The Times We Lived In: Insurance hikes exhausts the patience of MAD bikers

Published: June 13th, 1992; Photograph by Peter Thursfield

Last week’s photo showed Nuala O’Faolain and her nieces all biked up and about to cycle from Dublin to Lahinch. This week’s shot features bikes of a very different kind.

Motorised bicycles, I have to confess, mostly come to my attention when I’m annoyed with them. The only time I ever rode one – as a passenger, clinging on for dear life – I fell off and scraped my knee. I know that a long list of seriously cool people, of whom Michael Fassbender is one of the coolest, are motorcycle enthusiasts. To me, however, the whole biking life is a bit of a mystery.

Maybe that’s why I like this photograph so much. It was taken, the caption explains, on the occasion of “a demonstration organised by the group Motorcyclists Against Discrimination to draw attention to the high cost of their insurance”. Which is MAD. But there you go.

Our photographer has sallied into the midst of the action, which not only gives a sense of the scale of the protest – bikes fill O’Connell Street as far as the eye can see, and heaven knows how many have already passed the lens – but gets the viewer close enough in to understand that all human, or at least Irish, biking life is here.


In the middle of the second row the sun glints on a lowered visor, rendering the helmeted, zipped-up figure as anonymous as a robot. In front of that again, is a chap who has pushed up not only his visor but his helmet as well – a move which clearly hasn’t impressed the passenger to his right. On the far left of the image is a lad who is itching to be on the racetrack.

And look: towards the right, several rows back, a sunglasses-sporting dude straight out of Easy Rider.

The insurance situation for motorcyclists hasn’t improved in the years since this picture was taken – if anything, it has probably worsened. But let’s be inspired to think kindly of motorbikes. At least for today.

Arminta Wallace

These and other Irish Times images can be purchased from: A book, The Times We Lived In, with more than 100 photographs and commentary by Arminta Wallace, published by Irish Times Books, is available from and from bookshops, priced at €19.99.