Waterford County Museum, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, Ireland. Charity Reg: 17397
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Object of the Week - Four Miles Bicycle Race Cup

The Object of the Week is the Four Miles Bicycle Race Cup. On the front the cup says 'Four Miles Bicycle Race at Dungarvan, September 1869, Winner, Richard Edward Brenan'.  On the back it says 'Richard Edward Brenan, Winner at The Four Mile Bicycle Races at Dungarvan, on September 1870 and September 1871.'

Four Miles Bicycle Race Cup
The cup was rediscovered in 1984 by Father Columba O'Donnell O.S.A. at the Augustinian House in Main Street, Dungarvan and presented to the Museum.

The first cycling club to open in Ireland was established in Dungarvan in 1869. Its founder was Richard Edward Brenan (1846-1917), postmaster, bookseller, photographer and printer of Grattan Square, Dungarvan. The Headquarters of the club was at Brenan's house on the Square. In 1880 there were 28 members, but by the 1920's the club was disbanded.

Brenan first became interested in cycling when as a boy he saw an advert for a bicycle in a French Newspaper and he was determined to buy it.  His father contributed £5 towards the cost.

His next bicycle was an 'improved bone shaker' ordered from Robinsons of Dublin.  Later he purchased an Irish manufactured bike form Neals of Dublin - 'We Young Irelanders of that period took great pride in our home manufactured mounts.'

In 1868 Brenan set off on what we think is the first documented cycling holiday in Ireland travelling from Dungarvan, through Youghal, Midleton, Queenstown, Blarney and onwards.

The first organised bicycle race in Dungarvan was held in September 1869.  The four mile race was won by Brenan.  The following year they held a four mile race to Barnawee Bridge.  'Thousands of spectators turned up to watch the novel spectacle and the race day was treated as a public holiday; the R.I.C. offered their services in keeping the roads free of traffic, which was partly accomplished by Sub Inspector Edmond McDermott and several magistrates (including Henry Edward Redmond) riding before and behind the cyclists on their horses.  Some of the magistrates almost ran down the competitors in their zeal, and the sub-inspector twice nearly ran over R.E. Brenan, County Inspector John Loch wagered £10 that Brenan could defeat a local favourite, a land agent named Shaw; the policeman won his bet, but it was a close affair, as the powerfully built Shaw put his machine across his back after he had been passed by Brenan and took a short cut across some fields to establish a lead, but Brenan still managed to overtake him.  Some of the soldiers of the 67th Regiment who took their tunics off were able to keep pace with the racers for most of the route.

The photographer Edmund Keohan was a member of the cycling club.

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