COUNTY Mayor Seamus McGrath has put a call out to a group of children he met on Monday night in Skibbereen, so they can get their oars autographed by Olympic silver medallists Paul and Gary O’Donovan.
Cllr McGrath relayed this story at the civic reception in honour of the O’Donovan brothers in Cork County Hall on Wednesday morning.
‘I met these children after the homecoming and they had their oars and marker ready, but unfortunately given the crowd in attendance there, they didn’t get the opportunity to get the oars signed by Paul and Gary,’ recalled Cllr McGrath.
‘But they did meet me and asked me would I sign them. I’ve no doubt these kids went home that night disappointed! But if they are out there, I’m sure Cllr Joe Carroll will be able to arrange those autographs.’
Large crowds are something both Paul and Gary O’Donovan will have to get used to, judging by the attendance at the reception where Council staff and other members of the public thronged the balconies and stairs to catch a glimpse of the Skibbereen brothers.
‘You’d think by now we’d be used to big crowds, but I came in here and I was absolutely shocked and I didn’t expect this again,’ said Gary, when he took to the podium.
‘We’re delighted to be in a position that people want to see us and want to support us and also show their support for rowing.’
Paul was equally complimentary about the support they have received since winning in Rio.
‘There’s been hundreds and thousands coming to the airport and millions to Skibbereen on Monday night,’ joked Paul.
‘We’re kind of glad that people have taken such an interest in our sport and in our town and community and also in Skibbereen Rowing Club. We’re hoping it will inspire one or two people to go after their dream – whatever that may be.’
Cllr McGrath paid tribute to both Paul and Gary for their outstanding achievements and also Paul’s success in Rotterdam. ‘It certainly isn’t an understatement to say that both Paul and Gary have energised and electrified the people of Cork and I think that was never so evident than in Skibbereen on Monday night,’ said Cllr McGrath.
Cllr McGrath also praised the manner in which they have conducted themselves in the media saying they brought nothing but positivity to the Olympics.
‘They have intrigued us all with their humility, their down to earth nature, their straight talking and, of course, a blend of West Cork charm, which never goes astray.’
‘Paul and Gary now carry the burden of being role models for a younger generation and I’ve no doubt you’ll keep that burden on your shoulder with pride and dignity,’ he told them.
Cllr McGrath urged the brothers to continue ‘to pull like a dog and the future will be brute’.