Towns and villages all over Ireland prepare for St Patrick’s Day parades
Thousands of overseas visitors sign up for the “people’s parade” in Dublin
More than 5,500 people, most of them from abroad, have so far signed up to walk in the “people’s parade” ahead of the main St Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin on Sunday .
The organisers of the flagship festival in Dublin have chosen the theme “great things happen when we come together” to go with the Gathering, the year-long tourism initiative designed to boost visitor numbers.
Spraoi, the Waterford -based organisation which produces the colourful floats for the Dublin parade, has chosen the heroics of the Irish explorer Ernest Shackleton and his trusty lieutenant Tom Crean as an exemplar of how teamwork can succeed. Shackleton's feat of rescuing his entire crew when his ship Endurance was destroyed in the Antarctic will be recreated with a representation of the ship stuck in the ice, a humpback whale, a snow machine and the dramatic rescue across stormy seas in the James Caird lifeboat.
“Let us not underestimate the power of St Patrick's Day in Ireland. Who would want to come to register to walk in a parade? Lots of people obviously.”
Among them will be 70 journalists from abroad brought to Dublin by Fáilte Ireland, a group of German tourists each dressed up as a piece of an Irish breakfast and 18 friends from Cape Tow who will wear tribal dress.
There are still a few places available in this parade”. New applicants can register in person at the City Hall on Saturday from 10am – 4pm.
Dublin Airport is reporting a 6 per cent rise in passenger numbers this weekend, with 225,000 expected to pass through over the Bank Holiday period.
The mayor of San Francisco Edwin Lee will have the gift of bi-location for the weekend. He will march in the San Francisco parade today through a Cisco TelePresence link and then take part in the Cork parade on Saturday night.
Kilkenny will have a gathering of ambassadors and its first Kilkenny TradFest. Representatives from six countries - Australia, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Romania, Russia and Estoni - will take part, as will Kevin Taffe, the mayor of Kilkenny in Minnesota (population 134) and Patrick Septiers, mayor of Kilkenny’s twin city of Moret sur Loing in France.
Tramore in Co Waterford will have a St Patrick’s weekend festival themed on the Return of the Earls. The villages of Ballina and Killaloe in Co Tipperary will focus their weekend on their most illustrious local Brian Boru, while Carrick-on-Shannon which is 400 years old is hoping to celebrate with its biggest parade to date. Its grand marshals will be two of the young stars of Moone Boy , David Rawle and Ian O’Reilly.
Many parades are taking place in Northern Ireland. In Belfast, the annual paradeon Sunday leaves City Hall at noon, arriving at Custom House Square an hour later for an afternoon of live music.
Typically, it will be goosepimple weather in most parts of the country tomorrow with the recent cold weather remaining until after the weekend.
Temperatures will only be between 4 and 8 degrees, with St Patrick’s Day having the worst of the weather over a changeable weekend. Rain is forecast for the evening.