Joey Dunlop 
King of the Roads 

Joey Dunlop was born in Ballymoney, County Antrim, on 25 February 1952. His first ambition was to be an army man, but when he purchased his first bike at the age of sixteen, his passion for the sport superceded everything else in his life. He quickly went on to become one of the most exciting riders ever seen, drawing huge crowds to the Isle of Man TT races in particular.

Joey’s racing career began in 1969, and his yellow helmet and number three bike became synonymous with high-octane wins. Joey was known affectionately to his legion of fans as the ‘King of the Roads’ or ‘Yer Maun’, but there was more to this rider than racing. He received an MBE for his motorcycling prowess - his racing record remains unsurpassed: twenty-five wins in twenty-five years at the TT races and five times world champion. But he also received an OBE for the many single-handed relief trips he ran to Romania and the Balkans, bringing food, clothing and supplies to war-torn areas.

Joey Dunlop died as he had lived: in an adrenaline rush. On 2 July 2000, the forty-eight-year old Dunlop crashed during a race in Estonia. The sporting world was shocked. His funeral was attended by 50,000 people – the largest funeral gathering in the history of Northern Ireland. Afterwards, 2,000 bikers rode a lap of honour and thousands of people recorded their feelings for ‘Yer Maun’ in Books of Condolences in Ireland and Britain. 

by Stephen Davison

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