Biker Lorna has to settle for a back seat

LORNA O’CONNOR from Corbally was ready to set her wheels in motion when she read a poster advertising classes in Motorbike Engines-but she was soon driven off course. “I was delighted, because as someone who has ridden a motorbike for years, I’ve often wished I could carry out repairs- as it is, I rely on my father or a mechanic to service the bike,” she told the Limerick Post.


But to her dismay, she was told the course came under- Projects for Men-with women excluded. “I was more or less told that it would be alright to watch from the back of the class. I was informed that the majority of adult education classes offered are attended by women and the organisers decided to designate two for men only”.

Lorna, who, with her two sisters share their father’s passion for motorbikes, said: “My bike is a Honda Hornet 250 – it’s powerful and fast enough for me.
“I travel in and out to Shannon and to the University of Limerick and each year, with my sisters and father, we travel to Assen in Holland for their Grand Prix, and we also go to rallies up North, to the Isle of Man and in Wales.
“I’m really keen to take this class and I know lots of girl bikers who belong to the Irish Women’s Bike Cub, who would also be keen to enrol”.

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A spokeswoman for the Black Widows (all female motorbike club) said: “You’d expect something like this 25 years ago. What is the thinking behind this exclusion of women – if it’s about men’s self-confidence, then the class should be about building their self- confidence”.
Mary Donnelley, St Mary’s Adult Training Centre, said that they are aiming to attract men and women to their classes.
“The list for the motor bike classes is full – the maximum is 15 and we’ve had a response of 45. With the funding available, we can only offer classes for three weeks in this session, and have put in for an allocation of additional hours. However, if someone drops out, we can certainly bring Lorna in”.

Lorna, however, insists that she was told she could ask the men enrolling if it would be alright for her to join the class and that she was not told the class was full.
Adamant that they promote gender balance, she expressed surprise that Lorna had been told she could observe from the back of the class.
“We would ask the men if it was alright for Lorna to attend – we have a predominantly female attendance at our classes and recently I asked women in a sewing class if they would be comfortable with two men joining them – these men are from another culture where sewing would not be out of place for them”.

Pointing out that the adult education classes are available to people living in the parish, she also referred to the Men’s Shed initiative, where the primary activity is the provision of “a safe, friendly and inclusive environment where the men are able to gather or work on meaningful projects at their own pace, in their own time and in the company of other men, and where the primary objective is to advance the health and well-being of participants.