Angela Merkel sent some wise words to the Euro flag man on his wedding day
Photograph of ‘Angela Merkel Thinks We’re at Work’ flag went viral
Richie Tuohy and Orlagh Eichholz behind the flag that made headlines in 2012. Photograph: Ronan Palliser
The Co Limerick man who captured the German nation’s hearts and the Irish public’s imagination with a cheeky flag has now captured the heart of a German girl.
Richie Tuohy, from Dromkeen and Orlagh Eichholz tied the knot in Cappawhite, Co Tipperary on Thursday, but the day was made extra special thanks to a congratulatory letter and signed photograph from the world’s most powerful woman – German chancellor Angela Merkel.
At the European Football Championships in 2012 Richie and his friends made headlines around the world after a photograph of their Irish flag with the slogan “Angela Merkel Thinks We’re at Work” went viral.
The soccer championship took place amid the financial crash, the subsequent bail-out and severe austerity measures put in place in Ireland.
Orlagh’s dad got in touch with Angela Merkel’s office six months ago to invite the German leader to the wedding.
While the Irish team flopped, Richie and friends Eoin O’Brien from Cappamore; Conor O’Dwyer from Pallasgreen; Eoin Cantwell from Thurles and Richie Leahy from Galway were on the front cover of every newspaper. And in a twist of fate Richie met and fell in love with a German girl in 2012 but not at the Euros.
“We actually met in Tipperary town on St Stephen’s night. Orlagh’s dad, Jorg, is from Germany, her mum, Libby, is from Doon and she cheers for Tipp. She was born in Germany but moved to Doon when she was five,” said Richie, whose parents are Tony and Esther.
While the Merkel crew sold the flag for charity a couple of years ago Richie got a loan of it for the wedding. “Dad was asking me to bring the flag. We had 101 things to be doing but I’m glad we brought it now,” said Richie (31).
Despite Richie’s face being everywhere for weeks, Orlagh didn’t recognise him on that first night in 2012.
“I remember the flag being in the media and being all over social media. Then some of the girls were sending me links that this is the man that you were after meeting. I was like ‘stop the lights’. What are the chances, me being German and him being one of the flag lads?” Orlagh (29) said.
Love blossomed and Fr Pat Coffey, former curate in Doon, was the celebrant at their wedding Mass in Cappawhite Church on Thursday. Richie’s twin brother Pat was his best man while Orlagh’s sister Ciara was her chief bridesmaid.
After posing for photographs with the Merkel flag, Orlagh’s dad, Jorg, had a surprise for the couple.
“Orlagh’s dad got in touch with Angela Merkel’s office six months ago — we knew nothing about this of course. He actually invited her to the wedding. Obviously he knew she wouldn’t come. He thought nothing would come back but he got a reply about three months ago. It’s a full letter and a signed photograph. It went down well in the room. To see her name on the headed paper, it’s not something you see everyday. It was lovely,” said Richie .
Orlagh was equally taken aback. “It was hilarious. I don’t know how he kept it so quiet. His speech went down a treat. You couldn’t hear a pin drop, everyone loved it,” she said.
The couple enjoyed a few days in Killarney on their mini-moon before they fly to Las Vegas and the Bahamas. “The German chancellor wished them luck and success in the future “so that you can realise many of your plans but in particular you can enjoy cohesion and understanding, even in difficult times.”
Are Richie’s days of heading off to football tournaments with the Merkel flag over now? “No, I’ll have to bring Orlagh with me now the next time” he said.