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Cork Lives
Finbar Hurley.
Finbar Hurley.

Pulling together and driving on: village event is a tribute to locals Finbar and Larry

WELL-loved local men Larry Long and Finbar Hurley could never have envisaged the vast effect they both had on welding their local community in East Cork together.

This weekend, that bond will be there for all to see when a major event is held in their honour.

The Mount Uniacke Vintage Tractor and Car Run take places on Sunday, August 5, from 11am in their memory and will raise funds for the Irish Heart Foundation.

Larry, aged 66, and Finbar, aged 46, both died tragically from heart attacks.

“Larry was everyone’s pal,” says his brother, Noel. “He drove machines all his life. He loved it. We miss him terrible.”

The close-knit community of Mount Uniacke, nestled in the grassy heartlands of East Cork, came out in force last summer to raise funds for the Irish Heart Foundation and to remember their dear friend Larry.

The Tractor and Vintage Car Run raised a massive €12,500 for the Irish Heart Foundation — a mighty feat — and the people of Mount Uniacke are upping a gear for this year’s event.

Committee member Claire O’Connell explains how it all came about.

“Last year, a small group of about eight people got together and organised a tractor run in memory of Larry, who had died the previous October from a heart attack.

“At the start it was meant to be a bit of fun to remember Larry. To be honest we weren’t 100% sure what to expect.

“We put a lot of effort into it and on the day we received a great response from our local community and beyond, with over 200 tractors and vintage cars taking part, raising over €12,500 for the Irish Heart Foundation.”

The local community were thrilled with their efforts. Then, tragically, in February, another local man, Finbar Hurley, lost his life prematurely due to a heart attack.

“Finbar was in his forties and he is sadly missed by so many people far and wide,” says Claire.

“Mount Uniacke is a small village in East Cork with a big community. Following the success of last year’s tractor run, we decided to run it again this year in memory of our dear friends, Larry and Finbar, and raise funds for the Irish Heart Foundation.”

All the stops are being pulled out for this worthy cause and to remember two popular men who were larger than life among their community.

“We are tapping into the community spirit of the locals,” says committee chairman, Gerry Fitzgerald. “It is a massive community effort from one and all.”

It will be a fun day out for all the family, with an array of prizes, including an array of raffle prizes, plus an auction offering a signed Cork jersey and Galway hurling and football jerseys, sponsored jackets and vintage whiskies, as well as lots on site to see and do.

“And all the lads can admire each other’s tractors,” adds Ger O’Sullivan, committee member.

The good memories of last year’s successful event are still clear in everyone’s mind. The feel-good factor that it created of everyone pulling together is a bond that remains stronger than ever.

Larry Long.
Larry Long.

“We thought if we raised three or four thousand euro, it would be great,” recalls Ger.

“We had been in touch with the Mogeely club who run regular vintage runs. “They said anything over 100 vehicles would be a good turn-out — 228 tractors turned up for our vintage run last year.”

It was more than just vehicles that turned up in their droves.

“People arrived from everywhere with sandwiches and cakes, we never expected the crowd to be so huge,” says Gerry.

“So many people were fed. It was amazing to see. Everything just fell into place.

“Everyone, knowing Larry and knowing his brother Noel, who runs Hickeys pub in the village, all turned out to help. People even came to help who weren’t supposed to help! Everything fell into place. A man who couldn’t make the event drove all the way out from Ballymacoda to donate €20 for the Irish Heart Foundation. It just all came together when everyone came together.”

The organisation, skills and man-power all came back naturally for this year’s event — like riding a bike.

“It is a way of giving something back, in memory of the lads, not solely for charity,” says Gerry.

“Helping to raise funds for the Irish Heart Foundation is brilliant as well. Fund-raising is the only source of funding that they have. The event couldn’t go ahead if the locals didn’t row in.”

And the Vintage Run couldn’t go ahead and flourish without a dedicated committee backing it.

“We’ve been meeting up the last two months,” says Ger. “Then, getting closer to the event, we meet twice a week. It is good to meet up to keep the momentum going.”

Who is in charge?

“We’re all in charge!” says Ger, laughing.

The committee and local community of Mount Uniacke are motoring full steam ahead, driving on to remember their beloved local men and to help a great cause.

“Larry and Finbar were everyone’s friend,” says Ger. “They never walked past anyone without saying ‘hi’. “They both always had a smile on their faces wherever they were going.

“The loss of both Larry and Finbar has left a big gap in the community.”

Both men loved machinery.

“Larry was a JCB man,” says his brother, Noel. He was dad to Jason and Mary.

“Larry was a huge character, great with the one-liners, always bringing a smile to your face,” says Noel. “He was a huge character with a huge sense of humour.”

What would Larry think of the mighty force of the Mount Uniacke people?

“You know, he’d just love to be in the thick of it,” says Noel, speaking about the Vintage Tractor and Car Run on Sunday. “He’d say; drive on!

“The money raised is going to a great cause. We still miss Larry a lot. But what will be, will be.”

People show their support by shouldering the burden of loss and getting stuck in.

Finbar, who loved agriculture and machinery, would be in his element in the throes of the activities at the Vintage Tractor and Car Run.

“It is an amazing effort from the heart of the community,” says Finbar’s brother, John.

“And it will help raise awareness about your own heart and the importance of regular check-ups.”

Finbar was a country boy.

“Farming was what he liked best,” says John.

He liked other things too.

“His goal was to become a pilot and when he travelled to Australia for a year, he worked on a ranch there where the cattle were herded in by helicopter.”

So, in a way, Finbar got to live the dream?

“He loved that, being on the helicopter.” says John. “And he loved adventure sports. He took part in a kayak race from Mallow to Lismore.”

Finbar loved the open road.

“He loved being out on his motor-bike, going to festivals in his camper van and to other events,” say John.

“He was very popular and he had a wide range of friends. Everyone knew him. Finbar’s girlfriend, Louise, is taking part in the Vintage Run this year.”

Finbar’s untimely death left a void in the locality.

“The autopsy confirmed that Finbar died of a heart attack,” says John. “It came totally out of the blue.”

The strength and support of the Mount Uniacke community never comes out of the blue. It’s just there.

“Kieran Moore of East Cork Drones is recording the activities for us,” says Claire.

“Kieran didn’t even know the two boys, but that doesn’t matter. He still wants to be involved.”

Community spirit and the bond of friendship matter in the East Cork locality.

Fun is high on the agenda too. After the run, all roads lead back to headquarters.

“When the tractors are brought home, it’s back later to Hickeys bar for refreshments and music,” says Ger.

There is still a bit of work to do for this year’s big day.

The general consensus is that when help is needed, the local community steps in and shows its support in spades.

Even a downpour of rain won’t dampen any spirits.

“Rain will have no effect,” confirms Gerry. “We’d like to thank everyone who donated or helped out in any way.

“Everyone will have an enjoyable day.”

And they’ll all drive on.

The Vintage Tractor and Car Run will depart Mount Uniacke on Sunday, August 5, at 11am and travel around East Cork, returning to Mount Uniacke later that afternoon where refreshments will be provided.

Attendees, aged over 16, can register from 10am onwards. It costs €20 per vehicle, tractor, vintage car, or motorcycle. All proceeds go to the Irish Heart Foundation.