Offaly Independent

Published: Friday, 14th March, 2014 3:50pm

Lots planned across the county for St Patrick’s Day

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There’s lots of activity taking place today to mark St Patrick’s Day across the county. Whether, you want to take in the religious ceremonies, view the parades or enjoy some musical entertainment on our national day of celebration, it’s all happening in Offaly. Here’s a sample of some of the fun across the county today: Tullamore This year’s St Patrick’s Day Parade in Tullamore yet again promises to be something special! With no less than six marching bands, a number of dancing groups, sporting trophies a plenty and many magical and colourful floats, this promises to be a parade that nobody wants to miss. And there will also be a lama and a goat on the march!The parade starts at 11.30am sharp from the car park of the Bridge Centre. All groups are asked to be at the Bridge Centre by 10.45am.  The route is High St, Bridge St, Colmcille St, over the Kilbeggan Bridge and finish at the GAA Centre on the Arden Road. All groups are asked not to stop before this point.There will be plenty to see on the day, including:SportExpect to see several cups and trophies on display as the past year has been a special one for Tullamore GAA, Ballinamere GAA, Tullamore AFC and Tullamore Rugby Club. It will be a proud time for all these clubs as they march proudly in the parade.Tullamore Comhaltas and Durrow Set DancersCome early and enjoy great entertainment from Tullamore Comhaltas and the Durrow Set Dancers.  This starts at the review stand, near the Wolftrap Bar, at 10.30am. A group of students from local schools will sing Amhrain Na Bhfiann.Theme of ParadeThe theme for this year’s Parade is ‘The Best Of Tullamore’. Organisers said this week they want to celebrate all that is good in Tullamore in community organisations, voluntary groups, sport, history, music, arts, education, youth and culture.  Guest of HonourThe Guest of Honour this Year is Seamus O’Connor. Seamus has been a member of the committee and MC for the parade for the past 25 years and the organisers are delighted to honour him this year and ask him to cut the ribbon and officially start the parade.   AnimalsAnimals will also feature as many proud dog owners display their many breeds of dogs, all suitably attired for the day. And there is a prize for the best dressed dog. There will also be animals from a pet farm including a lama, an alpaca, a goat and a miniature pony.Market and Window DisplayThere will be a market in Market Square on Sunday, March 16. A window display competition for all local shops will be judged on Friday next and the winner announced at the parade.American Cars and BikersOur friends with the giant American Cars will be back again this year and many bikers from Kevin Casey’s KC Motorcycles group will entertain the biking enthusiasts.PrizesAs usual there will be stiff competition for the many generous prizes on offer. Prizes will be awarded to the following categories: 1) Overall Winner;  2) Best Band; 3) Best Community Entry; 4) Best Youth Entry; 5) Best Sport Entry; 6) Best School Entry; 7) Best Dressed Dog;  8) Window Display; 9) Most Entertaining Entry.Clara Up to 75 floats and participants have lined up for what promises to be another bumper St Patrick’s Day parade in Clara.The parade, which starts at 12.30pm, will be preceded by a concert at 11.30am, with a whole plethora of musical talent, led by legendary singer Ray Lynam.The parade itself, always a wonderful community spectacle in Clara, starts at the Charlestown Bridge before proceeding into the square.A number of marching bands are taking part in this year’s parade, including the Clara Town Band, Athlone Town Youth Marching Band, the Athlone Pipe Band and the Mullingar Town Band.The pre-parade concert will feature music  former All-Ireland banjo player Willie Kavanagh and his wife Kathleen on the keyboard.There will also be Irish dancing by among others Sharlene McCaffery youth Dancers, the Ollie Conroy dancers, the Reynolds Academy of Dance, The Celtic Blondes, Jimmy Mulligan and his Magnificent Eight, Nora Carroll’s Rahan Reds Dancers.The national anthem will be sung by Clara man Conor Dolan and Ciaran Ennis of St Francis Boys NS, Clara.And special guest singers include Ray Lynam and Camilla McLoughlin.MCs for the show will be Barry Flynn, Midlands 103’s Kevin Lawlor Fitzpatrick and Paddy Bracken.KilcormacThe usual large crowds are expected at the Kilcormac Parade, which takes place next Monday at 3.30pm. A fun filled and entertaining parade is expected. Now in its 29th year, the parade always generates a great buzz of excitement around the town on St Patrick’s Day. This year it is hoped that the friendly rivalry, which is usual among the entries, will be continued with promises of lots of competition in the fancy dress category and great entries from some local schools. People or groups who are participating in other parades are invited to be part of the Kilcormac parade. Entry to Kilcormac parade is free of charge and there are many categories in which prizes are awarded. So bring out your best vintage vehicle or costume or dress up the children and paint their faces, the children who take part are awarded a medal for their participation. There is also a beautiful bog oak perpetual trophy for the overall prize winner. CroghanSt Patrick will be honoured in Croghan with Mass at 12pm on the summit of Croghan Hill, while at 3pm Rosary will be recited at St Patrick’s Well.    Huge crowds from all parts of the Midlands are expected to climb Croghan Hill as part of the annual pilgrimage on St Patrick’s Day. The first signs of smoke from the burning of the furzes are generally seen about 7am when local children start burning the furzes, which continues late into the evening as part of the tradition associated with the celebrations, for St Patrick, on this special day for Ireland.Croghan Active Retirement Group will again provide a hospitality invitation with refreshments available from 10am to 4pm at Croghan Community Centre. They will also have a Cake Sale, Bric a Brac & Raffle for some beautiful prizes. While relaxing at Croghan Community Centre or out on the Community Garden or before you start the climb of Croghan Hill you can have a tea or coffee with sandwich and cake for €3.There will be an evening of entertainment, Irish music and dancing at Croghan Stores.

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