Billy has played a leading role in cycling administration since the age of 17 when he became secretary of the National Cycling Association. His contribution to Irish Cycling continued for many years to come as he held various roles including Records Secretary and Treasurer. As the Irish delegate to the UCI Congress in Seoul, he proposed that the amalgamation of the three cycling bodies operating in Ireland at the time be recognised by the UCI.
Gerry Beggs is a true stalwart of Irish cycling, having played an instrumental role in the racing careers of cycling legends like Seamus Downey and Tommy Evens. As one of Ireland’s top bike mechanics, he played a pivotal role in the success of the Irish Paracycling Team over the past four Paralympic Games, and was one of the founding members of Paracycling Ireland.
Widely referred to as the "Godfather" of Mountain Biking in Ireland Richie Byrne was a pioneer of MTB in Ireland, and was a founding member of EPIC, Giant Dublin and Little Giants. Throughout his involvement in the sport of cycling he inspired and coached leagues of riders to all levels of the sport, leaving a profound legacy in the mountain biking community following his untimely passing in 2016, stemming from his commitment and infectious enthusiasm and passion for the sport, which has helped push MTB to the popularity it is enjoying today.
Ger Campbell is a longstanding representative on Cycling Leinster, he played a major role on the Youth Commission and currently sits on the Road Commission. Along with this the Drogheda Wheelers secretary promotes Rás na nÓg youth stage race, as well as five one day races. He travels with a Provincial Team each year to the Junior Tour and has been volunteering on the Rás for almost 40 years, with responsibility for marking the route each day.
Philip Cassidy is a two-time Olympian who epitomises the true spirit of the Rás, winning stages of Ireland’s gruelling race as a working man. Even after hanging up his own race wheels, he continued to impress on Irish cycling, setting up the successful MyHome.ie/Cycleways domestic team.
Joe Christle founded the Rás Tailteann in 1953 at a time of little interest in road racing throughout most of Ireland and he continued to organise the event until 1972. He was progressive and influential in the promotion of cycling and in motivating people to become involved in both administration and racing, he particularly tried to ensure that young racers had a say in administration at a high level. Through the Rás and other activities, he played a pivotal role in influencing the development of road-racing in Ireland.
Noel Clarke has dedicated most of his life to cycling as both a competitor and a volunteer, and has been a crucial link in the running of ten races each year. As a competitor the Navan Road Club member won multiple stages in the Rás Tailteann, a feat not achieved by many Irish men.
Peter Crinnion started his sporting life as a footballer but moved into cycling in his teens. He was inspired by Shay Elliott who had made the move to Europe several years earlier. As a result of their discussions Peter, who had a reputation for thinking outside the box, revolutionised the accepted training regime of the period and he followed Shay to Europe. Here he had a successful career as one of the early Irish continental pioneers. He represented Ireland at the Rome Olympics and after his retirement from competition he became very active as a National Team Manager. His advice is still actively sought from those cyclists who aspire to follow him into Europe.
Dan Curtin founded Kanturk Cycling Club in 1991 with a focus on the development of youth riders and it quickly became the most successful youth club in Irish cycling, producing numerous national youth champions annually. As part of this strategy he built Ireland’s first 250-meter velodrome in 2012. He has held various administrative roles in Cycling Ireland, as a member of various Commissions, as a Commissaire and as President of Cycling Munster. He has also promoted a strong support structure for junior and youth riders in Munster .He is one of the most outstanding example of commitment to youth development in the history of Irish cycling.
Dermot Dignam became Secretary of the NCA and President in 1987. He was central in bringing about the unification of Irish cycling, was a member of the Irish Cycling Tripartite Committee that negotiated that reunification, and a member of the first Board of Cycling Ireland in 1988. He took over the running of the Rás Tailteann in 1983 and ran it continuously until 2012, both maintaining and developing its central role in Irish cycling.
Alo Donegan’s place in the history of world cycling was secured in 1934 when he became the first person to break the hour for the 25-mile time trial, the time was treated as the unofficial World time trial record This was done on the famous Navan Road course in anything but ideal conditions, blinding rain and strong winds. In fact the course became as famous as Alo himself and attracted many visitors from outside Ireland. Alo had come from a track background and during his career won numerous track championships. He also held place-to-place records and set an Irish 50-mile record in 1946.
Bertie Donnelly was possibly Ireland’s most prolific track winner at a time when track racing was by far the most common type of racing in Ireland and Great Britain. His wins included 61 Irish national track titles between 1921 and 1940, four consecutive national tandem titles in the 1930s, and the English 5-mile Championship in 1935. He also set four Irish records and represented Ireland in the Olympics in Holland in 1928 and the World Championships in Denmark and France in 1931 and 1933. It can be said that he was the most successful Irish cyclist in the inter-War years.
