dlr Libraries are delighted to present a special video for International Women’s Day entitled Pedal Power: 130 Years of Women’s Cycling in the County. This delightful 10 minute video gives a whirlwind history of cycling in the county, with a special focus on how these ‘freedom machines’ became both a symbolic and practical means of achieving emancipation and self-reliance for women.
From solid-wheel tricycles to Penny Farthings, the High Nelly to the Raleigh Chopper, bicycles allowed women to challenge prevailing notions about their perceived physical frailty but often brought their virtue into question. Restrictive dress codes didn’t help and the few Irish women who wore bloomers were often subjected to ridicule or assault. The video also touches on the role that female couriers played throughout the so-called Bicycle War with insurrectional activity during the 1916 Rising and War of Independence. In the newly independent Ireland, the purchase of a bicycle was a significant event.
A particular highlight in the video is the footage from the 1950s when the County Dublin Road Club hosted the phenomenally successful annual Dún Laoghaire Cycling Week. Did you know that time trials for men and women were held on roller bikes in the Assembly Hall in the Old Town Hall in Dún Laoghaire? The video finishes with a short sequence on the Coastal Mobility Route, the award-winning two-way segregated cycle-lane along the coast. As Cathaoirleach Cllr. Úna Power says:
What a fascinating video! As you may know by now, I’m passionate about cycling and am thrilled with our cycle lanes in the County. It’s so exciting to hear some of these wonderful historical snippets from our cycling past.
Our thanks to all who sent in photos of women cyclists throughout the decades, from school photos to childhood snaps and even a puppy in a bike basket! We’re always happy to add more photos to our local history archive; just scan and email to email@example.com if you are happy for us to add to our collection.
See other related videos:
Dún Laoghaire Cycling Week 1955-56 created by Barry Enright and Con Enright
Travelling to take the Sea Air with Deirdre Black, dlr Heritage Officer. One of the series of videos from What’s in a Name Decade of Centenaries project:
Coastal Mobility Route with An Cathaoirleach Cllr Úna Power, Robert Burns and Bob Hannan