The Olympic Flame has continued its 70-day journey around the British Isles, visiting communities on the Isle of Man and in Northern Ireland as it makes its way to the London 2012 Opening Ceremony on 27 July. Day 15 of the Torch Relay saw the Flame arrive on the Isle of Man via plane from Liverpool before it was carried over 35 miles by 38 inspirational Torchbearers, using several unique modes of transport.
Motorcyclist David Knight – a three-time enduro world champion – carried the Flame in the sidecar of a TT motorbike, while 13-year-old James Holmes, who was selected as a Torchbearer for his dedication to the Scout movement, carried the Flame aboard a RNLI Lifeboat.
Maureen Barnes-Sherring, 73, who was selected as a Torchbearer for her dedication to disabled sport, then carried the Flame on a horse tram, before avid young sportsman Cai Beynon, 17, took it on the Manx Electric Railway.
The Flame then boarded a flight to Belfast, where a ceremony welcomed it to Northern Ireland. The following day saw the Flame travel more than 126 miles across the country, carried by 132 Torchbearers as it visited a number of iconic landmarks including Carrickfergus Castle, the Belfast Titanic Centre and the Parliament Buildings in Stormont, where Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín officially welcomed the Olympic Torch to Northern Ireland.
She said: “This is just the start of the Torch’s exciting journey here. The all-Ireland Torch Relay is a celebration of sport, culture and our local heroes. This is a once in a generation moment. Each Torchbearer has their own unique story, be they an elite sportsperson, someone who has overcome, or a person who makes a difference to their community. The torch relay is our opportunity to pay tribute to ordinary people who have done extra-ordinary things.”
The second day of the Flame’s journey across Northern Ireland began in Portrush, before 60 inspirational Torchbearers carried the Torch a total of 45.15 miles across the country, visiting a number of famous landmarks.
These included Dunluce Castle, the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge, which links the mainland to the tiny island of Carrickarede, and the Giant’s Causeway – an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that covers 18 miles of dramatic cliffs, headlands and a series of bays.
Ní Chuilín added: “The Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, Giant's Causeway and Dunluce Castle are just some of this island's jewels. I am delighted the Torch has afforded us the opportunity to show these across the world on a stunning sunny day.”
An eight-man rowing boat also helped take the Flame along the River Bann, where is was carried by Seamus Reynolds, 47, who was nominated through the LOCOG public nomination campaign for his time and commitment to rowing in the local area.
The day concluded with an evening celebration in St Columb’s Park where Darrel Harpur, who has special educational needs, lit a celebration cauldron on stage as the last Torchbearer of the day.