Fast cars and fun as Cannonball rolls into Cork 

Fast cars and fun as Cannonball rolls into Cork 
Rachel Allen with her son Lucca (a Formula 4 driver) at Ballymaloe House as the Cannonball Ireland convoy descended on the popular East Cork venue. Pic: Brian Lougheed

Car racing ace Lucca Allen and twins Hassan and Hussein Benhaffof were among the car enthusiasts enjoying the spectacle of supercars when Cannonball, the action packed flamboyant fleet of cars roared into Ballymaloe on Friday afternoon, en-route from Malahide, Dublin before blazing a trail up to Sligo.

Kids from Eco Preschool at Ballymaloe House as the Cannonball Ireland convoy descended on the popular East Cork venue. Pic: Brian Lougheed
Kids from Eco Preschool at Ballymaloe House as the Cannonball Ireland convoy descended on the popular East Cork venue. Pic: Brian Lougheed

The event in it’s 11th year, is donating all proceeds from the event to the Irish Cancer Society.

“The boys love fast cars! And their favourite car is the ‘Back to the Future Car’,” said Angie Benhaffaf, enjoying the unique carnival atmosphere getting up close and personal with the 190 of the world’s top mark cars such as McLaren, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Porsche, Maserati, Rolls Royce and Bentley.

Shanagarry teenager Lucca loves fast cars too. Was he looking forward to a spin in one of the supercars?

“Only if an adult is driving!” says Lucca. “I have a car racing licence, and I’ll get my Irish driving licence in a few years. I drive a French car for Formula racing, a Mygalle, which has a Renault engine. Today is a fantastic event with all the bells and whistles.

“It’s brilliant so many drivers got into the fun atmosphere and took time out for such a good cause.” 

President Donald Trump arrives at Ballymaloe House as the Cannonball Ireland convoy descended on the popular East Cork venue. Pic: Brian Lougheed
President Donald Trump arrives at Ballymaloe House as the Cannonball Ireland convoy descended on the popular East Cork venue. Pic: Brian Lougheed

Some people came from across the Atlantic, including a very frightening realistic Donald Trump chauffeured in a Rolls Royce. Ralph Jean Pierre travelled from LA for the charity event accompanied by Red Sonia.

“It’s my first time in Ireland, and I’m loving it!” says Ralph.

“We’re driving a 1971 Chevrolet," says car owner and driver, Simon Power from Leitrim. “She’s the oldest car in the rally.

“The car gets an outing every year in Leitrim for the Cowboys and Heroes Festival. We had a lovely smooth spin down here to Ballymaloe today as part of the Supercar convoy.” 

Martin Van Rooyen, and co-driver Rob Tam, alias Batman and Robin, from Manchester, had a smooth spin in their Ferrari sports’ car.

“We motored well down the dual carriageway,” says Martin.

“The roads here are much better than the roads in the UK.” 

So the dynamic duo didn’t encounter any pot-holes on the road en route?

“Not yet!” says Martin.

“But there’s more mileage in front of us.” 

How many miles to the gallon does the powerful Ferrari do?

“7 to 10 miles to the gallon,” says Martin. “It took us two and a half hours to drive here from Malahide. We really enjoyed the ride. The camaraderie among the drivers is great; everyone gets into the spirit of good fun for a good cause.” 

They left the Bat-mobile back in Manchester?

“We did!” says Martin laughing. “We went with the Ferrari.” 

Paul and Pauline Lawrende from England at Ballymaloe House as the Cannonball Ireland convoy descended on the popular East Cork venue. Pic: Brian Lougheed
Paul and Pauline Lawrende from England at Ballymaloe House as the Cannonball Ireland convoy descended on the popular East Cork venue. Pic: Brian Lougheed

The cannonball event, the brain-child of Meath man, Alan Bannon, has already raised €1,016,000 for Irish charities. How did the largest organised road trip in Europe, elevated from simple fun to something more meaningful, begin?

“I love cars,” says Alan. “And I took part in a Europe car trip some years ago. I loved the camaraderie that pervaded the trip and I vowed to create an Irish version.” 

 And he vowed to help respected Irish charities.

“Both my mother and my sister were into fund-raising in 2007 for the children’s charity, Barretstown,” says Alan. "I was inspired by them to help fund-raise for children’s charities and for other charities as well. The Irish Cancer Society does amazing work in palliative care, including the vital night nurse service. Funds from Cannonball will go towards the services that the Irish Cancer Society provides to people across Ireland.” Apart from the car enthusiasts like Alan taking part in Cannonball; other people rowed in to make sure everything ran smoothly.

“Our road crew are brilliant,” says Alan.

“The mechanics and recovery operators are all voluntary.” 

Surely the supercars burning fuel and rubber at absurd rates rarely break down?

“Rarely!” says Alan.

“But there’s always a first time!” 

What supercar is Alan driving?

“A Rolls Royce. I love cars.” 

And the Meath man loves helping Irish charities.

“It’s a great turn out here in east Cork,” he says.

The Supercars revved up ready to take to the open road once more where up to 200,000 spectators lined the streets to hear the roar and feel the power.

“Cannonball is heading to Killarney, Limerick, Ballina, and finishing up in Sligo.” Any chance of a spin? 

*Circle K was main sponsor of the 2019 Cannonball Road Trip.

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