The theme of this year’s parade is “Celebrating Our Community” and the organisers asked the public to cast votes to choose this year’s Grand Marshall to lead the 50 groups who have signed up to take part.
In January Keith Whyte battled temperatures of -26C, ferocious winds and frostbite to win the 100km Ice Marathon in Antarctica. He completed the marathon in nine hours and 26 minutes. He finished the race on Union Glacier four hours ahead of his closest competitor and had only been back from injury for one week before taking on the mammoth challenge.
“Keith is a very worthy winner of the competition” commented Parade Coordinator Ger Sweeney. He continued “We received nominations from across the Ennis region for many worthy candidates but Keith was the out and out favourite and the deserving winner. We are very thankful to everyone who took time to nominate their choice of Grand Marshall. The nomination process has been a very enlightening experience and has highlighted the appreciation that is felt for the many people who work for the good of their communities and those who live in them. I want to congratulate Keith on his many achievements and wish him well on St. Patrick’s Day”.
Commenting on his selection Keith Whyte said “I am very flattered that so many people considered me worthy of this honour. I am delighted to be this year’s Grand Marshall. I am very proud to be from Ennis and highlight that as much as I can when travelling. Thanks to everyone who voted for me. I’m looking forward to seeing you all on St. Patrick’s Day in Ennis”.
This year’s parade is going to be a bright, lively and noisy affair that is sure to please. Around 6,000 people are expected to view the Ennis Parade which will commence at 11am from Áras Contae an Chláir on New Road and will follow the Traditional route of Steele’s Terrace, Club Bridge, Abbey Street, O’Connell Square, O’Connell Street, Barrack Street and will conclude in the Market area. Motorised floats and large vehicles will not enter Barrack Street but will continue straight at the Barrack Street junction towards Darcy’s Corner.
There will be 2 reviewing areas established this year. The first is at Newbridge Road (between the Courthouse and Club Bridge) which will be ideal for families with small children or those in buggies. The second is opposite the reviewing stand which is reserved exclusively for people with disabilities.
Four of the 50 groups taking part will be in for a windfall as there is a free draw among participants. Four prizes of €150 each will be awarded to the groups who will be selected out of “a hat”. There is also a prize of €400 for the best overall float or group. There will be a panel of judges adjudicating on this BUT members of the public can cast their votes too from the streets by voting on the Ennis App. Observers on the day can log onto the Ennis App on their smart phone and choose the group they feel deserve the prize. The winners will be announced on Thursday 19th March.
Keeping with tradition there will be live traditional music on a gig rig located at Steele’s Terrace prior to the start of the parade. The reviewing stand will be in O’Connell Square and participating groups can pause to perform briefly in front of the reviewing stand. There will be another gig rig in place in the Market. On this stage Clare FM Presenter John Ryan will be playing some music to welcome participating groups to the finish line and to thank them for taking part. The music will continue while participants are filing into the Market and for a while afterwards.
The Ennis Gospel Choir will be performing on the Reviewing Stand when the parade is over. There is always a large number of people in town and the Ennis Gospel Choir has prepared a programme that is sure to entertain those who will remain in town following the parade.
Road closures to facilitate the Parade will commence at 8am. Participating groups will be given specific directions in relation to assembly, drop off and parking options.
Full details of the arrangements will be carried on the Clare County Council website (www.clarecoco.ie), the Visit Ennis website (www.visitennis.ie), on the parade Facebook page (ennisparade), via Twitter (@ennisparade) and through the local media.
Sweeney comments “This year’s parade will be very representative of our community. Hundreds of people have put in huge efforts to take part and that is very much appreciated. It promises to be good fun and it is expected to take over an hour for the parade to pass. I would appeal to the entire community to come out on the day and support those who are participating. To ensure it is a fun and safe event for everyone I ask that observers obey and work with the Garda Siochána and Parade Marshalls. I also want to thank everyone that has been involved with organising this year’s parade and look forward to a great event”.
Parade pictures will be tweeted as it happens and posted on Facebook so the entire parade can be followed using the hashtag ennisparade (#ennisparade).