Aisling McLoughlin and Ava Sweeney at 2022 Kilcormac parade.

Parades aplenty across Offaly to honour St Patrick

Towns and villages across Offaly will honour the tradition of St Patrick today (Friday) with the Tullamore parade set to celebrate its 40th anniversary.

No less than seven separate parades are set to take place across the county, with the earliest parade kicking off in the North Offaly village of Rhode at 10am and the last parade getting underway in Kilcormac at 3.30pm.

The biggest parade will take place in Tullamore and, as well as marking the 40th anniversary of the foundation of the parade, a number of other important milestones will be marked, including the 50th anniversary of Tullamore Camogie Club, the 60th anniversary of Tullamore Credit Union, and the 100th anniversary of the renowned Athlone Army Band, who have been given the honour of leading the event.

Up to 10,000 people are expected to line the streets of Tullamore for the parade which gets underway at 11.30am and will feature five major bands, along with community groups, sporting organisations, schools, music groups and dancing schools.

Joint Grant Marshals for the occasion are Chairman Johnny O’Connor and Secretary/PRO and Independent Cllr Sean O’Brien, who have been involved with the organisation of the annual parade since it first started in 1983.

The theme this year is 'Tidy Towns-Our Community Effort Is Féidir linn le chéile'. The Tullamore parade The Tullamore parade starts at 11.30am. from the car park of the Bridge Centre and the route will take in High St, Bridge St, Colmcille St, over the Kilbeggan Bridge and onto Arden Road, finishing at the GAA Centre.

There will be great entertainment at the Review Stand from 10.45am, while renowned local singer Dave Lawlor, will sing the national anthem.

Popular Clara couple, Joe and Helen Reilly from the Kilbride Road, are the first husband and wife team to jointly perform the official opening of the annual Clara St Patrick’s Day Parade, which has once again been organised by the inimitable Bertie McMahon and his team of volunteers.

The Clara parade will take place at 11.30am with a concert in the Square featuring music from Alex Roe and Teresa O’Hara as well as ceili tunes by the James Kinsella Ceili Band. Renowed local music man, Tommy Stones will sing the national anthem.

The Clara parade Grand Marshals for 2023 are local legend, Paddy Bracken, and his son Lloyd, and the parade will also feature a special tribute to Clara Ladies Gaelic Football Club and a ‘Ladies Power Walk’ which takes place immediately after the parade.

The annual parade in Mountbolus, which is known locally as “the best little parade in the country” gets underway today at 11.15am sharp, with all floats asked to assemble from 10.30am outside Newtowns on the Hill. Hot refreshments will be served in Killoughey Community Centre after Mass until the start of the parade.

North Offaly will feature two separate parades this year, in Edenderry and Rhode, with the Rhode parade being given the honour of the earliest parade in Offaly with a start time of 10am!

All-Ireland winner with the Offaly footballers in 1971/72, Martin Heavey, will act as Grand Marshal for the Rhode parade, which will take a route from the Power Station Road into the centre of Rhode village.

As well as his strong involvement with the GAA over many years, Martin Heavey was chosen as this year’s Grand Marshal due to being a very influential member of the Rhode community over the years, most notably in the SVP. Renowned Edenderry businessman, 84-year old Pat Larkin has been honoured with the title of Grand Marshal for the annual Edenderry parade, which has a 2.30pm start time today, and will be followed by a ‘Beat on the Street’ music session in the Square at 4pm featuring a great line-up of local talent.

Pat Larkin still plays an active role in the family business which was started by his late father, also Pat, in 1928 when he opened Larkin’s Central Bar in Edenderry. He opened an undertakers business in 1971 and a funeral home in 1989, and still had time to become involved with Meals on Wheels, Edenderry Lions Club and is a former Captain of the local Golf Club, as well as being a huge GAA fan.

St Patrick’s weekend festivities will continue in Edenderry tomorrow (Saturday, March 18) with another ‘Beat on the Street’ music session at 2pm which will include DJ Finchy; John Gorman and Sandra Hynes in the line-up, among other artists.

In West Offaly, the parade committee in Banagher has lined up a great afternoon of fun and entertainment for all ages with their St Patrick’s Day Parade, which sets out from St Rynagh’s Church at 3pm and will makes it way through the town to the marina.

MCs for the Banagher parade will be Ger & Jared, and theme for this year’s event is 'Super Hero'. The parade will feature sporting guests of honour, street entertainment and a sign language interpreter, with the Grand Marshals from two popular local takeaway businesses, Gianni’s and Angelos.

This year’s parade in Banagher will be preceded by a water parade which begins at 12 noon from Shannon Harbour into Banagher, and the organisers have asked everyone to come out and support the colourful and novel floats as they make their way along the river into the town.

The final St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Offaly is the eagerly-anticipated Kilcormac parade which is always a very good-humoured and entertaining spectacle, and gets underway at 3.30pm this afternoon.

There will be host of prizes on offer for the best floats and the organisers are expecting a huge turnout of spectators.