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Thursday 14 November 2019

Cork celebrates women as it floats on a sea of green

Cork Community Art Link performing in the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Cork Picture: Darragh Kane
Cork Community Art Link performing in the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Cork Picture: Darragh Kane

Ralph Riegel

A Cork folklorist caused consternation with the claim St Patrick may have been married - so Cork decided it was only fitting to use its St Patrick's Day parade to celebrate the centenary of women's suffrage.

The Cork parade - the second biggest in Ireland - boasted a 2018 theme of Democracy for All - 100 Years of the Vote for Women.

Cork's Lord Mayor Councillor Tony Fitzgerald reviewed the parade with the guests of honour this year including a delegation from the Jersey City Police Emerald Society from the US.

They were joined by the Silver Dancers from Texas.

Once again the parade anchored a special St Patrick's Festival which runs until tonight.

This year, the festival boasted its most ambitious programme of events ever - ranging from a novelty 'Ball Run' down St Patrick's Hill, the steepest urban hill in Ireland, to family-orientated attractions, street music, historic walking tours and special exhibitions on Irish culture and art.

The 'Ball Run' involved more than 10,000 sponsored balls being released down St Patrick's Hill with all the proceeds going to charity.

The multiple child-friendly attractions ranged from a 'Monsters at the Museum' artwork display to a special cosmos exhibition at the hugely popular Blackrock Observatory.

Cork City Arts Officer Jean Brennan stressed that once again, the festival was delighted to celebrate local multiculturalism.

The St Patrick's Day parade featured special entries from various immigrant communities in Cork including those from Mexico, the Philippines, Nigeria, Thailand, Brazil, Korea, China, Japan and Saudi Arabia.

Across Cork county, more than two dozen parades were staged - the largest in Mallow, Fermoy, Kinsale, Bandon, Clonakilty, Macroom, Youghal, Midleton, Blarney and Skibbereen.

A particularly large attendance supported Mallow's St Patrick's Day parade after it was almost cancelled last Tuesday because of a row over insurance cover for the route.

Organiser Noel O'Connor paid tribute to Mallow's Tidy Towns Committee who agreed to extend their insurance cover for the parade.

"It would have been a tragedy if the parade had been cancelled," he said.

"The committee has worked tirelessly since Christmas on the logistics of organising a safe, fun-packed parade in the town," he said.

Cork Airport estimated that more than 20,000 people travelled through the facility last week.

Meanwhile, one of Ireland's most remote island communities made history yesterday when it hosted its first-ever St Patrick's Day parade on land.

Isolated Inishturk, off Co Mayo, had always staged a sea parade to celebrate Ireland's patron saint.

But yesterday inhabitants of the windswept island enjoyed their first-ever land-based carnival, which kicked off with a colourful parade after midday Mass at the island church.

All 59 permanent residents joined in the colourful parade in what was one of the smallest pageants across the whole country.

Corinna Ward said: "There's always been a sea parade on Inishturk but this year we decided we'd do something different."

Sunday Independent

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