Towns and villages all around the area will put their best foot forward for their Saint Patrick’s Day parade on Saturday.
Obviously the main parade will be in Sligo town where there will be dozens of colourful floats and several bands – many of them from the North – entertaining thousands of onlookers.
For the first time the parade will be led by two Garda horses and riders. The horses are part of a 12 strong unit which is based at Aras an Uachtaráin. Standing 12-ft tall, the horses and Garda riders are set to create a striking image at the head of the parade.
As usual, up front will be an Army colour party and the City of Sligo Pipe Band. The parade will follow the same route as last year, stating at Mail Coach Road and ending at the Garda Station. It will again bypass, O’Connell Street, by going over Hyde Bridge and up Bridge Street. The reviewing stand will be at the Yeats Memorial Building.
Activities around this year’s parade will be extended to make it a long weekend attraction with events on Friday and Saturday nights.
On Saturday, Saint Patrick’s Day, the big parade starts as normal at noon from Mail Coach Road. It will follow the same route as last year, bypassing O’Connell Street on its way to the finishing point at the Garda Station.
Meanwhile the organisers of the parade that is billed as Ireland’s shortest – Ballinafad – say this will be their final outing. The organising committee for the past four years said they are “taking a break”. The Ballinafad parade starts at 1pm.
In Ballymote the parade starts at 3.30pm from the Pastoral Centre/Loftus Hall area and continue along Teeling Street, Lord Edward St. and O’Connell St. finishing at Rogers Hardware.
In the west of the county, there are two parades, in Enniscrone and Dromore West.
In Enniscrone, the parade will move off from the Diamond Coast Hotel, Enniscrone at 1.30pm. The theme this year aims to highlight the upcoming 40th anniversary of the town’s New Year’s Day Swim.
Dromore West has a later starting time of 4pm at the church.
In the Eastern side of the county the Gurteen parade also starts at 4pm and will be led by the man himself, ‘St. Patrick’.
In North Sligo Grange will be the centre of attraction where the 10th annual parade has a 2pm start. The committee have organised a parade ‘launch night’ on Thursday night in Moran’s Lounge at 9pm.
North Leitrim’s main town, Manorhamilton, will host the final parade of the day, stating at 5.30pm. It starts at the Fire Station at 5.30pm and takes the usual route around and through the town and returns to the starting point.
Bellaghy / Charlestown’s parade is due to move off at 1pm from the Town Hall.
And over the Curlews, the Boyle parade starts from Carty’s Garage at 3.30pm.
More details of the parades around the region can be found in our Town And County Section.