Opinion

Saturday 16 December 2017

Skibbereen dream team are winning proof that our heroes can come from anywhere

Mark O'Donovan, left, and Shane O'Driscoll celebrate with their gold medals after they won the Lightweight Men's Pair Final during the European Rowing Championships in the Czech Republic. Photo by Sportsfile
Mark O'Donovan, left, and Shane O'Driscoll celebrate with their gold medals after they won the Lightweight Men's Pair Final during the European Rowing Championships in the Czech Republic. Photo by Sportsfile

Eamonn Sweeney

I have in front of me a really lovely photograph. It's of four young men standing in front of Field's SuperValu in Skibbereen. They have ice cream cones in their hands, you can see the town's Maid of Erin monument behind them and there's a general air of smiling high spirits.

From left to right they are Paul O'Donovan, Mark O'Donovan, Shane O'Driscoll and Gary O'Donovan. Someone showed me the shot on their mobile phone and then made me a copy when I said that this casual snap was the best photo I'd ever seen of the O'Donovans. It's not for publication, it's for my kids really. But it is a great photo because the rowers are relaxed in a way they could never be in front of media cameras. You could say it captures them in their natural habitat. It captures something essential about them, their quality of being ordinary young men with an extraordinary talent.

On the right-hand edge of the photo you can see a woman walking by without even giving the rowers a second glance. Life goes on in Skibbereen. But it doesn't go on in quite the same way. Right now down here in Skibb and its hinterland, people are walking a little bit taller because of what the rowers are doing in our name.

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