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Galway expects up to 30,000 spectators at St Patrick’s Day spectacular

A traditional Saint Patrick’s Day parade is the centrepiece of a three-day festival in Galway City on the March bank holiday weekend to celebrate our national day – and kick-start the tourist season.

As many as 3,000 participants are expected to take part in this year’s parade themed ‘Olympics 2024’.

The organisers, Galway City Council, estimate that 30,000 people will line the city’s streets to watch the parade on March 17.

Gary McMahon, Head of Economic Development Community and Culture at the Council, said the local authority would invest around €100,000 to host the parade, and three-day festival to honour our patron saint.

He revealed that the traditional Head of the River rowing event would make a grand return this year as part of the St Patrick’s Day offering, attracting rowers and spectators on Saturday March 16.

Free traditional music concerts will take place in a ‘stretch tent’ in Eyre Square after the parade starting at 2pm, 4pm, 6pm and 8pm on Sunday. There will be no food or drink sold as part of this event.

On Monday, the Town Hall Theatre would be showing documentaries about Galway, which will be free for the public.

The festival was being organised by the city’s Tourism Officer, Ruairi Lehmann.

Mayor of Galway, Councillor Eddie Hoare (FG) said the theme of this year’s parade would honour Galway’s great tradition of producing Olympic athletes.

Liam Blake, senior executive planner, said the parade will begin at The Quadrangle at University of Galway, and finish at Bóthar na mBan after going through University Road, Salmon Weir Bridge, Courthouse Square, Eglington Street, Williamsgate Street, and Eyre Square North.

Floats and performers will march between 11.30am and 1pm, and they will continue to the Black Box.

Mr Blake said the traditional route – through Galway City Centre’s pedestrian thoroughfare – hasn’t been used since 2019. Gardaí had again requested that the ‘new’ route, away from the pedestrian centre, be retained this year.

In a report to city councillors, a Garda Safety Adviser said they had no objections to the parade in principle, but they were concerned about “lack of detail” in the event management plan if bad weather disrupts the event, and crowd control.

Councillors unanimously approved the parade plan, which included a commitment to provide an updated event management plan to address Garda concerns.

It was approved subject to adhering to requirements set out by the HSE and Chief Fire Officer.

Mr McMahon said the Council would take on board councillors’ safety concerns about crowd control in front of the official viewing stand in Eyre Square and would better advertise the viewing areas that are for people in wheelchairs.

He said groups wishing to participate in the parade could still apply through the Council.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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