Group meeting in memory of Brian Steenson

Group meeting in memory of Brian Steenson

24 June 2020

KILLYLEAGH was a hive of activity last Saturday with scooter and motorcycle owners gathering outside the town’s castle as part of a key fundraiser.

It was one of the largest ever turnouts of two-wheeled machines in the town to support the Brian Steenson Memorial Group.

Organised by Killyleagh man Stephen Kennedy to help raise funds for new memorials to the former road racer, everyone associated with Saturday’s event — which attracted 120 scooters and motorcycles and raised almost £700 — is delighted with the large number of people who took part.

A new wall mural has already been erected in Crossgar, with plans also in place to erect a granite memorial outside Killyleagh castle, once the necessary permission has been secured.

The mural — painted by artist Glenn Molloy — is located on the gable wall of the Corner Inn pub in Killyleagh Street in the village.

It’s hoped that a ceremony will be held to formally unveil both memorials with the motor sport enthusiasts behind the initiative grateful to Mr Kennedy for organising last weekend’s scooter run from Carrickfergus to Killyleagh.

The unveiling could take place in September to coincide with the annual Crossgar car and motorcycle cavalcade.

The group of enthusiasts behind plans to remember Steenson, who lost his life 50 years ago after crashing at the Isle of Man TT, are delighted with the progress that has been made to provide permanent memorials to the popular rider.

Those who took part in last weekend’s fundraiser were also given a sneak peak of the memorial which the enthusiasts hope to erect outside the castle, with Pat Mackey and Jim Lindsay working in this particular project. Local artist, Roy Rodgers, is in charge of making a brass plate to accompany the memorial.

Steenson was born on the Derryboy side of the Clea Lough outside Killyleagh, and enthusiasts hope the tributes they are planning to the road racer will reflect the esteem in which he was held.

As part of last weekend’s fundraiser, participants were able to view Steenson’s 350cc Aermacchi machine, alongside memorabilia associated with the rider who died aged 23.

Earlier this year, a highly impressive new tribute film to Steenson was premiered at Down High School in Downpatrick where he was a former head boy. 

The rider was also widely regarded as the motorcycle racing champion Northern Ireland never had and revered by his peers, Steenson was not only a road racer, but a talented engineer, sportsman and musician.

And while he enjoyed a relatively short racing career, Steenson left an indelible mark on the sport he loved.

Rowallane councillors Patrick Brown and Billy Walker who have been supporting the plans for the mural and permanent memorial to the former road racer, said the group behind the project deserve great praise.

“I would like to commend the Brian Steenson memorial group on its hard work and commitment to delivering this fantastic mural in the rider’s memory,” said Cllr Brown.

He added: “The fact that the group persevered during the current coronavirus pandemic and managed to unveil this mural demonstrates its dedication and commitment. I am sure that everyone living in and visiting Crossgar will enjoy looking at the mural for many years to come.”

Cllr Walker, who joined those who took part in the fundraiser when they arrived in killyleagh, said those behind the campaign to remember Steenson deserve great praise.

“Their enthusiasm is infectious and they have achieved so much in such a relatively short space of time,” he said.

“I am pleased that the wall mural is now in place and hope that approval to erect the memorial outside the castle can be secured. Despite the fact that Brian Steenson lost his life while still a young man, he left his mark on a sport that he loved.”

Steenson, who died at the Nobles Hospital on the Isle of Man on June 17, five days after he crashed his Seely 500 in the Senior TT race, was regarded as an experienced racer.

He made his debut at the TT in 1968, scoring a remarkable second place in the Junior race 12 months later, riding an Aermacchi, behind Giacomo Agostini’s MV Agusta.