Waterford County Museum, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, Ireland. Charity Reg: 17397
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Dungarvan Ramblers - The First Cycle Club in Ireland

The Dungarvan Ramblers Cycling Club

On the 28th and 29th August 2010 the Sean Kelly Tour of Co. Waterford will take place. Dungarvan has an important place in the annals of Irish cycling history. Cyclists partaking in the tour are welcome to visit the museum free of charge to see the historic cup from the first bicycle race held in Ireland or the United Kingdom which is now on view in the museum. The museum is open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm and in Summer we open on Saturday's from 2pm to 5pm. Admission is free.

The Dungarvan Rambler's Cycling Club was founded in 1869 by Richard Edward Brenan (1846-1917). He was the Postmaster based in Grattan Square, he was also a printer and bookseller. Other hobbies included local history and photography and many of his glass plates are now in the Museum's photographic collection.

The Cyclist's Guide to the South East published in 1903 had the following observation:

'In the Co of Waterford we claim the oldest cycling club in Ireland - The Dungarvan Ramblers C.C., started in 1869. In that year the first cycle race for a challenge cup held in this or any other country, was run under the auspices of the club, and it was won by Mr R. Edward Brenan, the present Postmaster of Dungarvan, who is as proud of the Trophy as if it were a collar of gold.'

The cup was lost for many years until rediscovered in 1984 by Father Columba O'Donnell O.S.A. at the Augustinian house in Main Street and they kindly donated it to the Museum. The cup has the following inscriptions:
  • Four Mile Bicycle race at Dungarvan, September 1869 Winner - Richard Edward Brenan
  • Mr R.E. Brenan, winner of the Four Mile Bicycle races at Dungarvan 19 September 1870 and 5 September 1871
A local tourist magazine published in 1903 published the following article on Brenan:

'The Rambler's Cycling Club, the oldest in the Kingdom, is in full swing once more. We hope the club will organise a sports carnival this year. Our old friend Mr R. E. Brenan, is the oldest cyclist in Ireland, not the oldest in point of years, but the oldest in cycling experience. He began his riding in 1867 on a boneshaker and actually won the first race ever run for a valuable cup, which is still to be seen in his splendid library. He is still an ardent cyclist, and every member of his family enjoys the invigorating pastime.'

In 1901 Brenan wrote to The Leader magazine about their claim that there were no Irish manufactured bicycles before 1900:

'This is incorrect, as I have in my bicycle stable an old wooden wheeled bicycle built by Neale of Dublin, fully 30 years ago. I think afterwards, as most clever Irishmen have done, emigrated. I regret to say that in the 34 years of cycling this has been the only bicycle of Irish manufacture that I have possessed ... I hope yet to ride an Irish cycle.'

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