A CELEBRATION of Kilkenny’s Gaelic Games, Heritage and Spirit is the vibrant sporting theme of the St. Patrick’s Day parade in the city this year.
Giant hurleys are stored away in a secret location ready to celebrate the great sense of pride and joy that local GAA giants have brought to Kilkenny people over the years. Against the dramatic backdrop of Kilkenny Castle the festivities kick off with a fantastic performance by the Notre Dame University Marching Band (The Fighting Irish) at the Parade on Friday, March 16 at 11am. The festivities continue there from 12.30am on St Patrick’s Day with a pre-festival programme of open air music events where fabulous fare from the Kilkenny Food Trail can be had for spectators on the go. Kilkenny-based Young Irish Film Makers (YIFM) group will screen an exclusive open air premier of their spirited production My First Confession by Frank O’Connor featuring Pauline McGlynn and Paul Spain. Commissioned to commemorate their 20th anniversary this 25-minute film captures aspects of the city’s beautiful medieval lane ways filmed nearby the Black Abbey.
Adding to the carnival mood will be feet tapping traditional music from the ‘Whiskey Kings’, followed by dramatic performances from local dance troops. Dorothy and her friends from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ will follow the Yellow Brick road to the start of the parade after performing some of the favorite songs from the popular musical, performed by local stage school Starlight.
Special guests invited to join the celebrations include Charlie Chaplin, Minnie Mouse, Strong Bow, and some giant-sized GAA players along with many other colorful and playful four-legged creatures to entertain all the family. Live vox pop, fun interviews conducted by YIFM will be projected on the large outdoor TV screen throughout the day as the many characters and creatures meander their way past the City Hall, to the sound of more live traditional music, through Rose Inn street, over St John’s Bridge all the while greeting participants, spectators and visitors.
Grand Marshall, Kilkenny Hurling Team Captain Brian Hogan, will lead the parade, which kicks off at 2pm, followed by 40 clubs from around the county. The many pieces of silverware awarded to our talented sportspeople will be escorted through the streets while hurlers, handballers, footballers and camogie players will turn out in club colours, sporting banners, flags and streamers to celebrate the skills and traditions of the game.
Kilkenny’s own ‘Late Late Toy Show’ music stars, the fantastic ‘Jackson 3’ will be the youngest of the many talented participants to entertain the onlookers while 90 year old local legend Pat Shortis will blow his sweet Sax in great style from a fine vintage car courtesy of the Kilkenny Motor club.
Post parade festivities will continue live on the parade stage at the Parade Plaza with one of the best surprises of the day – The Miami Showband. Reformed in 2005, fronted by Des Lee (a name synonymous with the halcyon years of Irish Showbands) and Gerry Brown (musical director to his Eurovision winning sister Dana), this promises to be an evening of fun and nostalgia. Just back from the Gertrude Byrne 25th Anniversary Caribbean Cruise, the lineup is completed with New York Show Band drummer Chip Weckl along with Kilkenny musicians John Travers and Adrian Jackson.
Locals and visitors can pay a visit to Nowlan Park on Sunday at 2.30pm to see Dublin play Kilkenny in the National Hurling League Division 1 game; a perfect way to finish the St Patrick’s festivities. Further information and details on www.kilkennytourism.ie