Tourist season opens for business

The stars and stripes blended easily into a sea of green in tourist-haven Killarney as early American visitors, some dressed like overgrown leprechauns, joined in St Patrick’s Day festivities.

Tourists were among the thousands lining the streets for the colourful parade, with The Gathering being the theme of many entries.

Grand marshal was the Bishop of Kerry, Dr Bill Murphy, who was driven at the head of the parade in a horse-drawn carriage with Killarney deputy mayor Donal Grady.

St Patrick’s Day traditionally marks the start of the tourist season in Killarney and the presence of visitors from America, Canada, Germany and many other countries reflected optimism in the industry for 2013.

And, in keeping with the spirit of St Patrick, the faith is still strong in Kerry, judging from the parades.

For, whether the election of Pope Francis earlier in the week had anything to do with it, a well-known cleric was also to the fore in neighbouring Tralee.

Fr Pat Ahern, founder of Siamsa Tire, the National Folk theatre, and a person associated with the arts for more than five decades, was grand marshal of the Tralee parade.

Back west, the Dingle Fife and Drum Band claimed to be among the first in the country to step it out on the national feast day, taking to the streets at 6.30am.

It was an early wake-up call for the locals, who turned out in strength later in the day for the “official’’ Dingle parade, with celebrations into the evening.

Groups from north Kerry took part in the Listowel parade, organised by Glór na nGael, which put an emphasis on promoting the Irish language. Master of ceremonies was publican and writer Billy Keane.

Spectators were also out in force in Caherciveen, Castleisland, Killorglin and other towns and villages in Kerry.


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