Northern Ireland news

King Billy attends first GAA match in Omagh - on Dublin mayor's chain

Dublin Lord Mayor Neil Ring said with his chain of office worn during the match it was the first time King Billy has been to a Gaelic football match in Omagh

WHEN the Tyrone diaspora in Dublin travelled home for the weekend's Super 8 contest they brought a special guest of honour with them - the capital's Lord Mayor.

Councillor Neil Ring was invited to Omagh by Clonoe man Nick Hughes on behalf of the Tyrone Association Dublin.

Despite being there to cheer on the opposition he was promised a warm welcome, and the Red Hand county did not disappoint.

The initial greeting, however, came from Dublin fans also travelling to the game, who recognised the famous '18 D 1' registration and waved flags and sounded car horns.

When they party stopped off at the Silver Birch hotel, Mr Ring was surrounded by both Dublin and home fans, before being formally welcomed to the ground.

"I was treated fabulously," he said.

"I had my chain on and King Billy is on it, because it was commissioned by him in 1698. The joke was made that it's the first time King Billy has been to a Gaelic football match in Omagh.

"There was a super atmosphere. I was really delighted with the reception that they gave.

After the game, Mr Ring went onto the pitch to congratulate the players of both teams.

Mr Ring is on his way to becoming an honorary Tyrone man, having the distinction of being the councillor who tabled the successful motion to have a recent bridge over the Liffey named The Thomas Clarke Bridge.

"The Dungannon connection was well-known," he said.

"And he was one of the leaders with no major piece of infrastructure named after him.

"My only connection is with the 1916 Rising, my grandfather and his four brothers would have known Thomas Clarke."

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