Twenty eight years on and interest in the Ballon St. Patrick’s Day Parade shows no sign of abating. The 27th renewal of the event, (it was called off in 2001 as a prevention against the spread of Foot and Mouth disease) held on the national Feast Day, saw large crowds line both sides of the route from The Garage Cross to Dowling’s Cross to be entertained by the various floats, walking groups or vintage cars and machinery.  Even the rain which bucketed down at times failed to dampen the enthusiasm.

The parade started at the Land League Gates and took forty-five minutes to pass the reviewing stand in the centre of the village. On the platform were Very Rev. Brendan Howard PP, Pat Deering TD, and Cllrs. John Murphy, Willie Quinlan and Charlie Murphy along with various members of the organising committee. Martin Barry acted as MC. The parade was led through the village by members of ONE and St. Patrick (AKA John Kelly) and, making his first appearance in Ballon, Pope Francis (AKA Brendan Doyle).

The event was colourful and entertaining  with the Government and The Croak Park Agreement (Failure) both taking the brunt of the jokes. The overall winner was the quartet of Patrick Abbey, Brian Darcy and David and Kevin Barry with their take on ‘The Croke Park Failure’ while Patrick Abbey turned up again to take the prize for the funniest entry as the ‘Ban Garda’ who couldn’t afford childcare because of the same ‘Failure’. The best community  group was Cuchulainn Rounders Club, the best walking group Ballon/Rathoe Playschool and the most topical was Brendan Doyle as Pope Francis.  Nolan Tyres won the best commercial entry.

It was a great day’s entertainment and an effort that the community should be very proud of.