'St Patrick' at last year's Newcastle West parade Picture: Dermot Lynch
THERE will be no St Patrick’s Day parade in Newcastle West this year.
Not for the first time, Newcastle West will be the only major town in the county without a parade and citizens will have to go to Abbeyfeale or Rathkeale or as far as the city if they want to celebrate on the national holiday.
“It is very disappointing,” said publican Pat Whelan, one of a small group of people who have helped organise the parade in the town for the past three years.
“It was missing for a couple of years and we revived it. We had 4000 people in town last year,” he pointed out. “We felt we did well in the last three years.”
But Mr Whelan and his group of co-organisers which included MC Seamus Hennessy felt they were pushed out when a public meeting was called in the town last year about the 2017 parade..
“I wasn’t able to attend. I was out of the country. And Seamus Hennessy was also out of the country,” Mr Whelan said, adding that nothing was heard afterwards about what transpired at that meeting.
“We said then, let them off. Let them run it,” Mr Whelan added.
But the man who called that public meeting, auctioneer and community activist Pat O’Donovan, gave up on the idea when only two others and himself turned up for it. He had called the meeting, he explained, because last year’s parade in Newcastle West was “harmless” and he wanted to see if people could be galvanised to organise a bigger parade in 2017. “As far as I am concerned Rathkeale is the number one parade in the county,” he declared.
With such a poor response to his call in Newcastle West, he then left it lie. “If people want to get involved, they come out in numbers.”
Besides, he added: “I believe it is the community council and not individuals who should be organising the parade.”
However, the chairman of the Community Council, Michael Finucane did not entirely agree. He pointed out that it was the businesses in the town who are the main beneficiaries of the parade. “There are a lot more members in the Business Association than in the Community Council,” he said, adding that it was not the intention of Newcastle West Community Council to try and organise this year’s parade.
“It would be too late to try to organise it at this stage anyway,” he said.
However, he was more optimistic about the future and in particular is hoping that a new Development Association which is being proposed under a new five-year plan for the town, could take on board the organisation of a parade. This new association, Mr Finucane said, would hopefully act as an umbrella group for all the organisations in the town.
Meanwhile, the chairwoman of the Newcastle West Business Association, Vicki O’Sullivan said it was her hope that even “at this eleventh hour” it might be possible to get something organised. She intended putting out feelers, she told the Limerick Leader this Wednesday, to see if a community-based parade was still feasible.