MUSIC and dance were central to Kilkenny city’s St Patrick’s Day festivities on Thursday afternoon as groups from across the county and beyond put their talents on display.
Before the parade kicked off, those gathered in the city centre were treated to the sounds of The Swinging Blue Cats and Kilkenny’s All-Ireland Talent Show competitors, The Jackson 3 and Claire Mulholland, and young performers from Starlight Stage School then set things in motion with a Glee melody as the parade made its way down from John Street.
Fifty floats took part in the parade, and music-wise the St Patrick’s Brass Band led the way, hot off its performance on RTÉ that morning; and the Kilkenny Samba Band was also making its second appearance of the day, having already taken part in a Wexford parade.
Dancewise Academy were unfortunate not to be able to kick up their heels due to a technical fault with their music, but the crowd was treated to performances by Dancebox Studios – mixing hip-hop, Irish and break dancing – the Evelyn White School of Dancing, Newpark Family Resource Centre, The Mighty Butts and a chant and dance routine from pupils of St John of God NS.
Not one but two Chinese-style dragons featured in the parade: first from the SHINE group which aims to remove the stigma around mental health, and the second from Dragon’s Lair Martial Arts.
Areas across the county was well represented, with floats from Callan’s Abhainn Rí festival parade, Bennettsbridge’s Noreview Folk and Heritage Museum, the 6th Kilkenny Kells Scouts and a large-scale float from Conahy/ Knocknadogue, among others.
Further afield, a group from Clare brought their float “Irish UN Living History”, and a spirited group of Austrian students gave the proceedings an added international flair.
There was even a dose of political commentary on the day, starting with the Fr McGrath float with a Pink Floyd-inspired ‘wall’ and graffiti proclaiming “Hey Taoiseach, don’t leave us kids alone!” and “Where are your promises now???” beside photographs of local TDs Phil Hogan and Ann Phelan and Carlow Cllr Des Hurley.
Later in the parade came a “Leinster House free bar sponsored by the tax payer”, with only “The A-Team hired by the public” to stop them in their tracks.
Some complaints were reported about the location of the viewing stand on the Parade, with some seated on the stage saying they had difficulty seeing the parade, but for the crowds gathered on the four corners of the junction at the Parade and Rose Inn Street, there was an entertaining show to be seen.