It is with deepest regret that we have learnt of the passing of our dear friend and clubmate Billy Smyth. As we all know, Billy was one of the founding members of St Gabriel’s Cycling Club in 1951, as part of Holy Cross Boys Club. He took an active part in the organisation of the club’s touring trips all over Ireland.
In 1955, with others, he decided to try his hand at racing and the club affiliated to the Northern Ireland Cycling Federation.
Billy was the first club member to compete in open races, including the Tour of the North and Irish Championships. He was the holder of many of the early club records. However, his greatest love was cycle touring and, over many years, he traveled by bike all around Ireland with his cycling friends; he even ventured on trips across America and Spain.
In later years he became a reliable and trusted timekeeper known to all as
Timelord. Billy could be relied on to turn up in all types of weather, hail, rain or shine to officiate at both club and open events. In reality, He was Mr Phoenix who was responsible for introducing many individuals to cycling as well as nurturing the early careers of many successful cyclists including the McCann brothers and Conor Henry.
Billy always had a wealth of cycling stories and in 2017 he published a collection of memories in a book ‘Before Lycra’ which was widely welcomed by the Ulster cycling community.
At this very sad time, all of us club members send our sincere condolences to his wife Rita, children Frankie, Bill, Marguerite and Lucy and to the wider family circle. He will be sadly missed in Phoenix CC by all his club mates and as a good friend by both club members and the wider cycling community.