Sunday, 19 March 2017

ABBEYFEALE ST PATRICK'S DAY PARADE 2017


ABBEYFEALE ST PATRICK'S DAY PARADE 2017


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TG4 news broadcast of parade



The 2017 Abbeyfeale St Patrick's Day Parade went ahead as scheduled last Friday afternoon, despite the very bad weather. There had been fears that the event might have to be cancelled due to heavy rain and high winds. However, the organizing committee decided to let the parade continue and were delighted with the public response.
Templeglantine Comhaltas got proceedings off to a lively start in The Square with some toe-tapping jigs and reels that soon attracted a large crowd, and even had a few hardy souls attempting to dance a half-set through the pouring rain! Conditions for playing live music were terrible but the Glantine players responded magnificently and were rewarded with loud and sustained applause at the end.
The parade set off from Mountmahon just after 4pm and proceeded down along Main Street. It was led by the Grand Marshal himself, St Patrick, in the guise of Paddy Finucane.
Following behind came an assortment of fire engines and vintage cars and tractors. Two Honda 50 motor bikes rekindled fond memories of distant days. The Men's Shed built a brilliant replica of the last train to travel between Listowel and Abbeyfeale. Another float suggested pedal power as the answer to toxic waste. Donald Trump's Mexican Wall was being built up, stone-to-the-board style, and looked pretty impregnable. Fleadh By The Feale advertised De Danann as their headline act this year and danced a lively polka. Athea Drama Group were also dancing in the rain and having a ball. The local Kostal factory and the various sporting and cultural organizations all got in on the act, making the parade a vibrant and colourful affair despite the atrocious conditions. And we must not forget the Rathkeale Brass Band who also braved the elements and put on a classic performance.
Spectators came out in good numbers and huddled under umbrellas as they clapped and cheered the participants every step of the way. They were determined not to allow a bit of bad weather to spoil their enjoyment of the day.
Prize for Best Float went to FitAll for Trump's Wall. Best Decorated Window was won by Leen's Hotel. Best Youth Entry was a close call between Fr Casey's GAA Club, Abbeyfeale RFC and Abbeyfeale Utd FC, with the soccer players eventually getting the nod.
The organizing committee would like to thank the following for their help and support; Main parade sponsors, Twohigs Supervalu, Abbeyfeale, and all the other sponsors. All of the participants without whom there would be no parade. The people who decorated their windows so tastefully. The crowds who gathered along the pavements and offered their support and encouragement as the parade passed by. Everyone who contributed to the recent church gate collection and supported the pub quiz. All Star Deliveries for supplying the stage, and The Fáilte for the loan of the steps. James Kennedy for the sound system. All of the politicians, clergy and other dignitaries who turned up to offer their support. Kathleen Collins of Jack Foley's Bar for supplying food and refreshments. The local Gardai who kept the traffic running smoothly. The various stewards and all who assisted on the day. A big thank you to everyone concerned. Míle buíochas daoibh go léir! 
*TG4 broadcast a brief clip of the parade on their main news program on Friday night. (see clip above) 

ST PATRICK AND THE SHAMROCK.

Legend has it that when St Patrick was travelling around the country trying to convert the heathen Irish he made a short visit to Abbeyfeale. That visit may very well have changed the course of history.

We have already told the tale of how he mistakenly blessed the footballers of Kerry instead of Limerick, and promised the Kingdom an abundance of All Ireland football titles – a promise that he has continued to keep, right up to the present day. 

However, further research has unearthed another strange story.

It seems that St Patrick was having great difficulty in persuading the people to abandon their stone idols and pagan gods, and to embrace the new religion. The ghosts of Morrigan, Medb and the Tuatha-De-Danann were still being worshipped in many parts of the country. St Patrick badly needed a good publicity stunt to grab the people's attention and bring them to their senses. 

Pondering his many problems he went for a long walk up the Hill Road. As he turned down towards Grogeen he noticed a man kneeling in a field of turnips with his eyes closed and apparently praying.

