Westlife singer to marshal parade

Westlife's Nicky Byrne was chosen to lead this year's parade because of his 'outstanding contribution to the entertainment industry'. Photograph: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Westlife's Nicky Byrne was chosen to lead this year's parade because of his 'outstanding contribution to the entertainment industry'. Photograph: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Thu, Mar 7, 2013, 00:00

Westlife singer and son-in-law of former taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Nicky Byrne, was today unveiled as the grand marshal of this year’s St Patrick’s Festival Parade.

A native of Baldoyle in Dublin, Byrne was chosen by festival organisers for his “outstanding contribution to the entertainment industry” and will have a lead role in the festival parade on Sunday, March 17th.

Each year the St Patrick’s festival board honours one or more persons for their achievements and contribution to Irish life with the title of grand marshal. Previous grand marshals include Katie Taylor, Johnny Giles, Ronny Drew and Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh.

Mr Byrne said he was honoured to be chosen for the role. “My best memories of St Patrick’s Day were when I was a child and going to all the parades. In the past 13 or 14 years with Westlife I’ve only been home for one St Patrick’s Day. As a Northside lad it’s an honour to be grand marshal in the Dublin parade.”

Nicky Byrne is married to Bertie Ahern’s daughter Georgina. The couple have twin five-year-old sons, Jay and Rocco.

“St Patrick’s Day as a kid for me was a time when you got new clothes, got your shamrock on, your Tricolour in your hand, and headed in to the parade. I’d sit up on my dad’s shoulders and watch the floats go by. My kids are really excited that I’m going to be grand marshal this year so they can’t wait,” he said.

Acting chief executive of St Patrick’s Festival Edelle Moss said Byrne is a “great ambassador” for Ireland.

The theme of this year’s parade is “Great Things Happen When We Get Together” as part of the Gathering celebrations.

This year, the greatest ever number of overseas participants will take part in a “People’s Parade” which will see participants from all over the world take part in the festivities.

“I Love My City”, the festival’s culture programme, includes 16 free headline events staged in Dublin over the five days of the festival.

To pre-register for I Love My City or for more information on the festival, see stpatricksfestival.ie.

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