Yesterday’s 12th of July celebrations North and South would have bamboozled King Billy himself.

Predictably, bonfires blazed across the Six Counties to the beat of Lambeg drums.

But in Limerick yesterday, where the Williamite army wrought plunder and woe, the street party was more akin to a Munster Heineken Cup victory homecoming as the Treaty City managed to out-12th the Northern ‘Twolft’.

Thousands took over the whole of O’Connell St in a demonstration of culture.

Judges for the European City of Culture 2020 were in town.

A winner will be chosen on Friday from Limerick, Galway, and the Three Sisters of Waterford, Wexford and Kilkenny — and so Limerick pulled out all the stops.

Even the old organ in the former Jesuit Church solemnly joined in the party, with a priest of Insitute of Christ The King order at the keys.

Standing on the corner of The Crescent and Newenham St, John Hayes made his debut as a busker.

John, a 56-year-old resident of Clare St, said: “I brought my guitar along to sing a few old sixties and seventies numbers.

“There’s a great carnival atmosphere and any money I collect will go to Milford Hospice.”

Scores of food stalls added multinational flavours throughout the afternoon of partying.

Kirsti O’Kelly’s pickled herrings were going down a treat at her ‘Silver Darling’ outlet.

Next to her was Ciara O’Halloran of the Red Food Bank Company in the Burren, Co Clare

“We have had a huge amount of people coming to savour our flaggy shore oysters,” said Ciara.

“They are smaller than the usual oyster.”

Dan Mullane, who presided over the famous Mustard Seed restaurant in Ballingarry for 32 years, said being designated European City of Culture 2020 would transform not just Limerick, but the entire region.

Dan said: “The food here today is just amazing. Food is culture and an art form and Limerick has this culture and art form in abundance.”

Shannonsiders enjoyed the festivities but the serious business of earning the Culture title starts tomorrow night as the judges confer in Dublin to make an announcement on Friday on the chosen location.

European City of Culture 2020 status will be worth up to €170m to the successful bidder.


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