Gold Medal Winner Mairéad The
'Golden Godmother' To World's Largest Car Ferry 'Ulysses'
Swimmer Mairéad Berry, Ireland's 25-year old Paralympic
Games gold medal winner, accepted an invitation to be our
'golden godmother' and perform the official naming of our
new Dublin - Holyhead Cruise Ferry Ulysses, the world's
largest car ferry.
Mairéad, winner of one gold medal and two silver
medals at the Paralympic Games in Sydney, performed the
naming at a special ceremony in Dublin Port on the 21st
of March 2001, three weeks after the €100 million
vessel arrived in Dublin from the shipyard in Finland where
she has been under construction since 1999.
Before the 800 guests, Mairéad said the words 'I
name this vessel Ulysses. May God bless her and all who
sail in her', prior to sending the traditional bottle of
champagne crashing off the ship's hull.
Commenting on how she felt being asked to name the world's
largest car ferry Ulysses, Mairéad remarked that
she was 'honoured and delighted to be chosen'. 'I'm very
excited and looking forward to the ceremony' she said.
'It will be a proud day for me and for my family'. Irish
Ferries' Managing Director Éamonn Rothwell said
'we are delighted that Mairéad has agreed to be
Godmother to Ulysses. Ireland's world-beating swimmer to
name Ireland's world-beating car ferry...it's a magical
Mairéad is one of Ireland's most decorated sportswomen.
At the recent Paralympic Games in Sydney, she won her gold
medal after slicing eight seconds off the 100 metres freestyle
world record with a winning time of 2.43.67 seconds. Her
two silver medals came in the 50 metres backstroke and
freestyle events. In addition, she holds silver medals
from two previous Paralympic Games in Atlanta and Barcelona
as well as gold and silver medals won in World and European
Mairéad, who has three brothers Eugene, David and
Peter, lives with her father Eugene and mother Lil in the
North Dublin suburb of Coolock. She began swimming at Dublin's
Central Remedial Clinic as part of her physiotherapy for
cerebral palsy when she was just two years old. Today,
she is a member of the staff of North Dublin Schoolboy
Leagues, the organisation responsible for managing football
fixtures for young players.
Mairéad comes from a family with a strong seafaring
tradition. Her great grandfather Frederick, grandfather
Paddy, uncle Paddy and aunt Bridie all had long careers
in the merchant navy. Her father Eugene also has strong
links with Dublin Port having worked there as a docker
for 45 years.