Up to 10,000 people expected at O’Donovan brothers’ homecoming

Olympic silver medallists Gary and Paul will return to Skibbereen in Co Cork on Monday

Irish rowers Paul and Gary O’Donovan celebrate winning a silver medal at the Rio Olympics. Photograph: ©INPHO/James Crombie

Irish rowers Paul and Gary O’Donovan celebrate winning a silver medal at the Rio Olympics. Photograph: ©INPHO/James Crombie


Up to 10,000 people are due to attend the homecoming of Olympic silver medallists Gary and Paul O’Donovan next week in Skibbereen, Co Cork.

The rowers will ride around the town in an open top bus at 7.30pm next Monday.

A number of big screens will be erected around the town to allow locals to watch the brothers being interviewed on stage by RTÉ’s Jacqui Hurley. It will be the largest ever celebration to be held in the West Cork town.

The O’Donovan’s mother, Trish, believes Paul is keeping his best performance until last and that he will return to Skibbereen with a World rowing championship medal under his belt.

Trish O’Donovan said she is stunned by the resilience shown by Paul after a gruelling Olympics.

“Paul has always wanted to be a force to be reckoned with in the single sculls and his dream and ambition is to be the dominant force in single sculling.

I just can’t believe he is so strong especially after what the Olympic competitions took out of him.

“I thought it might be too much and that maybe he should be happy with the silver medal and enjoy that.

“But he wanted to give the World Championships a shot and he looks very strong. He has put down the markers for all the other competitors.”

Trish said Paul is “as tough as nails” and when he sets his sights on a goal he is very determined.

“He was so strong out there in the World Championship heats and did not falter easing over the line pulling up. And all this happened in the most dreadful of weather conditions, with wind and waves on this particularly open stretch of water. I think he must have been keeping the best till last”.

Trish said she was also proud of her other Olympic medal winning son Gary. She was particularly overjoyed to see him carrying the Irish flag at the Olympic closing ceremony in Rio.

“I was so proud of Gary and he was so proud to have been asked to carry the flag. Did you see how high he lifted it?

“I think he was nearly more proud of carrying the flag than winning his medal.”

Gary and Paul won the silver medal in the Olympic men’s lightweight double sculls. Off the back of the success of their Olympians Skibbereen Rowing Club have also launched a fundraising venture in the form of special t shirts celebrating the silver medal win.

Cork County Council is organising a special civic reception in honour of the O’Donovan’s which will take place in County Hall on August 31st.

The brothers hail from Lisheen on the outskirts of Skibbereen.

Lisheen National School, which the brothers attended, will now stage a special Olympic ceremony to mark the opening of the school year.

Lisheen NS principal Catríona O’Driscoll said Gary and Paul would have been welcomed home as heroes even if they had returned to Ireland without a medal.

The brothers captured the hearts of the nation in the lead-up to the final race, where they revealed their winning strategy: Close the eyes and pull like a dog.

Speaking after the semi-final race, Paul said: “It isn’t too complex really.

“A to B as fast as you can go and hope for the best. Close the eyes and pull like a dog.”