The Greatest Show on Earth – Drawda Paddy’s Day Parade

They call it the greatest show on earth - The Drogheda Paddy's Day Charade

In this week’s Leader we look at the contenders for Best Float. Just who will scoop this year’s €1 million prize?

Parade fever hits Drogheda this week as the St. Patrick’s Day Parade winds its way through the town like a de-fanged but more or less friendly snake.

In terms of style and fanfare, the Boyneside parade holds its own with any of the great global parades. Carnaval organisers from Rio are regularly spotted taking notes and keeping an eye on it – something they never did for the Drogheda Samba Festival. Rivalry breeds competition.

Rumours of a twinning with the samba capital refuse to go away and we have it on good authority that the Borough Council is confident a series of fact-finding missions to Rio can be realized ahead of next year’s Brazilian extravaganza.

Yet all this is a far cry from the dark days of the mid 1990s. Back then the parade struggled for supremacy with Dundalk for the Louth spot on the special St. Patrick’s Day edition of the Six One News. A five second shot of some scouts walking over a bridge every other year was as good as it got.

So what changed? How did the Drogheda Paddy’s Day parade get so damn good, so quickly?

Basically, it’s a case of giving the people what they want – a fusion of the traditional mixed with local community floats.

We all love seeing the latest farm cleaning equipment being displayed like it’s some piece of Cold War weaponry in Red Square. And it’d take someone dead on the inside not to feel the butterflies when the whispers come through the crowd.

“Drogheda’s most reliable glaziers have just passed St. Peter’s! They’ll be here soon!” And as they approach, the throng falls silent in homage to what is truly one of the most beautiful sights in nature.

Proud fathers whisper to children, “Youse mightn’t understand now, but one day yiz will. Watch. This is my gift to youse.”

Heads follow the half-van half-car as it pulls a lent trailer with some windows stacked in a triangle, like in some one-sided slow motion tennis match.

Hard to top. The inclusion of the town’s vibrant community groups added the flair, the Coke sponsored €1 million best float prize added the fizz and the sense of outdoing Dundalk in something for once, the sparkle. But it’s not only about winning. That’s where the Drogheda parade differs from your Dundalks, your Ardees and your Duleeks.

For the betting man it’s like choosing a favourite child. Going to press the odds for best float are as follows:

  • Grange Rath Women’s Anti-Gluten League [1/25]
  • The Wolf of Narrow West Street [1/3]
  • Peer Pressured Organ Doners [evens]
  • Stameen Swingers [2/1]
  • Selection of Same Sex livestock [6/4]
  • Oliver Cromwell’s Repentant Descendants [4/1]
  • An Grianan Female Beekeepers [11/2]
  • Tulleyallen Erotic Art Collective [7/1]
  • Mystic Goats of Newgrange Farm [15/8]
  • Drawda Keyboard Warriors [18/1 – their odds]
  • Clogherhead Gender Fluid Sailors [20/1]
  • Patrick Being Pulled Behind a Tractor on a Flat Bed Trailer [25/1]
  • Romanian Babies – Didn’t Most of Them Do Grand [28/1]
  • Collon Badger Cullers Co-op [31/1]
  • Rathmullen Pigeon Club [40/1]
  • Laytown Doggers [69/1]
  • Drogheda’s Beady-eyed Babies [80/1]
  • Flotsam & Jetsam sponsored by Funtasia [100/1]
  • Yellowbattered Husbands [200/1]
  • Peter’s Male Castrato Choir [500/1]
  • Oliver Cromwell’s Unrepentant Descendants [5000/1]
  • Tinder Left Swipes [2000/1]
  • Lunatics What Walk Behind the Parade [no odds]