Although only half its current size and far more genteel that at present Bray had a surprising number of attractions that are now no more than a distant memory.
- Dancing in the Arcadia
- Pictures in the Roxy
- Ice cream in Mezzas
- The chair lift to the Eagles Nest
- Club Dinners in the International Hotel
- The Bar-B in Wood brook
- Val Doonican and The Coons on Band Stand
In the early years the sun was always shining, the wind always behind you and of course it never rained. But even better was the lack of traffic on the roads. The clubhouse in Blackbyrne’s field with film posters on the wall. Meeting at Joe’s house in Rathmore Terrace every Sunday. Tours to Mount Maulin, Silver Strand and Vale of Clara. Training spins to Arklow with lunch in The Bridge Hotel. The BSA Cup on St. Patrick’s Day. Smith’s Tea Rooms in the Glen.
The Silver Bridge. Getting it hard on Kilcroney in club races. Sprint Finishes on the Dargle Road. The Summer League, the B.A.R, The Massed Start Championship. Joe winning the Little Bray Grand Prix. Tom Byrne’s bike shop in Castle Street. Brooks saddles, Benelux Gears, Saving up for Dunlop No. 4’s, Plus Fours, woolly jumpers, yellow rain capes, the primus and the kettle.
The Good Old Days…
THE BRAY RACE
Starting and finishing on the prom and with 24 climbs of the dreaded Putland Hill the Circuit of Bray was the Ireland’s classic spectator event. Besides the top Irish riders it always featured the best from Britain as well. In 1953 it was won by the great Shay Elliott who later went on to win a stage and lead the Tour De France.
1957 was a great year for the club when 6 Bray riders including Pat Ryan, Jackser Kelly, Dermot Mc Kenna, Paul Smith, Ronnie Coates and Peter Crinnion finished well up. The first local victory was provided by Peter Crinnion with a great solo in 1960 followed by Tommy Fitzpatrick second. While Paul Elliott was a close runner up in 1961. After missing out to Liam Horner in 1964 Peter Doyle scored a brilliant lone win in 1966.
Sadly the Bray Race was last held in the early ninties.
The Bray Race 1987: P.Fahy, M.Murphy, M.Cahill
The Tour of Ireland was first held as part of An Tostal in 1953 . The first Bray Wheeler to ride was Ronnie Coates in 1956. Due to the Suez oil crisis there was no event in 1957. It was revived in 1965 and from there on Bray riders always played a leading part. Peter Doyle was deprived of certain victory in 1966 when in a winning move on the final stage from Kilkenny to Dublin.
In 1967 Bray Wheelers won the team award, Peter Doyle won the first stage, Harry Dawson was first into Tipperary and finished fourth overall.
The inevitable Bray victory came in 1968 thanks to Peter Doyle. Harry Dawson won a marathon 170 mile stage in 1969.
1970 was a vintage year with Paul Elliott winning an epic Donegal stage before going on to overall victory with Bray again taking the team prize. In 1974 Peter Doyle won the Ras Tailtean to become the first rider to win both major Irish stage races. But these outstanding results were a real team effort and couldn’t have been achieved without the help of the other Bray riders including Philip O’Brien, Jimmy Doyle, Liam Mc Kenna, Shay Kelly, Noel O’Neill, Denis Kearns, Gerry Pearson, Tommy Campbell Jimmy Clarke, Pat Norton, John D’arcy along Peter Crinnion’s direction and Paddy Martin’s back up.
Perhaps it’s just a coincidence that the two greatest riders the club has produced were both called Peter and were in fact related.
Peter Crinnion came to prominence in the late fifties with a series of courageous lone breakaways some of which ended in heroic failure but others ended in glorious solo victories.
The top riders of the day knew that if ‘Crinnio’ got clear on his own with his jaw set at a determined angle, his tongue sticking out he would defy their best efforts to recapture him. Having achieved all he could at home Peter left for Marseilles in 1961. He scored a great victory in the 1962 Route De France, before turning professional with the top French team Margnat Paloma.
Subsequently Peter has become the most respected cycling team manager known for his generous and inspiring nature and tactical insights. The other Peter, Peter Doyle was the man who could do it all, climb, sprint and time trial. This all round ability was illustrated in the 1968 Tour of Britain
where besides winning two stages and finishing third overall, ‘Doyler’ also won the King of the Mountains and Points Competition for best sprinter.
While in the time trial stage of the Tour of Scotland Peter caught and passed Surkowzski the reigning World Champion. In 1969 he had a very successful year in France winning the coveted Essor Breton race. However for personal reasons Peter decided the continental scene was not for him and returned to many more triumphs on Irish roads.
John Lackey, the Tour of Ireland organiser and renowned ‘Savage Roadman’ of his day was always on the lookout for steeper tougher and harder climbs, and in the 1970 race he found the ultimate hill in Donegal. Legend had it that it’s 1 in 3 slope was so severe that cars had to reverse up it and the locals certainly didn’t believe it could be ridden on a bike. So as expected the Innishowen stage of that year’s tour proved decisive and when the race winning break reached the dreaded Gap of Mamore the were three Bray men in at the kill. Phil O’Brien was forced to concede, twice British Champion Doug Dailey was reduced to walking, as was eventual race winner Paul Elliott. But as the crowds at the top awaited the leaders it was a Bray jersey that scaled the savage slope first, straining at the pedals and heaving his way over the summit and the first man to conquer Mamore was none other than………Harry Dawson.
