Our Minister for Sport, Martin Cullen, is here in Beijing with his family for the two sessions of boxing. He had been in Hong Kong with the Irish equestrian team that finished 8th in the three day event, where Geoffrey Curran of Fenor performed.
The Minister was happy with performances, as was Pat Hickey, President of the Olympic Council, as well as Billy Kennedy of Carrick, the cycling rep on the Irish Olympic Council and Bobby Begley of Waterford. We also met Louis Kilcoyne after, as we set out to dodge the inclement weather.
There was a great gathering of the Irish after one of the boxing bouts, which reminded one of the World Cup games in the glory days. We were speaking with some IOC officials as we got on our raincoats for the downpour outside, when boxer Egan’s contingent emerged. We congratulated them and were invited to join them for some food at the Irish pub in Santilun, called Dirty Nellies, near the stadium, just a 2 euro taxi ride away.
They were a party of 20 with Egan T shirts from Dublin and Tipperary complete with Chinese interpreter, who lives in Rathgar, Dublin.
Gary Burgess, owner of the Boomers pub in Clondalkin, was the inspiration to bring all these together and he is sure to put the pub on the map, when the clink of a medal hits Clondalkin.
The Egan family often come to Tramore for holidays and love the beach and amusements. Will they be medal winners next time they come, perhaps our local mayor Ray Hayden may invite them down.
Des Cahill of RTE has been down in the Egan stronghold interviewing. The Egan story could be the best story out of these games.
Brendan and Dermot Ryan from Roscrea in Tipperary joked with us saying the Deisemen were friends today and rivals on Sunday.
Brendan has a Ford dealership in Roscrea and says hello to Tom Murphy in Waterford, Dermot works in New York.
Gary Burgess says that they are here for the full duration. He says that they are trying hard to secure tickets for other events but touts charge a lot for athletics and swimming.
The lads were enjoying their steaks as we marvelled at the new Olympic buildings and stadia. We got tickets for the boxing for just €10, but the 100 metres running is going for €300.
The Irish lads love Beijing and enjoy the experience immensely.
Living in Beijing and enjoying the Irish win was Muriel Hayes from Ring in the Gaeltacht. She worked in the Aihua English school for the past year and lives well here in downtown Beijing. Her last job was with Azzurri Sports in Waterford as a production scheduler.
Daughter of Violet and Don Hayes, a fisherman in Helvick, she went to school in Scoil San Nioclas. The English school is part owned by David Cotter of Omagh and has many Irish teachers. Her family in Ring were texting here on the phone, telling her to cheer loudly in Chinese jai you.