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ST PATRICK'S DAY PARADE

 

To see photo's of our St Patrick's Day Parade click on the line below and click on slide show in top left screen.

https://picasaweb.google.com/crokes125/StPatrickSDayParade2011#

 

PARADE REPORT

They seek HIM here.  They seek HIM there.  But where is HE?

 Shouldn’t have stopped for one in the Plaza.  We are now behind schedule and a bit late for the 1.30 meeting time.  Others are there and on time. A few more are scooting in on my timetable.  Doesn’t matter really.  It’ll never go on time. 

March 17th and we are back to the Ross Road for another St Patrick’s Day Parade.  We want this to be a big one.  It’s one of our 125 celebration events.  James Lynes, as usual, has the float in place.  A big 125 birthday cake and a Mad Hatter’s theme around it.  What’s this four kids all dressed up; Harry Potts as the Mad Hatter.  Good choice!  Sister Jade as Alice and Fiona Galvin as another Alice or is it a Princess.  Neil O’Shea dressed in our beloved black and amber from head to toe and a flag to boot – one of Paddy Bomber’s bloodline for sure.

Hold on wasn’t there supposed to be two floats.  On enquiry I’m told it’s on the way - not to worry.  People are still streaming down Ross Road to various stands for clubs of all seed, breed and creed.  A myriad of colours and costumes abound.  Some from an epoch long past, others of a more current variety and yet more from an age yet to come.  The sun breaks through the clouds and lifts everyone’s spirits.  It will be a great parade.

It’s skipping on for two and still the people come.  The large crowd, that Crokes were looking for this year, are congregating and swelling by the minute.  While a united force for the parade, one could see the different groupings form.  The boys from the senior team were backed into a gateway, resting on a wall.  And even here the mentors were on the sideline and the team taking up the centre and other flank.  New aerodynamic haircuts were the focus of attention, while I was in their midst.  What about league and championship titles boys?  Relax – a time and place for everything.  This is parading and hop-ball time and we’ll concentrate on that now.  The more serious issues arise later in the year and we’ll focus in on those issues, then.  Fair enough.  Creidim.

A drove of young ladies felt that the Mad Hatter’s float needed more kids on board.  Anyway, it is easier than walking the route.  Across the road – the old dogs for the hard road congregate.  Out of the way and not interfering with traffic flows – human or mechanical.  The second float arrives and slots into place.  Der Bros’s merc is drawing it.  But surely I saw Der, resplendent in formal dress of blazer shirt and club tie, making sure that all was in order.  Surely, Mrs. Bros is not behind the wheel of the merc.  A casual look at the driver’s seat confirms it’s not Mrs. Bros, as the silhouette doesn’t match, at all.  It’s John Keogh (Yogi).  How come he always gets the plum jobs? 

The kids are getting excited and a little impatient.  They should be getting lined up.  But where is HE.  HE should be here by now.  I half heard something about the alphabet – a, b, c, d, e, f, g-g or something like that.  Terry is getting things in shape.  The younger kids are lined up behind the floats; turned out in club colours and with flags galore to be waving.  Some of them wait in great anticipation - to be launched on their maiden voyage around the streets of Killarney on St Patrick’s Day.  Others, that have been here before, know the drill.  It’s all about pacing yourself and leaving a bit over for the reviewing stand. 

Behind the younger players, the older footballers from the boys and girls teams line up.  The mandatory “I didn’t want to march this year.  I was made come by the Ma and Da” was in constant recital from this age-group and sometimes with harmonies.  But you always got the sense that this group were as excited to parade for the black and amber as were the younger apprentices.  However, it might not be cool to admit this.  Anyway, we’re here now. Let’s have a bit of craic.

For the first time and well worth mentioning Crokes proudly had a group of camogie players parading.  Not the largest of groups in the Club for this year’s parade, watch out, they will grow and grow over the coming years.  While not the largest group, they were most definitely the prettiest – and they know it.  Talk about posers, when the camera is around.  Modelling careers are definitely on the agenda. 

Hurling is now the theme and our young male hurlers fall in behind their female counter-parts.  A fearsome-looking bunch, camáns in hand, a few sliotars tapping back and forth.  The confines of a parade are not the natural habitat for hurlers.  Their’s is the expanse of the open field to flail the sliotar seventy or eighty yards with flick of the wrists and a shift of body-weight from one side to the other.  Some can’t resist the temptation to let loose with a quick swish of their ash-plant.  Mentor’s John, Kieran, Mike and Gene quickly quell this enthusiasm, in case it is the precursor of an epidemic of swings.  The Order of Malta could be called into action yet. 

