Killarney St Patrick’s Day festival ‘to go ahead’ despite coronavirus fears

Organisers finalising parade arrangements as decision draws mixed views in Kerry town

The festival committee said it was receiving ‘lots of calls and inquiries’ as to whether the parade would proceed as normal in light of coronavirus fears. Photograph: Tom Honan

The festival committee said it was receiving ‘lots of calls and inquiries’ as to whether the parade would proceed as normal in light of coronavirus fears. Photograph: Tom Honan

 

The Killarney St Patrick’s Day festival, a six-day series of events, which kicks off the main tourism season in the Co Kerry town, is to go ahead, organisers said.

The festival committee said it was receiving “lots of calls and inquiries” as to whether the parade would proceed as normal in light of coronavirus fears.

“At this juncture we are 100 per cent full steam ahead and finalising our arrangements for the parade,” it said in a statement on Saturday.

The festival, which is sponsored by Fáilte Ireland and Kerry County Council and opens at the weekend, is one of the biggest annual events in the southwest.

Taking hours to circle the town, the parade itself draws visitors from the United States, the United Kingdom and German, French and other towns with which it is twinned.

It also includes lake trips, fun zones, street céilís, themed lake cruises, treasure hunts, teen discos and this year’s theme is, “The Earth: An Chré”.

Advice

This year it will be joined by two pipe and drum bands from the US, The New Hampshire Police Pipes and Drum’s Band and the Police Pipes and Drums of Bergen County New Jersey.

In its statement, the festival committee said it would continue to follow the advice of all public agencies including the HSE, and the Government in relation to large public gatherings and events.

“The health and safety of our participants, visitors and volunteers is of primary importance to us and we will do everything in our power to ensure we create a safe and well executed event. That advice is currently that there is no need to cancel these types of events.”

There are mixed views in the town about the decision to ahead with the festival.

The town is heavily dependant on tourism income, and just this week businesses, including guesthouses re-opening after the winter, have received their first rates moiety demand from the county council.

The average rates bill for registered B&Bs in Killarney is €7,500, the first half of which is due now to the local authority.

Chef Paul Treyvaud who runs a restaurant on High Street, Killarney, said he will close his restaurant on St Patrick’s Day itself.

On Twitter, Mr Treyvaud, who has a cookery show on Virgin Media TV, said there was a band from Italy due to play in the parade. “It’s not worth it,” he said, adding the safety of his staff was paramount.