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Wednesday 1 October 2014

Star-spangled fun as Americans go fourth and celebrate

Claire McCormack

Published 05/07/2014 | 02:30

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Irish rugby captain Jamie Heaslip.
Clare Woods, left, and Fiona Creely, both from Rathfarnham, celebrate Independence Day at the American Ambassador's residence in The Phoenix Park
SInger Velvin Lamont and his son Velvin Jnr

US Independence Day kicked off in star-spangled style as the ball for this year's Irish American Football Classic literally fell from the sky.

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Six skydivers, from the Irish parachute club, dropped one-by-one on to the Phoenix Park pitch to give the match ball to host Stuart Dwyer, temporary diplomatic head, at the American Ambassador's Residence.

Lining out as quarter backs and wide receivers in the July 4 clash between Dublin 8s and the Phoenix Pirates were some of the countries finest sport-ing hero's including international rugby star Jamie Heaslip and Dublin GAA legend Jason Sherlock, as well as embassy diplomats and marines.

Around 3,000 guests cheered on from the bleachers while enjoying typical 'American' fayre of hot dogs and candy floss.

"It's very important to celebrate the connection between Ireland and America," said Sean O'Keeffe, whose mother was born in Buffalo, New York.

"I'm 50pc American and this is a special occasion to show our appreciation for those close ties," said the Kerryman whose son, Jack, is celebrating stateside in Santa Barbara, California.

Dressed from head to toe in stars and stripes there was no disguising the nationality of Richard Maher as he made his way across the pitch to the half-time show.

"It's a reminder of home," said the 22-year-old who moved from Pittsburgh to Ranelagh, Dublin, with his family eight years ago.

"We would have grown up with it as a large event, the whole family of 20 or 25 of us would shoot off fireworks," said the medical student.

Former Fianna Fail minister Mary Hanafin, who has been completing a Masters in American Studies in UCD, quipped that she was looking at a "completely different side" yesterday as she broke away from her thesis to enjoy the party.

Elsewhere around the city, President Michael D Higgins marked Independence Day at yesterday's annual lunch of the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland.

Irish Independent

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