Taylor 'overwhelmed' as 20,000 welcome her home to Bray
IN HER dreams Katie Taylor might have been expecting something special in Bray yesterday, but what took place was “unbelievable”, she kept saying.
The people of Bray lined the seafront and stood on the roof of the Martello Hotel and every other vantage point they could find to welcome her when she arrived in an open-top bus wearing her Olympic gold medal.
Celebratory homecoming events also took place last night in Mullingar for silver medal-winning boxer John Joe Nevin and eventer Joseph Murphy, in Dún Laoghaire for Annalise Murphy and other members of the sailing team, and in Belfast for boxers Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan.
The biggest crowd was in Bray, Taylor’s home town. There were an estimated 20,000 people but it may have been more, stretching from the bandstand for several hundred metres. There were also three big screens.
Although she was the headline act, the event was always intended as a celebration of all of Bray’s Olympians. First Pádraic Moran, who will be competing in the Paralympics, was introduced to the crowd and then Olympic boxer Adam Nolan, who lost to bronze medallist Andrey Zamkovoy in the last 16. Nolan described Taylor as a “special person inside and outside the ring”.
Taylor reiterated previous comments about the support she got in London and then struggled to contain her emotions as she thanked all those who had prayed for her.
“I had a whole nation of people praying for me. I just felt the presence of God in that stadium.”
Not one for over-elaboration, she departed the stage a few minutes later. “I’m a bit overwhelmed. This surpassed all my dreams.”
As she walked off stage, she posed with local civil defence members. Then security men formed a chain around her and her family as they walked along the promenade to the National Sea Life Centre for refreshments.
Taylor said she wanted some sleep and to visit her 80-year-old grandmother Kathleen Cranley, who she has not seen for weeks.
The people of Bray and Bray Town Council had been working on this event for months.
Volunteers gave their time and local companies provided their services for free to ensure everything was ready.