Mike Murphy’s victory in the 1958 Ras Tailtean has the whiff of a movie script about it. He was a poor labourer who dreamt of winning Ireland’s toughest cycling race . In keeping with the best traditions of Hollywood the 26-year-old underdog, after completing an epic journey, crossed the finish line in Dublin as champion.
The myth that has grown up around Murphy and his exploits is captured in the following quote from documentary maker Liam O’Brien.
In the case of the Kerry cyclist Mike Murphy, ‘The Iron Man’, the truth exceeds the legend and the legend… Well the legend goes a bit like this: he trained with weights made from stones, he made a living as a circus performer, on one stage in the 1958 Ras, after his bike had broken down, he stole an ordinary bicycle from a farmer and chase down the leading pack. It’s said that he rode for three days with a broken collarbone, that he would cycle for forty miles having completed a gruelling stage just to cool down, that he drank cow’s blood and ate raw meat .it said he was indestructible.
O’Brien’s documentary, convict on the road, is the story of Mike Murphy as told in his own words. It can be listened to by clicking on the following link to the RTE website.