A Brief History of the Club

Dublin Wheelers Cycling Club


A Brief History

Rostrevor 1933
Rostrevor 1933

Club Founders: Joe Walsh, Jim Doogue, Leo McManmon, Eric Mason, Tommy McManmon and Dave Perkins who took the photo.

The Early Years

In 1933 on a weekend cycling trip to Rostrevor, six friends, Eric Mason, David Perkins, Jim Doogue, Joe Walsh, Tommy and Leo Mc Manmon decided to form a cycling club. This was the beginning of what was to become one of Ireland's strongest clubs providing members with a platform from which to enjoy all aspects of cycling. Today the Dublin Wheelers has over 60 active members with some competing at the highest level.

At the time not many people had cars and the bicycle was a popular and easy form of transport to escape to the countryside. Dublin had many cycling clubs, but it was not long before over a hundred members of the Dublin Wheelers would meet every Sunday morning outside the Irish Press Offices on Burgh Quay. Tours would head off for the day into the Wicklow hills or north along the coast often finishing with tea and a dance in the Springfield Hotel Lexlip, White Heather Tea Rooms Wicklow, Butlers, Skerries, Dalkey and Bray. During the summer months evening spins were organised on Wednesdays.

Kilcock 1940
Kilcock 1940

L to R: Jimmy Murphy, Willie Marks, Bill Marks, Johnny Downes and Phil Deegan


Shortly after its foundation the club developed a racing section. Success came quickly with riders such as Johnny Downs, Matt Hegarty and Ned Dunphy. In 1939 the club really made its mark and showed that it was a force to be reckoned with when Johnny Downs won a famous victory in an interclub race between Cork and Dublin Clubs. Johnny's family had a strong association with the club with seven of his family being members.

During the war years it was difficult to get bicycle parts and understandably club membership declined as people had more pressing issues on their minds. But thanks to the strong spirit engendered by the founding fathers membership swelled again in the late forties and early fifties.

L to R: Tommy Sullivan, Jack Collins, Willie Tully, Eddie Kennedy and Paddy Kerr

In the 1950s the Wheelers continued to develop and attract some very strong riders and thanks to Matt and Paddy Marlow, Jack Ryan and Martin Hannsey enjoyed numerous victories. Some of the more notable highlights that followed were in 1952 when Noel Tully won in a race organised by the Wheelers the famous Hercules Cup which was won again in 1953 by Donal O'Connell. Donal also won the C.R.E. Championship and held numerous national place-to-place records. In 1952, Billie Long, an outstanding time trial rider, was crowned national champion in both the 25 and 100 mile TT. Building on the clubs national success in 1952 the club went to Isle of Man and won an amazing total of 18 prizes with Noel Tully winning the Viking Trophy and Shay Elliott winning the Mannin Veg.

Donal O'Connell winning the 1953 Hercules Cup

Shay Elliot

Without doubt Shay Elliott has to be Dublin Wheelers most celebrated rider. Joining the club in 1952 he went on to twice win (1952 and 1953) the Irish National Road Championship and numerous other domestic events. Before embarking on a professional career in 1956, in recognition of his great achievements he was awarded honorary life membership of Dublin Wheelers. As a professional he won stages in the three big tours of France, Italy and Spain. In 1962 finished 2nd in the World Championship Road Race in Salo and in 1963 was the first Irish man to wear the Yellow Jersey in the Tour de France. To great excitement at the time he heroically held on to the Jersey for three days.

Shay Elliott winning the 3rd stage into Roubaix to take Yellow Jersey at the 1963 Tour de France

Victories for the club continued into the 1960s and 1970s with a number of new talented riders emerging, many of who at the time were household names-, riders like Jimmy and Sean Lally, Christy Kimmage who rode in the World Championships, Paddy and Christy Fitzsimons, John Flanagan, and Mick Manly (who 12 hour National TT champion) all frequently featured on the winning podium.The first stage of the inaugural Junior Tour saw the yellow jersey go to Gerry Smith who was competing in one of two Dublin Wheelers teams that were entered that year.

More recent successes include Brendan Madden winning the National Time Trial Championships, Stephen Byrne and Ken Norgrove winning many domestic races, Eamon Byrne in 1993 winning the Rás, Len Carrigan winning the Leinster Championship in 2004, Susan O'Mara and Helene Kinsella winning the Ladies two day, Julie O'Hagan being crowned National Champion 2004. Julie later went on to secure a professional contract with RaphaCondor. Honour was also conferred on the club when members, Andrew Donnellan, Brian Keane, Susan O'Mara, Julie O'Hagan and Eamon Byrne were selected to represent Ireland in international competitions.

L to R: Liam King, Paddy Fitzsimons, Ian Gallaher and Tommy McManmon

In the late sixties and early seventies, the Dublin Wheelers were central to the organisation of cycling in Ireland with Donal O'Connell, Joe Doyle, Ian Gallaher and Steve Lawless holding key positions in the Irish Cycling Federation (ICF)

In the late seventies, Liam King was the central figure in negotiating re-unification of Irish cycling following many years of dissent and division. He subsequently became the inaugural President of the Federation of Irish Cyclists (later to become Cycling Ireland)

In 1969 Ian Gallahar and Paddy McInerney promoted a five-day evening race, which was later to become the Tour of Fingal. This five day evening race proved very popular and continued for 30 years.
Paddy Fitzsimons, Brian Carolan, Susan O’Mara and Seamus Shortall were instrumental in the latter years in organizing this event.
On the international scene the club promoted (again under the expert guidance of Paddy, Brian and Seamus) the International Ladies Two Day race which attracted riders from England, Scotland, Germany, Holland and Belgium.

