Remarks by the Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD at reception in recognition of the Irish Paralympic Team's achievements at the London 2012 Games Farmleigh House

 

Friday, 14th September 2012

Home are the heroes and the heroines!

And I'm delighted to welcome you all to Farmleigh.

What a two weeks you gave us.

Pride.
Class.
Inspiration.
Joy.

All of them putting Ireland in 19th place out of 164 countries.

Your performance your attitude your results are all about ability.

Ability to confront.

Ability to adapt exceed excel

Above all this whole magnificent adventure has been about your ability to shine among the world's best sportsmen and sportswomen.

16 medals.
Eight Gold
Three Silver
Five Bronze

Every one of them a testament to the discipline the courage the faith the confidence not just of those who brought those medals home but a testament to the entire paralympic team their families their trainers their supporters.

But in the end the medals the world records the personal bests are just one part of what it is to put on the Green and go and represent our country our nation with all our hopes our dreams our aspirations

 

But Paralympic Gold was not enough for Michael McKillop, Jason Smyth and Mark Rohan.

These three athletes had to go and do it twice!

And in doing so showed the world what it is to be a class athlete.

Bethany Firth - the youngest member of team Ireland and Darragh McDonald swam not just for Ireland but for their lives!

Your performance was breathtaking.

Darragh, you added gold to your silver from Beijing with superb swims throughout these games.

In her very first Paralympics, Helen Kearney won three medals -a silver and two bronze. Helen, you, Eilish Byrne, James Dwyer and Geraldine Savage have done so much to raise the profile of para-equestrian sports in Ireland.

In cycling double medal winners Catherine Walsh and Fran Meehan put in absolutely magnificent performances.

With their bronze medals James Brown and Damien Shaw - along with Mark Rohan - made history by securing Ireland's first-ever cycling medals at either the Olympic or Paralympic Games.

All of which made our most successful cycling team ever.

Not to be outdone our field athletes Orla Barry and Catherine O'Neill took bronze and silver in Discus. With Catherine coming so close to another medal in the Club throw.

What makes these and all the performances so remarkable is that the London 2012 Paralympic Games were the biggest ever.

Paralympic events were sold-out for the first time as people queued to discover more about new athletes doing newer sports.

The theme and aim of the London Games was to 'Inspire a Generation'.

And you and the Games certainly achieved that aim.

 

I know that your remarkable performances will encourage more people to focus on ability in all its possibilities all its forms

And I hope that more people living with a disability will take both heart and example from your magnificent displays not just of your skill but of your sheer class your resolve your sportsmanship.

Many of our Team Ireland athletes are already working hard to increase the profile of, and involvement in, disability sport. It is vital work. And I wish you well in it.

But today is about celebration.
It's an occasion when as a nation, we give thanks for our wonderful Paralympic athletes.

And it's a night too when we thank their families, their trainers, their friends, their supporters, for their faith, their encouragement.

But above all, we thank them for their pride their love.

Yes I'm looking at you all.

I'm talking about the pride the love we saw etched on your faces as you held up the Tricolour seeing personal, national and world records set or reached or broken.

As you embraced your sons your daughters we embraced you.

Today then let's celebrate.

Let's celebrate the spirit that makes us go ever higher, faster, stronger

Defined by ability

The ability to fight to overcome to succeed.

And the ability above all to believe.

ENDS.
Government Press Office
Press.office@taoiseach.gov.ie
Ph:01 6194098