PRE-PANDEMIC PASSION The Westport Town Hall Theatre’s Mac Lúi Children’s Arts Festival brought great colour to the Westport St Patrick’s Day parade back in 2019. Pic: Michael McLaughlin
County looking forward to carefree parades and a feast of sporting action
Around this week three years ago, we were all coming to realise the full extent that the Covid-19 pandemic would have on our daily lives. Businesses and venues began to close in March 2020 to stop the spread of the disease, and the Government was faced with the reality that a countrywide lockdown would have to be put into place.
But now that we seemed to have finally come to terms with how to handle the disease, things are more-or-less back to normal, and society is functioning as it was before the pandemic.
The first large events to which Covid-19 put a stop were our St Patrick’s Day parades. This year is really the first they are all back in full swing since the carefree pre-pandemic parades of 2019, with nearly every village and town now once again looking forward to celebrating in style this coming weekend – and many putting in huge efforts to prepare for fun events.
Most will be having their parade on St Patrick’s Day itself on Friday, but some have chosen to make a weekend of the celebration and are holding their parades on Saturday instead.
Friday is perhaps the best day for the feast of our Patron saint to fall on, as everyone is planning to make a weekend of it. The hospitality sector will be hoping to make hay while the sun shines, with Mother’s Day also taking place on Sunday.
Of course, there is also a bumper week of sport taking place, which is sure to capture the attention of many across the county.
The Cheltenham Festival of national hunt racing starts today (Tuesday) and runs all the way up to St Patrick’s Day. The big event of the week, the Gold Cup, takes place on St Patrick’s Day, with a huge Irish crowd in attendance for the sold-out event.
There is also the small matter of the deciding rugby Six Nations game taking place in Dublin on Saturday, as Ireland look to win the Grand Slam for just the fourth time in their history with a win over arch rivals England. There is a real ‘feel good factor’ around the Irish rugby team at present, and here’s hoping our own Caelan Doris recovers from injury to play his part on a huge occasion at the Aviva on Saturday, where kick-off is down for 5pm.
And to round off a really memorable week, our Mayo GAA team will be continuing their quest for National League glory when they make the journey north to Ballybofey for a crunch tie against relegation threatened Donegal. This starts a really busy period for Kevin McStay and his team, as they then play Monaghan on March 26, probably a league final in Croke Park on April 2 and then the championship start with a home game in Castlebar against Roscommon on April 9.
Covid-19 may be still very fresh in the memory four years on, but its impact is undoubtedly making us all the more thankful to be able to at last fully enjoy our St Patrick’s Day celebrations and all these exciting sporting events.