St Patrick climbed in over the ditch and approached the man. As he drew nearer he realized that the man was not in fact praying at all, but was uttering profanities in a most alarming manner.

Good day to you, sir.” St Patrick greeted him.

The man completely ignored the saint and carried on with his blasphemy.

I am Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland." St Patrick continued. “Can I be of any assistance?”

The man opened his eyes. “Never heard of you,” he said. “but then I don't get out very often.”

I have just banished all the snakes from this fair isle." St Patrick informed him.

Pity you can't banish the weeds from this fecking field.” was the glum reply. 

The two men sat down on a clump of rushes and gazed around. The man produced a clay pipe from his waistcoat pocket and put a match to it. Patrick took a cigar from under his cassock and lit up. Soon, both men were puffing away contentedly while a pall of thick smoke drifted slowly above their heads.

So, you are having problems with the weeds?” St Patrick blew a smoke ring. 

The man nodded. “Can't seem to keep the fecking things down.” he replied

I am having the same trouble with pagan gods” said St Patrick. “The feckers seem to be springing up all over the place.”

"Trouble in the fields for both of us, so.” the man laughed.

"Tell me." said St Patrick "Do you believe in God?"

"Are you trying to convert me?"

"It's my job." St Patrick smiled.

"I never gave God much thought." the man admitted. "He either exists or he doesn't. My believing won't change that. Do you believe in him?"

"I'm a saint" Patrick reminded him. "It kinda comes with the job."

They smoked on in companionable silence, each lost in his own thoughts. Eventually, St Patrick stubbed out his cigar and stood up.

"I can't seem to do much about my own problems at present, but at least I can help you with yours." He knelt down and began pulling our chunks of weeds. The man joined him and they set to work with a will.

"What is that stuff?" St Patrick asked, holding up a fistful of green foliage.

"Seamróg." the man replied. "Fecking thing is growing up all over the place. It is out of control - so it is."

St Patrick continued to examine the green plants with interest, and a gem of an idea began to form. He stood slowly up, and looked around the field and down at the plants again. He separated a single strand and looked at it closely. "Three leaves" he whispered "in one stem. I wonder ......"

He pinned a sprig of it on to the front of his robe. “How does that look?” he asked, twirling around.

How do you think it looks” The man was not impressed. “It's a fecking weed!”

Ah, but think of the symbolism. Three leaves, one stem. Three persons, one God.”

Are you saying that it is a sign from heaven?” the man asked.

Could be - if you believe in that kind of thing.” St Patrick twirled again. “Could also be a huge money-spinner.”

The man stood and wiped his hands on his trousers. "Are you alright in the head?" he demanded, staring hard at the saint. "You look as if you have seen some kind of vision."

"I have." replied Patrick "A vision of the future - and the future is green."

"Is this more of your religious mumbo jumbo?" asked the man. "You shouldn't be taking all that stuff too seriously, you know."

" 0h, I don't." said St Patrick "Not really. But tell me, how much of this 'seamrog' is growing around the place?"

"Acres and acres of it. We have been trying to destroy the fecking thing for years, but it is a losing battle."

"Excellent!" St Patrick rubbed his hands. "Here's the plan. You must forget the turnips and start harvesting “seamróg” immediately. I shall acquire distribution rights and register a logo. We will call it “shamrock” and create the franchise for a new feast day. Every saint must have his day. I shall have Paddy's Day. There will be a parade with hats and badges, and loads of green 'seamróg' scattered everywhere. It might even go global. We could soon be rich and famous."

Will there be much drink involved?! The man enjoyed an occasional pint.

Only a modest amount.” said Patrick. “We don't want to turn it in to another Arthur's Day.”

"But what about your mission to convert the heathen natives?"

"Once we start our advertising campaign they will be falling over themselves to join us on Paddy's Day!"

"It will never work. The public are not as green and as gullible as they look. They will soon forget you"

"Wanna bet!" said St Patrick.

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