Thursday 29 September 2016

Tributes to local biking stalwart George

Published 01/01/2013 | 11:22

GEORGE Gaffney was a larger than life character who loved bike racing of any sort, and another of his great loves was to go out on his push bike for long distances - and at times the longer the better.

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former Clerk of Works at the Skerries and Killalane Road Races (that job consists of getting the courses ready from start to finish, and it would have a large crew under his authority) George loved his racing, and he was also one of the best programme sellers that I have seen at road races. I have personally known George for more than 25 years, and by just having him in your company, you were always sure of a great craic, or slagging for that matter! As a club worker he was very much involved in the heart of the organisation. In my time with the Loughshinny club, he would be a very hands-on member, and yet if he saw something wrong, he wouldn't be long letting you know with his harsh growl. Determined and strong-willed would be a good way that I would describe George, and when he was not road racing he loved the long runs on his racing push bike. George took part in the Maracycle from Dublin to Belfast, in the old Co-Operation North programme, and other long-distance races. 'George was a great club stalwart, and you could always depend on him to get the job done when it came to running one of our road races,' said Tony Carton, former chairman of Loughshinny Motor Cycle Supporters Club. 'He loved road racing, but he would love to travel to Grass Track meetings to support local riders, and he would also travel to the Dublin Mountains for Enduros as he would sit on the banks of ditches and streams, and would love nothing better than to see a rider get a ducking in the water, and then slag him for it.' There are a number of long-distance bicycle races like the Clash 200 and the Wicklow 200, and these were 200km long. 'One year I had not been on the bike with George for a number of months as I had hurt my back, and George tried to persuade me to compete in the Wicklow 200km race,' said his old neighbour and close friend Willie O'Grady. He went on: 'I told him that I would have to get a straight handlebar bike to be able to compete with my sore back, and he found a bike in my shed that my daughter got for Christmas. Off we went to compete after he persuaded me, and I had only got about 50km near Laragh, when I collapsed off the bike. 'Off George went to the nearest shop and came back with a number of Mars bars and cones, to build up my sugar levels. He tried to get me going, but to no avail.' Another notable quest of his ability and physical strength saw George leave the Point Depot at 6am one morning and cycle to Wexford and back. This 400km cycle took 24 hours, but he did finish it. George's health started to fade a number of years ago, and for the last seven months he was hospitalised. He passed away on Thursday evening, and he is survived by his wife Phyllis and three children - Janice, David and Elaine. He was buried in the new cemetery in Balscadden on Monday last. May he rest in peace.

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