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101-year-old to launch Heritage Cycle Rally in Laois

Kathleen Bolger with her granddaughter Aoife Bolger

101 year old Mrs Kathleen Bolger will certainly be “Wheeling in the Years” at the  launch of this year’s Bulfin Heritage Cycle Rally at Donaghmore Workshop Museum next Tuesday, May 9.

“I cycled my first High Nelly bicycle in 1926 as a 10-year-old child,” the sprightly Kathleen recalls. No better woman to do the official honours so.

Kathleen will arrive in style to Donaghmore in a 1952 Rolls Royce Silver Wraith limousine, before cutting the tape to officially launch the Bulfin Heritage Cycle Rally 2017.

This novel cycling event is a 70km two=day vintage bicycle ride, taking place on August 26 and 27 as part of the Irish Country Roads & Culture Trails, annual series of events.

Planned to coincide with the Irish Heritage Week celebrations in Laois, the Bulfin Heritage Cycle Rally is probably one of the most unique bicycle journeys available to High Nelly/Vintage bicycle enthusiasts in Ireland.

Participants will embrace the hidden heritage of South Laois and North Kilkenny from the saddle of their High Nelly bikes, as they set out to recapture a unique bicycle journey, first undertaken by journalist, writer, and proud Irish nationalist, William Bulfin in 1902.

The “Bulfin Heritage Cycle Rally” was first held in 2014 as a unique event aimed at showcasing the hidden heritage and tourism potential of the South Midlands area of Ireland.

The launch takes place on Tuesday, May 9, at 2.30pm in Donaghmore Workhouse Museum in Rathdowney.

Who was William Bulfin who this event is in memory of?

William Bulfin was born in Derrinlough, Co Offaly in 1864 and went on to be a writer, journalist and Irish nationalist.


Gaining its inspiration from William Bulfin, who cycled around Ireland in 1902, this event is a valuable introduction to the heritage that inspired much of the history, culture, music and storytelling of Ancient Ireland.

“William Bulfin was by no means the usual tourist and his greatest enthusiasms were for places that the usual tourist had not yet penetrated” (Benedict Kiley, Capuchin Annual 1948)

He emigrated to Argentina in 1883, where he worked among the native gauchos and cowboys before becoming proprietor and editor of “The Southern Cross” newspaper in Bueno Aires (now, the oldest Irish Diaspora newspaper in the world).

Bulfin returned from Argentina in 1902, he then set off on a heritage fact-finding journey that took him through the highways and byways of Ireland on a steel framed bicycle made by Pierce Ironworks in Wexford. “Rambles in Eirinn” is an insightful book written by Bulfin about his cycling experience.

The travelogue was published in 1907 and proved  to be a resounding success, extending to a fourth edition, published in 1915.

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Steven Miller is owner and managing editor of LaoisToday.ie. Husband of Emily, father of William, Lillian and John, he's happiest when he's telling stories