Flotilla will welcome home hero Annalise
One Irish good news story from the Olympics will be celebrated with a dinghy flotilla and public reception, as silver medallist Annalise Murphy is welcomed home.
Events are being prepared at Dun Laoghaire's National Yacht Club, which has been Annalise's base for the years of preparation leading up to her silver medal victory.
Dun Laoghaire Council is also hosting a public reception in the town's People's Park on Thursday evening after Annalise is 'sailed ashore' by a fleet of young dinghy sailors.
National Club commodore Larry Power said yesterday that all the sailors in Dun Laoghaire are "tremendously proud" of the Dublin sailor who brought herself back from a fourth place in the London Olympics to come second to Holland's Marit Bouwmeester at Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday.
"Everyone is truly delighted and it was a superb performance. Annalise has the most fantastic focus and concentration.
"She has an excellent coach in Rory Fitzpatrick from the Irish Sailing Association. They spent something like 100 days in Brazil preparing.
"All the clubs in Dun Laoghaire are coming together and we hope all the young sailors will be out on Thursday to welcome Annalise home.
"We all share her view that this is not an elitist sport and the message Annalise wants to get out is that this is a great sport for young people and hopefully many more will follow her."
Mr Power said that the boat Annalise sailed was, like all the others in the race, a boat provided by the organisers and will not be coming back with Annalise. "They all are given new boats as it keeps costs down and they are usually sold off afterwards. They did bring out practice boats but they all sail the boats provided on the day."
However, some sailors believe that the boat Annalise sailed should be bought and brought back to Ireland to mark the first silver medal by an Irish female sailor, and the first since David Wilkins and James Wilkinson from Dublin won silver in the 1980 Olympics in Russia.
Annalise's mother, Cathy, sailed in the 1988 Olympics.
Sailing commentator WM Nixon is calling for the boat Annalise sailed to be acquired and brought to Ireland because of the significance of her achievement.
Writing in Afloat magazine, he said: "How about bringing Annalise's Rio Laser home for permanent display in the National Maritime Museum? It could usefully show visitors one of the greatest sailing dinghy designs of all time, and it would commemorate a great Irish sailing success. Then too, it would be very useful to have that little boat around the place when the National Yacht Club (founded 1870) celebrates its Sesquicentennial in 2020, when we can only hope that Irish sailing will be having as good a time at the Tokyo Olympics, seeking fair play for a minority sport from a small country, as they did in Rio."
Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Cathaoirleach Cormac Devlin said the council is preparing a "family-friendly event" for Annalise, her family and team at the People's Park at 6pm on Thursday.
He said: "It is a great privilege for any sports person to represent their county, but to go on and win a medal must be one of the proudest days of their lives.
"On behalf of all the citizens of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County, I want to congratulate and praise Annalise for her tremendous skill and determination shown in the Laser Radial race in Rio.
"Her dedication and passion for sailing has paid off and we are immensely proud of her achievements to date. I believe it is only right and proper that members of the public and members of her sailing club, the National Yacht Club, Dun Laoghaire, will come together to host a celebration in honour of our Olympic hero's homecoming.
"Dun Laoghaire, as a coastal town, has a long and illustrious sailing tradition and Annalise's success, the first for Ireland in sailing in 36 years, is one they'll cherish for generations to come."