish motorsport’s prestigious Ivan Webb Memorial Award, which George won 20 years ago.
Their friends in Carrick Motor Club began organising the surprise party while George and Ann were on honeymoon in September and successfully managed to make the arrangements without the pair rumbling their plans.
The unsuspecting couple were lured to The Carraig Hotel expecting to just enjoy a quiet dinner with another couple on a rare weekend free of motor racing.
But instead they were greeted by a function room of up to 100 friends, family and well wishers gathered to honour not just their recent marriage but their lifetime of service to Irish motorsport.
“We were totally surprised, we hadn’t a clue,” recalled George.
“We went to dinner together with my long time friends Pat and Winnie Sheil and they were all lying in wait for us. It was great fun, a really good night and we really enjoyed it enormously.”
Ann, who works in the Social Welfare office in Clonmel, said it was a mystery to her how the Club’s members kept the celebration a secret from them, especially as she is the Club’s secretary.
“I would say they had a lot of headaches beforehand. They hadn’t any plan B if we didn’t turn up to The Carraig that night,” she laughed.
After getting over her shock, Ann said she thoroughly enjoyed the party and thanked all their friends for the big effort they put into organising the celebration.
“If anyone had told me they were going to do it I would have run a mile but the way the whole night was done was really good,” she said.
Fifteen motorsport friends of the couple from Carrick-on-Suir Motor Club and other clubs in Irish motorsport were the special guests on the “This is Your Life” part of the celebration that included a buffet meal.
Carrick Motor Club member John Rafter was the master of ceremonies while fellow members Joe O’Brien and James Coleman along with Ed Colton acted as “This is Your Life” hosts.
Carrick Motor Club members who paid tribute to George and Ann in the “This is Your Life” event included Tom Brett, Ann’s brother Tony Fitzgerald, Pat Kerley, Tony Clery, Ray Breen, professional rally driver Craig Breen and Pat Sheil.
Tributes were also paid by President of Motorsport Ireland Joe Corcoran, CEO of Motorsport Ireland Alex Sinclair and Kevin Barrett, main sponsor of the Triton Shower South East Stages Rally Championship, which Ann has been registrar of for the last 24 years.
Carrick Motor Club member and long time friend of the couple Joe O’Brien said George and Ann had a very low profile wedding so the Club’s members wanted to give them a good night out to celebrate their nuptials.
They also felt it was very important to acknowledge what the couple have done for the Club.
Joe described George and Ann as the “dynamic duo” of Carrick-on-Suir Motor Club, who have been instrumental in make the club one of the best in country.
“Considering what they have done for the Club over the years it was the least we could do,” he told The Nationalist.