Tuesday 23 September 2014

Special Olympics athletes light up Limerick with carnival atmosphere

Published 12/06/2014 | 20:22

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1,500 athletes and supporters paraded along O’Connell Street before the opening ceremony in The People’s Park. Photo: Sean Curtin Fusionshooters.
At the parade is Seamus Feeney, Munster Photo: Sean Curtin Fusionshooters.
At the parade is Seamus Feeney, Munster Photo: Sean Curtin Fusionshooters. Photo: Sean Curtin Fusionshooters.
Special Olympic athletes Gavin Kinear [Basketball] from Crumlin with Robert Larkin [Basketball] Lucan and Alahanna Connolly [Bocce] Lucan pictured before they boarded the Limerick train at Heuston station. Photo: Frank Mc Grath

Limerick the City of Culture has thrown its arms open to host the Special Olympics Irish games this weekend.

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And the carnival atmosphere in Limerick equals anything the Brazilians can do.

Over 1,500 athletes marching under the banners of the four provinces were given a heroes’ welcome this evening, and their arrival brought traffic to a standstill on O’Connell Street.

Thousands of people lined the streets to give them a loud welcome.

The competitors marched to the People’s Park led by the 40-man strong Special Olympics Torch Run Team made up of members of An Garda Siochana and the PSNI.

Soccer-mad athlete Eoin Gouldsbury (18) from Clondalkin didn’t want to be anywhere else only Limerick this weekend - not even in Sao Paolo.

“No, I’d rather be in Limerick playing five-a-side soccer and to win a gold medal,” he said.

It is his first time to compete in the National Special Olympic Games and he travelled to Limerick with 13 other athletes from his club, the United Warriors in Rathcoole.

Marching bands and street performers added to the festive atmosphere tonight.

In the People’s Park the crowds were entertained by the Munster Rugby Supporters’ Choir and the Shannon Gospel Choir, followed by Kila and Paddy Casey as Limerick native and 2FM’s Will Leahy acted as MC.

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