THE annual St. Patrick's Day parade in Mallow last Sunday once again attracted a large crowd of people on to the streets to enjoy the green, white and gold celebrations. The parade itself was visibly smaller this year with some well known particpants opting out this year, but one group , the Mallow Search and Rescue Unit, apologised for their non-attendance due to serious commitments elsewhere.
Over the years the children of the town were the winners and this also applied this year with many schools and youth groups braving the fresh weather conditions.
Old reliables such as the Blarney Brass and Reed Band, Mallow Handball Club, Mallow Fire Service, North Cork Civil Defence, the colourful tractor team and the mini minor cars were all there in style and colour.
Other participants in this years event included the mighty Tidy Town Group who were unrecognisable in their costumes, St. Patrick's Prayer Group, Bridehaven Walking Club, Southside Car Wash and Valleting, Racing Home For Easter, Mallow Ladies Football, Mallow Gymnasts, the most welcomed Autism Assistance Dogs and schools such as Gael Scoil and Naoimhe Tomàs Daibhis.
It was heartwarming to see that the Thomas Davis Pipe Band has grown in membership in recent times after going through a tough period with very few musicians appearing at public events.
Traditionally, the RDF led the parade and the grand marshal for the day was David O'Leary, who was driven through town in a vintage car. David led the RDF (formely FCA) at many parades over the years and he certainly deserved the honour this year.
The category winners, chosen by former 103FM newscaster John O'Connor, were Thomas Davis Pipe Band (Community/ Voluntary) Convent Primary School (Education) O'Sullivan Tyres( Industrial/Commercial) and Tae Kwon Do (Sport/Leisure).
The Master of Cermonies was Michael O'Donovan, who gave a blast of an Irish song during the event and at the end Sean Sherlock T.D. in his address paid glowing tributes to Michael for his on-going commitment to the parade and said the former Erin Foods supervisor was in line for a civic reception, which he totally deserves.
The anti-house tax group also participated and held a short, peaceful protest at the reviewing stand.