An ambitious plan to bring Formula 1 motor racing to Dublin’s north inner city in 1992 stalled on the starting grid.
A charity based in the area, The Liffey Trust, wrote to then taoiseach Albert Reynolds with an ambitious plan to turn the streets of Dublin 1 and Dublin 3 into a racing circuit for the world’s top drivers, similar to the “street circuit” for the Monaco Grand Prix.
The route proposed was a 2.3 mile circuit from the East Wall Road over Annesley Bridge, into Fairview, and then turning right on the link road between Clontarf and East Wall.
Liffey Trust founder Séamus McDermott claimed that a successful bid could be wroth at least £30 million (€38 million) each year to the Irish economy, would create hundreds of jobs and would attract at least 30,000 additional tourists.
The proposal, plus a report on its feasibility, was sent to Mr Reynolds at his constituency office in Longford, rather than to Government Buildings. The document (file 2022/1/176) has been released by the Department of the Taoiseach to the National Archive for public viewing.
There are no records to show an official response to the proposal, other than a query from a senior Government official, Paddy Teahon, to ask had a response been sent to Mr McDermott.
In a covering letter, Mr McDermot said that funding from the National Lottery could be used to finance an independent report on the project. He described the plan as a creative idea to boost the Irish economy.
Drawing on the examples of other motor races through city streets - including Monaco and Detroit - the proposal said that such occasions attracted TV audiences of 60 million people.
It set out a three year plan to develop the circuit in Dublin. The first year would see the north inner city host a Formula Ford 2000 Race, the second year a Formula 3000 European Championship race, with a full Formula 1 Grand Prix taking place in year three.
The document does not set out how much it would cost to host the Grand Prix or how Ireland might secure the rights to host a race. It said the race would create 200 jobs for youths from the inner city. It said the pits used for Formula 1 - which would be permanent structures - could be used for enterprise projects outside of racetime.
The provision of permanent go-kart tracks would also form part of the scheme adding that “the youths of the inner city will identify with this type of project”.
While this project never got off the ground, city centre motor racing in Dublin was not as unusual as it might seem. There was annual motor racing in the Phoenix Park and a number of Formula 2000 races took place around the streets of Dún Laoghaire in the 1980s.
The Liffey Trust was set up in 1984 and continues to assist individuals, small co-operatives and small companies to set up their own businesses in the north inner city. Mr McDermott was recently conferred with an honorary doctorate by UCD for his public service.