SKIBBEREEN’S post boxes have gone gold in honour of the town’s Olympic heroes – who are due to return to Ireland this weekend.
An Post have moved to pay tribute to Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy who are the toast of the country after clinching gold medals in the rowing at the Tokyo Olympics.
The west Cork town now boasts the full suite of medals after the triumphs this week of the pair, along with Emily Hegarty’s bronze and the silver won by the O’Donovan brothers in Rio in 2016.
O’Donovan and McCarthy hope to fly home from Japan today.
It is expected women’s rowing bronze medallists Emily Hegarty, Aifric Keogh, Fiona Murtagh and Eimear Lambe will also return to Ireland over the next 48 hours. Since they arrived in Tokyo from their special rowing training camp in Italy, all have had to remain in a special “bubble” because of pandemic concerns.
It remains unclear what public homecoming events will be possible in Dublin and the gold medallists’ native Cork in light of current government health guidelines because of the pandemic.
However, once O’Donovan and McCarthy clear health protocols, it is expected they will be offered formal but socially-distanced receptions by Taoiseach Micheál Martin, President Michael D Higgins and the Irish Olympic Committee.
West Cork locals do not expect their medal-winning heroes to be back in Skibbereen before mid-week at the earliest.
Skibbereen Rowing Club, the home club of O’Donovan, McCarthy and Hegarty, said its plans will be directed by advice from the Government, the HSE and gardaí.
Trish O’Donovan, the mother of Paul and his brother Gary, who was the reserve rower on the lightweight double sculls team, vowed “to give them a homecoming worthy of a gold medal”.
McCarthy’s parents Tom and Sue and siblings Caitlin and Jake said they cannot wait to welcome him home.