Britain’s Irish Olympic community group has expressed delight at the opening ceremony plans for London 2012 designed by film director Danny Boyle.
With just over a month until the Games start Andy Rogers, chairman of the LOCOG Irish Community Group, described Danny Boyle’s vision as ‘very special’.
Boyle, the Academy Award-winning director whose mother came from Co. Galway, unveiled his unorthodox opening ceremony plans last week.
The meadow with real animals, grass and clouds with rain is inspired by Shakespeare’s The Tempest and includes 12 horses, 10 chickens and 70 sheep.
Mr Rogers said: “Danny Boyle is planning a very special opening ceremony. It will have admirers and critics but I would expect that it will be mainly positive.”
And he believes any negativity towards it now will soon blow over, adding: “You might recall the controversy when the angular logo for the Games was launched some years ago, yet today one hears no mention of it.”
The Sligo man also said he is thrilled by the level of Irish participation in this year’s Olympics, which includes a large number of Irish people taking to the streets as torchbearers.
“When I heard that a number of the torchbearers in Britain were of Irish decent I was really delighted,” said Mr Rogers, who revealed listening on the radio to Ronnie Delaney’s gold medal win in 1956 is his favourite Olympic memory.
“The visit of the Olympic Torch to Dublin earlier this month went really well too,” he added. “The President and the Taoiseach were both involved and there were enthusiastic crowds all the way. This received much positive comment in the British media and fully vindicated the decision to bring the torch to the Republic of Ireland. I’m looking forward to seeing how well our 2012 teams do and cheering on any successes.”
Over the coming weeks our Irish torchbearers will be out in force carrying the flame for the Games, which start on July 27. We caught up with some of them this week.
Regina O’Reilly, who will carry the torch in Nottingham, said: “I am really excited. I was in Ireland and watched the torch in Belfast and Dublin and I had tears in my eyes throughout!”
While Frank Rothwell, a former weightlifting champion from Halifax, added: “I feel very honored to be chosen as one of the 2012 Olympic Torchbearers 40 years after I represented Ireland in weightlifting at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.”
Manchester will see Irish woman Brenda Harkin, nominated for the role by The Irish Post, carry the torch in the city on June 23.
Brenda from Co. Dublin described it as a once in a lifetime opportunity.
She said: “I can’t begin to tell you how elated I felt to be nominated for something so prestigious. And I’d like to thank all local traders as well as the Irish Post for all their support. I am so excited about seeing my friends and family there on the day when I will be holding the torch around Manchester.”
In Essex, second generation Longford woman Tricia Sharpe is taking part having been nominated by the Mayor of Brentwood. For the last 12 years she has worked with children and adults, some with special needs, at her Recoil Twisters Trampoline Club.
She said: “I’m pretty fit as I am a full time trampoline coach. But jumping is what I do, not running, so there may be some walking with the torch. I’m excited now but I think I will be nervous nearer the time as it’s a big event. But I have my friends and family and of course the club to support me.”
Catch some of our Olympic torchbearers carrying the flame near you…
Name From Date Carrying flame through
Brenda Harkin (46) Manchester June 23 Higher Broughton
Frank Rothwell (75) Hebden Bridge June 24 Halifax
Regina O’Reilly (36) Nottingham June 28 Nottingham
Juanita Williams (51) Oldbury June 30 Smethwick
Tricia Sharpe (51) Billericay July 6 Basildon
Jennifer Deeney (37) London July 23 London Borough of Merton
Are you going to be an Irish Olympic torchbearer over the coming weeks?
If so get in touch with the news desk at The Irish Post.