Memories of St. Patrick's Day
Bernadette Forde, Chairperson Killererin Heritage Society
All through most of my married life, parades were a feature of St. Patrick’s Day in Killererin. It started when the local scout troop started parading from the village to the church for Mass on St. Patrick’s Day. They used to play their tin whistles on the way with Irish music and the traditional songs being the music of the day.
St. Patrick’s Day committee set up
A few short years after that, the local St. Patrick’s Day committee was set up and the parades became a permanent feature in our calendar and an event not to be missed.
Everyone from the youngest to the oldest made an effort to be there with usually the oldest acting as Grand Marshalls for the day. Some of those Grand Marshalls that I remember are gone now – Pake Nicholson, Michael Kelly, Martin Lyster to name but a few. It was a grand sight to see them all decked out in their top-hat and tails for the occasion.
As for the floats! My God, had we some fun. Most of the local organisations took part – the Heritage Society of course, the Community Council, Young at Heart, local men’s and ladies GAA, local businesses and of course most of the townlands. There were some individuals who made a great effort every year too.
It didn’t feel great all the time of course, during the preparations. I was part of the Scouts,Young at Heart group and the Heritage Group and my husband was more involved with the GAA and Togher float (the townland where we live). Every year, we begged and borrowed materials from all and sundry such as timber for signs and our house was busy for days ahead making hand-painted signs etc.
Cold draughty sheds
The same was going on in houses all around the parish. The night or two before the big event were spent in cold sheds trying to put together floats – with the help of anybody that would lend a hand. Those March winds showed no mercy in those draughty sheds.
Usually our husbands and a few neighbours were “persuaded” to help. It was often cold and wet but it had to be done and we swore we would never do it again – until the year came around again and we rolled up our sleeves once more. The memories are priceless.
The tractors and trailers
There was always great banter while getting the float ready but of course, we could not do anything without getting the loan of a tractor and trailer and driver for the occasion. We used various people such as Jimmy Lohan, Gerry Connolly and Joe Fahy and it usually ended with a hot cup of tea and refreshments in some house or maybe something stronger. Indeed, it was well known that often something stronger was imbibed aboard the floats during the parade itself on particularly cold St. Patrick’s Days.
After the parades, everyone would adjourn to the community centre and await the decision of the independent judges. Tea and refreshments were provided by the hardworking St. Patrick’s Day committee and was always very welcome. It was a time when the whole community came together. Unfortunately it no longer is a feature of 17th March in Killererin.
What a time we had!!!!