St Patrick’s Day 2024: Patrick Kielty announced as grand marshal of Dublin parade

‘Late Late Show’ host ‘genuinely gobsmacked’ when call came in offering him honorary role

Dublin will have its very own St Patrick this year, with Late Late Show Patrick Kielty set to serve as the grand marshal of the 2024 parade.

“It’s such an honour to be asked and I was genuinely gobsmacked when the call came in,” he said.

The St Patrick’s Day Festival, which will run from March 16th to 17th, has the theme of Spréach, the Irish word for spark, which organisers say represents the unique essence of Ireland and of Irish people.

Around 500,000 spectators are expected to line the route in Dublin for this year’s parade. It will feature 18 pageants and performance showpieces, 14 marching bands from across Ireland, North America and France, and more than 4,000 participants in what is shaping up to be the largest ever National St Patrick’s Day Parade.

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A new pageant has also been commissioned featuring a collaboration between the St Patrick’s Festival Community Arts programme and the North-East Inner-City Partnership (NEIC).

Richard Tierney, chief executive of the festival, said this year’s would be around 20 per cent larger than any of its predecessors.

“It’s definitely going to be the biggest. From what I’ve seen, it’s going to be the most colourful, it’s going to be the most ambitious in terms of pageantry. We really are trying some new stuff to make it bigger and to generate more of a wow factor,” he said.

Mr Tierney said when the organisers decided on the theme of Spréach, Kielty was “the first person to spring to mind”.

“He embodies the spark of joy and the spark of entertainment. He is also somebody who embodies the 32 counties and he’s a really good representation of what this civic honour is so we’re thrilled,” he added.

Speaking about his selection as grand marshal, Kielty said he “couldn’t be more excited” to take on the role.

“When you’re born a Patrick, in a place called Downpatrick, you went to St Patrick’s school, to actually be the grand marshal of the Paddy’s Day parade, it just doesn’t really feel real,” he said.

“For me, Paddy’s Day has almost been like a second birthday, it’s that excuse to have a big party. Wherever I’ve been around the world, you just want to tune in. But I’m just looking forward to being home for Paddy’s Day and being part of the party.”

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Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers is a reporter for The Irish Times