Well-known Irish bike shop owner dies aged 89

Roche pays tribute to the man who got him on the road

by Tom Henry   February 27, 2010  

road.cc news

An Irish bike shop owner known across the country for his love of cycling and his links with champion rider Stephen Roche has died aged 89.

Joe Daly founded and ran the bike shop which bears his name in Dundrum, Co. Dublin. The premises moved three times but the reputation of the shop never wavered.

Stephen Roche told the Irish Times: “I have a monument to myself in Dundrum, but Joe was himself a monument there. He did a huge amount of good for cycling.”

Roche won the 1978 Rás Tailteann on a Raleigh 753 he bought in the shop, and Daly led the fundraising drive to erect a memorial to mark Roche’s 1987 Tour de France triumph. It was a proud day for him when the monument was chosen as the start point for the 1998 Tour.

During his apprenticeship, Daly attended Ringsend technical school, studying mechanical engineering, welding, electrical, and workshop practice three nights a week.

Going into business for himself, he sold radios and televisions as well as bicycles. A good bike at the time was relatively expensive at £16, and many were sold on hire purchase at five shillings a week. He also erected TV aerials.

He recalled that bikes were very popular in the 1950s among all classes and both genders. “There were lots of women cyclists in the 1950s; all changed now, all the young girls want cars these days,” he said in 2006.

He remembered the introduction of autobikes in the mid-1950s. With the addition of a Cycle-Master to the back wheel, a bicycle became a motor bike.

He saw the popularity of the bicycle rise and fall, and rise again. “The Stephen Roche, Seán Kelly, Paul Kimmage era of the 1980s made them very popular.”

More recently, he experienced an increased demand for bikes and also saw his customer base expand to include Americans, Australians, Bangladeshis, Belgians and Costa Ricans. Moreover, he welcomed a third generation of customers to his shop.

He described his shop as akin to a club. Cyclists gathered there, and Orwell Wheelers’ Sunday spins began outside the premises.

Still working in his ninetieth year, every day he cycled the 5km (3 miles) to and from work, as well as making it home and back for lunch. His working day was 9am to 6pm, Monday to Saturday. He took his holidays in the Isle of Man to coincide with the annual TT motorcycle road race.

Active in his community, he was honorary mayor of Dundrum three times and promoted an annual cycle rally to raise funds for Simpson’s hospital for elderly people. He served as road safety adviser to Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council for years.