Thousands to welcome home O’Donovan brothers in Skibbereen

Up to 10,000 people are expected in Skibbereen, West Cork, tonight for the official homecoming party for Olympic rowing heroes the O’Donovan brothers.

The duo — Paul fresh from bagging world championship gold in Rotterdam on Saturday just days after taking Olympic silver in Rio with his brother, Gary — will be paraded with their coach Dominic Casey on an open-top bus through the streets of their home town from 7pm.

The carnival atmosphere begins at 6pm, with 96FM/C103FM’s Ken Perrott providing the entertainment.

The bus will take the brothers along Cork Rd and North St before turning right onto Main St, bound for the Fairfield, where the brothers will be interviewed on stage by RTÉ’s Jacqui Hurley. The interview will be relayed to big screens around the town.

The interviews are expected to conclude by 8.45pm, before the brothers head home for a well-earned rest.

The Fairfield is not available for parking today, with road closures and diversions in place at various points in the town from early evening.

Skibbereen Showgrounds will be open for parking to traffic coming from the east, with parking for traffic from the west at Skibbereen Rugby Club, O’Donovan Rossa GAA Club, Skibbereen New Mart on Marsh Rd, and Morgan O’Driscoll’s, beside Hurley’s garage on Ilen St.

Parking will also be available at West Cork Distillers on Market St, and several supermarket car parks will remain open until 11pm.

Organisers said they are preparing for between 5,000 and 10,000 people to attend, which could make this one of the largest celebrations the town has ever seen.

They stressed that they are planning to stage a family-friendly event suitable for all ages. They said public safety will be a priority and that it will be an alcohol-free event.

Meanwhile, Cork County Mayor Seamus McGrath will host a civic reception for the brothers in County Hall on Wednesday morning.

“It’s only right and fitting that the council recognises their tremendous success at the Olympics,” he said.

Limited edition T-shirts bearing the brothers’ slogan, #PullLikeADog, have been selling like hot cakes, helping to raise much-needed funds for their rowing club.

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