It may have been cold - but there was plenty out in force at St Patrick’s Day parades around the country.
Cold fails to deter the crowds at parades
By Olivia Kelleher and Niall Murray
Women who have represented Cork politically at local and national level served as a collective group of grand marshals at the St Patrick’s Day parade in the city.
They were among 3,000 people who took part in the parade, watched by up to 50,000 spectators who lined the streets on a bitterly cold day in the city.
As organisers marked 100 years since the vote was granted to some Irish women, MEP Deirdre Clune, former minister of state Kathleen Lynch and former lords mayor Catherine Clancy and Mary Shields held placards bearing the images of women who had ploughed the political path before them.
Among those remembered on placards were one-time Sinn Féin leader Mary MacSwiney, and former councillor and lord mayor Chrissie Aherne, who was represented at the parade by her daughter, Irene Sarl.
Former deputy lord mayor of Cork, Lorraine Kingston, dressed as a suffragette for the parade and said it was wonderful to experience such camaraderie with her peers.
“I would like to think I would I have done what the suffragettes did but who knows? It was also beautiful to remember people like Chrissie Aherne who was the lord mayor when I was in school,” she said.
“There is an added pressure [to being a female politician] and I think we all understand that,” Ms Kingston said.
Performance art group Spraoi celebrated the history of the suffragettes with two large floats. Other participants in the Cork city parade included Dowtcha Puppets, the CIT Samba Band, representatives of the Congolese, Lithuanian, Mexican and Nigerian communities, the CIT and UCC Vietnamese Society and the Jersey City Police Emerald Society.
Members of the Middle Parish and Coal Quay Historical Society dressed in traditional ‘shawlie’ garb.
Before travelling to Dublin for a Saturday-night TV appearance on the Ray D’Arcy Show, the Barrack Street Band added to their long record of appearances in the Cork city parade.
Parades around Co Cork were also a huge success on St Patrick’s Day. More than 100 floats, bands and marching groups participated in one of Munster’s biggest events in Mallow.
After Bandon’s parade brightened faces and spirits, the town had more great news yesterday when word spread of a €250,000 Lotto win. Ross Twomey, owner of Bandon Books, was thrilled to learn the shop sold the ticket that won top prize in Saturday night’s Lotto Plus 2 draw.
There was similar good news for SuperValu in Midleton, Co Cork, which sold a ticket that is now worth over €219,000 with five of the six numbers in the main draw.
Millstreet scored a significant coup with Daniel O’Donnell serving as grand marshal, and accompanying Millstreet Community Singers and his wife Majella on a few songs.
Members of the community from the Philippines took part in festivities in Skibbereen, where the area’s diversity was also celebrated by pupils from Scoil Phádraig Naofa carrying flags of the 24 countries represented in its classrooms.
Philanthropist Tom Cavanagh served as grand marshal at the Fermoy Parade. The participants included Fermoy Scout Group, Three Counties Motorcycle Group and Fermoy Community Pre-School.
One of the shortest parades in the county was in Cape Clear with the festivities kicking off after the midday ferry from Baltimore.
The force is with parade warriors
By Cormac O’Keeffe
The sight of Liam Cunningham leading the St Patrick’s Day horde was surely an omen that winter was coming, again.
The Irish actor, who plays the wizened and weary warrior Davos Seaworth in Game of Thrones, led the Dublin parade as its grand marshal, in what was a bitterly cold day that took few prisoners.
Brave souls, whether taking part or watching on, had to contend with a scythe-like wind that cut through both clothing and bone.
It was a foretaste of what was to descend overnight in Dublin and along the east coast as a fresh wave from the East deposited a layer of white, with the snow, often in blizzards, pelting down until lunchtime yesterday.
Cunningham said he was “incredibly grateful” for the honour and recalled being on his dad’s shoulders 50 years ago on the corner of Abbey Street to watch the parade, and he was now leading it.
He was joined by another warrior, one that brought wide-eyed Padawans out in their droves, dragging their shivering mums and dads with them.
Mark Hamill strode the streets of Dublin in style, bringing his energy and wit with him.
And he didn’t balk at the weather — no surprise given that, as Luke Skywalker, he was exposed to temperatures of -60 degrees Celsius on the Planet Hoth.
“Today the whole Galaxy is Irish,” he tweeted on the day, alongside pictures.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been celebrating St Patrick’s Day here and around the world. In Dublin, the Grand Marshall for this year’s parade was actor and Game of Thrones star Liam Cunningham pic.twitter.com/IEW3TfCEPV— RTÉ News (@rtenews) March 17, 2018
One captured Skywalker with the words, “Kiss me, I’m a Jedi”.
Another was an image of Yoda with the Jedi master’s trademark way of talking: “Irish I am not, but very green I am”.
Hamill was the Dublin parade’s first international guest of honour and he was invited to watch the festivities from the presidential stand.
The guest of honour role was in recognition of the Irish diaspora and those with links to Ireland who have made a significant impact abroad.
Hamill spent considerable time in Kerry for the shooting of footage at Skellig Michael, which was used briefly in The Force Awakens and for lengthy sections of the latest movie, The Last Jedi.
His great-grandmother Elizabeth Keating was born in Kilkenny in 1873, before emigrating to the US as a teenager.
Hamill met President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina at the stand, and subsequently tweeted: “I met Ireland’s President Michael Higgins as guest of “honour” at Dublin’s epic #StPatricksDay2018 Parade, had a thrilling, unforgettable experience AND avoided creating an international incident. All things considered, a Win-Win.”
Public buildings were lit up in green, including Áras an Uachtaráin, Leinster House, the Four Courts, the National Gallery of Ireland, Christchurch Cathedral and City Hall.
Festivities continued into the afternoon with Ireland’s claim for the Grand Slam in Twickenham against England.
A dominant Ireland claimed their third ever clean sweep, with their last Grand Slam success back in 2009.
The Grand Slam game coincided with the famous St Patrick’s Day Parade in New York, where the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar along with his partner Matt Barrett took part in an event that until recently had banned LGBT groups from marching.
The Taoiseach said it was a pleasure to be walking down Fifth Avenue in the parade: “(It’s) a sign of change and a sign of great diversity, not just in Ireland but among the great community here as well.”
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