FOUNDING president of the University of Limerick, Dr Ed Walsh, has said it is an “amazing honour” to be selected as the grand marshal for this year’s St Patrick’s Day parade in Limerick.
Dr Walsh was chosen to lead the parade due to the fact that UL is set to celebrate its 40th anniversary later this year.
“It is an amazing honour and I never thought, when I came into Limerick 42 years ago, that I would be in this exalted position,” he said at the launch of the festival this week.
“I never expected that I would be a grand marshal, it is of course a huge honour. I was honoured some years ago as a freeman of the city of Limerick and now to be grand marshal of the wonderful parade is quite an honour. Congratulations to all of the good people of Limerick who have organised the largest parade outside of Dublin,” he added.
Some 70,000 spectators witnessed the parade in Limerick city last year, which featured more than 3,500 participants.
The theme for this year’s March 17 parade is ‘The World in Union’, to celebrate of Limerick’s diversity.
There was very positive news also in the announcement that the 42nd International Band Championship - which had seemed close to dying away in recent years - will this year feature 21 bands from all over Ireland, the USA and Europe.
Five marching bands from the USA will travel to Limerick to perform this year, including the 240 strong Permian High School Band from Odessa, Texas and bands from Missouri, Washington, and North Carolina.
The White Russian Central Band (formerly the Red Army Band), renowned as one of the finest military ensembles among marching bands, will also visit Limerick for the band parade.
Eoghan Prendergast, Development Division Manager, Shannon Development said the return of such a contingent of bands meant the band competition, to take place on Sunday, March 18, was “returning to its former glory”.
Mayor of Limerick, Cllr Jim Long, said he was “delighted with the interest show from bands to take part in this year’s event, particularly from the USA”.
“This is the only such competition in Ireland and we want to continue to grow the event,” he added.
Some of Limerick best known bands will also take part, including the Boherbuoy Brass and Reed Band and the Limerick City Brass and Reed Band.