After almost two centuries of a military presence in the town, the 4th Field Artillery Regiment will have pride of place as Grand Marshal in next weekend’s St Patrick’s Day Parade, just 10 days before it pulls out of Mullingar for good.
A crowd of around 40,000 people is expected to turn out to pay tribute to the men and women of the 4 FAR who must complete their final transfer to Custume Barracks in Athlone by March 28.
However, the witness base is expected to be much larger this year, thanks to LiveTrad.com’s innovative move to broadcast the parade to our scattered diaspora through the internet.
“The 4th Field Artillery Regiment will parade one last time in full with its sister unit, the 54th Regiment Reserve with a full display of weapons, armour and artillery, as has been the tradition of the units’ participation in their community parade,” said Regimental Sergeant Major Noel O’Callaghan.
Between 60 and 70 floats are expected to accompany the Grand Marshals, but this may yet grow as, according to parade PRO Eoin Walsh: “Last year I got a call at 11am on the morning of St Patrick’s Day looking to enter a float!”
Streets in Mullingar will be closed from 2pm between the Green Bridge and the Town Park, whilst participants will begin the parade at 4pm from the site of the old Horizon dancehall in Grange to the Dublin Bridge.
All float owners are asked to be at the Horizon between 2 and 2.30pm, while walking entries are asked to muster across the road at Alan Bardon Motors (formerly Grange Motors ), but not before 3pm.
“Well, we don’t want a couple of hundred kids running around when you’re trying to get 40-foot trailers doing three-point turns,” said Eoin quite sensibly.
Street entertainment begins at 2.30pm, with three music sites on Dominick Street, the Market Square, and Austin Friar Street.
There will be two inflatable fun-zones for the little ones on Mount Street and Castle Steet, as well as “over two dozen” street entertainers spread out throughout the town.
Anybody who still wants to enter a float can do so through a form available in the Greville Arms Hotel or on the website - www.mullingarparade.ie - and the organizing committee want it known that anybody wishing to volunteer as a helper or marshal “between lunchtime and teatime” can do so through the same avenues.
“Oh, and watch out for the entry from The Stables - he’s promised me a big surprise,” said Eoin.