The Dunlop family held an informal celebration at the weekend to mark twenty-six times Isle of Man TT winner Joey Dunlop being voted the greatest Northern Irish sportsman of all time. Earlier this year, Dunlop beat off opposition from footballer George Best and golfer Rory McIlroy to lift the title.
The award was presented to the Dunlop family at a star-studded gala dinner in Belfast and it was put on display in Joey’s Bar at the weekend.
Joey’s daughter Donna McLean explained: “It was a celebration to recognise the fact that Daddy had won this award. After we were presented with it so many people had contacted Mummy to ask if anything was being done to mark the fact that Daddy was voted the Greatest Northern Irish sportsman of all time.
“To be honest we hadn’t given it any thought. We were just over the moon that Daddy won this especially when you think that he was up against the likes of George Best. It was made even more special by the fact that it was voted for by the general public. We knew Daddy had a big fan base but it’s remarkable that 15 years later they are sticking by him.”
It had been expected that a more formal event would be held to mark this remarkable award, however, the family were more than happy to keep it low key.
“A lot of people from all over the place ranging from friends to motorcycle clubs had got in touch because they thought there would be some sort of occasion. Up to that point we hadn’t even considered it and so I went to see about doing something through the town hall. We then decided it would be better to keep it more personal, we just wanted to raise a wee glass to Daddy and so we held it in the bar.
“It was a great day, folk dropped in, had a chat and reminisced. It was lovely and relaxed and a great way to recognise this achievement.”
With the road racing season getting underway shortly, Joey’s Bar will see an influx of visitors over the coming months.
“Mummy took the trophy home after Saturday but it will be returning to the bar very soon. Gary is looking at finding some way of putting it safely on display and we will have it up in time for all the visitors that come along. We always think the interest will die off but it never changes, especially in the run up to the North West. It means an awful lot to us that the public still hold him very dear in their hearts.”