It was a busy day of parades across the country yesterday...

Cork: Puttin’ on the glitz, top hat and zogabongs

In Cork, it was all about the glitzy mini top hat at this year’s St Patrick’s Day parade, writes Claire O’Sullivan.

Green, drowned in glitter and perched oh-so-cutely on the side of head bands, all the young and not-so-young were sporting them.

Then again there was no shortage of oversized shamrock earrings dangling about either.

And then there were the green jester hats, green fingernails, green sunglasses, green zogabongs, leprechaun hats, and the hipsters working those beards and full irony, dressing head to toe leprechaun.

Pre-parade it was all about the “having LOLs” Paddy’s Day selfie or “Happy St Patrick’s Day” family pic which zoomed straight to Snapchat, Instagram, or Facebook, age depending.

Lou Benatson was one of five Parisians dressed in green tartan hats, who couldn’t quite believe they had made it to Ireland.

Their friend Guillaume was born on March 17 and they had long wanted to celebrate his birthday in Ireland. Eventually they did — for his stag party.

“There’s nothing like this in Paris. It is just nuts,” he beamed.

“We’re having a great time. We had a day of visiting and pub crawl last night.”

In the near distance, the sound of bagpipes playing ‘The Dawning of the Day’ could be made out as the first of many bands came marching around the corner, soon to be followed by a succession of vintage Ford cars, including a GT Mustang that got the crowd excited, the Fatima Rosary Group singing ‘Ave Maria’, Cork City fire brigade, and a vintage car carrying the parade Grand Marshal and soon-to-be local restauranteur, Rachel Allen.

The celebrity chef was seated alongside Lord Mayor Denis Cahill (we like to think she used the opportunity to get all the real goss from that Washington trip).

The theme of this year’s parade was “Cork — A City of Community, Culture, and Commerce” with a strong emphasis on Cork’s longstanding connection with Ford.

There were shivering women in traditional Asian costumes (in the midst of whom stood a somewhat bewildered-looking Buddhist monk); the Barrack Street Band; golden Chinese dragons flown by UCC’s Chinese studies department; Mexicans dancing to ‘La Bamba’; the Nigerian community beating drums; the Cork Figure Dancing Association; youngsters from Na Piarsaigh singing ‘We’re from Na Piarsaigh, Mighty Na Piarsaigh’; and brilliant papier-mâché toucans and birds from Mahon Youth project.

Rebel Wheelers, a sports club for the physically disabled, raised lots of cheers as they did wheelchair wheelies and took shots at a basketball net attached to the back of a float.

As ever, Macnas, Spraoi, and Dowtcha Puppets played a blinder, while other standout floats included Cork Community Artlink’s Shandon Steeple and the ‘Old Woman in the Shoe’.

In the region of 3,000 people took part in the parade and Cork Airport management were expecting 30,000 passengers to fly through the airport between Thursday and Sunday.

Reece Ford and Amy Taylor are from London and Newcastle and living in Cork for the past 10 years. They still love St Patrick’s Day.

“One thing we love about Cork is its multiculturalism and look at how the parade celebrates it.

“And everyone takes time to dress up, even if it’s only wearing something green. And the little kids look so cute. We’ve nothing like this in England. Bonfire night doesn’t come near it,” said Reece.

Dublin: Murphy sails through rainy parade

In Dublin, half a million people lined the city’s streets to watch an electric St Patrick’s Day parade, writes Joyce Fegan.

Annalise Murphy, who won a silver medal in sailing at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, was the event’s grand marshal.

“It’s such a huge honour to be asked to be the grand marshal of the parade today. I’m just really honoured,” she said.

Special guests at the parade included President Michael D Higgins and wife Sabina, both of whom wore plenty of green for the occasion.

“I’d like to say a very happy St Patrick’s Day and just to say it’s a great day for we Irish where we open our hearts and our arms to all of the world at home and abroad and they back to us,” said Mrs Higgins.

“It’s a day of celebrating solidarity and inclusiveness and fun.”

Mr Higgins wished every Irish person, no matter their circumstance, well.

“All of the Irish in all of their circumstances, no matter what they may be experiencing, may they have a great day,” said the President.

The parade was full of high energy with people travelling from the likes of Clare, Limerick, Longford, and Donegal to attend, as well as large groups from countries such as France and America.

While the rain did make its way down an hour after the parade commenced, spirits remained high thanks to the upbeat music.

Regulars at the parade, the Clondalkin Youth Band from west Dublin, roused the crowd with their rock music.

“We’re here 30 years,” said the band’s directo,r Vincent Dolan.

“We’re very excited to be here today because we’ve got a big band, as always, from Clondalkin and particularly this year because we are playing some really rock tunes like ‘Rocky’ and doing all sorts of movements with ‘Tequila’, so it’s great excitement.”

The mood was kept upbeat by the DeKalb High School band from Illinois, with their version of Mark Ronson’s ‘Uptown Funk’.

Buí Bolg, the famous performing arts group from Wexford, summed up the day with its physical interpretation of the parade’s theme — ‘Ireland You Are...’ — as it carried a multicoloured tapestry through the capital’s streets.

