A moment which represents an iconic day when sport transcended politics
– the 2007 victory for Ireland in an unforgettable rugby clash with England in Croke
Park – will be unveiled in a stunning sculpture at Shannon Airport on Friday.
The 6 metre piece, titled ‘The day That Changed Ireland’ , captures a famous
Irish line-out that saw rugby legend Paul O’Connell, raised by teammates John
Hayes and Donncha O’Callaghan, in the second half of the treasured game and
will stand in the airport terminal building for future generations to savour.
The sculpture is a representation of a photograph by Irish Times photographer
Cyril Byrne, an image that has already been captured in an official An Post
The 2007 game stands out as one of the great Irish moments of the new
millennium, marking a symbolic new chapter in Anglo-Irish relations as Ireland
and England met for the first time in any sport at the home of GAA.
The sculpture will be unveiled at a special event on Friday attended by
O’Connell, Hayes and O’Callaghan among others, including Sean Kelly, the GAA
President at the time who moved to lift the ban on non-GAA sports being played
at the hallowed ground.
Master of Ceremonies for the event will be the voice of Irish rugby and
RTE commentator on that extraordinary day Ryle Nugent.
Looking ahead to the event, Shannon Group CEO Neil Pakey said that it will be
an impressive curtain raiser for an equally memorable weekend at Shannon,
which culminates on Saturday with an air display to mark the 70th anniversary
of the first commercial transatlantic flight to the airport.
“Great airports create and capture their own sense of place, and this
incredible piece by Paddy Campbell helps to evoke the passion, culture and
interests of this region. Sport is one such interest and this game in 2007
was more than just a rugby match; it brought sporting and political traditions
“There was one iconic photograph that stood out above all the rest
and sat on the walls of many businesses whose offices we have been in and we
decided this image was one we wanted to capture, also celebrating the fact
that we are one of only two intercontinental gateways airports in Ireland,” he said.