As a result of coming 2nd in the 1954 Tour of Ireland Shay Elliott was awarded a cycling scholarship to the Simplex early season training camp in the south of France in 1995. He had already been National Road Champion in the two previous years. He quickly made his mark regularly taking podium places in a number of France’s amateur classic road races. This quickly brought him to the notice of the top continental team managers and he became a much sought after “domestique”. Nevertheless this did not prevent him from winning stages in all three major tours (France, Italy, Spain). He also became the first Irishman to wear the Yellow Jersey in the Tour de France and finished 2nd in the World Professional Road Race Championship.. An inspiration to all those Irish riders who aspired to be professional cyclists in Europe. On the visit of the Tour to Ireland in 1998 the Tour organisation laid a wreath at his grave Kilmacanogue showing the esteem in which he was held.
The name “Big Mo” is synonymous with cycling not only in Ireland but also in GB. In the 60s he dominated cycling in all its disciplines throughout Ireland. In the Bath Road 100 mile time trial he became only the third rider to break the mystical 4 hours and on a fixed wheel bike. He regularly represented his Province at Commonwealth Games level and Ireland at Worlds and Olympic level. Several of his National Road Records are still standing. Upon retiring from competition Morris applied the same vigour to his role as an administrator being involved in both the Irish Cycling Tripartite Committee and the first Board of Cycling Ireland and also acting as National Team Director for a period. As a coach at Orangefield track he produced numerous Irish champions, His commitment to cycling was acknowledged by being made an MBE by the Queen.
When Sean Kelly won the National Junior Road Race Championship in 1973 as a country lad from County Waterford, very few could predict that he would go on to be one of the best riders of his generation. Whilst the top step on the podium of the World Championship and The Tour de France escaped him he went on to win virtually every Classic cycling event on the World cycling calendar and for a number of years ended up at the top of the World rankings .He was quickly known as the King of the Classics and although now retired for many years it is a title he is still known by. The Tour de France organisation paid it’s respect to him by routeing the 1998 Tour through Sean Kelly Square in his home town of Carrick-on-Suir. Following his retirement Sean was quickly involved in cycling setting up a professional team which recruits young riders with ability, acting as a feeder team for higher ranked professional teams. He also surprised all who knew him by taking to TV commentating and now again has a world wide following as a commentator on Eurosport.
Oliver Kelly is an Olympian who has made a mark across all disciplines, with 42 All Ireland Titles in Road Track, Tandems and Grass Track racing. Having raced for Ireland in both the road and track, this quiet yet imposing gentleman infamously won the 100-mile Road Race Championships for five consecutive years.
Richard J. Mercredy
By far and away the single most important individual in the early history of Irish cycling is Richard J. Mecredy - partly as a champion racer on tricycles and bicycles, but more importantly as an administrator in the Irish Cyclists' Association and as editor of 'The Irish Cyclist'. Such was his eminence and influence in the 1880s and 1890s that he deserves the title of 'Father of Irish Cycling': no other individual had anywhere near as much influence as he had on Irish cycling's development in these crucial decades, when cycling went from being a minority pursuit to a genuinely popular sport and pastime.
Joe McCormack, or JJ as he was always known as was a prolific winner on both grass track and road racing in the 50s and 60s. In this era competition at the highest level in Ireland was very keen but JJ was selected to represent Ireland on 29 occasions. Towards the end of his racing career he moved into administration serving on the Executive of the Irish Cycling Federation and becoming involved in the organisation of the Tour of Ireland. However a man of vision he then came up with the idea of a stage race for juniors and the Junior Tour was born. Attracting junior riders from around the globe and winners who have gone on to become World Champions the Junior Tour has remained a part of the Irish Cycling Calendar for over 30 years.
Ben McKenna dedicated his life to cycling, as both a competitor and an administrator. The true ‘man of the Rás’ competed in the stage race 21 times, winning it in 1959. His cycling ethos was selfless, and he worked hard to share with others his love of cycling, playing a key role in the tripartite committee in the early 1980s that unified Irish Cycling. Ben was a racer, and administrator, a commissaire and much more, and to this day is admired as a role model in sport.
That Pat McQuaid dedicated his life to cycling came as no surprise to those who knew him and his pedigree, coming from one of Ireland’s cycling dynasty. Pat raced at all levels in Ireland with great success he represented his country on numerous occasions going on to become a professional for one of the British teams .At an early stage he left his employment as a teacher and committed himself totally to cycling. He was National Team Director for a period before going on to bring the world’s top professional cyclists to Ireland in the renowned Nissan Classic and the Kelloggs Series of town centre races and eventually the Tour de France’s Grand Depart in Dublin in 1998. But his promotional skills were not confined to Ireland as he went on to be involved in the promotion of top level events in the UK and Asia. He followed his role as President of Cycling Ireland with the Presidency of the International Cycling Union.
In a career spanning three decades, Shay O Hanlon was the most successful cyclist in the history of the NCA on track, road and TT, including four outright Rás wins, 24 stage wins, and 37 yellow jerseys. He was the first person to break the two-hour record for 50 miles (80K) in Ireland and he won national titles under three organisations – the NCA, ICF/NICF and ICTC. He became President of the NCA in 1972 and played a central role in bringing about the unification process. He was a member of the Irish Cycling Tripartite Committee and of the first Board of Cycling Ireland in 1988.
