It was christened the Tour de Durrow by organiser of last weekend’s Guinness World Record attempt, Bob Campion, of the Durrow High Nelly Club.
347 enthusiasts converged on the small town to set a first record for the largest gathering of High Nelly cyclists last Sunday, October 16. As a result Durrow was lifted out of recession blues for the weekend, with every hotel room and B&B welcoming visitors from as far as the Aran Islands, Cork, Connemara and Wexford.
Events began on Saturday, with a practice 12 mile cycle to Abbeyleix and back, followed by a barbecue with bluegrass music played on the historic bridge late into the night, while set dancing and singsongs went on in Bob’s Bar.
On Sunday, the weather obliged nicely, with the sun beating down as 82 year old Vintage Club member Paddy Ryan led the cyclists on their official Guinness World Record attempt. All decked out in vintage costume of housecoats, braces and caps, they arrived to huge crowds in Abbeyleix.
“We had an absolutely fantastic reception in Abbeyleix. When we came back to Durrow, the bridge was lined from top to bottom with 500 people waiting for us to come back. They cheered and clapped, it was like the Tour de Durrow,” Bob told the Leinster Express.
The adjudicators were local volunteers, Larry Mahony, Martin Lalor, Evelyn Clancy and Marian Mahony. They carefully followed a set of criteria sent from Guinness World Record officials, recording videos and officially stamping entries, which they will now submit for examination.
“We are hoping we make it into the book. It was above all expectations, it was some gathering,” said Bob.
The event got national attention from newspapers and television, while the real proof of having made it in Ireland was featuring as one of the questions on DJ Larry Gogan’s legendary ‘Just a Minute’ quiz.
The club are planning to have a video of the weekend on sale soon, and to repeat the gathering annually, such was the overwhelming response.
“Not for another record, but a national rally. It’s a great way to meet other enthusiasts,” said Bob, who is chairman of the 60 strong Durrow club. They meet weekly at Bob’s Bar and head off for a cycle on their restored old black bikes, which were the main mode of transport for many Irish people in the mid twentieth century.