independent

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Record numbers line parade route

Margaret Roddy

Published 19/03/2014 | 05:20

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The record crowds who lined the streets for this year's St Patrick's Day parade were treated to a wonderful snapshot of Dundalk in the 21st century.

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The record crowds who lined the streets for this year's St Patrick's Day parade were treated to a wonderful snapshot of Dundalk in the 21st century.

Every facet of life in Dundalk was represented as the colourful, musical and entertaining parade made its way through the town centre and past the reviewing stand at its new location in Park Street.

The weather was kind for the thousands of watchers, young and old, who were there to enjoy the festivities.

As Dundalk is one of the venues for the Giro D'Italia later this year, it was no surprise that pink mingled with green as many of the entrants embraced the cycling theme and literally got on their bikes for the parade.

Indeed, the Grand Marshall of the parade were two of the country's best known stalwarts of cycling, Jack Murphy and Darach McQuaide, who travelled in style courtesy of Cuchulainn Cycling Club.

As usual, the parade was led by a colour party from the 27th Batallion followed by a piper, and after that there was an hour long spectacle representing all aspects of Dundalk's cultural, sporting, community and volunteering organisations as well as the emergancy services and business community.

The Cuchulainn Cycling Club, who played a huge role in getting the Giro D'Italia to pass through the town, were out in force with elite cyclists to novices on tricycles.

The Friary Youth Club were deserving winners with a very colourful display while art students from The Marist turned heads with their eye-catching Trashion Fashion entry.

It was the youngest members of the musical and sporting groups which elicited the biggest applause, especially when they stopped to perform for the crowds, whether it was Irish dancing, martial arts or the haka! Gaelic football, hurling, soccer, rugby, cricket, tennis, American football, swimming, athletics, cycling and martial arts were all represented with history being made when a game of tennis was played along the town's main streets.

And given the day that was in it, there was lots of traditional music from Comhaltas and Irish dancers, as well contemporary dance schools, and, of course, marching bands.

The town's new multi-cultural status was evident not just in the entries by the African, Polish and Lithuanian communities but also the large numbers marching with sports and cultural clubs.

While the Giro D'Italia is the highlight of the summer calendar, the parade gave a taste of other events to come, including The Leprechaun Hunt in Carlingford and Louth Agricultural Show.

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