Remember some of the great clubs from an earlier era that are no longer with us. John Lackey’s Tailteann, Bray’s great rivals from the sixties. The blue and white of the Lorraine with Liam Horner, Paddy and Hughie Davis. The Antlers with Peter Dowling and Ian Gallagher. Our near neighbours the County Dublin Road Club with Con Enright, Jimmy O’Connor and Irish roads Davis. Others include the City of Dublin, the Harp and the Round Towers.
Devised by Joe Loughman in 1958 as a supreme test and taking in the best of Wicklow terrain including the feared Glenmalure climb, ‘The Elliott’ is the premier and most coveted single day race. It is currently held in early May with the 1998 race being won in great style by our own Mick O’Donnell. Previous winners include the great Sean Kelly on 2 occasions. While other Bray victors include Peter Crinnion, Noel O’Neill, Peter Doyle Richie Mc Cauley & Mick O’Donnell
The Shay Elliot Start At Bray Town Hall
CHAMPIONS OF IRELAND
The club’s first Irish Road Race Champion was Pete Crinnion in 1960 before going on to greater things on the continent and Noel O’Neill won in 1965. In 1967 Bray had a remarkable second with Phil O’Brien, third with Harry Dawson and fourth with Liam Mc kenna. But this was nothing compared with the unique hat trick to follow with back to back wins by Peter Doyle in 1968 Phil O’Brien in 1969 and Paul Elliott in 1970. The club also took an amazing seven out of eight team prizes between 1965 and 1972. Ken Tobin won the National Junior Road Race in 1993. Championship glory returned in 1996 with Aidan Duff, Mick O’Donnell and Stephen O’Sullivan.
EVERY SATURDAY, EVERY SUNDAY
The club leaves Kilmacanogue every Saturday and Sunday Everybody welcome and with a choice of distance and pace to suit different fitness levels, it’s a great way to enjoy the countryside in some excellent company.
CLUB RACES EVERY THURSDAY
From May July well organised Club League starting at 7.00 pm at Calary on the N755 just past the top of the long hill.
Paul Fahy’s looking fast at one of the club’s weekly time trials
- Joe Loughman
- Shay Elliott
- Paul Elliott
- Mick O’Brien
- Christy McManus
- Jackser Kelly
- Paddy Healy
- Denis Goody
- Ray Byrne
- Joe Harrison
- Rory Plunkett
- Harry Dawson
- Paddy Martin
Ever wondered why the club colour is Purple. Well in a typical flash of inspiration Joe Loughman choose the colours to reflect the predominant colours in the Wicklow countryside. Thus we have the heather (purple), the gorse (yellow) and of course blue for the sky and sea.
BUILDING THE CLUBHOUSE
When the original clubhouse in Joe Blackbyrnes field fell into disrepair the regular Thursday night meetings moved temporarily to Noel Roe’s workshop on Greenpark Road. Eventually the 2nd site was procured and after a great fund raising drive including Bingo in the Arcadia thanks to Mick Donnegan, work commenced in 1967.
Phil O’Brien and Peter Doyle took time off from racing to clear the site. Jimmy Ebbs and Paul Smith poured the foundations in the snow. Peter Crinnion did the blockwork, Dermot Mc kenna the wiring, Pat Ryan the carpentry. Paul Elliott welded on the roof and Paddy Martin the painting.
It certainly was a terrific example of the teamwork that made the Wheelers great both as a touring and racing club. It’s a tribute to the workmanship that despite several arson attacks the structure is still intact. And significantly it remains the only cycling club in Ireland with it’s own clubhouse.
A WORD OF THANKS FOR OUR SPONSORS
Besides numerous event sponsors, in 1966 Malone Oil Products became the first club sponsor thanks to Phil O’Brien, Wimpy followed in 1970 thanks to Tommy Campbell and Sean Galligan. Guiness sponsored a series of races in the late eighties thanks to Tony Murtagh. Finally Tony O’Donnell introduces Coors who supported the club from 1995 to 1998.
Suzanne Thompson of Coors Extra Gold with the Bray Wheelers team for the Milk Ras
HOW ABOUT THE SEVENTIES
The seventies may have been the decade that fashion forgot and style took a holiday and inevitably after the heady sixties successes were harder to come by. Harry
Dawson continued onand was joined by Paddy Egan, Eugene and Denis Doyle, Kevin Mc Kenna Aidan Keogh, Mick Doyle and Victor Smyth.
