“The parade is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate Irish culture and I’m looking forward to meeting musicians, Irish dancers, and artistic groups from all over Cork and Ireland.
“I am really proud of Cork. It’s a thriving city with so much to offer residents and tourists alike.”
Mr Flatley, who lives in Castlehyde House in Fermoy, was speaking yesterday as Lord Mayor Cllr Catherine Clancy announced that he had accepted the invitation to lead this year’s parade.
They will travel in an open-top car at the head of the parade through the city on Monday March 17.
Ms Clancy said she was thrilled to celebrate the national holiday with Mr Flatley.
“He was chosen for his outstanding contribution to entertainment in Ireland and Cork, and for promoting Irish culture internationally,” she said.
“The theme for this year’s parade is ‘Legends,’ and Mr Flatley certainly fits the bill. He is a true ambassador for our city.”
The parade will set off at 1pm from the South Mall to the Grand Parade, along St Patrick’s Street, finishing at Merchant’s Quay.
Up to 100,000 people are expected in the city across the festival weekend, which will culminate with the parade, which will be streamed live online at corkstpatricksfestival.ie.
Mr Flatley is a world-famous dancer, choreographer, and flautist, who got his big break when he was invited to dance on stage with The Chieftains.
He first shot to international superstardom in Riverdance and Lord of the Dance, and was recently announced as one of the 50 most powerful Irish Americans in the world.
Although he grew up in America, his Irish parents ensured he was raised with a strong sense of his cultural heritage.
Meanwhile, final preparations are being made for the city’s three-day festival, which will include food markets and a free lunch for all, on-street entertainment, and a fantastic live music-line up.
The Cork St Patrick’s Festival is organised by Cork City Council and supported by Cork Airport Authority and Barry’s Tea.
The full line-up is available on corkstpatricksfestival.ie, and on Facebook.
There will also be updates on Twitter via @corkpaddysfest, or by following the hashtag, #corkpaddysfest.