St Patrick’s Day: Huge crowds descend on Killarney

Drawn by the sunshine, huge crowds descended on Killarney for its St Patrick’s Day parade where the green of the traffic lights had been turned into shamrocks and the buildings had been turned green overnight.

St Patrick’s Day: Huge crowds descend on Killarney

The Killarney parade took a number of hours to file past the viewing stand and was one of the largest and most diverse in recent years.

Themed past, present, and future, the grand marshal for the parade was born in 1913. Michael O’Connor, who lives in Muckross had been a radio operator with the Merchant Navy during the Second World War. He survived the sinking of his ship by a German U-boat, and his was one of the few ships to escape the Japanese in the Bay of Bengal. The father of five is still active and enjoys gardening and driving.

St Oliver’s national school in Ballycasheen drew applause for its Star Wars on Skellig Michael float, where the pupils dressed in silver sci-fi costumes and the teachers followed, “cowled” in moss green 7th century monk’s costume.

Regulars at the Killarney parade included retired members of the American Legion, proudly marking their contribution in France in the Second World War; the Millstreet Pipe Band; the Irwin School of Dancing; the Gleneagle Brass Band; along with football clubs, girl guides, and gymnasts.

Meanwhile, Tralee’s prominent theme was medieval, with knights in shining armour jousting with local gardaí.

Tralee’s celebrations this year marked the town’s Anglo-Norman roots and the parade was the first event to celebrate the 1216 foundation of Tralee by the FitzThomas Fitzgeralds. Ethnic communities put on proud displays and the grand marshall was Special Olympic gold medal winning local swimmer Brendan O’Connell.

The Kingdom Wheelblasters — young wheelchair basketballers — drew loud applause in their first appearance in Tralee. Elsewhere, some of the earliest parades in the country took place in west Kerry.

The Gaeltacht village of Baile na nGall, known also as Ballydavid, stole a march on its bilingual neighbour Dingle — Daingean Uí Chúis — which is traditionally the earliest parade in the country. Baile na nGall’s midnight march with pikes and burning sods through the seaside village attracted about 100 onlookers and was led by Seán Breandán O’Conchúir of Tigh TPs.

Dingle’s 6am march, led by Dingle Fife and Drum, began as usual at Ashmount.

Elsewhere, there were parades in Listowel, Ballyheigue, Ballybunion, Kilflynn, Castlegregory, Milltow, Waterville, Cahersiveen, and a hugely musical affair in Castleisland at the gateway to Sliabh Luachra.

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