Positive news has emanated this week with formal confirmation that Athlone will host a St. Patrick’s Day parade on Sunday, March 15, in acknowledgement of the national feast day.
Athlone Chamber of Commerce have announced the formation of a new Croi na hEireann festival committee, ensuring the parade will be central to the town’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in March.
In recent weeks, there were vast concerns that the town would not be in a position to host a parade this year as a decision had been taken by the St. Patrick’s Day committee to step down from their roles, following numerous years of dedicated organisation service.
Speaking to the Athlone Advertiser, Gerry McInerney, CEO of Athlone Chamber, noted the numerous enquiries and requests which encouraged Athlone Chamber of Commerce to become centrally involved in the organisation of this year’s parade.
“The parade has always been of great benefit to businesses within the town and a great way for the people of Athlone to come together and enjoy a parade which involves the participation of local groups and organisations.
“We have decided to host the parade on Sunday, March 15, to ensure the participation of as many floats as possible which have been previously booked and involved in other events on St. Patrick’s Day, making them unavailable to the Athlone parade.
“Despite time being limited, it is our intention to organise a parade worth attending and I would encourage as many local groups and organisations as possible to become involved,” Mr. McInerney emphasised.
Echoing similar sentiments, Town Mayor, Cllr. Frankie Keena, welcomed the news, noting the immense disappointment which would have prevailed should Athlone not have hosted a parade this year.
“I would like to thank Athlone Chamber of Commerce for taking the lead in driving this festival parade and indeed all those who have kindly volunteered to make this happen for the enjoyment of the Athlone public.
“I wish to express my gratitude to the outgoing St. Patrick’s Day committee whom, under the stewardship of Caoimhe O’Connell, continuously organised high standard and well attended parades in our town,” Cllr. Keena remarked.
As the lead in time to this year’s parade is short, the Town Mayor is encouraging local groups to make their parade participation intentions clear in the immediate future.
“Yes, it is a short run in and therein lies the challenge so I would encourage those who wish to take part in the parade to get in touch with a member of the Croi na hEireann committee soon,” Cllr. Keena continued.
Noting the decision to host the parade on Sunday, March 15, the Town Mayor is expecting a large footfall in the town to savour the atmosphere.
“Our focus is to host an attractive, float laden, parade which appeals to all members of the community, but the occasion also provides a platform for local businesses to avail of a captive audience in our town on what will be ‘Green Sunday’,” Cllr. Keena added.
John Henson, who was also a prominent member of the previous St. Patrick’s Day committee, spoke of his immense concern that Athlone would not witness a parade this year.
“When news emerged that the parade was unlikely to take place in Athlone this year, the public reaction was one of disappointment and the numerous requests received to reverse this decision were plentiful.
“Those from Providence in the US who were in attendance at our parade in 2019 were also initially saddened to hear of our national feast day passing off without a parade, in particular, Athlone native, Patrick Griffin, who was Grand Marshal at last year’s event, so when I notified him of the positive development, he was elated with regard to the news.
“The Town Mayor’s determined efforts to form an organising committee coupled with the news that the Athlone Chamber of Commerce would be a driving force were the main reasons I decided to become involved once again this year,” John affirmed.