Killorglin and Kerry Honour Gene Mangan at the Rás
Wednesday May 5th 2016
Two special honours were given to former Kerry cyclist, Gene Mangan, in presentations at the end of today’s (Wednesday) stage of An Post Rás in Sneem.
The first was a plaque presented by John Mangan of Killorglin Cycling Club to mark the 60th anniversary of his Rás Tailteann win in 1955 and for his life-long contribution to the club.
Speaking on behalf of the club, Mary Concannon explained that the 60th anniversary presentation was a year overdue as Gene couldn’t attend the Rás last year. She went on to say that, even though living in Dublin for most of the intervening years, Gene’s loyalty and contribution to the club had been immense since he first became involved with cycling in Killorglin in 1952.
In the 50s, and 60s, his drive, success and stature greatly helped stimulate cycling in the town. Apart from his Rás win in 1955, he won 11 Rás stages in all and still holds the record of 4 consecutive stages, won in 1958. In addition, he achieved numerous other wins on road and track, including national championships.
He went on to motivate and mentor numerous other successful riders from the club. In the 1970s, for example, rides such as John Mangan, Batty Flynn and Pat Healy brought Rás stage wins, an outright Rás win, and various National Championship victories on road and track to the club. All acknowledge Gene’s key role, this influence continued and helped make the club what it is today.
In addition, Gene’s friendship, loyalty, advice and support have been greatly appreciated by numerous individuals involved with cycling in Killorglin down through the years.
She said that Gene continues to hold a Cycling Ireland as a member of Killorglin club, and thanked Gene for his life-long contribution to the club which has been greatly appreciated by all.
The second was a presentation on behalf of the wider Kerry Cycling Community.
Gene’s first loyalty was always to Killorglin and it was right that his club should acknowledge him. But his second loyalty was to Kerry, and this was enormous, so the Kerry cycling community felt it fitting that this wider contribution would also be acknowledged.
His role was immense from the earlies days of road-racing in the County. For example, Gene raced in the first County Kerry road championship in 1952 at the age of 15, which he won, and repeated that feat again the following hear.
In 1954 he was on the Kerry team which contested the first eight-day Rás and, of course, both himself and the team won outright the following year in 1955.
That year, 1955, Gene was awarded the Kerry Sports Star of the Year Award, a turning-point for cycling in Kerry, and he brought honour the county by being awarded the overall Irish Sports Star of the Year awards in both 1958 and 1941.
He rode for Kerry teams in the Rás 12 times in all, helping to achieve 3 team wins for the county. Gene was also hugely instrumental in the success of other Rás winners from Kerry and in mentoring and supporting Kerry riders in general. On his retirement from cycling, Gene continued to help out with the county team in the Rás and he acted in various other support roles for Kerry teams and Kerry riders down through the years.
Presenting Gene with a Kerry jersey donated by this year’s Kerry Rás team, it was explained to the large crowd that, along with the roles already mentioned, Gene had helped with the financing of many Kerry teams down through the years, and the presentation of this jersey in return is a small payback, and a token of the deep appreciation which the Kerry cycling community has for his contribution to Kerry cycling.