The mayor of San Francisco Edwin Mah Lee served as grand marshal at the Cork St Patrick’s Day parade yesterday, making his first return visit to Leeside, having initially toured the city in 1969 as a high school student.
Mr Lee, who is the first Chinese-American mayor in San Francisco’s history, said he kissed the Blarney Stone on his inaugural trip to Ireland and that luck brought him back to Cork.
More than 2,300 people participated in the Cork parade with overseas representatives including groups from the Philippines, Italy, Poland, China, Hungary, Congo, Ghana, and Sudan. The parade attracted more than 50,000 people to Cork city centre with 80,000 expected to have attended the three-day St Patrick’s festival in the city which concludes today.
The theme of this year’s parade was The Gathering: Hands Across the Water. The highlights of the parade, which got underway at 1pm, included giant puppets by Dowtcha Puppets and Cork Community Art Link’s steam water circuit machine and “Corkonian Gondolas”. A Venus float with lavish live mermaids also proved to be a colourful spectacle.
Other popular entrants included the Rising Sun Karate group, the Ascension Baton twirlers, the Ballyphehane Pipe Band, performers in an upcoming production of Grease at Cork Opera House, Cork Capoeira Academy, and students of the School of Asian Studies at UCC.
The Barrack Street Band made its 131st appearance. Fr Theobald Matthew officially founded the group as a temperance band in 1837. Sports entrants included members of Cork City FC and Father Matthews Basketball Club.
One of the most popular spots yesterday was the Sextant Bar, which came up with a novel way for customers to share a drink with their friends in the US.
The pub organised a live feed link up with Flann O’Brien’s bar in Boston, which has Cork owners
The Woolshed Bar and Grill in Sheares St, Cork, also proved to be a draw as the venue was transformed into Craggy Island, the home of Father Ted , with a lovely girls competition, a dancing priests award, and prizes for the best dressed attendees.
The St Patrick’s Festival continues today in Cork on the live stage on South Mall, with music from The Dustbusters, Ray Barron and Friends, and Waterford band The Jam Tarts. The streets will be filled with street performers including mime artist Marcel So, magician Jack Wise, and acrobatic and dance artists Sorcaluba.
Food stalls will also be onsite at the Barry’s Tea Market on Cork’s Grand Parade and Boardwalk.
In the county, parades were held yesterday, in among other places, Carrigaline, Fermoy, Kanturk, Mallow, Ballincollig, Macroom, and Kinsale. Courtmacsherry in West Cork held parades on both land and sea, whilst disability campaigner Joanne O’Riordan was grand marshal for the Kealkill parade.
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