St Patrick’s Terrace, Quay Road, Westport, Co Mayo
Mickey Palmer was born on August 26, 1927, he died in Mayo University Hospital on July 3, 2020 surrounded by his family. Mickey lived a very eventful and happy life. He was the youngest of four children, born in Dublin in 1927 to William and Annie Palmer. He was christened George Henry Palmer, but his brother nicknamed him Mickey and it stuck. His family moved to Westport when his father got a job at the Mill on Westport Quay. Mickey went to the Quay School and then on to a private school in Galway, when his mother realised he was not happy in school she let him come home and take an apprenticeship in Hastings Garage in Westport where he worked for many years.
As a young lad he was very athletic, he was a good footballer and a keen runner but it was cycling that was to become his life’s passion. His cycling career started at the Kilmeena sports day in 1948, when he was asked to enter a grass track race as a prank to wind up another competitor. He defeated his man and went on to take second place missing out on the win by just half a wheel. He became one of the best grass track racers in Ireland winning many races including, five All Ireland grass track titles.
By the mid 1950’s the lure of road racing started drawing him off the grass and on to the tarmac. His prowess was the catalyst behind the setting up of, Ras Mayo, an event which he won twice. He raced the Ras Tailteeann on three occasions, twice finishing third and enjoying two stage victories in the 1959 event, where he wore the yellow jersey into Westport.
On one occasion he was on his way from Dublin where he had raced the previous day to Laught sports in Co Galway. He left his bag behind after changing trains in Athlone. Such was his determination, he cycled from Ballinasloe the next morning back to Athlone to get his bag, then rode back to Laught. Despite his unplanned 50 mile trip he took part in 3 races that day, winning 2 of them including the All-Ireland 10,000 meters. Ray Kennedy later wrote about the events in his book, The Story of Mickey Palmer Woollen Jerseys and Whiskey legs. Mickey later went on to work in Dublin, Boston and in London where he also did some cycling. He married his wife Mary in York in 1970 and came back to Westport where they had two children William and Patricia. He joined Mayo County Council and worked with them as a maintenance man until his retirement.
Mickey’s Funeral which was private due to current Covid-19 restrictions, took place on Monday, July 6, at Holy Trinity Church, Westport, after which he was escorted by Covey Wheelers to the burial at Aughavale Cemetery.
Mickey will be sorely missed by his daughter Patricia, her partner Dave, son William and his grandchildren Jenna and Ethan, family and friends.