St Patrick's Day festival fun in Laois towns

St Patrick's Day is packed with festivities in Portlaoise, Portarlington and Mountmellick

St Patrick's Day festival fun in Laois towns
By Lynda kiernan lynda.kiernan@leinsterexpress.ie@laoisnews

With parade times spaced out nicely in Portlaoise, Mountmellick and Portarlington, spectators could do a fun trail, while each town has all day entertainment.

In Portlaoise the morning starts with the Streets of Portlaoise Road races, and a vintage motor run, before the parade kicks off at 12:30 from County Hall.

It goes down JFL Avenue to the church and then up Main Street to the Top Square past the viewing stand, ending on the Mountrath Road.

A street festival continues until 5pm. Children's wristbands for €3 will include bouncing castles, face painters, disco domes and a disco in Coppers.

The Portlaoise Panthers Basketball club are bringing back the exciting Duck Race in the Triogue river at 2pm.

The Lower Square will have bouncy castles and face painting, and the Ricky Lawless and Grainne Buggy schools of dancing will lead the crowds in some traditional Irish dancing at 2:15.

That will be followed by live bands on the street, and tea and coffee will be available from the PATH homeless charity on the street.

Wristbands and tea and coffee will be on sale in the old O’Loughlin’s chemist from 10:30am.

In the Dunamaise Arts Centre, Portlaoise sports clubs will give the public a chance to hone their skills, with ice-cream, treats, crafts and a Busking competition with a €100 prize on site.

Top Square will also have bouncing castles, a disco dome, face painting and food stalls. A giant marquee will have music and wristbands.

The popular Tug of War is back again this year, while some of the parade participants will do displays.

A prize giving ceremony will be held in early April.

Over in Mountmellick the fun starts on Thursday morning at 9am in O'Connell when students from Mountmellick CS begin a day long 'Céilithon' for Bone Marrow for Leukaemia Trust.

On St Patrick's Day a family fun day will be in the square from 12 noon to 7pm, with trad music, Irish dancers, childrens entertainers, bouncy castles, face painting, live music and a DJ.

The parade starts at 2pm from Turley’s Pub, Harbour Street, through the town past a viewing stand in the square. A flag raising ceremony will be held at 230pm with local songstress Emer Dunne performing the national anthem, accompanied by the pipe and accordion bands.

A new committee has put the emphasis on creative ‘old school’ floats and family entertainment, with a pet party and children’s entertainers.

They chose three groups to receive help with their floats, Mountmellick YDC, Darkness into Light, and Mountmellick Scouts. The parade is free to join, with prizes for the best floats.

The committee has introduced a strict no alcohol policy in O’Connell Square, with security on duty.

In Portarlington the fun kicks off in The Square at 2pm on St Patrick’s Day.

Activities include bouncy castles, a pet farm, birds of prey, bumble bus, face painting and live music, organised by a new committee.

The parade begins at 3.30pm from Station Road. Prizes for best groups and floats. To join in, email portparade@gmail.com The closing date for entries to a children’s art competition is today Tuesday at 4pm at Portarlington library.