The streets of Dundalk were awash with flags, painted faces and tricolour this St. Patricks day, as record numbers crowded the town centre to see the 2014 Parade. Kicking off the Parade were the joint Grand Marshalls, Jack Murphy and Darach McQuaid, both members of Irish cycling dynasties. This year’s Parade was of course themed around the forthcoming Giro d’Italia, internationally renowned bicycle race, which will pass through our town on May 11th. Because of this, pink as well as green, was a prominent colour in the parade as it is the Giros official colour symbolising the ‘Race for Pink’.
The main viewing stand, which held its place outside Ulster Bank for many years, was relocated to Park Street in front of Dunnes Stores. The repositioning certainly added a fresh feel to the parade and this ensured the crowds were evenly spread from Clanbrassil Street into Park Street. Groups and clubs from all over Dundalk took part, including Best Interpretation of Theme winners Cuchulainn Cycling Club, Best International Group winners Yoruba Group and Overall Winners Friary Youth Club. The local culture, alongside many international groups such as the African, Lithuanian and Polish communities were represented in colourful and eye catching displays. Both young and old came out to enjoy the different musical and visual entertainment on the day, and the Market Square was alive with stalls showcasing a wide range of local producers and crafts people. Children played on kiddies rides and with traditional music from Comhaltas Craobh Dhún Dealgan and displays from both contemporary and Irish dancers, there was something for everybody on the day.
Dundalk Tourism Officer Sinead Roche said “The St. Patrick’s Weekend Festival was a great success. Throngs of people flocked to the Market Square on Saturday 16th of March for the vintage bicycle display and free children’s activities. On Sunday the Mystery Trail kicked off at 2.30pm and nearly a hundred families took part searching for clues around Dundalk to find out ‘whodunnit?’ The parade itself on St. Patrick’s Day was fantastic, a celebration of our strong community spirit and pride in our great town. The participants put so much effort into their preparations for the Parade and they didn’t disappoint the thousands of people who lined the streets of Dundalk. A big thank you to all the fantastic groups who took part in the Parade and on the stage, the sponsors, volunteers & dedicated organising committee.”