Over 2,000 attend 4th of July celebration in Phoenix Park

Spectators met by parachuters who descended onto American-style football field

 Chargé d’affaires at the US embassy John Hennessey-Niland (left) and former US ambassador to Ireland Dan Rooney (right) with  parachutists who delivered the match ball before the Fourth Annual Irish American Flag Football Classic at the 4th of July American Independence Day celebrations at the US ambassador’s residence in the Phoenix Park today. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Chargé d’affaires at the US embassy John Hennessey-Niland (left) and former US ambassador to Ireland Dan Rooney (right) with parachutists who delivered the match ball before the Fourth Annual Irish American Flag Football Classic at the 4th of July American Independence Day celebrations at the US ambassador’s residence in the Phoenix Park today. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

A crowd of about 2,300 people showed for the annual US Independence Day celebrations at the US ambassador’s residence in the Phoenix Park today.

The traditional July 4th event was hosted by chargé d’affaires John Hennessey-Niland, who was joined by former US ambassador to Ireland Dan Rooney and a special guest - quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger.

“We have thousands of people here today, we wish we could have more,” said Mr Hennessey-Niland, welcoming “sponsors, people who work in the Irish-American community, representatives of business, the arts, culture” to the event.

“Everyone that we have a relationship with, we want to invite them to have an opportunity to be part of our special day.”

Spectators were met by parachuters who descended onto an American-style football field with all the trimmings: football posts, giant television screens for live coverage and playbacks, and bleachers.

They joined Mr Rooney, Mr Hennessey-Niland and Mr Roethlisberger right before the official coin-toss for an Irish-American Flag football game.

Here the “Dublin 8s” and the “Phoenix Park Pirates” –comprised of embassy diplomats and Marines, local Gaelic football, rugby and soccer players – squared off as part of the main event.

US firms operating in Ireland sponsored the five-hour attraction, designed to celebrate the relationship and economic ties between the US and Ireland.

“It’s a great way to celebrate freedom, it’s a great way to celebrate independence,” said Mr Hennessey-Niland. “It’s a great way to celebrate the relationship between two great countries.”