My 'smallies' are going to love it: Rob Heffernan on being Cork's Grand Marshal

Rob Heffernan

Olympic medal winner, Rob Heffernan, who is the Grand Marshal of the Cork parade today has fond memories of attending as a youngster even if his lack of height as a child made him miss half the action.

The former World Champion race walker says he never imagined that he would one day have such a prominent role in the parade.

"All the family would go in to the parade. I was so small when I was young that I would be pushed back in the crowds. But I wasn't the smallest or youngest in the family so I wouldn't be up on dad's shoulders either looking at it.

"I would be in at the parade with my Mam and Dad. It was a real highlight. The Shamrock was bigger back then and everyone seemed to have it."

Rob Heffernan pictured with his family in 2016

Rob will be joined today by his four children Tara, Regan, Cathal and Meghan and his wife Marian.

The kids range in age from 16 down to three so it will be a huge occasion for them.

"Tara is the youngest and Regan is five. It will be lovely for them.

Naturally the older two will be 'disgraced'! All the family will be there. It is going to be a great occasion for us.

"There is a reception afterwards in Soho. My smallies are going to love the whole thing."

Rob, who retired in 2017, said he has hit the ground running and that life is as fast-paced as ever.

His big secret has always been work, determination and graft.

Last year he made it through to the quarter finals of Dancing with the Stars celebrating his milestone fortieth birthday during the show.

Meanwhile, one Cork youngster is giving his grandmother a "room with a view" at this year's Patrick's Day parade.

William Kelleher, 9, from Ballinlough in the city had a novel idea when he noticed that a new hotel was opening on South Mall in the main thoroughfare.

He saved up his pocket money to pay for a room at the Maldron Hotel for his grandmother, Norah Horgan, who has been physically unable to attend the parade.

The youngster told Cork's Red FM that he wanted to do something special for his lovely granny.

"Last year I saw signs for the Maldron Hotel being built and I said it would be a good idea to check her in there.

She hasn't seen the parade since about 2008 and I have never seen it with her. She just has a little bit of a bad back and can't stand for a very long time.

However, there was one small minor snag in relation to his master plan. The Rockboro student found that his pocket money didn't quite cover the costs so he decided to do extra chores to raise the cash.

"All my pocket money has gone in to this and I have been saving it up for a while. We are going to have a very good view and we are going to see all the floats before anyone else."

The Cork parade will get underway at 1pm today.

It will feature over 2,000 community participants.

It will also include marching bands from the US such as the Mandan Marching Braves from North Dakota and the Arvada West High School Wildcat Marching band from Denver Colorado.

Meanwhile, the Waterford parade will will be led by grand marshals, Des and Mona Manahan.

The elderly couple came to public prominence when it emerged that Des was doing his wife’s makeup as her sight was failing.

Des decided to take make up lessons to assist his darling wife of fifty six years.

It all started when Mona was getting a beauty tutorial from Rosie O’Driscoll, a makeup artist at a Benefit cosmetics counter at Debenhams.

Des, 83, was watching the lesson and teasing the beautician about how she could do a better job on his wife’s makeup.

“I started messing with her and I said, ‘Look, you’ve got it crooked there, you did this wrong,’ joking her

“And then she just handed me the brushes and said, ‘Well, you do it.’ So I started to do a little bit with it.”

The Parade will leave the Glen at 1pm, continuing down the Quay and onto the Mall.

The route will take the parade into the heart of the Viking Triangle, past Reginald's Tower and 33 the Mall where the Irish Tricolour was flown for the first time in 1848.

Limerick’s St Patrick’s Festival celebrations will burst into life at midday.

The parade is being co-ordinated by Grooveyard Productions on behalf of Limerick City and County Council.

The concept this year is One Giant Leap.

In Tralee, Co Kerry young Ryan Kelliher, 8, who has muscular dystrophy will join the Executive Chair of the Rose of Tralee International Festival, Anthony O’Gara, as the Junior and Senior Grand Marshals in the parade.

Ryan attends Scoil Eoin in Balloonagh. He loves science and soldiers and he is due to make his First Holy Communion in May.

Janene Kelleher said her son is very excited about being in the St Patrick’s Day Parade.

“Ryan has been beaming from ear-to-ear since being invited to take part in the St Patrick’s Day Parade in Tralee. He has been a wheelchair user since he was five and he now finds it difficult to participate in certain activities with his friends.

"Ryan spends lots of time in hospital over the course of the year and it means so much to him to be included in activities such as this.

It can be disappointing when he can’t do some of the things his friends can do, but he never complains, and he tries twice as hard to achieve his goals.

This year’s parade will start at John Joe Sheehy Road at 11.45am and will continue through Boherbee, Castle Street onto The Mall and finishing in The Square.

2019 marks the 117th anniversary of the Galway St Patrick's Day Parade. The iconic fountain in Eyre Square will turn green for the celebrations.

The Parade will start at 11.30am and finish at approximately 1pm.

The theme of this years parade is ‘Diversity’ and it will feature an array of community, cultural, sporting and international groups including Ireland’s pioneering spectacle theatre company Macnas, led by the Macnas Young Ensemble.

The Ennis parade in Co Clare commences at 11am from Clare County Council’s Headquarters at Áras Contae an Chláir.

In excess of 10,000 people lined the streets of the town for the 2018 parade.

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