O’Rourke sisters awarded ‘Freedom of Roscommon’

Champion boxers Aoife and Lisa O’Rourke were awarded the ‘Freedom of Roscommon’ at a special ceremony at Roscommon County Council on Thursday evening last.

The sisters from Tarmon, Castlerea were joined by their parents, Kevin and Ann O’Rourke and their sisters Aisling, Ailish and Áine as members of Roscommon County Council including Cathaoirleach Cllr. Tom Crosby and Chief Executive Shane Tiernan paid tribute.

Both women have already enjoyed glittering careers in the ring. Aoife, a two-time European champion, famously qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, while Lisa was crowned world champion in Istanbul in May.

  Paying tribute to the O’Rourke family including the girls’ great-grandfather Dan O’Rourke and grandfather Donie, Cathaoirleach Cllr. Tom Crosby said the siblings were only the second and third women to be awarded the honour, following in the footsteps of Mary McAleese.

“As boxers, both of you have shown remarkable fortitude and excellence in your chosen sport, a sport that offers wonderful attributes to its practitioners who learn the values of patience, respect, resilience and resolve,” he said.

“These attributes are a perfect marriage of skills for both Aoife and Lisa, who have been brought up in an environment when they have remained grounded, true to their roots and have a loyal appreciation of home. These are qualities that have endeared both girls to the wider public and their community of Castlerea”.

Cllr. Crosby said there was huge pride throughout County Roscommon for what Aoife and Lisa have achieved in recent years, describing them as an inspiration to younger people.

The Cathaoirleach also paid tribute to the girls’ coaches and mentors including Castlerea Boxing Club and coach Paddy Sharkey, Galway Olympic Club and Sport Ireland’s High Performance Unit.

“To be a successful sportsperson leaves a legacy that can never be erased. Those who excel in whatever sport they play are remembered for immortality; their names spoken of in hushed tones of awe by the communities in which they come from, for generations to come,” he said.

“I salute your achievements Aoife and Lisa of which there will be many more to come. I wish you both continued success and the goodwill of all Roscommon people, both at home and abroad, on your exciting journeys ahead of you. Go raibh maith agat go léir”.

Chief Executive Shane Tiernan said the O’Rourke sisters had brought honour to the county and that their sporting journey was far from complete.

“I think it is fair to say that both your respective sporting journeys promise to be long and full of achievement, not least the opportunity to compete in the 2024 Paris Olympic Games and become the first set of sisters from Ireland to compete at the same Olympic Games,” he said.

“Tonight’s award is not just a recognition of what you’ve both achieved as twice European champion, as in the case of Lisa, and World Champion and Olympian in the case of Aoife. But it’s also the case that we are honouring the great potential you both have for further success”.

The O’Rourke sisters join former President of Ireland Mary McAleese and her husband, former member of Seanad Éireann, Martin McAleese, the late acclaimed artist Brian O’Doherty, the late Roscommon football legend Dermot Earley, actor Chris O’Dowd, singer Brendan Shine, and businessman Jim Callery in receiving the Freedom of Roscommon.