THERE was plenty of festive spirit in Skibbereen this evening as Olympic heroes Fintan McCarthy and Emily Hegarty along with a local primary school student Keela Hourihane officially switched on the Christmas lights.
Keela Hourihane won a colouring competition that was organised by the local Chamber of Commerce which enabled her to turn on the Christmas lights with the sports stars.
Christmas came early to the picturesque West Cork town as large crowds gathered to usher in the start of the festive season.
The countdown to Christmas has well and truly started in Skibbereen as the town looked resplendent, with many shop windows adorned with festive decorations and fairy lights.
A lovely festive atmosphere was prevalent as enthusiastic children gathered to meet Mr and Mrs Claus and the Olympic heroes who enjoyed unprecedented success in Tokyo this summer.
Fintan along with his Skibbereen Rowing Club colleague Paul O’Donovan won a gold medal in the lightweight double sculls, while Skibbereen Rowing Club member Emily Hegarty was part of a women’s four who won a bronze medal.
The jubilant children all gathered patiently to have their pictures taken with Santa and the sports stars before dashing home to prepare for tonight’s Late Late Toy Show.
Fintan McCarthy said he was thrilled to be part of such a ‘lovely’ occasion.
"It is nice to say hello to everyone and thank people for their support. There was a lovely atmosphere. It was nice to see so many families and children enjoying themselves.”
Emily Hegarty echoed Fintan’s sentiments about the event.
“Christmas is a lovely time of year. It was great to see so many families out enjoying themselves. We had a great year. We had great support from the community.”
Fintan and his teammates are due to fly out to Spain for a training camp this Sunday, but he is looking forward to relaxing over the festive season.
“We are heading away to Spain this Sunday for a training camp. We will be back just before Christmas.
"We will have a break over Christmas. It is a nice time to spend with family and friends. We will head away again in the New Year,” he added.