LOCAL motorsport lost one of its popular figures with the passing of Michael Quirke, Carrigroe, Clonakilty recently.
Quirkey, as he was affectionately known, began rallying in 1979 and while he was best identified for his exploits in a Talbot Sunbeam, his first event – the West Cork Rally – was in a Triumph Pi (on loan from the late Paddy Joe Lowney) with Clonakilty’s Jennifer Giles as his navigator. Apparently, the car suffered several punctures and solace was eventually found at the Pike Bar.
His first rally in the Talbot Sunbeam (SZP 686) was the 1981 Beaufort Single Stage Rally with Ballydehob’s Tom Hickey as navigator. They competed in several rallies together and while reliability was an issue for many of those events, the fun and camaraderie was always more important to Quirkey.
The Sunbeam was an ex-Freddy Patterson/Jim McDaid car. The Andy Dawson engined car was unique insofar as it featured a two-litre Brazilian block. Improvements to the car were assisted by the Skip Brown outfit in Cheshire.
On Fastnet Rally events Ardfield’s Mikey Donovan took over the co-driving/navigating role as Tom Hickey was involved on the organisational side as clerk of the course.
In his daily life Michael Quirke was a talented and gifted plumber – and he was also proficient on matters electrical. Indeed, his expertise was perhaps ahead of his time, his ability to solve problems also provided a great sense of job satisfaction.
Stories and anecdotes from various jobs are part of West Cork folklore and all recalled with great joviality. In recent years his health declined yet his spirit, good humour and interest in life, travel and fashion remained undiminished, no doubt the legend will live on.
May he rest in peace.