Kerry kicks off St Patrick’s parades a minute past midnight

A minute’s silence held in west Kerry village in honour of the rescue services

The earliest parades around Ireland got the best weather. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

The earliest parades around Ireland got the best weather. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

 

The west Kerry parish that is the nearest to New York, Boston and Springfield, Massachusetts, stole a march on the rest of the country with its St Patrick’s Day parade getting underway at exactly one minute past midnight.

“Na sluaite” gathered in Baile na nGall, for what is also the shortest parade “ in the world” , local man Jim Bermingham said.

“Bhí­ an áit dubh le daoine,” he said.

A minute’s silence was held in the sea front village after a moving speech by local man Michael O’Shea in honour of the rescue services and those lost on duty.

The parade was led by bands including the local whistle and drum band “Banna Cheoil an Atlantach” guarded by 30 “Pikey-blinders”, people with burning torches on pikes.

The link with the American cities, particularly Springfield, was important to west Kerry as so many of its people settled there, he said.

Dozens of tourists were among the onlookers.

At 6 am in Dingle town the traditional fife and drum parade, begun in an era when St Patrick’s Day events were frowned upon, took place through the dark streets.

Dingle, like most towns in Kerry this weekend, is enjoying a tourism bonanza with visitors packing out accommodation and restaurants.

It rained on the colourful parade in Killarney where there had been a last-minute plea for volunteers - as several hundred natives had left the town to support the local Dr Crokes football team playing in the club final in Croke Park.

Dr Crokes were represented at the parade by a teddy bear and there was samba dancing from Brazil and a performance by Circus Vegas.

Tralee’s parade chose a different route this year because of road works on its main street Denny Street – but the parade’s music flowed well – despite the sudden turn to heavy rain which saw few stops at the viewing stand in Castle Street this year.

Lashing rain and wind saw the parade in Ballyheigue postponed to next week but parades were held throughout villages and towns in Kerry with the earliest escaping the heavy weather.