Alan Bannon - Founder & Organiser
Alan always had a love for cars and his dream was to organise a road trip event, this became a reality in 2009. Due to his family commitments with Barretstown it only seemed fitting that this road trip should benefit a charity close to his heart.
Alan runs his own business AB Signs in Naas, Co Kildare and commits between company and personal time to organising Cannonball. According to Alan 'the hard work is worth it all when you see the convoy of cars depart Merrion Square and then the streets lined with people in the towns that we pass through.
Some great friendships and business deals have been made from these weekends. The most difficult thing is trying to make each year even bigger and better than the previous one…..so a few surprises are in store for 2013!!'
History of Cannonball
The Irish Descendant
The birth of Cannonball Ireland dates back a decade ago, when the founder, Alan Bannon, participated in a European road trip event full of thrills that left him with a great sense of camaraderie. As an avid fanatic of supercars and with a great sense of community he decided to create an Irish version of the Cannonball Run.
He wanted to bring to the Emerald Isle's enchanted roads that very same spirit he had witnessed: the sophisticated style, the glitz of supercars, the fun and comradeship of the road trip, the colors and joy of the carnival-style masquerade.
Still, there was a missing ingredient. He wanted the Irish Cannonball to be special, different from anything that had been done before and so he went in search for that missing ingredient that would give it a unique taste, the one that could be remembered for a lifetime. Although at that time He hadn't realized it, He was about to embark on a personal journey that would change his life and that of many after he discovered Barretstown.
Barretstown is this special ingredient, a noble cause. It is what elevates simple innocent fun to the status of committed, selfless entertainment. In 2006, Alan visited Barretstown and saw with his very eyes what the prodigious camp was doing for the kids that were hosted there. He saw something so great and important that required a huge effort to be sustained, and he took on the challenge. He found the noble cause that was missing, that special ingredient that would make Cannonball Ireland different, special, and unique.
-Alan Bannon, Cannonball Ireland Organizer-
The goal of the project was threefold:
- To Get direct funds for the charity from the “entry fee” paid by Cannonballers to participate in the road trip.
- To induce a grass-roots level of fundraising within the audience and viewers on route on the parade and along the streets of Ireland.
- To increase public awareness about Barretstown, its noble cause and its amazing results in supporting children in need and their families.
On September 2009, after a summer of continued event planning and preparation, the first Cannonball Ireland took off and a total of €110.000 was raised: a sum that covered the costs associated with providing for 32 kids at Barretstown Camp.
The year after, in 2010, the result was even better! Cannonball Ireland raised €125.000 covering the costs associated with providing for 36 kids in need.
Cannonball Ireland 2011 is a story still unwritten but everything is set and ready! we want it to be great success to raise the funds to help as many kids as in the previous runs or more. This is why we need your help because, like they say in Barretstown:
The Cannonball Legend
Once upon a time (1933) there was a motorcycle legend and coast-to-coast riding pioneer called Erwin George "Cannonball" Baker, that crossed the United States from New York to Los Angeles in 54 hours, setting an historical record that stood for almost 40 years.
In his honor, in the early 70s, automotive enthusiast and magazine editor Brock Yates started the Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, that saw 5 memorable editions. The second one (in November 1971) was won by Yates himself and Dan Gurney -a former Formula One and Le Mans driver- on a Ferrari Daytona. They needed about 36 hours to transit from New York to Los Angeles.
Since that time, the race (mostly romanticized and re-imagined) became part of the Western pop culture, inspiring the movies that spread the word around the world: the 1976's The Gumball Rally and the ultra-famous Cannonball Trilogy (1981's The Cannonball Run, 1984's Cannonball Run II and 1989's Speed Zone or Cannonball Fever).
So this is how history merges with fantasy, becoming epic: from a legendary motorcycle and car driver to an underground coast-to-coast car race -inspired by his achievements- leading toward (at least) 4 celebrated movies centered around the re-imagining of the story... This brought to a global landscape of millions of fans of the Cannonball core-idea around the world and several successful and picturesque emulations of the original adventure, declined in various forms and flavors.
And then one day Cannonball Ireland was born: invested by such a prominent legacy, the worthy descendant of the Cannonball family has set the bar at an even higher level, bringing the power of a noble cause into the equation of fun.