Youghal steels itself for Ironman competition

Youghal steels itself for Ironman competition

Laura Murphy, Tipperary, with Louise Dempsey and Ellen O’Brien, Youghal, soaking up the atmosphere as preparations continue in Youghal’s Greenpark ahead of Ironman Ireland Cork which will be held on June 23rd in Youghal, hosted by Cork County Council. The event will see lots of family fun things to in the lead up to the race and during the race. Picture: John Hennessy

THE people of Youghal are ready to host one of the biggest events in the town’s history, the Ironman Triathlon.

Cleaning the beach for the Ironman which will be held this Sunday in the east Cork town of Youghal.	Picture: Dan Linehan
Cleaning the beach for the Ironman which will be held this Sunday in the east Cork town of Youghal. Picture: Dan Linehan

Around 2,600 athletes along with thousands more supporters and spectators have flocked to the town for tomorrow’s prestigious endurance race, the first Ironman ever to be held on Irish soil.

Athletes have been arriving in droves in recent days preparing for the busy weekend and a chance for Youghal to take centre stage.

Megan Walker and Ricky Devereaux seen checking the list of volunteers for the Ironman route in Youghal this weekend.	Picture: Howard Crowdy
Megan Walker and Ricky Devereaux seen checking the list of volunteers for the Ironman route in Youghal this weekend. Picture: Howard Crowdy

“We know we have a fantastic town here in Youghal but after this weekend, the athletes, visitors and the wider world will know,” said Sandra McLellan of the Youghal Tourism Office.

“It’s a great source of pride for the whole community and everyone has gotten involved in the preparations and build-up.

“Everybody from volunteers, business owners and members of the general public have embraced the event and the excitement is unbelievable.”

Sandra added that while the town has been getting steadily busier in recent weeks, there was a noticeable spike in activity in recent days.

“The atmosphere is unbelievable and the town has been so busy, particularly since the start of the week.

“The whole town has bought into the event and everyone is getting behind it,” she said.

“People are busy volunteering with decorations and preparing businesses and streets with flags.”

The tourist office itself has been inundated with calls and visits.

“It’s absolutely unbelievable how busy we’ve been in recent weeks,” said Sandra.

Marquees are set up in Green Park for this Sunday’s Ironman event.
Marquees are set up in Green Park for this Sunday’s Ironman event.

“We can barely cope with the amount of visitors coming into the tourism centre.

“We’ve met so many athletes and visitors and the excitement is unreal,” she added.

“We’ve taken photos with some of the athletes we’ve met here in the office and we’ve taken their race numbers so we can track them during the event and cheer them on.

“All the shops and businesses in the town are doing similar things as well.

“I even saw two posts on Facebook yesterday where people had met athletes out on the route and brought them to their house for cups of tea and coffee and a chat.

“I have never seen anything like it.”

Sunday’s Ironman triathlon will be worth €8 million to the local economy, according to Cork County Council, which is the main event sponsor.

Among those set to benefit from that are the hotels in Youghal and across east Cork, many of which will have been booked up weeks or even months in advance of the historic race.

General manager of the Walter Raleigh hotel, Michael Brett, said the Ironman is the perfect way to kickstart the summer season.

A number of athletes and most of the Ironman organising committee have made the hotel their base for the weekend.

“It’s now the calm before the storm,” laughed Mr Brett.

“We’re chock-a-block here at the moment and we’re expecting a very busy weekend.

The winners podium for the Athlete’s in the Ironman HQ Green Park, Youghal, Co Cork.	Picture: Dan Linehan
The winners podium for the Athlete’s in the Ironman HQ Green Park, Youghal, Co Cork. Picture: Dan Linehan

“The event is a huge boost to the local community and economy and it’s going to have a massive knock-on effect,” he added.

“It’s really putting Youghal back on the map and it’s given the whole town a facelift.

“The summer season kicks off on Monday, the day after the Ironman, so we’ll be straight into it again and it’s great for Youghal to kick off the season with such a huge event.

“It’ll hopefully set us up for a very busy summer.”

Local councillor and former deputy Mayor of the county, Mary Linehan Foley said the event will have a positive impact on Youghal and east Cork in the coming days, weeks and months.

“Youghal is abuzz at the moment, there’s a great atmosphere around the whole town. The whole community is so excited about the whole event.

“The athletes have been welcomed with open arms — they can’t get over the friendliness of the people here,” she laughed.

“It’s going to be massive for the economy not just in Youghal but for the whole of east Cork, from Midleton to West Waterford.”

Sisters Laura and Isobel Virgo, Carrigaline, testing the water at the Claycastle beach which is all set for Ironman.	Picture: Dan Linehan
Sisters Laura and Isobel Virgo, Carrigaline, testing the water at the Claycastle beach which is all set for Ironman. Picture: Dan Linehan

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