For the first time in its history, using Ireland’s commemorative era as inspiration, St. Patrick’s Festival has created a three-year theme and narrative for the Festival Parade. The thematic journey of ‘Past, Present and Future’ will be explored respectively in the periods 2014, 2015 and 2016.
This year’s Festival Parade theme, ‘Let’s Make History’, drew on the ‘Past’ and was the first step on this exciting, creative journey. In 2015 the Festival will explore the ‘Present’, and in 2016, the ‘Future’, when the Festival will pose the question, ‘who do we aspire to be in the next 100 years’?
For 2014, Ireland’s leading pageant companies brought the theme to life in their own inimitable style, with music from international and Irish marching bands providing the uplifting soundtrack.
Have a look below at the eight pageant companies that featured in this year's Parade - they had been working on these creations since the theme was set in late 2013 - and what they wowed the crowds on March 17th with their amazing creations!
Even though it was a thousand years ago, who would your allegiance lie with - the King of Dublin and his assorted reinforcements from Scotland and the Isle of Man and other Viking strongholds?
Or would you support that King of the Culchies, Brian Boru, all the way up from Killaloe? It’s a tough decision for true Dubliners to make. Leinster and Munster, blue and red, land and sea - Spraoi have taken inspiration from all these opposing ideas, interweaving them to mark the millennium anniversary of this battle, for control of the prize, that is Dublin!
Taking inspiration from the traditional Irish story “The Merman’s Tale” in which a fisherman meets a merman, and discovers that the merman has trapped the souls of shipwrecked sailors in lobster pot cages under the sea. The fisherman outwits the merman, swims down to the lobster pots and sets the souls free.
The pageant will feature 100 performers from across Inishowen and Donegal, including wave dancers, a huge merman puppet, the merman’s house and a lighthouse, signifying hope as the souls are set free.
Beckett’s work brought Irish writing to the cutting edge of world literature, and the inspiration for this pageant comes from a quote from his novel Murphy: “Any fool can turn a blind eye but who knows what the ostrich sees in the sand.”
Through this interpretation, the audience will experience elements of Beckett’s philosophy, his fascination for music hall, his love of slapstick comedy and his dark sense of humour, making his work more accessible to the teenage participants in the Parade, the spectators and to a wider audience in general.
“What the ostrich sees…” will be a mixture of Beckett’s references to himself, literature, Dante’s character Beatrice, Guardians of Hell, a giant ostrich, music hall’s characters like Josephine Baker and Winnie from his play Happy Days.
Artastic, known for colouring urban landscapes with their colourful creations, took a look back at our history and often felt it looked a little grey. The Artastic artists imagined what would happen if they could go back through history books and add colour and carnival to some of Ireland’s history.
They set off with their fabric, paint and performers, to add some colour and fun to Celtic Ireland and the myths that seem to be embossed into the history of the Bronze and Iron Age in Ireland.
The heart of the pageant is the ‘Master of Time’, directing the world from the top of his enormous spinning wheel of fortune. He is himself is part superhuman, animal, ordinary man and king, ruling over the transformation of humanity through time and space.
The pageant will unfold from past to future, encountering characters, either historical or fictional, famous or forgotten - all celebrating in a frantic trance, the day of carnival where no rules of power apply anymore.
Fadó, fadó in Éireann lived a powerful creature called the Celtic Tiger. The tiger cast an enchantment over the people, tempting them with promises of wealth and luxury. Everyone begged, borrowed and stole to be near the strong and beautiful tiger.
Luckily, the Tiger’s powers couldnot enchant the innocent. Artists, musicians and children saw through the disguise and gathered an army of fun to banish the Tiger. They hunted down the tiger and chased it into the sea, making sure it was gone for good, and then the people awoke from their enchantment.
‘Through breath, through steel, through bravewilled tears, I am ferociously inclined to love you.’ Macnas’s pageant is based on the History of Love - opening with the mistress of song, herald love through the ages, followed by her troupe of engineers, conjuring up the elixir for love.
Behind them is the sun, an age-old representation of amour, and in its shadow The God of Love, followed by Vulcan Drummers and an alchemical queen, who celebrate love through the ages.
This year, the creative response to the theme this year, is inspired by the Natural History Museum in Dublin City. The costumes and floats will reflect the natural world, the people who collected the specimens for the museum and the specimens themselves!
Over 100 performers will bring to life butterflies, jellyfish and dinosaur skeletons all moving amongst the giant books and specimen jars.