Kellie Harrington, Aidan Walsh, and Emmet Brennan were among the Irish Olympians who received a heroes’ welcome upon their return home to Ireland from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday, August 10.
Dublin Airport ushered in Ireland’s newest Olympic heroes, including gold medalist boxer Kellie Harrington, on Tuesday morning:
Our @DublinAirport Fire Service are delighted to provide a special escort today for our returning #Olympic2020 #TeamIreland returning athletes & medal winners ?? #WelcomeHome #Congratulations pic.twitter.com/caoNjqg4Jp— Dublin Airport (@DublinAirport) August 10, 2021
Outside of the airport, cheering fans waving flags welcomed the top-class athletes:
We’re delighted to extend the warmest of welcomes to @TeamIreland ? ??August 10, 2021
"So good to step on Irish soil again and meet our loved ones," Team Ireland said in a tweet, while also thanking Dublin Airport and the Dublin Fire Brigade for the warm welcome.
So good to step on Irish soil again and meet our loved ones.
The temperature may be a few degrees colder, but the welcome couldn’t be warmer ? pic.twitter.com/s9apMMgXyr— Team Ireland (@TeamIreland) August 10, 2021
At Dublin Airport, Belfast boxer Aidan Walsh told RTE News: “This is amazing. I feel extremely lucky to be standing here.
"The whole team deserves medals, and I’m just one of the lucky ones. I’m just overwhelmed, it’s incredible.”
Walsh won a bronze medal in the men’s welterweight boxing competition before having to bow out due to an injury. He arrived back home in Ireland on crutches.
Boxers Kellie Harrington and Emmet Brennan later greeted family, friends, and fans from atop an open-air bus on Dublin's Portland Row in the north inner-city where gold medalist Harrington grew up.
Brennan, also a native of Dublin's inner city, lost out by unanimous decision in the men’s light heavyweight on July 25. He said he was "gutted" in his emotional post-match interview that day.
There was great excitement around Portland Row over the past week as Harrington boxed her way to the gold medal - excitement that has only grown upon Harrington's return home.
Harrington, who won gold in the women's lightweight final on Sunday, becomes only the third Irish boxer to win a gold medal at the Olympics, joining Katie Taylor and Michael Carruth.
Her victory also marks the first time that Ireland has won gold medals in two different sports at the same Olympic Games after Fintan McCarthy and Paul McCarthy took gold in the men's lightweight double sculls.
Back home in Dublin on Tuesday, Harrington said that she is “glad people are finally getting to see that the community in Portland Row is absolutely smashing, and that’s in the good and the bad times."
Allison Gilliland, the Lord Mayor of Dublin, offered congratulations and a warm welcome upon the return of the Irish Olympians.
"Today is a wonderful day for Dublin, for our local communities, for Team Ireland, for the families and friends of all our Dublin Olympians, and most especially for our gold medalist Kellie Harrington," the Lord Mayor said.
"Dublin is bursting with pride. Kellie and all our local Olympians have allowed us to journey with them over the last few weeks. We recognise the enormity of their achievements as we have lived through them the highs and lows of elite Olympic competition. We recognise the importance of local sporting clubs, coaches and volunteers in providing the essential building blocks of world class athleticism. We recognise the strength, determination and resilience they possess to compete at Olympic level.
"Had it not been for Covid, Dublin would have thrown open its streets to all who wanted to show their pride and passion for our amazing Olympians - perhaps, in the future when Covid is well and truly passed, we can come together and celebrate with joy their amazing achievements."