Peter Purfield was a man with vision. He first came to prominence in the 1980s as a National Team Mechanic and he quickly became involved with Mountain Biking, a part of our sport which evolved in the USA in the mid 80s,He formed the Mountain bike Association of Dublin (MAD) in1990, and as member of the Board he drove mountain biking to become the sport which it is today. Again he had vision in that he developed one of the first cycling websites as far back as 1998 and in 2000 it became the Irish Cycling website. He was an instructor in the cycling FAS scheme and as the result of his commitment many pupils left the scheme with a cycling mechanics qualification and were able to get work in the numerous bike shops which were springing up around Dublin.
Harry Reynolds started racing in 1892 at the age of 18 and within four years he had won such contrasting events as Irish Championships at both 5 miles and 50 miles. These wins earned him selection, as Ireland’s sole entrant, in the 1896 one mile Amateur World Championship, then known as the Blue Ribbon of Cycling. He won the event to become Ireland’s first ever World Cycling Champion and on his return from Copenhagen he was mobbed by thousands of fans who turned out to welcome him back home to Ireland. He subsequently turned professional and went on to win professional races throughout England and Ireland. His versatility was demonstrated by his breaking of the Belfast to Dublin record with a time of 6 hrs 14 mins.
Stephen Roche had all the class of a future champion from when he first started racing as a school boy going on to become the National Junior Road Race champion. Following advice from Peter Crinnion and the French National Team Director who was in Ireland coaching he headed to Europe to prepare for the Moscow Olympics. He took the advice headed to Europe and the rest is now history. It was a fantastic period for Irish cycling with the friendly rivalry between Stephen and Sean Kelly spurring each of them on to outdo the other In 1987,the year before the formation of the Federation of Irish Cyclists (Cycling Ireland),he completed the triple taking the Giro (Tour of Italy), the Tour (Tour de France) and the Worlds. Following his retirement he set up Stephen Roche Cycling Holidays. The Tour de France organisation paid it’s respect to him by routeing the 1998 Tour through his home town of Dundrum.
Mark Rohan is a multiple world champion and double Paralympic Champion, and has served as an inspiration to athletes all around the world, displaying grit, modesty and resilience in training and in competition.While the sport was already on the rise, this inductee was the first Irish cyclist to win a Paracycling World Title - setting the bar for what is now one of Ireland's most successful sports.
Is there a word in her vocabulary that says “NO.?” Thankfully that word does not exist for a lady who became involved in a male dominated sport through her son’s involvement as a junior rider. Many doubted that the person doing the most basic of cycling jobs i.e. standing on corners or helping in the promotion would graduate to the driving force she is today, a jack of all trades. She regularly pops up in any of the four Provinces to assist an organiser in whatever area he needs support. However her greatest achievement must surely be the Junior Tour. When she took on the organisation of the event up in the early 90s the event was at such a low point many doubted that it could not be saved, but she turned it around and today the list of previous riders and past winners read like a whose who in World cycling.
Denis Toomey has dedicated the last 12 years to the development of Paracycling and in that period it has become one of the most successful international sports in Ireland. Denis founded Tandem Ireland in 2001 and although working to develop Paracycling he still found time to compete for Ireland as a pilot at the World Road Championships in 2001and the European Championships in 2002. He became a Paralympian at Athens in 2004 where Ireland through his leadership qualified one bike. He was appointed Paracycling Manager and the Chair of the Paracycling Commission in 2005. Under his leadership Ireland qualified 4 bikes for the Beijing Olympics. In the lead up to the 2012 Olympics Irelands success at International level qualified 7 bikes, a magnificent achievement in 8 years. As Team Manager at the London Olympics the team did him proud finishing 10th in the Paracycling Medals table.
Jack Watson was involved as an administrator in the Northern Ireland Cycling Federation from the age of 18 following in his father’s footsteps. After a mediocre racing career which entailed a period of living and racing in England he dedicated himself to administration and since 1970 he has continuously participated in National cycling affairs. He was involved in the formation of the Tripartite Committee and has served on the Board of Cycling Ireland since it’s formation in 1988, becoming its President in 1990 and Secretary in 1995.As a race official he, along with the late Ben McKenna was instrumental in establishing a single set of Technical Regulations and the College of Commissaires. He became an International Commissaire and Doping Control Officer in 1986,the latter role he still fills today. In 2003 the UCI acknowledged his contribution to cycling at National and International level with it’s Gold Merit Award.
Isabel Woods was the most prolific record breaker in the history of Road Records in Ireland. During the mid 50s she held no fewer than 8 records including the End to End and the 24 hour Record, some of her records still stand to this day. She was approached to turn professional but so enjoyed riding with her female colleagues in time trials where she won Irish and Northern Irish championship medals, that she rejected the offer. Isabel stayed in touch with the sport and in 2008 wrote her autobiography “Wheels of Change” which had the effect of bringing together many cyclists from the 40s, 50s and 60s This led to a further book ”Recycled Memories” in 2010, the launch of which lured ex Irish Champions back from all corners of the World.