Northern Ireland news

Ciara Mageean tells of pride at representing both Ireland and Northern Ireland during record-breaking season

Ciara Mageean of Ireland celebrates after finishing second in the Women's 1500m final at European Championships in Munich

RECORD-breaking athlete Ciara Mageean has told of her pride at representing both Ireland and Northern Ireland during her most successful track season.

The Co Down middle distance star also shared her dream of hearing Ireland's national anthem playing in a stadium and spoke about how she believed the north had changed in recent years.

During her first visit home after winning European, Commonwealth and Diamond League silver medals, the new national 1500m record holder appeared as a guest on the Late Late Show.

This week, she is expected to spend a few days in Portaferry before taking part in a special downhill mile race next Sunday at Stormont in aid of the Children's Cancer Unit Charity.

Late Late Show host Ryan Tubridy asked for her thoughts on representing both Northern Ireland and Ireland this summer.

"It is something that I'm proud of to be able to go out and race for Ireland year in year out but I get the opportunity to race for Northern Ireland once every four years. It is very clear that I am very proud Irish woman. Every opportunity I get I have the tricolour draped around my shoulders and have such pride to do so. That's the reason I run, to hear Amhrán na bhFiann ring through a stadium. That's always been my ambition. And then to get to compete for Northern Ireland, the small little part of the island that I'm from, it is something that I am very proud of," she said.

"You are saying the island of Ireland has changed since you were a lad, it has even changed in the time I have been alive. I grew up in a small town in Portaferry. It's a pretty neutral town. It's probably majority Catholic and nationalist but I was brought up to be respectful of everybody, and that's exactly who my grandparents and parents expect me to be.

"But I suppose there are subtle things growing up in Northern Ireland that you are aware of, like if we were heading up the road - I live on the tip of a peninsula - I might change out of my GAA jersey. I was probably subtly aware if I was arriving back from an Irish trip into the Europa bus station to maybe put a different top over my Irish kit. I was always aware that you don't want any bother. There's always people no matter where you are that might pick something out.

"I'm glad to say I believe Northern Ireland is a different place now. I was going through Belfast there at the weekend and all the students are back and the Holylands was awash with GAA jerseys, which is in stark contrast to probably what it would have been like for generations before me."

Northern Ireland news