Parade and St. Patrick’s Festival beat the rain as crowds come flocking

Photographs by Dylan Vaughan Photograph

Photographs by Dylan Vaughan Photograph

Kilkenny City’s St. Patrick’s day parade defied the weather odds as the public once again flocked to the sides of the Marble City’s streets to witness and play their part in a vibrant, multicultural and hugely colourful celebration of the national holiday.

Organisers estimate that the crowds of 20,000 lined the streets to see the 1,500 local people participating in the Parade.

Representing community, school, sports clubs and cultural groups, it took over an hour to pass the main reviewing stand at the junction of Patrick Street and the Parade. This was preceded and followed by a five-day celebration, with the emphasis on family-friendly activities, in particular Saturday night’s fireworks display in Kilkenny Castle Park.

Mayor Cllr. David Fitzgerald said the parade and the weekend’s activities had seen a major international boost for the City:

‘The presence of Gabe Sadlier of Travelzoo travel and media company, broadcasting live to 28 million viewers from the Parade to the USA on Thursday, including to the major US TV networks, was an incredible achievement for our small City. To hear him say live on CNN, FOX and other channels that our City is the best place to visit, outside of Dublin, was quite something.

To receive text and WhatsApp messages from Kilkenny people all over the world saying how proud they were to see the City getting such incredible exposure on international media channels is surely an indication as to how far we have come since the very continuation of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade was being called into question. The work of our festival committee and of festival director, Marian Flannery and her small team has made this all a reality.’

Chairperson of the St. Patrick’s Festival committee, Cllr. Joe Malone, said that the success of the festival celebrations are evident for all to see:

‘The explosion of colour and the fantastic celebration of our traditional and contemporary lives in Kilkenny was a joy to see. We had groups from throughout the City and County and I congratulate all the efforts that the thousands of adults and particularly children made in preparing for the Parade. We were particularly delighted to see our local Indian, Pakistani, Polish, Latvian and very specially of course, our Ukrainian friends taking part. The blue and yellow Ukrainian flags reminded us of all of the very real challenges facing those in our community who have been welcomed in truly awful times from their homeland. Of course, our local sporting clubs from cricket to hurling and Gaelic Games to our many martial arts clubs, have welcomed many of these new citizens to our City and flew the flag on Friday, along with so many other cultural and sporting groups’

Tim Butler, Director of Services with Kilkenny County Council said they were delighted with the festival programme:

“We were thrilled with the reaction of our many visitors to Kilkenny this weekend to our festivities. We hosted the Mayors of our twin towns, Malbork in Poland and our long-standing arrangement with Morêt sur Loing in France and they commented on constant improvements in our weekend festival and also on the standard of presentation of our City, which is testament to the brilliant work of our council staff and also volunteers from Keep Kilkenny Beautiful. We were particularly happy to have been selected by Fáilte Ireland to host a hugely important group of international tourism buyers, as part of their Meitheal programme and we were very reassured that the future attractiveness of our tourism industry benefited hugely from what those visitors saw and heard over the weekend.

Fáilte Ireland have provided significant financial support to Kilkenny’s Tourism offering over many years and we are delighted for their support for St. Patrick’s Festival. Huge thanks to Ciara Sugrue, Fáilte Ireland’s Head of Festival and Events and her team for their continued support.’

Speaking at the post-parade reception in Butler House, Marian Flannery, Festival Manager made special mention of the staff who had worked so hard on the organisation of the weekend’s events: ‘We have a very small team who have worked incredibly hard to make the St Patrick’s Festival Kilkenny a great national event. These include Jennifer Cooper, Cathy O’Connor, Paula Fleming and Laura Stapleton and Helena Hatton, and our Safety Officer, Anton Cullen, who ensured we did all we could to have a pleasant, yet safe and comfortable event for young and old. The festival is a municipal event and receives fantastic support from the staff of Kilkenny County Council at all levels and also from An Garda Síochána, Kilkenny Civil Defence and a great team of local volunteers, including members of St. Brigid’s Camogie Club, Ballycallan.

Of course, we had the ebullient Edward Hayden as our Grand Marshall. Edward has been a great friend of our festivals for years and a fantastic ambassador for Kilkenny at all times. The live broadcast by Virgin Media, with their Ireland AM show on Thursday morning highlighting all aspects of the City and the festival added even more to the excellent media coverage we got from our local print and radio media outlets. We were particularly delighted that Edward’s proud Mum, Sally and his sister Anne got to join in the celebrations too and see the Parade from the review stand.’

Ms. Flannery said that after the committee and staff had reviewed the events of the weekend, planning would commence for 2024. ‘We never rest on our laurels and we hope to be back bigger and even better next year. We would encourage everybody who liked what they saw to move to the other side of the barriers next year and play their creative part in making it even better.’

Parade Float Category winners were as follows (a prize-giving ceremony to follow):

Most Creative & Entertaining: Jurassic Newpark

Best Young Person: Polish School of St John Paul II

Best Rural: Willie Joe Meally

Best School or Club Float – 15th Kilkenny Fort Grange Scouts

Best Interpretation of the Theme: Conahy Vintage Club.

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