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Ballymoney will never forget modest King of the Road Joey Dunlop

By Lesley-Anne Henry

Published 02/07/2010

Motorcyclist Joey Dunlop Gets Hero's Welcome June 2000. He and wife Linda Dunlop wave to well wishers on the roof of the open topped bus
Motorcyclist Joey Dunlop Gets Hero's Welcome June 2000. He and wife Linda Dunlop wave to well wishers on the roof of the open topped bus
Thousands of fans attended motorbike ace Joey Dunlop's funeral today at Garryduff, Ballymoney. July 2000
Joey Dunlop pictured in 1993
The Joey Dunlop memorial in Talinn, the final destination for The Lost Riders, the group of fans who followed a journey made by their hero
Joey Dunlop motorbike ace at his home.
Joey Dunlop
Joey Dunlop
The late Joey Dunlop's wife ,Linda outsideJ oey's bar in Ballymoney
Richard Mezza, owner of Belfast-based Bici motorbike accessories store and a devoted fan of Joey Dunlop visits the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum "King of the Roads" exhibition
Joey Dunlop motorbike ace. 17/08/1983.
Joey Dunlop
Joey Dunlop (11/01/1986)
Joey Dunlop
Thousands of mourners follow the coffin of racing legent Joey Dunlop at his funeral in Ballymoney. July 2000.
Joey Dunlop
Joey Dunlop : Motorcycling. Joey Dunlop at Strangford Harbour awaits news of the operation to fish out the bikes lost on Saturday night after the ferry he was on sank. 27/5/1985
Joey & Robert Dunlop 1991
Robert and Joey Dunlop
Joey and Robert Dunlop
Joey Dunlop
Joey Dunlop
Linda Dunlop, Joey Dunlop's wife, reads the list of Joey's victories that are engraved on the plinth in the Joey Dunlop Memorial garden that was opened in his home town of Ballymoney, Co. Antrim
Joey Dunlop
Robert and Joey Dunlop

At the foot of Ballymoney’s Main Street stands a statue of the town’s most famous son. Cast in bronze, Joey Dunlop straddles his beloved Honda motorbike, arms folded with a contented smile on his face.

The modest King of the Roads is immortalised forever in the town that loved him most.

And like ‘Yer Maun’ himself, the inscription which reads ‘Husband, father, son, brother, friend and gentleman who became one of motorcycle racing’s greatest ambassadors’ is plain but powerful.

The statue takes pride of place in a memorial garden that was opened in 2001 — the same year the town’s leisure centre changed its name in honour of the world famous sportsman who never forgot his north Antrim roots.

Ballymoney is deeply proud of Joey Dunlop and ‘the toon’ wants everyone to know it.

Just down the hill from the memorial garden lies Joey’s Bar — a shrine to the much-lamented hero where dozens of framed photographs adorn the walls and his trademark yellow crash helmet sits on the top shelf overlooking the bar the racing ace and his wife bought in 1984.

The former Railway Tavern, was re-named soon after Joey was killed.

In July 2000 Bill Kennedy had only been mayor for a few weeks. Ten years down the line, Mr Kennedy has been re-elected as first citizen again and remembers the day he heard the dreadful news “as if it was yesterday”.

“It’s one of those pieces of news that you hear but don’t want to believe. I remember it was Drumcree Sunday but all the television crews suddenly descended on Ballymoney,” he said.

“It had a tremendous impact on the whole community. It was a great loss — he was a Freeman of the Borough and is still the most popular name in sport in Ballymoney. It was an awful shock and a tremendous tragedy at that time.

“But Joey Dunlop has never been forgotten and everyone realises there will never be another.”

Ballymoney Times editor Lyle McMullan reiterated the mayor’s sentiments.

“Joey has always had a special place in the hearts of Ballymoney people and beyond not only for his achievements but because of the nature of the man,” he said.

“Joey’s name is always to the fore of people’s minds and they don’t need a 10th anniversary to remind them of the tragedy.”

Belfast Telegraph

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