OLYMPIC silver medallists Gary and Paul O’Donovan took centre stage at this year’s Skibbereen Lions Club gala charity dinner on Saturday night, as 240 guests enjoyed an entertaining evening.
‘An Evening With Gary and Paul’ at the West Cork Hotel in Skibbereen raised approximately €12,000 and was deemed an outstanding success, as funds will go towards the nominated charities of Skibbereen Lions Club and to Skibbereen Rowing Club, which has played such a huge role in the continued success of the brothers.
The majority of the funds raised will now go to the rowing club, as a contribution towards their quest to get a new double scull training boat on the water at a cost of around €15,000.
The night featured a charity row-off between members of the audience, competing to achieve the fastest pace on a rowing machine. Justin Cochrane of The Castle, Castletownshend was the eventual winner of the fun 100m sprint.
There was also a charity auction, hosted by the inimitable Morgan O’Driscoll, including many items signed specially by the O’Donovan’s.
Southern Star sports editor Kieran McCarthy hosted a Q&A session with the brothers, and there were pre-recorded video questions from their celebrity ‘fans’ Marty Morrissey, Jacqui Hurley, Thomas Barr, Ryan Tubridy and even fellow West Corkonian, Graham Norton.
In his speech Skibbereen Lions Club president Sean Mahon thanked the people and businesses of Skibbereen and West Cork for their continued support of Lions Club activities, particularly the Skibbereen Charity Adventure Race (SCAR) which is now in its fourth year, and also the support of the annual gala fundraising dinner.
Mr Mahon said that Skibbereen Lions Club were proud to have distributed €100,000 over the last three years to local charities and good causes. He also informed the audience that Skibbereen Lions Club would be contributing €4,500 from funds raised at last year’s SCAR race towards a high performance prosthetic arm required by 13-year-old Owen Barry from Skibbereen, who is a keen rower.
Mr Mahon presented Gary and Paul with framed, commemorative Southern Star front pages as a token of appreciation from the Lions Club and The Southern Star.
In addition, and following on from the well-publicised ‘VIP Gold Cards’ that Gary and Paul received from Copper Face Jacks (‘Coppers’) nightclub in Dublin last year, Mr Mahon presented, to warm applause from the audience, equivalent cards for ‘Skibbereen’s finest late night establishment, Chasers nightclub and the Tanyard bar’, which were kindly donated by local nightclub owner Curley O’Driscoll.
The night was MC’ed by Club member Don Davis and incoming president Oliver Farrell thanked the public for their support and Sean Mahon for his work as president.
At the end of the evening, Gary O’Donovan read out a special letter of thanks from the mother of Owen Barry for the generosity of the people of West Cork and the Skibbereen Lions Club in providing funds towards Owen’s high performance prosthetic.