Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Renaissance of the Bicycle.

One of the positive developments of recent years has been the return of the bicycle. While it seems, at the moment, the revival is dominated by the leisure and exercise enthusiasts the functional use of bicycles is expanding. When the idea of having bicycles for hire, located at various stands in Dublin city was first mentioned, public opinion was pretty sceptical. The vision of such bicycles joining their ancestors, along with shop trolleys in the Liffey or the canals was a very real prospect. However, it seems the initiative, from my limited knowledge, has been a real success and continues to expand and as far as I aware is planned for  other cities like Galway. It is said that some nine thousand people now cycle to work in Dublin. If it can be made happen there then it can be made happen anywhere.

Not many years ago in Boyle one could nearly name those who cycled consistently. Two stand out in my memory. One was Jimmy Feely and the other was James Candon. Mister Feely sat proudly upright on his traditional bicycle as he made the short journey from Lower Deerpark to the town. Mister Candon shuttled around the town on his more distinctive model making his business calls in a very environmentally friendly way.

This note on the civilised mode of carriage, transports me back to my secondary school days at Roscommon C.B.S. The bicycle was the transport of necessity for most students outside walking distance. They would travel from anything up to ten miles on that journey. There were no convoys of cars or buses delivering and effecting the return of students. On our journey we would wait on Castlecoote Bridge, five miles or so from town, to be joined by those from farther on, perhaps even Creggs. We were then joined by others at Fuerty like the tributaries joining a river. The experience was replicated on all the roads leading to Roscommon town. The morning trip was a serious time constrained exercise often handicapped by wind and rain and the assorted weather elements.

The bicycles were ‘parked’ in the long school shelter. The evening journey was a much more relaxed affair and a reverse of the morning experience in terms of numbers. While a quick spin home was often necessary to enable some farming duties there were many occasion when one could dally and delay and enjoy the pranks or other games as the humour took us.

I have not heard a ‘collective’ word for a large number of these machines but if there is it could be used for their presence outside churches, football grounds, picture houses alleys and respectable distances from dance halls or carnival marquees. They feature in many iconic pictures of those decades past.

They are part of Roscommon GAA folklore as to the people who cycled to Croke Park for the big games of the forties. They have pride of place in Patrick Kavanagh’s poem 'Inniskeen Road' and Seamus Heaney’s ‘A Constable Calls’. In our time it was Guard Mugan who was diligent in ambushing us for having, in a contradictory way, 'no light on your bicycle’ as you made your way home, on a winter’s night, from the pictures in the town. Today they are lit like a fairground wheel.
So it grand to see them back again and hopefully the motorist and the cyclist will be friends and respect each other.


1. Well done, of course, to the Roscommon U 21 team on their fine victory over Cork in Portlaoise last Sat. evening. It was a thriller in the end and this time Roscommon got the necessary break.  Young Murtagh was incredible while Tom Corcoran brought back memories of great Roscommon midfielders like Newton, Killoran, Earley, Beirne, Boland. The Smith brothers played their hearts out. So congrats to all. There was a huge and vocal Roscommon following as always. 
2. John Mulligan recently endorsed Madge Daly’s excellent review of Chris O’Dowd’s performance on Broadway, New York in Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’. I wish I was in New York to attend, so, since I cannot, some Boyle or Roscommon person there might sub for me!
3. Well done to Boyle’s under 14 team on their wins over Eire Og and Western Gaels despite a loss to Tulsk. This evening they meet a strong St. Dominick’s in the Abbey Park. It is great to see a great Boyle GAA name in the team management i.e. Gerry Nerney.
4. An innovative introduction to Lough Key Forest Park is the Segway guided glides and tours of the park. Training will take ten to fifteen minutes. The tour will last from forty to fifty minutes and the cost is €15. It is worth a shot and I wish Colm well. For further information call 087 2152335 or see the web site at   

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