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A Brief History of Cycling in Ireland

A Brief History of Cycling in Ireland

With the launch of our newest design, Bauhaus Bike, let’s take a leisurely cycle down memory lane, exploring the fascinating history of cycling in Ireland.

This journey is not just about tracing the paths of cyclists past but understanding how the bicycle has been a vehicle of change, empowerment, and resilience throughout Irish history. And at Due South, we’ve always had a thing for cycling. Does cycling remind you too of being a kid? We love bicycles so much they inspired our Bicycle Collection.




Empowering Irish Women:


One of the most compelling chapters in Ireland’s cycling history is how it empowered women. In an era when women’s mobility was considerably restricted, the bicycle became an instrument of liberation. It allowed women to move freely and independently, challenging traditional gender roles and societal norms. The freedom to cycle gave women a new sense of autonomy and played a pivotal role in the early feminist movements in Ireland.


Cycling During the War of Independence:


During the Irish War of Independence, bicycles took on a more critical role. They became essential tools for communication and mobility, used by messengers to carry information between different units without attracting the same attention that motor vehicles would. This period underscored the bicycle’s utility in times of conflict, demonstrating its adaptability and resilience under challenging circumstances.


Ireland’s Thriving Cycling Culture:


Fast forward to today, and cycling remains an integral part of Ireland’s cultural and social landscape. The creation of extensive greenways, like those in Mayo and Waterford, showcase Ireland's commitment to sustainable transport and provides locals and tourists alike with a serene and eco-friendly way to explore the countryside. These routes offer not just a journey through scenic landscapes but a ride through history itself.


And you can’t talk about the history of cycling in Ireland without talking about Steven Roche and Sean Kelly, two of the sport's most iconic figures. Steven Roche is celebrated for his remarkable Triple Crown victory in 1987, capturing the Giro d'Italia, Tour de France, and the World Championship in a single year. Sean Kelly, known for his incredible versatility and endurance, dominated the cycling scene in the 1980s, securing numerous victories across classic races and stage races alike. Together, they helped elevate Irish cycling to the global stage, inspiring a generation of cyclists like Nicolas Roche and Sam Bennett.


Not to mention the explosion in popularity in Ireland of downhill mountain biking thanks to notable riders like Greg Callaghan, Dan Wolfe, Oisin O'Callaghan and Ronan Dunne.


The Best Places and Times to Cycle in Ireland:


The great news is you have tons of options to explore Ireland by bike. The greenways in Mayo and Waterford are perfect if you want stunning scenery with stop-offs in some of the nicest towns along the Wild Atlantic Way and the sunny south-east.


The Great Western Greenway has transformed the 49km long old rail route between Westport and Acaill (Achill Island) in County Mayo. You can break it down into sections, for example Westport to Newport is 12.5km each way. You can use your own bike or rent a bike from Westport Bike Hire or Westport Bike Shop.


In the summer months you can get the ferry from Achill Island to Clare Island as part of the Clew Bay Bike Trail and the crossing alone is worth the experience. You can bring your own bike on the ferry for a small additional fee or you can rent ebikes from Shoreline Pursuits when you get to Clare Island.





The Waterford Greenway is a 46km trail from Waterford City along the old Mallow to Waterford railway line. And you can rent your bike from Waterford Greenway Bike Hire.



Cycling with a Conscience:


At Due South we do our best to promote practices that protect our environment. Cycling, with its minimal environmental impact, aligns perfectly with our mission. Whether you’re tracing the rugged coastline on a solo journey or exploring urban landscapes with friends, cycling in Ireland offers a unique blend of history, culture, and breathtaking scenery.



As you pedal through Ireland’s greenways or along its historic city streets, remember that each turn of the wheel echoes the pedalling of those who came before us—each cycle a step forward in the journey toward a more sustainable future.


So whether you’re bike mad or love eco-friendly clothes with bikes, be sure to check out our Bicycle Collection.


About Due South:


Due South is a sustainable and responsible fashion brand based in Dublin. Our unique designs are produced by our founder Paul and showcase all of the beauty and wonders that Ireland has to offer. All our products are made from either 100% organic cotton or 100% recycled materials and are certified vegan friendly.

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