Brisk wind blows riders through Tallaght in a flash Tallaght

 

The people of Tallaght turned out in their thousands for a truly unique experience - a hurricane in the middle of July. OK, so a hurricane is a small exaggeration, but it's fair to say that the Tour de France participants did not cycle through South County Dublin yesterday - they were blown through it.

A threatened downpour never materialised, however, and in the end Tallaght en Tour was pronounced an unqualified success.

"Absolutely brilliant, it was the business", said Gillian Kelly, from Seskin View Road. Locals had begun lining the Tallaght Bypass from about 12.30 p.m. in anticipation of viewing the spectacular publicity motorcade from about 2 p.m. and the race shortly afterwards.

In the end, patience was tested by the cheerful updates from the PA announcer, which seemed to indicate that the cyclists would be "approaching Blessington" for approximately the next fortnight.

There was an early moment of drama when a large black dog, panting contentedly, made its way up the middle of the road in the direction of the oncoming motorcade, police motorcycles, team cars, 189 cyclists etc.

The animal deftly resisted attempts by gardai to arrest it. Civil Defence personnel chased in vain. "Would the owner of a black dog currently running up the middle of the road please collect it immediately", pleaded the announcer.

The dog was last seen heading in the direction of Jobstown, the consequences of its adventure too horrible to contemplate.

When the race finally reached Tallaght at 3.45 p.m. many were taken by surprise at how quickly it was all over. "Long wait, very short", was the succinct summary of Michael Morgan, from Balruddery. But Mr Morgan, who watched with his son and nephew, felt the wait was worthwhile. "It's a great promotion for the country", he said.

Tallaght, like most towns on the Tour en Eireann route, was in official festive mode for several days leading up to the race. Entertainment which kept the locals amused during yesterday's long wait included an acrobatic show, dancers, magicians, puppet shows and a samba band parade.

The Tanaiste, Ms Harney, was among the dignitaries who viewed the race from outside the New Plaza Hotel. She was joined by local council leaders and by the mayor of the London borough of Brent, Ms Bertha Joseph, and the chairman of Trappenkamp council in Germany, Mr Richard Hallman. Both areas are twinned with South Co Dublin.

"It's just been brilliant", said Fidelma Connors, of Probe Marketing, which publicised the Tallaght events.

With the main event out of the way, those hardy enough to brave the strong winds made their way to Sean Walsh Park for a concert by Stockton's Wing, whose biggest hit might have been written for the day that was in it. A strange and beautiful affair indeed.