The traditional rivalry between neighbouring Glenties and Ardara is set to move up a gear this St Patrick’s Day, when both towns will try to set new world records. Glenties is hoping to get into the Guinness Book of World Records by gathering the most leprechauns ever in one place while Ardara aims to establish a new record, for the most St Patricks taking part in a parade.
The good news is that anyone who really wants to get into the spirit of the challenge can take part in both events. The Glenties parade will take place on Saturday, March 17th at a time to be confirmed, while the Ardara parade kicks off at 3.30pm on Sunday. So, maybe the usual parochial competitiveness will give way to convivial co-operation and we’ll see hordes of revellers changing costume en route from one event to the other!
Oddly enough, the inspiration for both record attempts may well have come from the same source - the Derek Mooney show on RTE.
Gerard Slowey, organiser of the Ardara event, explains: “About four months ago, I was listening to the show and they were talking about an attempt to get the most leprechauns in one place. I was surprised at how few it took to set that record, which is 252, and I thought, we should do something like that here in Ardara.
“The reason I decided to go for St Patrick’s is because, sadly, we lost our Grand Marshall Hugh Diver in August 2010. He was a wonderful Grand Marshall and the embodiment of everything you could want in someone taking on that role. Last year, in his honour, we left the carriage empty.
“This year, as we thought about the parade, I thought we should do something special to remember Hugh. I think that going for this record would be something that he would really have liked, especially if we make it a fun family day out. We want people of all ages, young and old, all dressing up together, which will make it unusual. Most often, children get dressed up together for a party or adults do the same. It’s pretty rare for everyone in a family to put on fancy dress and all go out to the one event.
“We also hope the students and teachers of the schools will get involved and design young peoples robes for St Patrick, and be as creative as they like.
“There will be a big party, with lots of music and entertainment, in the Nesbitt Arms after the parade. We plan on making it a real celebration.
“I know from the vibes I’m getting already that it’s going to be very successful. People are already planning to travel to Ardara to take part in it.”
Everyone is required to register, so that the organisers can prove how many people took part, Gerard explains. “Although people can register on the day, we’re asking as many people as possible to do so n advance. The cost is €15, which includes a costume, and we’ve kept that cost to the absolute minimum. There is also a family package for €35, which covers registration for two adults and as many children as you want, plus two costumes for adults. If have any money left over, will put it towards the Christmas lights, as the Traders Association pays for that.
For more information, or to register, contact any member of the Ardara Trader’s Association, ring 087 246 7969 or 087 648 8628, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call into Wee Joe’s Shop in Ardara.
Meanwhile, members of the Glenties Community Action Group are busy making waistcoats and sourcing hats and beards in time for the big day. They hope that at least 300 but preferably more than 400 leprechauns will converge on the town on St Patrick’s Day, leaving the existing record of 262 well and truly broken.
As with all record attempts, there are rules regarding costume and registration. Because of this, anyone who wants to take part is asked to register in advance. The €10 fee covers the cost of the waistcoat, hat and beard that the organisers will provide to all participants.
Anne Bonner of Glenbrook Embroidery, Main Street Glenties explains the rest of the dress code. “We’re asking that everyone wear green, red or black trousers, black shoes. And a white shirt underneath. Unfortunately, if someone just turns up in their own costume there’s a good chance they’ll be disqualified: that’s a stipulation from the people at the Guinness World Records office.”
“This is our first year of reviving the St Patrick’s Day Parade in Glenties, so we want to make it really special. We’re starting off with the World Record Leprechaun attempt, followed by a carnival parade and we’re hoping to organsie some kind of activities or games on the street afterwards.
“There’s been a series of workshops in the community center over the last number of weeks, making costumes and props, with the help of experts from the Inishowen Carnival Group. And we’re asking all the business to enter floats into the parade. We want all the community to unite behind us to make this a fun day in Glenties!”
For more information or to register, ring Anne on 087 900 4449, email email@example.com, call into her shop or contact Carmel Doherty at Keeney’s Bar.