Tour of Ireland Team 1969

Dublin Wheelers Team Tour of Ireland 1969
L to R: John Flanagan, Jimmy Lally, Tommy Tipper, John Conway, Derek McCullogh, Tony McNally.

Age presents no barrier to the Wheelers success, indeed some of the clubs more recent victories have been in the IVCA league. Jimmy Lally, Sé Weston, Mick Tynan and Greg Burke have all won high profile races and overall league titles.

These successes would not have been possible without the support of family, friends and sponsors of the club. On behalf of all those who competed we would like to thank you for so generously giving your time. Special thanks, to Willie Marks who for so many years was a member of various committees and recorded results at time trials.

Willie Marks
Willie Marks


In the earlier years before international holidays were accessible and popular the Dublin Wheelers had a very strong touring and hostelling section regularly having 60 members on runs. Tour leaders such as Willie Marks, Pascal Brogan and Eddy Kennedy can tell some great stories of billie cans, camp fires and dances. Some of the more adventurous members made trips to United Kingdom, Italy, France, and Switzerland.

While hostelling no longer features there is still a strong social component to the club. Dublin Wheelers Saturday tea stops are infamous for their candid banter and humour. Annually the club hosts a "not-to-be-missed" weekend trip to an exotic midland locations such as Carlow and Tullamore. Many lifelong friendships have been made through the club and members are always there to support each other.

Club House

For a number of years the Wheelers had an old tram carriage as a makeshift clubhouse located at field behind the Halfway House pub at Ashtown, Co. Dublin. Costing £20 to purchase it was a great meeting place until vandals destroyed it. Today no such luxury exists Saturday spins come hail or sunshine, start from Santry and Sunday spins from Christchurch.

Club House
Club House

New Developments

As the club’s 80th anniversary approached cycling became hugely popular again. The club was well positioned with club secretary Ciarán Farrell at the helm and huge numbers of new members joined the club. Once again Dublin Wheeler jerseys were seen in all categories of open racing and much success was achieved. Race wins and numerous placings have been recently recorded in the categories of A3 and A4. Many racing members have now entered the higher A1/A2 ranks.

The Youth Development section was set up in the winter of 2010 and coincided with the commencement of the Beginner spins schedule. This group has just completed a first season of open racing. They graduated from a successful spell of club racing and have represented the Wheelers in many open events around the country. 2013 also saw the first DWCC member to ride the 'Junior Tour of Ireland' international cycle race in over 20 years.

Pre-season race 2012- Youth group.
L - R, Cian Farrell, Jack Martin, Liam Moloney, Ciarán Bowers.

In between spins the lads have travelled abroad to spectate and enjoy classics such as Liége-Bastogne-Liége in 2012
and the World Road Race Championships in Florence 2013.

Meeting Dan Martin in Liége 2012.

Darragh, Cian, Dan, Jack and Liam.

Let‘s hope the progression continues and our current crop of open racers are featured in the next history update with stories recounting their many victories and Team DWCC participation in the Rás and other top ranked races.

Irish Veteran Cyclists Association

In the IVCA races, Wheeler members continually provided winners. Following on from the many wins already mentioned, 2011 witnessed the rise of Greg Burke who made a late charge to overhaul the season long leader of the league and take overall victory with points gained in the final race of the calendar. 2012 was the turn of Ciarán Farrell who won the league in fine style, wrapping up overall victory with two events remaining. Newcomer John Walsh almost made it a hat trick in 2013 when he came a very close second in the league overall. There were many other victories and placings in the 2009 - 2013 period with Len Carrigan, Jimmy Lally, Pat Byrne, Glenn Millar, Shay Dalton, Conor O Mara, Stephen Fennell and Barry Swan mixing it with the best.

After an absence of many years the Club League was reintroduced in 2013. This process commenced with the TT League in 2009 (John Heery and Noel Guinan) and developed over a period of five years into a full blown club league with Time Trials, Road Races and Criteriums. The cycle racing circuit in Corkagh Park was used on a number of occasions. The development group rode very strongly over the course of the league with Cian Farrell, the youngest rider in the club, emerging as the overall winner. This helped to further benefit the riders progression. Again, as in the past, Willie Marks and Caoimhin Smith were always present to assist with the running of the events.

Also at this time, the Touring section was re-established and with Noel Guinan taking up the Touring Secretary’s role, various ability groups were set up. As well as the weekly Saturday spins at Santry, trips around the country and abroad were undertaken. Sportive events became very popular and these brought a new focus for many of the non racing members. Regular touring leaders were Peter Harty, Stephen Harte, Donal McQuirk, Liam O’Higgins, Rob Dunbar, Peter Roche, Andreas Voight, Brian Carolan, Noel Guinan and John Heery.

Wheelers on Tour 2011.

L - R: Liam O Higgins, Billy Byrne, Donal McGuirk, Peter Harty, Rob Dunbar, Peter Morton, Dan Roberts and John Heery.

Wheelers Still Rolling

Dublin Wheelers celebrates 80 years of cycling in 2013. Over the years the club has produced some of Ireland’s top riders winning national and international competitions and has made a great contribution to the sport. The glue that has held the club together has been the strong friendship between members. Today the club has over 150 members and is well poised for another successful eighty years!

Compiled by John Heery
Additional input is welcome. Please email John at johngheery AT eircom DOT net


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