Good-humoured fans made a name for themselves in France
The Republic of Ireland are out of Euro 2016 – but Irish fans can consider themselves champions of the tournament after a fortnight spent winning over the people of Europe.
The fans have been endearing themselves to locals and other supporters through random acts of kindness, their sense of humour and perhaps also a dash of Irish charm.
In between matches they have sang lullabies to a baby on a train, changed a tyre for an elderly couple, and have had the craic with smiling French police officers. Here are just a few examples of how the Irish will be remembered for their time in France at Euro 2016.
:: Love letter to Irish fans from Paris author
Frenchman Olivier Sauton, a 38-year-old author and actor who lives in Paris, said Irish fans are gentlemen, adding that even though they drink a lot, he hardly ever sees them vomit
He sent a translated version of his open letter to the Press Association, and in it he wrote: “Dear Irish supporter, Sunday your country will face mine in the knockout stages of Euro 2016. And you know what? It doesn’t matter whether it is my country or yours that wins. Either way, I’ll be happy. And I will celebrate. Because even if my blood is French, my heart is, thanks to you and your comrades, becoming Irish.”
:: The famous goal-scoring horse man of Lille
When Padraig McCormack came to France he did not expect to become an internet sensation. But when the 24-year-old from Sligo successfully lobbed a ball through an open window in Lille while wearing a horse mask, the Irish fans went wild and called for him to be in Martin O’Neill’s starting line-up against Italy. “That was one of the best moments of my life,” he said.
:: Fans sing nursery rhyme and lullaby to baby on train
A group of Irishmen sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Hush, Little Baby, urging others around them to keep quiet as the baby sat on what appeared to be her father’s knee on a train in France.
When fans further down the carriage made noise, an Irish man near the baby said: “We’ve a baby. Shut up or we’ll box the head off the two of ye.”
:: Irishmen change tyre for elderly couple
When an elderly couple got stuck in front of the Moulin Rouge in Paris, it was not long before Irishmen came to the rescue and changed their tyre. The French man exclaimed: “Vive L’Irlande.”
And an Irish fan on the scene said: “This is the difference between Irish fans and English fans, we change the wheel of a car. That’s the difference.”
:: Fixing the damaged roof of a car…and celebrating wildly afterwards
A car parked in the middle of a street party in Lille had its roof knocked out of shape, so the Irish fans did not stop until it was fixed. After pushing bank notes through a gap in the door for its owner, the men managed to sort the roof while singing “Fix the car for the boys in green”.
:: Fans surprise nun with a song
Singing on trains has been a popular pursuit for the Irish fans. This time their focus was a nun who was taken by surprise when they burst into song as she entered their carriage. The fans performed a musical version of Our Father and attempted to get the nun to dance to their tune.
:: The Irish cheer for man on balcony
Standing around having the craic is great fun, but sometimes the fans needed something to focus on. In Paris, the Irish contingent got much joy from a man who teased them from his balcony.
The fans would cheer when he came out and then boo when he left – surely making him feel like a celebrity, if only for one day.
:: Dozens of fans serenade Frenchwoman
Fans were in full voice once more when they turned their attention to a young French woman outside an Irish pub in Bordeaux. Launching into versions of Can’t Take My Eyes Off You and Hey! Baby, the huge crowd cheered when the woman gave one of the boys a peck on the cheek.
:: Cleaning and tidying after the party
The Irishmen have been praised for taking responsibility and cleaning up after themselves following hours of partying. Videos emerged online showing fans filling plastic bags with empty bottles, and singing: “Clean up for the boys in green.”
:: Friends in high places
Former French prime minister Alain Juppe thanked Ireland fans on Twitter when he posted a link to a story and video showing them having a party in a tunnel on a wet night in Bordeaux. It shows the revellers singing to smiling police officers: “Stand up for the French police.” A French officer, possibly keen for the party to be over so he could clock off for the night, responds in jest by singing: “Go home for the French police.”
:: Making – and staying – friends with rivals
The Irish fans have been mingling with their opponents throughout the tournament – singing Abba songs with the Swedes and joking about Irish weather with the Belgians.
On one occasion, Irish and Belgian fans belt out a mighty rendition of Abba’s Dancing Queen. One fan pointed out that Sweden still has some way to go before outdoing Ireland at Eurovision.