Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Bit of Sean Kelly at An Droichead Beag...

All across Europe fan clubs of professional cyclists, no matter how great or mediocre, have a long history of showing support for their favorite rider. These clubs are often formed by a family member, a neighbor, or just a dedicated follower from the riders' hometown or wider home region. A pub will often serve as a meeting place for the club, whose owner will likely be a member, perhaps even founding member. There is no obligation on the part of the rider, it is more a kind of unwritten rule, a show of appreciation, that at some point during the year, the rider will hold a get-together with the fan club as thanks for their show of support over the year long season of racing. 

the jersey at An Droichead Beag

Riders will often leave artifacts or mementos, things like photographs, framed jerseys, trophies, medals, etc, until over the years some pubs can resemble a shrine, or at least a museum, dedicated to a particular rider. It is one of the great old traditions of the sport; the rider, no matter how great in stature, no matter how lengthy his list of victories, meeting personally with his dedicated supporters. Now I don't know if Sean Kelly ever had an official fan club in Dingle, Ireland, but that is where I came upon this framed jersey during a trip to to the isle in 1997. It is from the 1990 Tour de Suisse, a race at which King Kelly won the general classification. The pub is An Droichead Beag (the Little Bridge). Needless to say it is quite a fun surprise to stumble upon things like this when you are not expecting to. 

typical seisun night at An Droichead Beag, standing room only

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