Ireland’s tiniest, and perhaps, only St Patrick’s Day parade went ahead today in Limerick - with social distancing observed.
Lone piper, Paul McMahon, marched around the Park Gardens estate, in Corbally, to keep an 18-year tradition alive.
Mr McMahon normally performs the annual local ritual with little marchers from local pre-school Busy Bees, however when it closed to observe social distancing the children could not take part in today’s march.
Residents, including grandparents separated from their grandchildren, were “thrilled” the small parade went ahead.
Some clapped and waved McMahon on his way while others wept tears of joy.
“It was very emotional,” agreed McMahon who was joined by his wife Barbara and daughter Clodagh.
I thought, we still had to celebrate St Patrick’s Day so, a lone piper in the middle of the street wasn't any risk, everyone kept their distancing by staying inside their own gardens.
“I think everybody enjoyed it. We waved a few flags and celebrated St Patrick,” he added.
Mr McMahon started the tradition, to give something back to Busy Bees, where his children previously attended, by including the kids in their own little parade.
He also normally gives the school a St Patrick’s Day talk on playing the bagpipes and marching.
“The kids (usually) come out and make lovely banners and we all march up and down (the road). This year unfortunately we couldn't do that, so we said we’d still celebrate it,” he said.
“The neighbours often come out for it, so it was just to give them something for St Patrick’s day to enjoy, because we’ve no parades.”
“This time, it was a little by quieter, but thank you to the neighbours - a lot of them came out to their doors or waved from their windows - whatever was appropriate - and it was good to see people smiling at this time, we need more smiles than frowns.”
Mr McMahon’s father-in-law Joe Neville, who along with his wife Pauline are practicing self-isolation in their home, broke down as he watched his son-in-law and granddaughter wave to them as they marched passed his home.
“It’s fantastic, (Paul’s) great. We are just delighted for him, and it’s great, but we cant get out for it ourselves. We are basically locked in,” they said, fighting back tears.
Not being able to hug their grandchildren “is the worst part of it”, said Mrs Neville.
Another resident praised Mr McMahon, and added: “It’s very emotional, all the neighbours are out waving. He never leaves us down, every year.”
The sound of Mr McMahon’s droning pipes drew out a few other locals, who followed behind him from a distance on bicycles and on foot.
Busy Bees owner, Vivienne Campbell Vereker, admitted she was “on the verge of tears” as older neighbours clapped on her and her husband Glen, as they joined Mr McMahon, while still maintaining their distance.
“The neighbours have been out supporting us every year and today was a really special day,” said Ms Campbell Vereker.
“Stay safe, mind yourself and, Happy St Patrick’s Day,” she added.