Approximately 100,000 tourists travelled to Ireland for the event.

Speaking at the parade, Tourism Minister Shane Ross referred to the Irish Coast Guard helicopter crash in Mayo last Tuesday morning.

“There’s a real feeling of sadness because of what happened in Mayo, the tragedy on Monday night,” he said.

“It’s a wonderful parade here and there’s a lot to celebrate but down there they have cancelled two parades down in Belmullet and that’s because of the helicopter tragedy that happened.”

However, Mr Ross went on to say that yesterday’s event and surrounding festival made a significant contribution to our economy.

“They estimate the spend is €73m, which is [spent] in four days and that’s about €50m to Dublin and about €25m to the rest of the country so it’s absolutely fantastic,” said Mr Ross.

“It’s a real bonus and they’re enjoying themselves and what they’re doing for Ireland is something absolutely tremendous they’re going home and telling great stories about a great St Patrick’s Day.”

Marches honour Coast Guard heroes

A west Kerry parish which is the nearest Irish area to New York, Boston, and Springfield, Massachusetts, stole a march on the rest of the country with its St Patrick’s Day parade getting underway at exactly one minute past midnight yesterday, write Anne Lucey, Conor Kane, and Jimmy Woulfe.

“Na sluaite” gathered in Baile na nGall for what is also the shortest parade “in the world” , according to local man Jim Bermingham.

A minute’s silence was held in the seafront village after a moving speech by local man Michael O’Shea in honour of the rescue service and those it had lost.

At 6am in Dingle, the traditional fife and drum parade took place through still-dark streets. Dingle, like most towns in Kerry this weekend, is enjoying a bonanza, with visitors packing out accommodation.

It rained on the colourful parade in the Killarney, but good wishes were nonetheless sent “to everyone in Killarney” via the Facebook page set up to highlight discrimination against the local Traveller community. The protest which threatened to dampen the event — which this year had a theme of diversity — was called off.

Tralee’s parade chose a different route this year because of roadworks. The parade’s music flowed well, despite the sudden turn to heavy rain which saw few stops at the viewing stand in Castle Street this year.

Rain and wind saw the parade in Ballyheigue postponed to next week.

This year’s parade in Waterford was laced with sadness as it began with a ceremony in memory of the four Coast Guard members lost at sea off Co Mayo.

Captain Dara Fitzpatrick spent several years working with the R117 Coast Guard helicopter from its Waterford base, while her colleagues were also on that crew at different points so it was fitting that the day’s festivities got under way with a minute’s silence, the reading of their names by Eddie Mulligan of the Naval Reserve, and the sounding of The Last Post.

The theme of the Waterford parade was the Greenway, as much of the cycle and walkway which is set to attract thousands to the coastline will open next weekend.

There were also colourful contributions from communities representing many different nationalities, including those of Cameroon, Nigeria, Uganda, the Philippines, India, and Ukraine.

In Limerick, as rain drummed down on up to 50,000 people who lined the route, the mood was lifted by the skirl of bagpipes and the sound of brass music which saturated the city’s celebration. Several thousand participants in up to 100 different community and theatre groups, companies, sports clubs and bands entertained the spectators along the route.

Fourteen-year-old Limerick Person of the Year and cyberbullying campaigner Luke Culhane led out the parade, which this year had as its theme ‘Our Stories — this is where we belong’.

A special reception was given to members of the Search and Rescue teams in the parade, following the recent tragedy off the coast of Mayo with the loss of Rescue 116.

Limerick Marine Search and Rescue volunteers wore black armbands as they marched in the parade to great applause of appreciation.

Our photographer Dan Linehan was also on hand to capture some of the colour that transcended the grey skies in Clonakilty.

At the annual St Patrick’s Day Parade in Tralee, groups of dancers, football clubs, pipe bands and much more marched through the town to rapturous applause despite the wet and windy conditions.

The Cork town of Midleton also hosted its usual colourful parade with locals showing their support throughout. Do you recognise anyone?

Next up, we go to the Cork towns of Bandon and Kinsale where locals and visitors alike were all smiles.

The people of Youghal and Blarney were determined not to let the wind and rain impact their big day. Check out some of the sights and sounds in this gallery.

Next, we go to the beautiful Skibbereen in west Cork where the rain merely added extra spice to the parade's nautical theme.

We captured some video at a variety of St Patrick's Day parades. Check them out:

Hundreds of thousands of people gathered around the county at parades celebrating St Patrick’s Day and our videographers were among them. Check out some of the sights and sounds they captured on their travels.

St Patrick himself lead the parade in Skibbereen, Co. Cork, where they pulled like a dog through the wind and rain. Denis Minihane was on hand to capture a flavour of the fun.

Meanwhile, a parade of vintage cars took place in Clonakilty and Dan Linehan was on hand to capture it on camera.

In Blarney, schools, sports clubs and the local scouts were sprinkled in among the vintage cars and floats. Gavin Browne was on hand to record the fun.

There wasn't so much rain, but still a bit of wind at the parade in Midleton. Still, it didn't put off the crowds as David Keane found out.

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