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Saturday 21 October 2017

Outstanding in their field: Poznan mayor pays tribute to Irish fans

Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

THE Fields of Athenry again met the streets of Poznan yesterday as the love affair between Ireland and the Polish city continued.

The mayor of the city that became a temporary home for thousands of Irish football fans during Euro 2012 visited Dublin to thank supporters for their contribution to the tournament.

He was presented with a framed painting of scenes and lyrics from 'The Fields of Athenry' by the song's author.

Ryszard Grobelny also met President Michael D Higgins and Dublin Lord Mayor Naoise O Muiri in separate engagements.

After presenting the gift, composer Pete St John said that he had never imagined his melancholy tune would become such a sports anthem.

The song defined Irish fans in Poland when it was sung loudly in the stands despite a crushing defeat to Spain that sent the team out of the tournament.

Praise

Mr Grobelny heaped praise on the Irish fans and "the atmosphere created in my city" during the tournament. He said that Poznan was sad to see the Irish fans leave.

Speaking through an interpreter, he hailed the relationship between Polish and Irish fans as "extraordinary" and the best among fans of any two nations.

Mr Grobelny said that he knew the connection between people from both cities would transcend the football pitch, and that the "fruits of the friendship" would remain for years to come.

He also presented Mr O Muiri with a poster and photo book from the tournament.

Mr Grobelny paid tribute to football fan James Nolan (21), from Blessington, Co Wicklow, who died in Poland during the championships when he fell into a river.

He said that the Polish people were left devastated by the death of an "invited visitor" to their country.

He thanked the Irish president for visiting Poznan and said that Irish people could always expect a warm welcome in the city.

"Just wear your green t-shirt," he joked.

Irish Independent

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