‘A privilege’ to speak about cyclist killed in Dublin and his influence, widow tells mourners

Racing cyclist John Walsh, father of three, fatally injured in crash with driver during training ride in Kinsealy

Olivia Walsh, the widow of John Walsh who was killed in Dublin while cycling last weekend, said her husband had put her “on a very tall pedestal” for the past 20 years, including a decade of marriage, but now that he was gone her “two feet were back on normal ground” again.

In his early 40s and a father of three young boys, Mr Walsh was from Malahide, north Dublin, and worked as a solicitor for AIB. Members of the UCD Cycling Club, of which he was captain, formed a guard of honour as his remains were taken into St Sylvester’s Church, Malahide, for his funeral Mass on Friday morning.

Members of other cycling clubs – including Lucan CRC, Roadman CC, Swords CC and Bray Wheelers – were also in attendance in their club kits, as well as officials from Cycling Ireland and Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien, a TD for the area. Hundreds of mourners were in attendance, with the church and an adjoining overflow room full.

Mrs Walsh told those present while previously she “never understood” how people could address mourners at a funeral for someone they loved, it was “a privilege” to speak about her husband and the impact he had made during his life and to have loved him.

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She said he would find “cheeky ways” to park his car anywhere he could so she would never have to walk far and constantly performed tasks for her “to make my life easy” for “20 wonderful years”.

When they went abroad, Mr Walsh would produce research about their destination, usually involving finding “some exclusive and inaccessible VIP-only place in a city”. She would be dragged along “cringing, because I knew we were not meant to be there”.

“John lived by the motto ‘he who dares, wins’ and it brought us so much joy,” she said, adding he adored their three young sons, Andrew, Rowan, and Morgan. He had “poured every drop into his boys and into life” and was “mischievous”.

She felt sure “on those final few minutes before John left us he was happy”. She was “at peace” knowing her husband was delighted to be going cycling last Sunday morning “on a beautiful day with no wind”. When he was fatally injured “he was likely unaware that was the end”.

A racing cyclist with UCD Cycling Club, Mr Walsh met a friend for coffee last Sunday morning in Malahide before parting company to go on a bike ride. However, minutes later, at 9.30am on Malahide Road, Kinsealy, he was in a crash with a driver in a car and died from his injuries later that day in Beaumont Hospital.

Mr Walsh’s father, Norman, told mourners he and his wife, Anne, had been “overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and respect for John” over the last week. “We are very, very proud of the impact he has made in his life,” he said. One of his clearest memories was sensing his son looked lonely one day at home, when aged about two years old, and picking him up to hug him only to hear him “purr” with contentment.

The dead man’s younger brother, Niall, said he had “no regrets” about their relationship as brothers as it had been so full. He had encouraged him to have a family and to make all his decisions based on them, while he “idolised” his own three sons. He taught him how to drive in an Alfa Romeo in Italy, urging him “don’t be gentle, it’s a rental”.

“John got me into bars when I was in London, with his ID even though he was 10 years older than me,” he added. “He showed me how to shave and introduced me to Bob Dylan. He used to go to rugby games and record me and show me how to get better. John taught me how to play Grand Theft Auto, and convinced my mam and dad it was appropriate for a 12-year-old to play. He taught me the words of Too Fly for a White Guy and Missy Elliott’s Work It when I was 8-years-old.”

A table of memories was created in the church, with Mr Walsh’s parents offering their son’s christening cup “as a sign of welcoming John into the world”. Mr Walsh’s bike was offered by his Godchild and nephew Cian. Mr Walsh’s brother, Louis, told mourners his brother “always encouraged Cian in his cycling endeavours”, jokingly adding that encouragement was “with a specific focus on getting to the 2032 Olympics”.

Other items offered included a rugby jersey and a model Formula 1 car, reflecting the dead man’s sporting passions outside of cycling. A book with photographs of Mr Walsh’s travels in Asia was also among the “memory” items, as well as the 1993 Belvedere College book, to mark the year he started at the north Dublin school, and a UCD cycling trophy, while his son Rowan offered artwork he had made to mark the day of his father’s funeral. The burial of Mr Walsh, who is also survived by his sister Helen, took place at St Fintan’s Cemetery, Sutton, after Friday’s funeral Mass.

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