Taking up the rear is a cohort of adult members.  This is a varied group with old and new, both in terms of age and service to the Club.  Murt O’Shea and his good wife Bridie, with ever-present daughter Sheila on hand, lead out the posse.  Paddy Bomber and sons John and Padraig are to the fore also in the company of Eamonn Fitzgerald, as ever “on the ball”.  Fr. Paddy keeps step with Niall Keogh and Mike O’Leary parteners up to Martin Byrnes.  Jimmy Coppinger and Brendan Harnett team up at mid-field.  Jim Connelly and his fair lady are also among this group and the full-back positions are taken up by Pat O’Shea and Niall O’Callaghan.  Botty tried to join the young lads from the senior team, earlier.  But, get real.  Botty was being selected for over 35 basketball teams nearly fifteen years ago.  Young lads how are you!!!! 

The rear group carefully looked over what was ahead of them, the future of the Club.  Those that would carry on what they had worked for in the past and continue to work for and support now.  They must have approved, for there were smiles all round and a sense of contentment, that can only exist in the world where all is right and all is secure.

The head of the parade was moving at last.  The senior team and mentors moved to the front – and no Botty.  But where was HE?  Surely HE is around somewhere – to get our group “under orders”?  Maybe he was at the other end.  I must have missed him.  Meanwhile, out front a new banner was unfurled, announcing the arrival of Dr Crocaigh and displaying our three logos – that of the new Clear Air Boys, the even more youthful 125 logo and the ever constant and long-serving Club crest.  No better men than Liam Hartnett and Matthew Courtney to carry our banner.  Only one person could go ahead of this.  But where was HE?  The white flag was raised.  Surely we were not to have a false start?  But, cometh the hour, cometh the man.  Without a moment’s hesitation, the whole matter was taken in hand.  The one and only man for the job in these circumstances stepped into the breech.  Out front and on his own, the man to lead Crokes in the St Patrick’s Day Parade in our 125th year, carrying the Bishop Moynihan Cup aloft, came the bold Stephen Brosnan.  One quick glance over his right shoulder, a flick of his right hand and the order “forward march”.  Crokes were on the move. Where Stevo leads, the rest of us will follow; one group, one community, one desire – the glory of the black and amber.  

The O’Donoghue Cup had also to be shown off.  Stephen would never manage both.  Not that he wouldn’t try, but it just would not be possible.  But in true Crokes style, when a Crokes player is in trouble, support play is on hand.  Two stalwarts in Mark Fitzgerald and Jack Griffin came out of the pack.  And like Simon of Syrus assisted Jesus on that first Good Friday, the boys were on hand to help out Stephen on this great St Patrick’s Day.  Was this a preview of the future?  I can see these boys supporting team-mates on future St Patrick’s Days in a different arena - in the capital.  Anyway, today, the senior silverware was on display for all to see – proudly and carefully looked after by Stephen, Mark and Jack. 

The Crokes train was just taking off, when from right flank came one of our J.I.T. (Just In Time) men.  Was it HIM, with a late entry?  No.  It was Donie O’Leary.  And just like in his playing days, Donie made his run at the perfect moment.  Not a guy to hang around, Donie arrived to do a job, i.e. march.  And when the marching started, Donie was there and there in spades.  He lined up Mike Buckley in his sights.  Mike had obviously previously experienced Donie’s runs on the playing field and the vision of Donie making a burst in his direction had to be taken seriously.  I’m not saying that Mike backed off.  But, he certainly readied his body for a test of solidity.  However, Donie came in peace and with a friendly slap on the back, a smile and a handshake, Mike relaxed and enjoyed Donie’s company on the afternoon’s march. 

The parade took off up the Ross Road.  Like a rider, with a puncture, in the Tour de France, I allowed the peleton to pass me by and I arrived at the back of the Crokes marchers.  It was only when our banner swung left on to the Muckross Road, did I realise the size of the Crokes numbers marching in the parade.  It was magnificent and the colour was brilliant.  We snaked around by the cinema and up past the Park Hotel at a constant uninterrupted pace.  Obviously, the head of the parade had reached the review stand and participants were doing their party pieces.  It was a staggered advancement from here on.  The crowds on the roadside cheered on every group and applauded.  This is appreciated by the marchers, particularly the young ones.  Mams and Dads spy their darlings and call for a smile for the camera.  Another shot for the family album.  The various responses from the darlings varied from delight at recognising a familiar face in the crowds to embarrassment at being put on the spot in from of your mates and the response tended to fluctuate from the former to the latter as the age profile rose.  Such is life.  But, regardless of age, they are still Mam and Dad’s darlings. 

