It was an emotional trip for me heading out of Tallinn city centre to visit the Joey Dunlop Memorial in Estonia. For those followers of my blog that may be unaware, Joey Dunlop is a Northern Irish sporting superstar. A total legend in the motorcycling world. He lived and breathed the sport more than any other. It was his life. Being on a bike was Joey’s life.
Joey Dunlop’s Motorcycle Career
Well – just a quick overview for you – Joey Dunlop’s motorcycle career saw him win more trophies than most will ever achieve, in any sport. Joey bagged three hat-tricks at the famous Isle of Man TT (in 1985, 1988 and 2000). He also won the Ulster Grand Prix 24 times. In 1986 he won a fifth consecutive TT formula 1 world title.
He was awarded the MBE in 1986 and an OBE in 1996. Joey was a motorcyclist until the day he died, which came in the year 2000. It was of course a sad and tragic end when Joey, while leading a race slid off the road in Tallinn, Estonia and died instantly, hitting trees in the wood. The Estonians paid respect to Joey by putting a fitting tribute in the spot where he died. I had to go and see it – it was one of my must sees for my week backpacking in Estonia.
How to Get to the Joey Dunlop Memorial in Tallinn, Estonia
Even for a seasoned backpacker, this became a bit of a mission. It’s not listed in any travel guide books or travel guides. I’d read some stuff about it’s location before my trip and of course wanted to do it by walking if I could, but in the end it would have taken a long time to walk there and back from downtown Tallinn, so here is my advice on how to get there.
Head to the main bus station in central Tallinn – it’s called Viru Keskus and is sandwiched between Narva Mnt and Gonsiori. The bus station is kind of underground, below the main shopping centre.
OK so I was there in January 2015 so this could be subject to change, but at the time of writing you can get ANY of these buses: 1A, 8, 34A or 38.
All these buses tend to start their route at Viru Keskus (so you could of course get on it after it’s left the station). But I started at the start. The local buses in Tallinn all have these swipe cards which the locals use. I was backpacking in the city for 4 days so I didn’t think it worth my while to invest in a card – I ended up using the bus only 3 times in 4 days (twice for the Joey tribute). What this means is when you get on the bus, you can’t pay as the driver can’t accept money as it’s all card on this route now. I offered to pay, alas I couldn’t and I got a free ride. I wasn’t complaining of course as I had been honest. It seemed like perhaps the Gods were with me that I shouldn’t have to pay money to see a Northern Irish sporting legend tribute.
I got on the bus 1A. It heads north east out of Tallinn City centre and is quite a scenic drive along the coast. It only took around 12 minutes until my stop. This will vary with traffic and you have a choice of two stops to get out at:
1. Get out at Lillepi
2. Get out at Rummu
So I decided to get out at Lillepi and walk. If you get out at Lillepi,walk in the direction of the bus until you see a petrol station and shopping centre called Selver – it’s on your right hand side.
Just after the entrance to the shopping centre is a right hand turn into an area that looks foresty. If you had got off at Rummu stop instead, simply walk back the way of the bus and Selver will be on your left hand side. Take this road heading inland with trees on either side.
Stay on the right hand side of this road through woods and after about 10 minutes, you will reach a junction on the walking path that veers right. It is at this exact point where you will see Joey Dunlop’s memorial tribute on your left, right beside the road.
Here are the photos I took at the Joey Dunlop Memorial of the tributes that have been left.
If you are a Joey Dunlop fan, a motorcycle fan, from Northern Ireland then this is a poignant and necessary trip. It was an ice cold snowy winter day when I made the lonely dander out to the tribute and very emotional and moving. I took my travelling Northern Ireland flag there to place for a photo.
Rest in peace my friend, Joey Dunlop.