Another day, another mobbed ceremony for Olympic rowing heroes Paul and Gary O’Donovan

Gary and Paul O'Donovan pose for a picture with Hazel and Elsey Symons. Pic: Denis Minihane

Olympic rowing heroes Paul and Gary O’Donovan had to draw on all their strength and stamina yesterday as they were mobbed during a civic reception in Cork — their third official function since their arrival back in Ireland on Sunday.

The silver medal-winning brothers from Lisheen, West Cork, were accorded the county’s highest civic honour in County Hall in recognition of their incredible performance at the Rio Olympics, and in honour of Paul’s gold medal win at the world rowing championships in Rotterdam last weekend.

After Sunday’s homecoming at Cork Airport, Monday’s massive homecoming in Skibbereen, and another major party in their own parish of Aughadown on Tuesday, it was another busy day of posing for selfies and signing autographs for the duo.

Despite showing some signs of fatigue, they took it all in their stride. “You’d think by now we’d be used to crowds, but we didn’t expect this again. We’re just delighted that we’re in a position that people want to see us and support us, and support rowing,” Gary said yesterday.

Cllr Seamus McGrath, Mayor of Cork County, introducing the O’Donovan brothers during the civic reception at Cork County Hall.
Cllr Seamus McGrath, Mayor of Cork County, introducing the O’Donovan brothers during the civic reception at Cork County Hall.

Paul said: “We’re just hoping that our success will inspire a few people to go after and chase their dream — whatever that may be.”

Mayor of Cork County, Cllr Seamus McGrath, said the brothers had energised and electrified the nation, and that behind their humility and easy-going charm lie a steely character and determination which helped them achieve their dreams.

“Obviously, there was negativity around the Olympics in some capacity but when it came to the O’Donovan brothers from West Cork it was nothing but positivity and displays of brilliance which reminded us all what the Olympics is really about,” he said.

Cllr Frank O’Flynn reminded the brothers they won their first rowing medal at a regatta in Fermoy in 2004. “That’s where they learned their speed — on a fast stretch of the Blackwater,” he said.

Gary and Paul at the civic reception with crew members from Ring Rowing Club, Clonakilty, from left, Bronagh Deasy, Kate Callaghan, Evelyn Murphy, and Ciara Deasy.
Gary and Paul at the civic reception with crew members from Ring Rowing Club, Clonakilty, from left, Bronagh Deasy, Kate Callaghan, Evelyn Murphy, and Ciara Deasy.

Skibbereen-based Cllr Joe Carroll said he wept on Monday when he saw the crowd in the town. “We never saw the like of it — maybe when the Pope came to Ireland. I don’t know will we ever see the like again.”

Bandon-based Cllr Rachel McCarthy described the brothers as the biggest West Cork crowd-puller since the moving statue in Ballinspittle.

The pair will spend today resting before going on The Late Late Show tomorrow.


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