'Everybody is buzzing': Skibbereen bursting with pride after Emily's Olympic success 

'Everybody is buzzing': Skibbereen bursting with pride after Emily's Olympic success 

Pictured celebrating team Ireland's first medal at the Tokyo Olympics were family members of Skibbereen rower Emily Hegarty - brother Dermot, mum Mary with dog Bella and dad Jerry. Picture: Denis Boyle

‘SHE was a natural from day one. She had a unique talent. She is a phenomenal athlete,’ declared Skibbereen Rowing club captain Sean O’Brien after local rower Emily Hegarty was part of the Irish team who won a bronze medal at the Olympic Games.

The streets of Skibbereen were bustling with pride and jubilation after the Irish quartet of Emily, Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe and Fiona Murtagh claimed Ireland’s first Olympic medal in Tokyo.

TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 28: Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty of Team Ireland celebrate winning the bronze medal during the medal ceremony for the Women's Four Final A on day five of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Sea Forest Waterway on July 28, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 28: Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty of Team Ireland celebrate winning the bronze medal during the medal ceremony for the Women's Four Final A on day five of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Sea Forest Waterway on July 28, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

The Skibbereen Rowing Club official said he knew Emily was destined for a bright future from the first moment he encountered the Olympic hero. 

“She first got involved through the school’s rowing programme," he said. "She was a natural from day one. She had a unique talent. 

"At the end of the week, she asked me ‘could I come another day?’ and the rest is history.” 

The club captain praised Emily and her team-mates for their success. 

“She is a phenomenal athlete," he said. "It is an incredible achievement.

“There is great excitement and a sense of pride in the town and all the surrounding areas. Everyone is so proud of all our local athletes." 

Cian O'Mahony, manager of Skibbereen Tourist Office, praised Emily and her team-mates for the ‘courage’ they displayed in getting to a podium finish. 

Republic of Ireland’s Emily Hegarty.Picture: Mike Egerton/PA Wire.
Republic of Ireland’s Emily Hegarty.Picture: Mike Egerton/PA Wire.

“It is after lifting the spirits of the whole community," he said. "They showed great courage to claim a medal. She will inspire a new generation. 

"People are proud of Emily’s heroics.” 

James Hamilton who is a member of Skibbereen Chamber of Commerce said Emily is a great ‘ambassador’ and ‘role model’. 

“We are all over the moon," he said. "It is fantastic for both the town and the rowing club. 

"She is a great ambassador and role model. All young girls can look up to Emily.” 

Replays of the historic race were broadcast throughout the day in Skibbereen as locals and tourists stopped to witness the quartet capture a bronze medal. 

Mr Hamilton said she has brought great pride to the local area, with its proud rowing tradition. 

“There is such a strong feeling of happiness and elation in Skibbereen," he said. 

"We are looking forward to welcoming all the local athletes back.” 

Cork County Councillor Joe Carroll praised the Cork sports star for her part in creating Olympic history. 

“Her achievement has brought so much joy to the local community. Emily is a credit to her rowing club, her family and her town.” 

Fellow councillor Karen Coakley echoed Mr Carroll’s sentiments. “I am beyond thrilled for Emily, her family and all involved with Skibbereen Rowing Club. Her hard work has paid off. It is a proud day for the local community. 

"Everybody is just ecstatic. Emily and her team-mates will help inspire a new generation of female athletes.” 

Cllr Coakley said everybody in the local community is on a ‘high’. 

“Everybody is buzzing. We are on a high. There are gates painted and flags flying high. She is just such a humble and fantastic lady.”

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