Limerick this week welcomes thousands of musicians and performers as two of the biggest events of the year transform the City’s main thoroughfares into an open-air festival of colour and sound.
Coordinated by Limerick City and County Council in support of Limerick’s bid to host the European Capital of Culture designation in 2020, the Limerick St Patrick’s Festival begins with the annual St Patrick’s Parade which kicks off at 12pm this Thursday.
An estimated 80,000 people are expected to line the streets of Limerick City to watch more than 4,000 parade participants from 100 different community groups, companies, bands and sports clubs from across Limerick and Ireland.
The theme of this year’s Parade is ‘Commemorate’, which seeks to promote Limerick’s legacy, its peoples and its places. Actor, director and playwright, Myles Breen is this year’s Grand Marshall in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the arts in the Mid-West region.
Pop duo Jedward have also accepted an invitation from Limerick City and County Council to take part in this year’s Parade. Edward and John have strong family ties to Limerick, including their Grand Uncle Vincent Feeney who was the Mayor of the city.
The St Patrick’s festivities continue from 12 noon on Sunday when 1,200 musicians from 18 groups, including a 280-strong marching band from the University of Missouri, take part in the 46th Limerick International Band Championship.
Ireland’s only international band competition will see groups from the USA, Northern Ireland, Kerry, Limerick, Westmeath, Donegal, Dublin, Tipperary and Cork parade from Pery Square and down O’Connell Street to Arthurs Quay.
Each band will be afforded three minutes performance time in front of the review stand and all the bands will assemble for a jamboree in Arthurs Quay Park after they have performed. This year’s adjudication panel includes six internationally respected judges, including four from the United States.
At Arthurs Quay Park, Mayor Galvin will present the Championship prizes which this year includes the inaugural Kenneally Jewellers Perpetual Trophy for the ‘Overall Parade Champion’. The theme of this year’s Parade is ‘Commemorate’.
Cllr. Liam Galvin, Mayor of the City and County of Limerick said the Limerick St Patrick’s Festival represents “an important showcase and helps to promote the rich cultural heritage of Limerick City and County.”
“This coming week provides Limerick with an excellent opportunity to promote itself as a modern, thriving and vibrant city that we know and love to the rest of Ireland. It’s also a wonderful family occasion and creates a sense of community amongst the wider public while enabling people to very celebrate their Irishness and the country’s National Day. I want to congratulate the organisers and every group that is contributing to what will be an exciting week ahead of Limerick,” said the Mayor.
Kieran Lehane, Director of Services, Limerick City and County Council said Limerick St Patrick’s Festival provides “a significant economic boost for the Mid-West region generating a significant amount of bed nights.”
“The Festival delivers considerable positive knock-on effects for tourism, the local economy and Limerick’s reputation overseas. This week we look forward to welcoming even larger numbers of people into the City when the largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade outside of Dublin and Ireland’s only international band competition are held,” he added.
Limerick Arts and Culture Officer Sheila Deegan commented, “The Limerick 2020 Bid shows ambition, pride, energy and a unified plan to further harness the vibrancy seen in 2014. St. Patrick’s Day is an opportunity to showcase Limerick as a creative city and explore and promote the distinctiveness and diversity that define Limerick, from the beavers to the marching bands. All the participants in the Parade emphasize the immeasurable value in understanding, accepting and celebrating our community. Limerick is a rich and rewarding place of multiple experiences and through the parade we celebrate the many cultures that make Limerick a vibrant place.”
“The theme ‘Commemorate’ which is defined as ‘recall and show respect for or to mark or celebrate by doing or producing’ is a fitting way for Limerick to think about hundred years since the 1916 Rising,” she said. “2016 is seen as a year of reflection and engagement of the key historical moment that was the Easter Rising and the journey towards independent statehood. States come into existence by people. Parades happen because of people.”
“Let us celebrate on our national holiday,” concluded Ms. Deegan.
Meanwhile, photography enthusiasts are being offered an opportunity to win €1,000 worth of Canon photographic equipment by submitting photographs capturing the St Patrick’s Day Parade, the International Band Championship or Riverfest Limerick. Sponsored by Whelan Cameras and Canon, and supported by Limerick 2020, Scouting Ireland and Limerick City and County Council, the competition features a deadline of May 9th for submission of entries to firstname.lastname@example.org or www.whelancameras.ie/limerickinfocus.
More details on the 2016 Limerick St. Patrick’s Festival, including the Parade and the International Band Championship, can be found on www.limerick.ie/stpatricksfestival.