Junior Sports Minister Michael Ring has hailed showjumper Cian O'Connor's "superlative display" as he won Ireland’s first Olympic medal with a bronze.
Ireland failed to qualify a team for the London Games, and were restricted to just two individual places, with one taken by O’Connor.
O'Connor, riding Blue Loyd 12, gave it everything, clocking a faster time than Dutch rival Gerco Schroder in the jump-off, but he clipped a fence and was placed third.
Tricolours were widely scattered around the league of nations among the 23,000 sell-out crowd at Greenwich Park gathered to watch the event.
O’Connor's third place and victory ride around the eventing arena was met with raucous cheering and clapping from the vocal Irish contingent.
Minister Ring, who was at the final for the jump-off, said O'Connor's medal was a superb achievement.
“Winning an Olympic medal is a proud day for Cian and his family and for Ireland and I warmly congratulate him,” he said.
“The final stages and the jump-off were very exciting and in a brave attempt they missed out on silver by the narrowest of margins.
“I wish to congratulate Cian on a truly superlative display of horsemanship in this most demanding of Olympic events.
“His brilliant medal-winning performance today will hopefully provide the springboard for many more Irish equestrian successes in years to come and his achievement is timely, given the Dublin Horse Show takes place in Ireland next week.”
Fionnuala Tighe, originally from Dublin but now living in Bagshot, Surrey, said: “It’s been amazing, especially as we did not even get a team in the Games, so it’s really nice to see the individuals doing well.
“I hope this means more money will go into equestrianism in Ireland because the recession is taking its toll on the whole industry.”
Her sister, Eimir Tighe, a keen amateur horse rider, had flown from her home in Olney in the US state of Maryland to visit the Games.
Ms Tighe, a nurse, was jumping for joy as O’Connor rode past with his bronze medal to take the salute of spectators.
She added: “This is a brilliant venue and it’s just all been fantastic.
“I like fox hunting and national hunt racing so I came over and saw the cross country and the showjumping and we saw the Brits win gold, which was just fantastic.
“This has topped it all with the Irish winning a medal, just fantastic.”