Category: Archive

Sun puts smile in Irish eyes

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

The good weather also led to larger than usual turnouts for the smaller parades around the country, though a small number had been cancelled as public liability insurance premiums proved too expensive for the voluntary groups that organise them.
“We estimate there was the biggest turnout ever in Dublin — in excess of half a million people,” a Garda spokesman said. “The sunshine appears to have brought out larger crowds to enjoy the celebrations.
“It was all very good humored. We are having an exceptionally quiet day.”
Most of the main city center routes in Dublin were closed to traffic as the parade with 3,500 performers — up 80 percent from 1,970 last year — wound its way through the city.
The 250 floats and 18 Irish and international bands with a theme of “Voyages and Visions” were led by the grand marshal Samantha Mumba, the 19-year-old Dublin-born pop singer and actress, who described it as an “amazing experience.”
“I have been a huge fan of the parade since I was a child,” she said. “I have gone to it every year since I was 4. We wouldn’t have asked for a better day. It is beautiful, like a summer’s day.”
The parade was preceded by departure the from the Mansion House, en route to the O’Connell Street viewing platform, of the Irish State coach pulled by four white draught horses.
Breaking with tradition, Lord Mayor Dermot Lacey took to a bicycle — a special e-bike to promote cycling in the gridlocked streets — while his family traveled in the coach.
The festivities surrounding the bank holiday are traditionally regarded as a kickstart for the tourist season with a series of events designed to attract visitors.
This year it had grown from the traditional weekend-long partying to six days, involving 85 events.
They included a fireworks display on the Liffey, free concerts, pageantry and 13 street theater groups.
The festival’s chief executive, Maria Moynihan, described it as a “feast of the finest Irish musical, artistic and literary talent.”
Despite the burgeoning size of the parade organizers said the emphasis was on quality and not quantity.
It was the first time the city’s newest landmark, the Spire, dominated proceedings as the parade made its way down O’Connell Street.

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