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Thursday | 18th April 2024

Celebrating Dún Laoghaire’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade 2024 – Call for your photos from previous Dún Laoghaire parades!

19. 02. 2024

Article by Eoin Costello, Digital Dun Laoghaire

Arising from the work of the Dún Laoghaire St. Patrick’s Day Parade committee someone asked what year was it when the last Parade took place? If you enter the search ‘List all the parades and festivals that have taken place in Dún Laoghaire since 1950’ into Chat GPT it comes back with ‘Here’s a summary of some notable events and festivals that have taken place in Dún Laoghaire: the Dalkey Book Festival, Dalkey Lobster Festival.’

As locals we know that this result from ChatCPT shows that it is not as well informed or intelligent as it is claimed to be, Dún Laoghaire has been a site for various parades and festivals going back 100 years! Exploring the parades of Dún Laoghaire further through RTE Archives reveals a town rich in history, culture and social diversity. This nostalgic journey depicts our town as a place where the past and present merge, offering a unique seaside charm that attracts both residents and visitors. Here’s what we found searching online the old fashioned way.

If you have any photos or memories to share that can help build our story please contact [email protected], we would love to hear from anyone that can show our town hosted a St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the past?

The Dún Laoghaire Industrial Parade

Based on research of old newspaper articles, our town ran a Dún Laoghaire Industrial Parade each year from 1949 to 1965. For some reason it was not called a Saint Patrick’s Day parade but usually took place on the day immediately following the national day i.e. March 18th. The parade route started at Cumberland Street and proceeded through Lower and Upper George’s Street ending at St. Michael’s Wharf in the harbour. Participants included local and national firms, schools of dancing, boy scouts, the Irish Red Cross and marching bands. The Parade Committee was led by P. O’Cathain and met at the ‘Technical Institute, Dún Laoghaire’.

According to the RTE Archives feature on the 1962 Parade was in ‘its fourteenth year, the Dún Laoghaire parade attracted hundreds of visitors. The parade taking place the day after St Patrick’s Day featured 39 decorated floats and 15 vans.’

 

Participants in the Dun Laoghaire Industrial Parade (1962) – Source RTE Archives

Gordon’s Hardware Shop float for the 1963 parade – Photo John Kavanagh

Dún Laoghaire Festival 1977 

In 1977 RTE Archives records that Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave opened the Dún Laoghaire Summer Festival at the Royal Marine Hotel. Among those attending the launch of the festival were members of Dún Laoghaire Corporation, constituents, and three foreign ambassadors to Ireland. Liam Cosgrave was joined by his wife Vera and daughter Mary.

After a performance from the Army Band, Liam Cosgrave officially opened the Dún Laoghaire Festival of Summer. 

Dún Laoghaire Summer Festival 1975 – 1985 

‘Organised chaos’ was how the organiser described the 1985 Summer festival which spanned a week of activities with a ‘chaotic Teddy bear’s picnic’ being the centre piece of plans to attract 10,000 children. Leonie, described as the local orangutang, joined the parade of 40 floats and 9 bands. 

The parade included commercial floats from companies such as McDonalds while RTÉ was represented with a float from young people’s programme ‘Anything Goes’. Representatives from the army and marching bands led the parade.

Sandra Carroll Queen of the Sea in Dun Laoghaire (1985) Source – RTE Archives

Festival of World Cultures – 2001 – 2011

The Festival of World Cultures in Dún Laoghaire was an annual event that celebrated cultural diversity through music, arts, and various performances from around the globe. It started in 2001 and ran until 2011.

More than 100 events, ranging from music and dance to puppetry and art were part of the celebration of international music, dance, food and conversation at the Festival of World Cultures in Dún Laoghaire.

The Festival was described as 

‘A celebration of what people bring into this country. It’s important that people feel that they have a community and that they’re accepted and that people actually appreciate the talents and what they bring.’

Independence Day celebrations for JFK Aircraft carrier Visit 1996 

July 1996 saw the United States aircraft carrier John F Kennedy anchored off Dublin Bay.

‘Big John’ as it is known by the crew stopped a mile and a half off Dun Laoghaire as it was too big to berth. A twenty-one gun salute from the battery in Dun Laoghaire harbour marked the arrival of one of the biggest warships in the world. As the visit coincided with the 4th of July there was an Independence Day festival in Dún Laoghaire Town. 

A clearly circumspect article in the Irish Times described their visit to the aircraft carrier as ‘an assortment of media people treated to “opportunities” of stunning banality…a left hand drive ambulance with 79,000 miles on the clock … was presented to Wicklow councillors during a ceremony which went largely unnoticed in the ship’s cavernous interior.’ while ‘Reporters scuttled around the hangar asking the crew members if they had any Irish connections.’

It was, as one of the residents pointedly remarked, as if Dun Laoghaire had returned to its Kingstown days, except it was the Americans instead of the British this time. – The Irish Times

And now it’s the turn of the 2024 Saint Patrick’s Day Parade!

In our research we have been unable to establish if there has ever been a St Patrick’s Day Parade in Dun Laoghaire! Therefore the 17th March 2024 may very well be the town’s first ever such parade. 

The Parade, driven by Dún Laoghaire Business Association and supported by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, aims to unite local businesses and the community in celebration. Not only will it commemorate Ireland’s national day, but also showcase the spirit and pride of Dún Laoghaire town.  

Local Fine Gael Councillor, Lorraine Hall, who chairs the St Patrick’s Day Coordination Committee, said the following, “Work is well underway for the return of Dún Laoghaire’s St Patrick’s Day Parade.”

“In the past few weeks, we invited local schools, sports clubs and community groups to get involved in the Parade itself. We are absolutely delighted with the response we received and look forward to delivering a really enjoyable and interesting parade on the day.”

““The St. Patrick’s Day Festival is a fantastic opportunity to bring people together to celebrate our culture, heritage and community, as well as showcasing our fantastic shops and hospitality businesses in Dún Laoghaire. We are also hoping that all local businesses get involved and make this a really memorable occasion for our Town.”  

For more information please see – https://www.dunlaoghairetown.ie/stpatricksparade/ 

If you have any photos or memories to share that can help build our story please contact [email protected], we would love to hear from anyone that can show our town hosted a St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the past?