The 2024 edition of the Rás Tailteann will take place from Wednesday, May 22nd to Sunday, May 26th. This is the 69th edition of the race.
This year, the event will kick off from Tullamore, County Offaly in Ireland’s Midlands, where the first stage finish will be in Kilmallock. This will be the first-ever Rás Tailteann stage to finish in the County Limerick town. The 2024 edition will also have finishes in Sneem, County Kerry on the famous ‘Ring of Kerry’, Cahir, County Tipperary which will see the first finish there since 1967 and Kildare Town, County Kildare with the fifth and final stage of the 2024 Rás Tailteann finishing in Bective, County Meath where the race will take in three laps of a 14.1KM spectator-friendly finishing circuit. 784.8KM of Irish roads awaits this year's entrants with a total of eighteen categorised climbs over the five stages, including two x category one climbs on stages two and four.
Ahead of the route launch, Race Director Ger Campbell said:
“We are delighted to be able to reveal details of the Rás Tailtean 2024 route. This year's route is more difficult than the previous two editions, with a welcome return to cycling strongholds such as ‘The Rebel’ and ‘The Kingdom’ counties. There are a series of very tricky climbs along the way southwards and back up the country towards our ultimate finish in Bective on Sunday, May 26th, for what promises to be an extra special day. I would like to thank all the stage start and stage finish towns along with all the stage co-ordinators for their extremely helpful input and dedication to the 2024 route.
Entry details will be released very soon and there is already huge interest from teams here at home and abroad. We will also be releasing details of our sponsors and funding partners in due course.
With a little over three months to go, we can’t wait to welcome everyone to Rás Tailteann 2024"
Stage 1: Tullamore, County Offaly to Kilmallock, County Limerick
(Distance: 148KM) Wednesday, May 22nd 2024
Tullamore – Birr – Borrisokane – Nenagh - Birdhill - Newport – Caherconlish – Bruff - Kilmallock
The 2024 edition of the race will depart from Tullamore in the heart of the Irish Midlands on Wednesday, 22nd May 2024. Taking in two x category three climbs en route to a first-ever stage finish in Kilmallock, Co Limerick. On paper, this stage does not appear particularly tough, but the ‘BikePark’ category three climb between Birr and Borrisokane will surely cause some early damage. Later in the stage, there is another category three climb at Birdhill. There are a lot of twisty and undulating roads in the latter part of the stage, which could make the day very interesting. As per tradition, there will be three hot spot sprints along the stage to intensify the fight for the race's first coveted yellow jersey.
Kanturk – Newmarket – Ballydesmond – Castleisland - Killorglin – Waterville – Caherdaniel - Sneem
The race transfers to Kanturk, County Cork, for the start of stage two, which is the hometown of multiple ‘Men of the Rás’ through the years, including our current champion, Dillon Corkery.
What can only be described as an epic and arduous 187KM stage awaits the riders with six categorised climbs including early category three’s at both Scartaglen and Milltown. A further category three strikes at Glencar before the infamous challenge of the category 1 over Ballaghasheen Pass. Later in the stage, the Coomikista category two climb awaits on the ring road towards Sneem.
Once the race enters the finish town, it will pass through the finish line and complete a further 16KM loop, which includes one final category three climb. Stage two will surely be a telling day in the battle for overall honours.
Stage 3: Kenmare, County Kerry to Cahir, County Tipperary (Distance: 155KM)
Kenmare – Kilgarvan – Glenfesk – Rathmore – Mallow – Doneraile – Mitchelstown - Cahir
The race will transfer to Kenmare for the start of stage three. This stage will bring mostly flat and fast roads with three x category three climbs along the way. On paper, it certainly seems like a day for the sprinters as the Rás Tailteann heads for Cahir, which will host a stage finish for the first time since 1967.
Stage 4: Horse and Jockey, County Tipperary to Kildare Town, County Kildare (Distance: 139KM)
Horse and Jockey – Urlingford – Ballyragget – Castlecomer – Killeshin – Carlow – Stradbally – Kildangan – Monasterevin - Kildare Town
After a transfer to Horse and Jockey, the early parts of stage four are on mostly flat and fast roads, yet things are sure to heat up after Ballyragget with two category three climbs in quick concession before and after Castlecomer. The category one Gorteen climb is followed by a further two category two climbs on the roads between Castlecomer and Carlow which are sure to split things up at the head of the race. Once the climbing finishes for the day, there's a relatively flat 60KM run into the finish in Kildare Town. We will have to wait and see if there's enough time for riders to regroup after the climbs or if someone can spoil the party ahead of the final stage.
Stage 5: Maynooth, County Kildare to Bective, County Meath (Distance: 156KM including three laps of finishing circuit)
Maynooth - Dunboyne – Ratoath – Ashbourne – Stamullen – Julianstown - Laytown – Drogheda - Donore - Garlow Cross - Bective
Starting from the university town of Maynooth, County Kildare, the final stage mostly passes through the rich pastures of County Meath. The race will make its way from Maynooth across to the East Coast before swinging back inland towards Bective on the banks of the Boyne, where the riders will complete 3 laps of the 14.1KM finishing circuit. There are two category three climbs along the way before a super-fast circuit awaits in Bective for this year's edition's final hour of racing, where the 2024 Rás Tailteann winner will get their hands on the famous George Plant trophy.
All photos are courtesy of Lorraine O’Sullivan (Official race photographer)