Maryland Wheelers recently laid to rest two of their most well known members; Maurice Donaldson and Gerry McCann. Both gentlemen were in their 80’s and died peacefully at home.  They were both lifelong members of Maryland Wheelers, which is one of Ireland’s oldest and most famous cycling clubs, formed 85 years ago.  Maurice and Gerry are written into the success story of Maryland and both made their names as individual and team champions during the 50's and 60's.

In August 1957 Maurice set a new Irish record for the '12 hour' with 250.95 miles, a record which would remain unbroken until 2007. That 12 hour event would see our Maryland team of Donaldson, Bill Campbell and Billy Knowles set the Northern Ireland and all Ireland record of 735.43 miles.  Records show that at the club trophy presentation in 1958, Maurice was the winner of the Irish 100 mile, Irish 12 hour & record, Irish 50 & record, Northern Ireland Cycling Federation best all-rounder, with Knowles and Campbell team winners in Irish 12 hour & record, Northern Ireland 12 hour & record and best all-round team.

In the 1960's one of Maurice's big rivals was Gerry McCann, a formidable team-mate, who unfortunately for him also had to compete against the likes of club-mates Billy Stewart, Billy Knowles and the champion that was Tommy Givan. Gerry became great friends with Givan and Stewart, and although Tommy was killed while out training many years ago, Gerry and Billy Stewart remained friends till the end.

 

Maurice’s funeral in December was a private affair. Gerry’s funeral in early January was well attended with well-known cycling friends and adversaries such as Billy Kirk, Morris Foster, Jim McGuire, Billy Knowles and Billy Stewart there to pay their respects. Gerry's son Paul spoke of his dad's love of Maryland and retold heartwarming cycling adventure stories from the old days his dad had passed down.

 

Last year Maryland held the inaugural road cycling race for youths called the 'McCann, Stewart, Givan Under 16 Classic'.  The trophy and medals were donated to the club by the family of Gerry McCann.  This is a fitting tribute to these men that dominated Irish cycling, placing Northern Ireland and Lisburn centre-stage in the sport. 

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