Mayor of Poznan thanks Irish fans
THE MAYOR of the Polish city Poznan visited Dublin yesterday to thank Irish fans for making such a good impression there during the Euro 2012 soccer tournament.
Ryszard Grobelny said he hoped the behaviour of the Irish fans during the European Championship would mark the start and not the end of a beautiful friendship between Ireland and Poznan.
President Michael D Higgins, who visited Poznan for Ireland’s first match of the tournament, against Croatia, received Mr Grobelny at Áras an Uachtaráin.
The mayor then went to the Mansion House, where he was presented with a painting depicting scenes from The Fields of Athenry, which Irish fans sang in lament and celebration at the end of Ireland’s match against Spain, which the tournament’s eventual winners won 4-0.
Mr Grobelny said proposals for a friendly soccer match between Ireland and Poland in Dublin next February, with a return leg in Poznan later, were well advanced.
The mayor also met Irish soccer fans last night in O’Donoghue’s pub on Merrion Row.
This morning, at the Summer House in St Stephen’s Green, he will open an exhibition of photographs of the Irish fans’ invasion of Poznan last month.
He said the way the fans had behaved and how they got on with their hosts was exceptional.
“Really, Irish fans were the most fantastic fans during the whole tournament,” he said.
Mr Grobelny, who was visiting Dublin for the first time, also said he saw no evidence in the city of the financial crisis.
Pete St John, who wrote The Fields of Athenry and who attended the Mansion House event, said he was “totally and utterly taken aback” by the singing of the song after the Spain game.
“It was magic. It will never happen to me again. I just bless myself, genuflect and say ‘Thanks be to God I wrote that song’,” he said.