We have now swung by the Friary and into College Street.  The crowds are getting bigger and with every halt in progress, there is interaction with someone on the sidelines – friends, ball-hoppers and visitors from home and abroad.  Down Plunket Street and into the “golden mile” along Main Street.  Final organisational check before we pass the review stand; everyone in line; flags and balloons flowing in the breeze; floats all in order; Mad Hatter’s Party in full swing.  The colour, the vibrancy, sound of “we are the boys…” was brilliant.  Terry, Áine, Diarmuid, Der, John and more were guarding the floats.  All sporting those reflective sun-glasses, it was like Dallas on that fateful November day in Dallas in 1963.  You expected the lads and lasses to talk into their sleeve at any time.  Don’t believe me?  Look at the photo’s.  This must mean that HE is here.  I still haven’t seen him all day, even though here we are down the final furlong, into the home straight. 

The group ahead of us are away up High Street and now it’s our turn.  Our full-forward line, with the cups, lift their game and bring the Crokes machine into the limelight.  Aloft the ardán, Weeshie Fogarty is announcing our arrival and relating to the crowd about our 125 years in existence.  Now they are calling for someone to receive a special presentation on this account.  Surely, now, HE will appear.  HE’ll leap a few hurdles to get on stage.  Could it be a gold cup?  No, Der Brosnan, our 125 Chairman, is shimmying up the steps.  Tá Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh ina sheasamh agus brontannais aige do Der.  Cúpla focail idir an beirt.   

“Nach raibh an Gala Banquet go h-iontach?” 

“Bhí, bhí.” 

“Cad é an scór i bPáirc an Chrocaigh?” 

“Níl fhios agam.” 

“Beidh sibh ann an bliain seo chugainn.” 

“Beidh le chúnamh Dé”

“Slán”

“Slán”

The paparazzi are keen for photo’s. Smiles, handshakes, let’s move on.  A lovely touch by the parade organisers and very much appreciated.  We’ll have to find an appropriate spot to display it.  While all this was going on, a host of black and amber balloons are released into the heavens.  They soar over Killarney, staying in a tight group, making their way towards the heights - after all they are Crokes' balloons.

Fr. Tom having attended two parades in Daingean Uí Chuais, arrived to join in with the Killarney parade. He might be, unavoidably, a little late, but he was definitely going to be there to support his beloved Crokes.  This is the commitment that earned him Clubman of the Year.  He joined in with Fr Paddy and we had clerical section to our group.

On up High Street and like reaching the summit of Alpe d’Huez, the crowd are closing in, tighter and tighter and only clear an avenue just in time to allow us through.  Those J.I.T. men again.  A final run into High Street car park and although the parade is over for another year, the excitement rises in the younger marchers.  An air of anticipation rises.  It’s not over.  It’s just beginning.  The Events Committee has done it again.  Even in these times of austerity, the Events Committee produce the goodies, drinks, crisps and bars for every kid and not a few adults too. It was deserved.   

The second float was now centre stage.  It was a collage of Crokes people past and present – Dr Croke himself, along side ‘Small Jer’ O’Leary, Dr Eamonn O’Sullivan, Dick Fitzgerald.  More recent players like Seanie O’Shea and brother Pat, Connie Murphy and the great Jackie Looney.  The current Crokes greats were also represented with Eoin Brosnan and Colm Cooper.  Colm also featured in a life-size poster, inviting everyone to join his Club and make history with Dr Crokes.  All-in-all a great show-case for us.   

Youngsters lined up to have their photo taken holding the Bishop Moynihan and O’Donoghue Cups and with the many faces of Crokes greats as a backfall.  Young and old gathered round this float for a group photo.  Surely, now HE will appear.  We are all together.  HE couldn’t miss this photo-finish. 

They seek HIM here.  They seek HIM there.  But where is HE? 

 

A Hurler on the Ditch 

PS  News just in.  The Killer O'Callaghan Award for the best sporting organisation in the parade went to... ... Yes you've guessed it.  DR CROKES