Limerick parade draws 70,000 on to streets

Special Olympics Ireland athletes serve as Grand Marshals in ‘City of Culture’ march

Thousands lined the streets for Limerick’s St Patrick’s Day Parade. An Elvis lookalike was among those who participated in the festivities. Photograph: Alan Place/FusionShooters.

Thousands lined the streets for Limerick’s St Patrick’s Day Parade. An Elvis lookalike was among those who participated in the festivities. Photograph: Alan Place/FusionShooters.

 

Giant buzzing bees, a 16-foot bear and plenty of lively performances from Limerick’s Filipino, Indian, Eastern European and African communities all formed part of this year’s St Patrick’s Day parade.

Some 70,000 people lined the streets of Ireland’s National City of Culture for its largest ever parade.

Athletes from Special Olympics Ireland were Grand Marshals of this year’s event which saw 102 floats taking part.

There was plenty of colour among the 4,000 participants especially from festival favourites like the highly acclaimed street theatre groups Macnas and Bui Bolg from Waterford.

There were loud gasps from younger spectators when the Macnas Bear at 16 feet high was wheeled down O’Connell Street.

Equally impressive was the Galway street theatre group’s giant Lioness float.

Spectators were reminded of how wild bees are in trouble by the colourful float created by Northside Learning Hub.

The ‘Limerick Buzzing Project’ is a community and environmental project funded by Limerick City of Culture. And the Northside learning Hub was awarded for its effort receiving the most eco-friendly award.

Making it’s 17th year taking part in the parade was the Corpus Christi Band from Moyross, which was given the prize for best musical performance. The impressive performance by Music Generation won best float.

Always a colourful addition to the Limerick parade, the Filipino Community took the honours for the most entertaining group.

There was a poignant moment when a number of white doves were released into the air by Corbett Suicide Prevention Patrols.

Athletes from Special Olympics Ireland were this year’s Grand Marshals, among them Christine Delaney and Marie Ryan (Lisnagry Special Olympics); John Dunne and Robert O’Donnell (Rehabcare Limerick); and Michael Carr and Andy Coyne (Limerick City Special Olympics Club).

Voice of Ireland contestant Jamie Hartigan performed a rap song in front of the main review stand, while well known band leader Sammy Benson received a warm welcome when he closed the parade with the Limerick City Brass and Reed which.

The 80-year-old who established the band in 1974 received a special certificate from Mayor Kathleen Leddin at the International Band Championships on Sunday for his 40 years voluntary service to Limerick.

Speaking after the parade Mayor Leddin said it had become a major community event in recent years with a growing number and variety of participants.

“I was particularly delighted to see a strong multicultural element to this year’s Parade with lively performances from Limerick’s vibrant Filipino, Indian, Eastern European and African communities,” Ms Leddin said.

The Limerick St. Patrick’s Day Parade forms part of a comprehensive St Patrick’s Festival in Limerick City. Another festival highlight was ‘Paddy’s Day Unlocked’ — a free City of Culture event featuring musical performances, a screening, dance, theatrical performances and spoken word at The Milk Market.