Irish Olympic fans allocated King's Cross pub

Sat, Jul 21, 2012, 01:00

DURING THE Olympics most countries will have “national hospitality houses” in London to entertain athletes, VIPs and patriotic fans. The Brazilian house is situated in the historic Somerset House; the African countries are using the verdant spaces of Kensington Gardens; the Danish are taking over St Katherine’s Dock and the Belgians will be using the 11th-century buildings of Inner Temple. The Irish house will be in a pub in King’s Cross.

The idea of the houses is to provide a place for fans to congregate to cheer on their country’s team (with sporting action streamed live on giant TV sets) and for countries to assert their national identity through a series of events and concerts.

Dara O Briain and Ardal O’Hanlon have been named “ambassadors” for the Irish house which will be situated at the Big Chill bar on London’s Pentonville Road – just across the road from King’s Cross station which has direct transport links to the Olympic Park. Open every day from 10am until 2am, the Irish house will feature appearances from O Briain and O’Hanlon, Sonia O’Sullivan, Barry McGuigan and a host of Irish athletes competing at the Games.

Live music and entertainment will also be provided with a roof terrace doubling as a barbecue area. Bands lined up to play at the house include the fast-rising Dublin hip-hop act the Original Rude Boys.

Organised by THG (The Hospitality Group) Sports, a sports ticketing and hospitality service, the Big Chill venue will “create a vibrant Irish atmosphere that delivers all the elements of a great night out” says the press release. “Jack’s Bar, in the basement of the venue, will recreate the atmosphere of the Father Ted television comedy and reflect the personality of Fr Jack from the show,” the organisers say. Jameson’s Irish Whiskey is also contributing to the venue.

“We want the Irish Olympic house to be the No 1 party destination at the Games,” says James Sinton from THG. “We are working with some of Ireland’s top artists to ensure we can replicate the atmosphere and excitement of a true Irish night out. We will be creating word of mouth and social media excitement which, we believe, will drive high levels of repeat visitors to the Irish Olympic house, making it the No 1 entertainment destination for visitors during the Olympics.”

Pat Hickey, president of the Olympic Council of Ireland, says: “The London Games are so geographically close to us that we are treating it as a ‘home’ Olympics. Therefore we feel a strong obligation to cater for Irish people travelling to the event to support Team Ireland and to the Irish diaspora living in the UK. The Irish Olympic house will undoubtedly be a magnet for our supporters due to its excellent central location and superb facilities.”

* This article was amended on July 24th, 2012 to correct a factual error