Councillors unanimously showed their support for the work of the St Patrick’s Day committee at last week’s meeting of the Athlone Municipal District, ensuring that the council’s allocation towards the March 17 celebrations remains the same as last year.
Announcing funding as part of the Festival and Grants Scheme, the council had intended to reduce the funding allocated to St Patrick’s celebrations by €1,800 from last year’s figure of €6,800, despite the committee requesting an increase of €1,200.
Mayor Aengus O’Rourke (FF ) voiced his opposition to the move. He said the St Patrick’s Day committee put in a Trojan effort last year so that Athlone and its public could enjoy Ireland’s national holiday to the full.
“I think we should give them all the support we can,” he said.
Cllr Michael O’Brien supported the mayor, saying any reduction in funding would send out the wrong message to organisers after the work they put in to making last year a success.
It was decided to retain the same €6,800 allocation as last year.
Councillors did, however, vote to defer making a decision on the amount of funding to be allocated to the Athlone River and Food Festival. The committee for the festival have requested €20,000 for holding the event, almost half of the entire annual budget. It was decided to add the matter to the agenda for the March Municipal District Meeting, so as to inform the committee of the decision as early as possible, allowing them good time to make plans.
Funding for Tri Athlone has been reduced from €8,000 to €6,000 in order to free up funding for other events.
The Athlone Show and AIT Grand Prix have retained the same funding as last year, at €3,000 and €5,000 respectively.
The Lough Ree International Pike Festival and World Cup will receive €1,000, as will Moate Partnership Group towards St Patrick’s Day celebrations in the town, and Midlands Amenity Park towards its family fun day event in June.
A total of €500 has been allocated to Athlone Sub Aqua’s Snorkel Festival, the Goldsmith Literary Festival, and Athlone IWAI’s Shannon Boat Rally.
St Kieran’s Community Centre will receive €250 towards a family fun day event in June, and the same figure will go towards Rosemount Pride of Place.
The council has chosen not to allocate funding to Athlone Musical Society’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar, as they see it as self funding.