Ireland’s Olympic hero Annalise Murphy declared her delight at the “huge honour” of being selected as the grand marshal of Dublin’s Saint Patrick’s Day parade.
The silver-medal winning sailor was announced today as the person who will lead the huge parade through the capital.
"It’s such a huge honour. I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve spent so many Patrick’s Days away competing or training, so it’s going to be brilliant to be at home in Dublin," said the Dubliner.
The 26-year-old from Rathfarnham, who ruled the waves in Rio last summer, said; "I am always extremely proud to represent Ireland but that is normally out on the water, so this will be a completely different experience for me.
"The parade is always a great day and I’m really looking forward to being part of it," she said.
She said she has returned to intensive training preparing for a competition in The Netherlands in May.
She enjoyed a rest period after her Olympic success, which included meeting friends, enjoying lie-ins in the morning, and being glad to live like "a normal 26-year-old."
She said she will have to work as hard as ever to succeed, including the challenge of qualifying for the next Olympics and competing with younger Irish female sailors for her place on the Irish team.
Susan Kirby, chief executive of the Saint Patrick’s Festival, said the organisers were thrilled to announce Annalise as Grand Marshal.
"Annalise’s achievements to date are an example of the ability of a strong will and determination and she is a great ambassador for Ireland.
"We wish Annalise the best of luck in her role and we hope she enjoys every minute of the experience," she said.
The theme of this year’s festival is ‘Ireland you are….’
It is funded by Failte Ireland, Dublin City Council, and the Department of the Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.
Failte Ireland marketing director Noel John McLoughlin said the popular iconic event will kick off the new tourism season in style.
The festival this year will run from March 16 to 19.
The parade will begin at Parnell Square on March 17 at noon.
Ireland’s finest street theatre companies are preparing for a feast of visual pageantry. Bands from around the country will be joined by bands from America, France, Germany, Switzerland, and the Bahamas.
Funfairs will take place at Merrion Square and on Custom House Quay for three days. A large number of events are planned to run for the four days of the festival.