Shane Lowry said the feeling of winning The Open “hasn’t sunk in yet” as he was welcomed home to County Offaly.
The Open champion told the huge crowd that gathered in his home town of Clara that it was an “incredible” experience to see his family at the 18th hole.
Lowry was surrounded by his family, including his wife Wendy and grandmother Emmy Scanlon, as he arrived by bus holding the Claret Jug.
The town was decked in the Clara Gaelic Football colours of black and white with bunting and flags hanging from lampposts.
Posters of Lowry’s victory at Royal Portrush were proudly displayed in the windows of every home, shop, cafe and pub.
The town was brought to a standstill as barriers prevented traffic from passing through to allow local fans to welcome their hero home.
People from across Ireland and of all ages gathered in “The Green” in the blazing sunshine to see the 32-year-old golf star.
He told the crowd: “It was an emotional day – walking up to the 18th and seeing my family and seeing how happy people are, it’s an incredible day.
“I’ve had loads of messages, I haven’t had time to go through my phone.
“To see this this evening is incredible and hopefully in years to come, there’s loads of kids out here, hopefully I’ll inspire them to take up the game.”
Paying tribute to his parents Brendan and Bridget, he said: “I wouldn’t be here without them, they sacrificed a lot for me to be here.
“To be able to hand them the Claret Jug on the 18th green on Sunday, I never thought I would be doing it.
“I’ve played in loads of huge events and I’ve won a couple of decent ones, but to win The Open in Portrush was unreal.
“It hasn’t really sunk in.
“There’s been lots of ups and downs over the years and I went through a fairly rough patch 12 months ago.
“There’s plenty of times where I’ve been at home in my house in Dublin and I’ve been crying myself to sleep, you don’t know if you are good enough, you don’t know if you can keep going and when you’ve a good strong woman behind you it makes it a little bit easier.
His caddie Brian “Bo” Martin joined him onstage and revealed he was not nervous and remained calm.
“We knew what was happening so I just have to do my job, and that’s all we have to do,” he told the crowd.
Before singing The Little Town Of Clara, Emmy wrapped her arm around Shane saying he means “everything to me”.
“If this means building up our little town, that’s what I love to see,” she added.
His uncle, Sean Lowry told PA: “We were on a different planet when he won.
“I never thought he would be up there, but I knew he was good enough and you can dare to dream.”
Shane Lowry said he is overwhelmed by the number of people who turned out for his homecoming this evening.
Thousands of people descended on Clara in Co Offaly for a special reception for the Open champion.
On Sunday, Lowry became only the fifth Irish golfer in 148 years to win the championship, after a six-shot victory at Royal Portrush.
Addressing the crowd on the Green in Clara, Lowry said he never dreamed of this happening in his home town.
"It's incredible, isn't it? I never thought I'd be...I didn't know if I was good enough to win something like this," said the Open champion.
"I never did think that I'd have something like this in Clara.
"The only thing that I've seen like this before is when they win a county championship and the come up and march through the town.
"I'm fairly overwhelmed. I can't believe what's been going on. It's been a mad few days."