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Davy Morgan: Bikers’ chaplain defends road racing after NI rider’s death in Isle of Man TT crash

People calling for racing to be banned don’t understand its complexities, insists minister


Northern Irish rider Davy Morgan died following an accident at the Isle of Man TT races

Northern Irish rider Davy Morgan died following an accident at the Isle of Man TT races

Northern Irish rider Davy Morgan died following an accident at the Isle of Man TT races

A minister who is chaplain to the road racing community has said people calling for the sport to be banned do not understand its complexities.

Rev John Kirkpatrick was speaking after Davy Morgan (52), from Saintfield, Co Down, died during the Supersport race at the Isle of Man TT on Monday.

He was the third fatality at the TT and lost his life after he came off at the 27th Milestone on the third and final lap of the race.

Mr Morgan had considered retiring from the sport before the Covid-19 lockdown inspired him to extend his almost three decades-long racing career.

A statement issued by the organisers described the popular rider as a ‘highly experienced’ competitor who contested every TT since his debut in the 2002 Production 600 Race. Monday’s Supersport Race was his 80th TT start.

Rev Kirkpatrick has conducted more than 20 funerals for motorcyclists during his time working for the Motorcycle Union of Ireland — including those for brothers Joey and Robert Dunlop, as well as Robert’s son William.

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Rev Kirkpatrick said that he had known Davy throughout the 25 years he had been working as chaplain at various road races.

“I feel so terribly sad,” he said. “Every time someone goes out to the Isle of Man I am aware it is a high-risk sport. When you think someone has been racing for so long and is incredibly experienced at it, and they know the circuits so well, there is of course more of a shock when something like this happens.”

Rev Kirkpatrick, who takes over as Presbyterian Moderator later this month, said he understands why people take part in such a dangerous sport.

“I can understand why people race motorbikes and why they do competitive sports; there is something very human about it,” he said.

“When people say that these events should be cancelled, I often take the view that people can make their own personal choices about it.

“I’m not a big believer in legislating that kind of thing. A rider will never be allowed to race at events like this without qualifying to do so, so while the decision to cancel may seem black and white to some, it is they who do not understand the complexities of road racing.

“The best thing people can do at this time to comfort those who have lost loved ones to road racing is to just simply be there, give them space and let them work their way through their grief.”


Rev John Kirkpatrick

Rev John Kirkpatrick

Rev John Kirkpatrick

In Saintfield yesterday, there was shock and sadness as people came to terms with the tragedy.

Ulster Unionist councillor Robert Burgess has said that Mr Morgan’s family was well known in the area because his grandfather owned a garage in the town for many years. “It closed about 10 years ago, and everyone was sad when it closed, the whole family worked there,” explained Mr Burgess.

“It was one of those old-fashioned places that no matter what car or motorbike you brought to the place they always could fix it.”

Despite being involved with the family business, Mr Morgan’s first love was always with motorbikes.

“Talking to him you wouldn’t have thought he went as fast as he did, he was as cool as a cucumber,” added Mr Burgess, explaining that Mr Morgan would have often taken part in the Temple 100 race, which came to an end in the mid-1990s.

“He was a real good guy, well-liked and pretty quiet, always kept himself to himself, but no one could say a bad word about him, it’s very sad indeed.

“My sympathy goes out to his whole family and friends at this sad time.”

DUP councillor for the area, Kathryn Owens, also extended her sympathies to the Morgan family.

“He will be thoroughly missed in the community of Saintfield and beyond,” she added.

Ken Jackson, owner of the Jackson’s of Saintfield store, said that, while he didn’t know Mr Morgan personally, the family was well-known in the town.

“It’s a great loss for the family, and it’s a great loss for Saintfield,” he said.

“He was an iconic figure in the town and people interested in the sport aspired to be like him. Davy really put Saintfield on the map.”

Motorbike racing fan Alan Tate followed Mr Morgan’s extensive career and described him as “well-respected”.

“He was a great supporter of different cancer charities, which is why he was always wearing his trademark pink helmet,” he said.

Member of the Saintfield Men’s Shed, Ken Fullerton, used to race bikes and said Mr Morgan’s death is a “great loss to the family and also to the motorbike community of Northern Ireland”.

“There really is a big following here and Davy was well thought of in those circles,” he said.

“I was surprised to hear that he had died because he was a very experienced rider.

“I raced the Temple 100 a couple of times, Davy was of course well after my time, but I always knew of him and it’s sad, but he was doing something he loved to do.”

Ballygowan man Stephen Wilson has said that his son Josh is a big follower of road racing and was devastated when he heard the news.

“Josh would have followed what Davy was doing as a local rider,” he said.

“He would have gone to the North West 200 and the TT twice before, as well as the Ulster Grand Prix, so this is a great loss of course to that community and to everyone who knew him because he was well known about the town.

“Some people say the sport is dangerous and they should cancel it.

“But those who take part, they have it in their blood, they just love motorbike racing.”

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