German Shepherd dog to lead island parade in West Cork

An island off West Cork has chosen a grand marshal with a difference to lead what is likely to be one of the smallest St Patrick's Day parades in the world.

German Shepherd dog to lead island parade in West Cork

An island off West Cork has chosen a grand marshal with a difference to lead what is likely to be one of the smallest St Patrick's Day parades in the world.

Cape Clear selected an 11-year-old German Shepherd dog to lead the parade, expected to feature most of the Gaeltacht island's 125-strong population.

The honour has been given to Izzi, to recognise her work for over eight years as a guide dog for well-known islander, Ed Harper.

A former sociology lecturer in the UK, Ed has run a goat farm and provides goat husbandry classes on the island since he arrived on Cape Clear nearly 40 years ago.

"It's great that she's getting the honour," said Ed, of his loyal guide dog, "she'll get her 15 minutes of fame."

Islanders had been looking to get a new guide dog for Ed, but he resisted the offer: "I'm not going to get a replacement," said Ed, who is blind.

"My mobility has declined to the extent I don't need one. Anyway, it's extremely difficult to train a new dog."

Izzi may have retired from her duties, but she is still staying with Ed as "she remains a pet".

"I probably won't be taking part in the parade. Instead, Izzi will be led by my friend, Vanessa, who is also my carer. Yes, she'll lead her in the parade," he said.

Ed added that he felt Izzi would be a popular grand marshall.

He pointed out that she was purely a guide dog and wasn't involved in any way in rounding up his near 30-strong herd of goats.

Ed produces ice cream and cheese from the herd and also goat sausages and goat burgers.

"We also eat them ourselves and drink our own goat's milk," he said.

This is the third time the islanders have decided to hold a parade to honour the patron saint.

Séamus Ó Drisceoil, manager of the Cape Clear ferry company, said Izzi was a popular choice.

"Izzi, like all her previous colleagues, has given faithful service to Ed Harper of Cléire Goats and now looks forward to a well-deserved retirement among the rocky crags, panoramic views and friendly goats," Séamus said.

The parade will start at the island's youth hostel at 1pm on Sunday next and will wind its way along scenic South Harbour with stops at Ciarán Danny Mike's and Cotter's, before ending at the Wild Atlantic Way sign.

Along the way there will be various ‘party pieces’ by island musicians and indeed anyone else who would like to participate.

The festivities will culminate with refreshments and a music session in Club Cléire.

More in this section

War of Independence Podcast

A special four-part series hosted by Mick Clifford

Available on
www.irishexaminer.com/podcasts

Commemorating 100 years since the War of Independence

HOME DELIVERY SERVICE

Have the Irish Examiner delivered to your door. No delivery charge. Just pay the cover price.