Small town Pride - Dungarvan waves the flag for LGBTQ

Small town Pride - Dungarvan waves the flag for LGBTQ

On the morning of May 22, 2015, Emilene Stafford left her pub on Dungarvan’s lower main street and turned towards the old convent school with the black and yellow polling station signs outside.

“I had tears in my eyes, I couldn’t believe this referendum was happening,” Ms Stafford said. “Marriage equality had created a fear for me, it was a fear for my business, and also a fear for the LGBTQ+ community. I was thinking if this doesn’t go well, where do we stand?”

Seven years on from the morning where she cast a nervous vote, Ms Stafford is now the driving force behind Dungarvan’s first Pride festival, which is taking place today. To some of those who grew up in or even moved to the west Waterford town, the idea of Dungarvan hosting its own Pride would have seemed unimaginable even 10 years ago.

Today, the town’s square and all of its main streets are saturated in rainbow flags with almost unanimous support from local businesses. Walton Park in Abbeyside, just at the start of the Waterford greenway, will host a family-friendly Pride event between 4pm and 9pm. The opening ceremony will be hosted by Lady Fifi Fondue, a home-grown drag queen otherwise known as 37-year-old Conor O’Mahony.

“I’ll definitely be trying to keep my emotions in check today,” said Mr O’Mahony.

“Here I am, in my own town, doing my job, representing the town and being happy. And my mam will be there. It will be a really proud moment.”