Thousands salute the wearing of the green, white and orange
HUNDREDS of thousands turned out in brilliant weather yesterday to celebrate St Patrick's Day parades across the country. The following are some of the highlights of a memorable day.
HUNDREDS of thousands of people turned out in brilliant weather yesterday to celebrate St Patrick's Day parades across the country. The following are some of the highlights of a memorable day.
Limerick AN estimated 40,000 people lined the streets of Limerick yesterday for what was described as the city's "best ever" St Patrick's Day parade.
A total of 1,500 people took part in this year's event, which was preceded by a rugby relay race down O'Connell Street.
The theme of this year's parade 'One City, A World of People', was designed to promote a multi-cultural society and many foreign nationals currently living in Limerick participated in the festivities.
Munster rugby captain Jim Williams and well-known Limerick model agent and style guru Celia Holman Lee led the parade.
One of the highlights of the parade, was the presence of two elephants from the American Circus who were greeted by rapturous applause as they strolled down O'Connell Street at the end of the colourful pageant.
Army tanks, fire engines, and marching bands all added to the atmosphere and even the sun managed to come out ensuring an even bigger turn out on previous years.
Spectators were also treated to a thrilling air show by The Irish Aer Corps.
Kerry The earliest parade in the country got under way in Dingle, Co Kerry at exactly five minutes before 6am when musicians, and marchers with the Dingle Fife and Drum started out from Dingle Hospital to parade through the sleeping town.
In nearby Tralee, some 40 floats and groups turned out in style led by guest of honour the Sam Maguire football cup.
Also in Tralee the flags of up to 100 nations were flown in honour of a multi-cultural event which saw Irish dancing intermingle with samba, salsa, and African drums.
Leprachauns ran amok when the Killarney Active Retirement banner promised to chase the plastic Paddy out of Ireland and some of Killarney's most senior citizens began chasing dozens of small leprechauns through the streets.
Other parades were held in Milltown, Listowel, Castleisland, Glenbeigh, Causeway, Lixnaw and Caherciveen.
Ennis Parade-goers in Ennis's witnessed a rare public outing from Eamon de Valera's 1947 Plymouth Dodge.
The late president's Dodge is on permanent display at the Clare County Library and was used yesterday for the first time in 13 years as it played a full part in the parade.
The car, originally owned by President Sean T O'Ceallaigh who then sold it to De Valera - was used exclusively on De Valera's trips to Clare, most notably his famous tour of the county in 1966.
It was one of many attractions that brought thousands to Ennis's medieval streets for the first St Patrick's parade in three years.
Donegal St Patrick's Day activities in Co Donegal attracted huge numbers to the numerous parades throughout the county but were overshadowed by the sudden death of a US participant in one area.
Letterkenny hosted the biggest parade but large crowds and many floats also took part in the parade in Buncrana which was celebrating its 21st year.
In Gweedore, locals were witnessing their first ever St Patrick's Day parade from Bunbeg to Derrybeg, while in Dungloe and Falcarragh the cold weather failed to keep the crowds at home. Festivities were somewhat overshadowed at the annual parade at Mullaghduff near Kincasslagh following the sudden death of one of 32 American tour operators who were joining in the fun.
The 55-year-old man, who was not named last night, had just attended Mass in St Mary's Church, Kincasslagh and returned to the nearby Viking House Hotel when he died suddenly.
Tipperary The growing links between Templemore and other European towns was very much in evidence during the 31st consecutive St Patrick's Day Parade held in the Co Tipperary town yesterday.
Large crowds turned out to view the parade which was led by Sergio Paolucci, mayor of the Italian Adriatic coastal resort town of Potenza Picena.
Also present were two members of the twinning committee from the small town of Premilhat in the Auvergne region in France, And it was a bit like Munster hurling final day in Thurles last Sunday when 6,000 people converged on Liberty Square to view the town's largest ever parade. One of the highlights was a performance given by the town's Nigerian community.
Sligo A rather irreverent float by a local bakery depicting the making of the cake for the wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles snatched first prize at the St Patrick's Day Parade in Sligo yesterday.
Thousands lined the route in bright sunshine to watch the county's biggest parade which got under way at midday on Mail Coach Road and weaved its way through the main streets of the town.
Up to a dozen bands from both sides of the border provided the musical accompaniment. Cutting a lonely figure with a banner delcaring 'No junkets for politicans' was local man, Martin Forde who collected over two and a half thousand signatures in recent weeks protesting at the absence of the Borough Council from the parade.
Mayo In Castlebar the theme of the parade, which was led by the former manager of the Irish Barcelona Boxing Team, Sean Horkan, was The Wearing of the Green.
It included several marching bands and 'Big Sam' a vintage steamroller which has been restored by Mayo County Council workmen. Mayo's only off-shore parade took place on Clare Island, yesterday when dozens of locals turned out to join in the festivities.
Meanwhile, in Kiltimagh, the Quaker City String Band from the US took part in this highly colourful parade for the 18th successive year.
Galway A crowd reckoned to be in excess of 60,000 lined the streets of Galway for a parade that concentrated on the patron saint and the city's growing international community.
St Patrick's spiritual home, atop a mountain in neighbouring Co Mayo, featured largely in the colourful contribution of the Macnas street theatre group. A giant Macnas wolfhound even towered above elephants from the Moscow State Circus currently performing in the city. Other notable international contributions were provided by the Liberian community who carried placards thanking Irish peacekeepers for their work in Monrovia, the capital of the troubled African state.
Midlands In Mullingar, the traditional St Patrick' Day parade was replaced by a street carnival for the second year running. There was no parade last year for a variety of reasons.
The carnival featured music and entertainment and attracted up to 3,000 people young and old.
The local fire brigade and the sub aqua club also gave demonstrations.
In Athlone, the Annual St Patrick' Day Parade started at 2.30pm from the Golden Island shopping centre and featured one of the biggest displays of pageantry in recent years according to organisers.
Tullamore plays host to the World Sheep Dog trials in July and a number of floats featured dogs with their owners, as well as "olly" type sheep.
Wexford Wexford town witnessed its biggest parade in many years with more than thirty floats and ninety marching groups representing clubs and organisations from all over Wexford.
Crowds lined the streets of New Ross as marching groups and floats passed along the route, in what was a colourful and entertaining spectacle