We're singin' Danny Boy...

After being close to a terrible week in and around Boston, the news from Liege Bastogne Liege Sunday comes to a lot of us around here as a welcome treat!

As my greater-Boston expat-paddy mobile phone and email network buzzed with the news from Liege yesterday morning, a certain subject came up.   So let's put any lingering doubt to bed right now:

Dan Martin is Irish.

I know sure, he may have grown up in Liverpool, have a dad with a UK passport, and not that much of a brogue, but bah... technicalities jongen.   The Irish Diaspora has ruled geography a mere technicality.   As the Irish constitution states:

"The Irish nation cherishes its special affinity with people of Irish ancestry living abroad who share its cultural identity and heritage."   

And like that old joke says, 'an Irishman? That's a man who gets more Irish the further he gets from Ireland.'   

Girona?  Liverpool?  Liege?  Nice?  Vilvoorde?  Boston?   No matter.    Just give him the test.

Can he put away a pint?  Does he have a sense of humor?   Will he try to sing the songs?   Can he understand any of the lingo in the video below?  

Yer man's alright then.     

I might not know much.  But I can attest with 100% certainty and life experience that Irishness is not a matter of birthplace, residence geography or passport.   

It's a matter of culture.   

And it goes without saying, that if Stephen Roche's sister is your ma, well then, you're in.   End of story.         

So we're claiming this one cafesupporters.  Revelling in it actually.      

Danny Boy's death strike past Purito in gritty Ans yesterday scored one for all those lean, scrappy, aspirin skinned, skinny boys out there around the world.  For boys as predisposed to endurance sports as they are to drink, craic, and confrontations both verbal and physical.    

The glory days of the late 80's were way too long ago.   It's been over two decades since Sean Kelly executed a  similarly clinical strike to take Milan San Remo, bridging up to Moreno Argentin, and pouncing past at just at the right time.   Today, an Irishman is again at the top of a monument of world cycling.

It capped a great week for the Irish I think.  Admittedly a week of mixed emotions around here, when our beloved, and still very Irish City of Boston got basically shut down by two Islamist terrorist idiots who foolishly miscalculated, and messed with the wrong town.   What were they thinking?   Can you imagine a city, chock full of Irish cops, all fired up and bent on ferreting them out?   

Guess they never saw The Departed.               

Sean Kelly's commentary on Eurosport Sunday as he watched Martin ride the final few meters. put an exclamation point on the week.  While his verbose British counterpart sucked all the air out of the booth with overly excited commentary, Sean just contributed one word.  A single emphatic syllable that expressed and symbolized a helluva lot more than it said....  


With big shite-eating grin,  I heard the partisan delight of very same Sean Kelly who came over and rode with us here in Boston, back in 1995.   Sean Kelly himself, who helped event organizers Paul and Alan McCormack, and a small group of us close Boston's Purple Shamrock Pub, hours after his Saturday evening talk in Fanueil Hall to Boston's cycling community.   Good craic that night.  

I'm quite sure Sean liked Boston every bit as much as Boston liked him.

After the L-B-L victory lap ride:  The Commander, Dr. Brad, Tony T., Raph and Nick.   

Yesterday afternoon, a group of our cafe conscripts got out and took a 'victory lap' for two and a half hours.   

While Rafael wore his Garmin jersey in fitting tribute to the events of the day, the rest of us were showing off our new Giordana 2013 FlandriaCafe team kit.    

A lot of the ride talk was naturally about L-B-L.   Remembering Tyler's win there in 2003.  But as the ride went on, talk would swing back to what happened in Boston during the week.   Relieved things were back to normal, but sober enough to realize that in future, 'normal' might mean experiencing more of these kinds of terror attacks on these shores.     

Over a cup of tea tonight, my pal Paul McCormack told my family and I about the time he, his brothers and father narrowly missed being victims of a terrorist bombing outside his dad's business in Dublin back in the 1970's.  They missed a blast that killed 26 people by a mere 10 minutes by for some unusual reason that day 'closing up early.'  Frightening. 
Paul had swung by the house to pick up his FlandriaCafe team clothing.   He'll be wearing our red guard kit in the Race the Ras next month, going back home to Ireland from Boston to help raise funds for the National Brest Cancer Research Institute.    He'll be riding every stage of the Ras with cyclosportive riders, two hours before the main race.    Wish I could go with him sounds like a great event.

'The men of the Ras.'   Dan Martin's uncle Stephen once famously joked in 1987 after he'd matched the Giro-Tour-Worlds triple crown of Eddy Merckx, "yeah but Eddy.. you never won the Ras!"  Stephen had indeed won the Ras Tailteann - Ireland's national tour - in 1979.  And Paul McCormack went one better, winning it twice in a row, in 1987 and 1988.    Those were the glory days for Irish cycling.   

Nice to see Dan Martin leading a charge to bring them back.       


  1. Really pleased to see that Martin won - whatever his nationality ! It would have spoiled the race to see Valverde or Purito take the honours. A fantastic finish by Garmin - it looked at one time that Valverde was going to be given an armchair ride. Agree about the Eurosport commentator with Sean. Why is it that the guys who don't understand our sport are given air time and them proceed to talk crap non-stop ?

  2. You're right Eddy. I relinquish the point... I'll stop second guessing what, or who DM is. He is who he feels he is. It's not our business. And you're also right, man, the "Irishness" he displayed that day, and in each race he goes for, the doggedness, the get on with it attitude, the humility, the excitement, the complete lack of awe at the company around him, was something I recognize from this shore.
    But he is who he is despite any label we put on him. His victory was greater than Tyler's from this hindsight. Though we can never know what lies in the heart or veins of any athlete, I believe he's clean as he says he is.
    And you can check with my wife how loud I shouted when I was certain he'd do it. As they say here in Ireland when the question comes up - "ah, feck it, we'll take 'im! Slainté! Who'll have another?!" - Great writing Ed. Keep it up. BTW I wore my Flandria top last night in the local hammer fest to celebrate the first day to reach 60F since last July...

  3. Wow 60 degrees Embo... it was only 44 here yesterday. The winter that never ended...
    You should do one of those ride the ras stages w/Paul!! Stay well & best to Mel.

  4. Hi Eddy, yeah it was a brilliant win by "your man" Dan, and guess what? I was there cheering him on!
    We saw the race 7 times and managed to park coach near the finish with 5 minutes to go!!!! Sprinted to the course and ended up on the finish bend with 200 metres to go!

    Rode the Challenge ride on Saturday, chose the full course which was tough.
    A 179 mile day with 4500 metres of climbing. 11 hours in the saddle, knackered, but beer tastes great afterwards!

    A brilliant, but busy weekend.
    Looking forward to a rest now.

    Steve Clarke
    Bristol South Cycling Club, UK


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