Gearing up to paint the towns of West Cork green – virtually!

March 15th, 2021 3:00 PM

By Jackie Keogh

Joe McCarthy from Bandon taking part in last year’s drive-by parade. (Photo: Denis Boyle

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Parades around the country may be cancelled, but St Patrick’s Day is not, and some charities are hoping to reap the rewards, reports Jackie Keogh, who has rounded up the options for March 17

THIS year for St Patrick’s Day, some people are opting to be their own grand marshal in aid of charities, such as Anam Cara and Aware, while others are hoping to take part in RTÉ’s fun virtual parade.

Groups hoping to stage a virtual St Patrick’s Day celebration may also be interested to know that they still have time to apply to the West Cork Municipal District’s community fund for support.

It’s ironic that the Dublin parade – which stretches from Parnell Square to St Patrick’s Cathedral – is just 2.5km long, so there’s plenty of scope for people to double down and do their own 5km socially-distanced parade.

In Skibbereen, a group of artists have spent the last few weeks helping people make their own costumes and parade props.

Ana Ospina, Alice Halliday and Michael Stephens conducted free online classes showing people how to make their own folklore and fairytale costumes for this year’s virtual parade.

The ‘Once Upon A Parade’ project actually started in 2020, but was postponed due to the cancellation of the Paddy’s Day parade.

This year, Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre have teamed up with Skibbereen and District Chamber of Commerce and some of the best costumes will be put on display in the cabin owned by the chamber at Bridge Street.

There will be a slideshow, too, of all the finished costumes displayed in the window of the arts centre. And people are being urged to share fun photos too on social media using the hashtags #onceuponaparade and #skibbereenvirtualstpatricksday.

Kate Callanan, the administrator of Skibbereen and District Chamber of Commerce, said all the costumes and props will be ‘brought to life’ next year at what will hopefully be a traditional parade through the town.

In addition, Skibbereen has plans to ‘green light’ the town with green illuminations on trees, as well as the approach road to the town.

Skibbereen Heritage Centre has also been hard at work digitising burial registers for West Cork graveyards, bringing the number of burial records on its database to over 32,000, a great resource for for the iaspora tracing Irish ancestry this St. Patricks Day. The Heritage Centre has also made available video tours of some of the Cork County Council graveyards in the West Cork area.

In Dunmanway, due to social distancing guidelines and the schools having being closed for so long, Tommy Collins, the treasurer member of Dunmanway Community Council, said the town has not made any official arrangements to celebrate St Patrick’s Day this year.

Tommy did, however, encourage the people of Dunmanway to show their national pride by sharing their celebrations on social media.

‘We are hoping that families will dress up and share images of their own St Patrick’s Day celebrations,’ he said.

In Clonakilty, Mick Hanly, the administrator of Clonakilty Chamber of Commerce, said: ‘We looked at lots of options, but decided that events – such as a fireworks display – would not be appropriate given the Covid-19 regulations.’

In Kealkil, the St Patrick’s Day Parade always managed to be a bit of a scene-stealer because it attracted so much community involvement and had a staggering number of floats, but it too has been postponed again this year.

Eileen O’Shea, chairperson of the Bantry Development and Tourism Association said, that ‘due to the level 5 restrictions we, like the rest of the country, are unable to host our usual parade in Bantry this year.’

The chairperson did, however, confirm that there will be a car parade around the town at 4pm to mark the national holiday.

The chairperson said people will also remember ‘all those who have died in the past year and our diaspora.’

In Kinsale, a best shop-front competition on Facebook is encouraging business owners to decorate their window in advance of the special day. Kinsale Town Hall will also be illuminated green for the occasion.

In Macroom, the Lee Valley Enterprise Board is providing lighted shamrocks in the Town Square and Main Street and erecting new flags in the Castle Gates and Town Hall, while businesses are set to decorate their windows with a St Patrick’s Day theme.

A Macroom St Patrick’s Day Virtual Celebration 2021 video will showcase the town, telling a St Patrick’s Day story, with special tribute paid to frontline workers; a St Patrick’s Day  greeting from Macroom’s twin towns’ Bubry and Marcallo mayors, and from the president of the Woodland String Band in Philadelphia. See for more.

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