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Philadelphia comes to Macroom for St Patrick’s Day Festival

March 16th, 2023 10:00 AM

Woodland String Band member in the Macroom parade.

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ORGANISERS of this year’s Macroom St Patrick’s Day Festival are busy preparing for this year’s festivities, which will see the town’s first parade since the opening of the new N22 bypass. 

With organisers promising a parade to remember, they are also getting set to welcome the return of some familiar faces from across the pond. 

The Philadelphian Woodland String band will return to the Cork town for the first time since 2020 after the pandemic put an abrupt halt to their plans after arriving in Ireland. Macroom is expecting over 120 visitors from Philadelphia who will march through the town, while 30 members of the Woodland String Band dressed in Latin-themed costumes will perform along the streets.

A group of 169 people from Philadelphia took off from the US in March 2020 as they headed for Macroom, but everything changed as they were halfway across the Atlantic. The country went into lockdown and they were confined to the Castle Hotel in Macroom for a week before they were able to board a flight again to return back to the US.

Rory Buckley of The Castle Hotel, said: ‘We look forward to welcoming our guests from Philadelphia, after a long three years without the usual festivities. The Woodland String Band has been coming to Macroom since I was a child, and it is great to get back to normal this year as we welcome them for our 2023 St Patrick’s Day Festival.’

Cllr Ted Lucey added: ‘The Macroom St Patrick’s Day Festival is something we very much look forward to each year. Not only does it bring the local community together, but we also welcome a large community from Philadelphia each year to join us in our celebrations, many of which have strong links to Macroom. Along with the Woodland String Band, there will be everything from steam engines to vintage cars, floats, dancing groups and much more. We look forward to welcoming everyone to join the celebrations.’

Tom Loomis of The Woodland String Band explained how in September 1999, the band was invited to Macroom to celebrate St Patrick’s day in 2000. 

‘We organised for 69 people to make that first trip and ever since, it has been a dream come true for many of us. The friendships we have made and the folks in Macroom, who are now like family, make us look forward to each trip over the Atlantic.

‘This will be the 20th trip for my wife Mary and I. To see how the St Patrick’s week festivities have grown in Macroom and the effort that the folks there put in for our visits is humbling. When we step off that bus on March 11th, it will feel like we never left!’

Festivities will start on Saturday March 11th when the Flower of Macroom contest takes place in the Castle Hotel at 8pm. All contestants will be presented and interviewed by Alf McCarthy formerly of RTÉ and the winner will receive a cheque for €500 and will have the honour of being the Grand Marshall of the 2023 St Patrick’s Day Parade. While the judging is taking place music will be provided by a combo from the Woodland String Band. Tickets costing €10 for this event will be on sale shortly.

Monday March 13th will see a 70s theme party take place in the Castle Hotel at 8pm, with a karaoke contest followed by traditional music in the same venue at 8pm the 15th. Free admission to both. The parade on the 17th will commence at 3.30pm from St Colman’s Park.

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