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Sadness in rallying with the passing of Sarah Purcell

May 24th, 2023 9:00 AM

By Martin Walsh

Sadness in rallying with the passing of Sarah Purcell Image
Sarah Purcell (nee Moynihan). Photo: Seamus Counihan.

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IRISH motorsport was plunged into sadness on the recent and untimely passing of Mallow-born Sarah Purcell (nee Moynihan), who died following a brief illness borne with great dignity.

Surrounded by her loving family, Sarah (38) passed away peacefully in the tender care of the staff at Marymount Hospice.

Living in Drundowney, Slieverue on the Waterford/Kilkenny border Sarah made her rally debut in the Junior category of the 2004 Killarney Rally of the Lakes. Co-driven by her sister Amy, she quickly made an impression in the sport, netting her first class win in the 2004 Garda Single Stage Rally in Baltinglass.  They pair rallied a Nissan Micra until the end of 2006 winning Class 5 in the Marine Hotel Fastnet Rally in Glandore.

She beat many of her male counterparts and her competitive nature and natural talent was very evident.  After switching to a Peugeot 206 XSi, she took a class award in the Dunlop National Rally Championship. Throughout her all too brief career in rallying she also  campaigned Mitsubishi Lancers and a Subaru.

Even when she was diagnosed with her illness in August 2021 her determination shone through and she was adamant to drive the Skoda Fabia R5 usually driven by her husband Andrew. On her first outing in the car in the Mayo Rally last year, she finished 29th and while she withdrew from the West Cork Rally a few weeks later due to fatigue, she finished an impressive twelfth in the Circuit of Munster in June last year - a seventh place finish denied due to a stage being interrupted.

At her Requiem Mass, her sister Sandra said, ‘She was an amazing mother, daughter, wife and sister. Family was everything to her.  She beat all the stereotypes firstly by changing tyres on the truck from a young age with Mam, Dad and David (her brother) by her side and graduating as a forester like her granddad, even completing a tree climbing and chainsaw course and showing her talent as a rally driver.’

She added, ‘We all know Sarah was obsessed with motorsport. It was a wonder the doctors could read her blood tests as rallying ran through her veins. She found her kindred spirit in Andrew (her husband). Her humour always showed, even on her worst days she’d find something funny. She was late for everything. You’d give her an earlier time to be somewhere just to hope she’d arrive on time. Unfortunately, today is a day she definitely arrived too early for.’

Sarah is survived by her husband Andrew, children Zoey, Callum and Ally, parents, Philip and Riona, brother David, sisters Susan, Amy, Sandra and Ellie and her extended family, friends and the motorsport community.

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