Shortly after the St. Patrick’s Day parade, I met with committee member Nuala Joyce to ask her a few questions….
How did you initially get involved with the St. Patrick’s Day parade committee?
Accidentally! I was involved with the social club in the factory at the time, when Aidan Murphy decided to start the parade. He called all of the committees and organisations in the town and invited them to come to a meeting in the Corrib Hotel. They got a letter at the factory, and the committee said to me, “Are you doing anything on a Tuesday night? Would you go to this meeting?”. So, that’s how I got involved. Rory Clancy was on that first committee too.
That was ten years ago?
Yeah, the very first parade we had was in March 2005. This year was the tenth parade. It’s unbelievable that it’s gone on so long. The sad side is that when we first started, we had a long list of businesses in the village and that number has really decreased. But the groups, organisations and sport clubs have gotten bigger and better over the years, which is a great thing. There is so much going on in Oughterard, and the St Patrick’s Day parade is the one day when all these groups can come out and show us what they’re doing.
It’s also free publicity, because we don’t charge. Instead the committee fundraises for the parade. This year we had to go back to the businesses and ask them for funding, because there’s only a core group of five of us. Four of us on the committee: Myself, Rory Clancy, Regina O’Toole, and Alison O’Toole. Then John McDonagh, who we really and truly could not do without. The committee was always a small group, but at the moment membership is at its lowest. We are always looking out for new people with new ideas. No matter how small an idea they have. We don’t exclude anybody.
What are the pros and cons of being involved in the committee?
Being out there on the day. Once the parade gets on the move, once it starts coming down Main Street and you see the Grand Marshal coming with the flag, and all of the groups, it’s a great feeling. As long as nobody gets injured, and that the traffic is moving pretty smoothly.
I suppose the con is that you’re out there in the public eye! There is a lot of stuff to be aware of, and to think about. There is so much to do before the day of the actual parade. It’s getting the truck together, and the organising. But every year it’s getting easier and easier because we’re now getting to the stage where we’ve got all the contacts needed. You keep your friends close but your contacts closer!
This year’s parade was a great success. There was a great turn-out!
It was brilliant. There seems to be a lot of positive feedback. We want to hear the criticisms too though. If someone thinks we need to do something different, if we don’t know we can’t do anything about it. We want to hear the good stuff and the bad!
You also had the National Anthem as part of the festivities this year. Why?
Rory (Clancy) had this idea. Down through the years of the parade, we’ve never done the National Anthem. A few of our Grand Marshals have passed away, and a couple of them had been on the committee, and because it was the tenth year of the parade. It was a way of saying thank you and remembering them. There have also been committee members that have come and gone on to other things. Without their input, this wouldn’t be what it is.
We also had Aidan (Murphy) as our Grand Marshal, who came up with the idea of the parade all those years ago. Denis (Geoghegan) and Gerry (Darcy), who sang the anthem, had played at that very first parade too, and Gerry was MC. So it was all a sort of reunion!
And for people who might want to get involved next year?
We will be having our AGM in the next month or two. There’ll be posters advertising that, and we have a Facebook page too. We’ll make sure that the word is out there.
We just want to say a big thank you to everybody, because without them there’d be no parade. There’s no point in having a truck out there, all decorated, judges organised and music, with the street cordoned off and everything, if people don’t come.
From year one, the floats have been great. The progression, and the amount of work and effort and money that people put in, to make our parade bigger and better, it’s brilliant. And seeing the kids, coming out, and being there and just to see how proud they are, to walk in front of their community. That’s what we want. We want our parade to be a day to celebrate what we have in Oughterard, and the surrounding areas.
Hopefully that will continue.
Thanks to Nuala for taking the time to answer my questions.
Congratulations to all involved!
Make sure to like their page at this link: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Oughterard-St-Patricks-Day-Parade/1377668475842309