In Pictures: Team Ireland enjoy their moment in the spotlight at Olympic opening ceremony

Paddy Barnes lead the delegation out at the Maracana stadium

Ireland, Rio Olympics, opening ceremony

Image:©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

The Olympics opening ceremony took place on Friday night as the games in Rio finally got underway with a spectacular display. 

Celebrating the diverse culture and history of Brazil, the display charted the "discovery" of the country by the Europeans, the influx of people from west Africa as a result of the slave trade, and the later waves of immigration from Japan and countries such as Lebanon and Syria.

The display also focused on some of the music, historical achievements and the landscape of Brazil, highlighting its natural wonders as well as the sprawling urban structures which have risen up in its major cities.

The overall impression was one of a melting pot, as Rio finally managed to tell its own story ahead of a tournament that has been dogged by problems, both sporting and political.

Image: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Image: ©INPHO/Photosport/Libby Law

Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Image: ©INPHO/Photosport/Libby Law

Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

Image: ©INPHO/Photosport/Libby Law

Image: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Image: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

As the display came to an end, the procession of athletes began as representatives of over 200 nations entered the Maracanã. Almost right at the mid-point was the delegation from Ireland, lead by flag bearer Paddy Barnes, who is one of Ireland's best hopes for a medal. 

Along with Katie Taylor and Michael Conlan, Ireland has sent an incredibly strong boxing contingent to the games, while a number of athletes are expected to perform well in their fields, from Annalise Murphy in sailing to Arthur Lanigan O'Keeffe in the Modern Pentathlon. 

Image: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Image: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Image: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Image: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Image: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

The ceremony was topped off by the lighting of the Olympic flame, as marathon runner Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima and tennis star Gustavo Kuerten carried the torch into the stadium, before setting the fire alight to give the Games their official start.

Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Image: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Image:  ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Ireland's athletes begin their campaign for medals on Saturday afternoon (Irish time), as Sanita Puspure takes part in the women's rowing, the first Irish athlete out. Dan Martin and Nicholas Roche will also be in action in cycling, Kieran Behan appears in gymnastics, and the Irish men's hockey team take on India. You can follow all the action from Rio on our liveblog, as we track the biggest events and the progress of the Irish athletes.