STARS OF THE EIGTHIES
Paul Fahy had a glittering career with his win in the 1987 Dublin to Cork as the high point. Mark Murphy was always the smoothest sprinter in the bunch, Mick Cahill was rapid especially when aiming for the hour record, Sean Gilmore and Paul Byrne were fancied climbers while John Dunne, Declan Murphy, Eddie McCann, Mick Deegan, Herbie Monks and Fergal O’ Doherty were always in the action.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Teddy Coates, classic stylist and the first Bray Wheeler to win an open race, has now retired and lives in Yorkshire. Joe Doyle, remember his father’s grocery shop at the Town Hall, lives in retirement in Sydney Australia Gerry Pearson, one of our more cultured members from the sixties now lives in South Africa Brendan O’Callaghan international star of the late Seventies lives, rode in the U.S. and settled in Minneapolis working for Northwest Airlines. The hard riding but always smiling Iron Man Mick Walsh lives in Seattle and is still racing as a Vet. John Sheehan our fastest sprinter of the Eighties has recently moved from Texas to Seattle and is a regular visitor home.
BRAY AND THE NISSAN CLASSIC
From 1985 to 1992 the World’s top professionals came to Ireland to ride the Nissan Classic 5 Day and drew huge crowds to the roadsides. The organiser was Bray resident Pat Mc Quaid, Pat Ryan, Paul Smith, Jack and Martin Gilmore as well as Shay Kelly were routers, Jimmy Doyle, Jackie Byrne, Tony Martin and Paul Byrne tidied up after them. Peter Doyle, Liam Mc Kenna and Ken Duff gave service for breakdowns. Philip O’Brien on his Kawasaki kept order as Commissaire. John Essex Held the watch as timekeeper. Also involves were Pat O’Callaghan, Ray Byrne and Tommy Campbell while Harry Dawson’s Broom wagon swept up the stragglers.
OUR VERY OWN OLYMPIANS
Peter Crinnion rode in the Rome Olympics in 1960 and was team manager in Moscow in 1980. Peter Doyle rode with distinction in Mexico in 1968 and Munich in 1972. While Victor Edmonds was team manager with the mountain bikers in Atlanta 1996.
Peter Crinnion signs in upon completion of the Joe Loughman Randonee at Presentation College, Bray.
WHEN LE TOUR CAME TO BRAY
1998 will always be remembered as the year the Tour De France came to Bray. The Club marked this historic occasion with a highly acclaimed Shay Elliott Exhibition in the Town Hall thanks to Brendan O’Leary’s hard work. Ken Duff themed his pub for the occasion and the UDC did the town proud. Pat Ryan, Denis Dodd, John Dillon, and John Dunne were just some of those involved.
A Few Famous Faces In Attendance At The Bray Stage Of LE TOUR 1998
STARS OF THE FUTURE
The Junior tour is Europe’s premier stage race for under 18’s. From it’s inception as the
CRE Youth Week in 1965 when the club was represented by Billy Kelly, Jimmy Doyle Bray riders have always featured prominently. Paul Fahy wore the leaders jersey after a time trial from Newtown to Bray.
Other highlights were Aidan Duff’s win in 1994 and Ken Tobin’s second place and Points win, and Mick O’Donnell’s stage victory in 1992. Under the expert guidance of Herbie Monks as team manager with help from Billy Crean Jonathan Cruise was a stage winner while Ray Crinnion, Adam Kelly, Stephen O’Sullivan, Killian Byrne, Christian O’Reilly, Anthony and Declan Crean from Ashford, Tom Johnston and Cathal O’Toole. The crowds at stage starts and finishes were entertained by the amazing repartee and dulcet tones of Chief announcer Ronnie Coates.
Stephen O’Sullivan (AKA Sully) and Keith Bannon pose for the important pre-race photo opportunity
WEDDINGS, BAPTISMS…ASK THE PEDALLING PADRE
That’s right the Bray Wheelers can cater for just about event on the religious calender, provided it takes place on Saturday mornings on the Wicklow road thanks to fast pedalling Fr Gerry. Weddings especially catered for just ask Tony and Jane, and Gillian and Dave Peelo.
JOE LOUGHMAN RANDONNEE
A leisure ride of 70 miles is held every September to commemorate the great Shay Elliot and Joe Loughman and covering the original race route. Enjoy the delight of Wicklow, some excellent company and the challenge of climbing Glenmalure. The route is from Bray to Rathnew, Rathdrum, Avoca, Woodenbridge, Aughrim, Ballinaclash, Greenane , Glenmalure, Laragh, Annamoe, Roundwood and back over Calary to Finish in Bray.
The Joe Loughman Randonee about to start at Bray Town Hall, 1999
THE MEMORY MEN
The wealth of detail in this book is due mainly to the amazing recall and attention to detail of two people, Ronnie Coates and Phil O’Brien. No race was overlooked, no tour forgotten, no detail too small, no name left unmentioned in their deliberations. But as they both agree, if only they could recall events of last week as well as those of thirty years ago! Perhaps the answer is that things were just more interesting then.
JOE LOUGHMAN-AN APPRECIATION
The sign in the old club house that said ‘If you want to know ask Joe’ sums up the influence of our life president Joe Loughman. Not alone was Joe the club’s founder back in 1949 but he put in place the structures and inspiration that saw the club through to the new millennium. As a top racer in the early day, tour leader, later as club chairman and race organiser together with being a father figure to generations of Bray Wheelers, we say thank you Joe from all cyclists, past present and future.