Thousands Turn Out for St. Patricks Day Parade.

St.Patricks Day Parade Armagh

The streets of Armagh were thronged with people who came out to enjoy the community parade organised in response to the ABC Councils decision to change its own St. Patricks Day Procession. Lead by a flag party consisting to 25 national flags and walking behind the St. Patricks Flag, the parade made it way through the streets for its finishing point at Sherry Field Sports Complex. Even the odd shower of rain couldn't dampen people’s spirits who can out in their droves to both spectate and walk in the parade.

The organisers have thanked everyone who helped out with the organising of the parade and the many individuals and business who donated money that was used put the parade over. Speaking on behalf of the organising group, Stephen Fields said “The response to the news that the council had changed the St. Patricks Day parade has been phenomenal. The community stepped up to the plate and came out in force. This was very evident in both the turnout and the volunteers who helped out in every way. This included  the making of flags/bunting, the donations of materials, the stewards, messages of support and willingness to be involved. Due to the complete lack of consultation on the part of the council (council has still not responded to our initial letter), we only had just over 4 weeks to organise this parade and it could not have been done without this support. A big thank you to all and all credit is due to the community.

Flags at St.Patrick Day

“Sundays parade was an example of inclusiveness. We sought to include as many as possible and to do so in a festive and community spirited manner. Numerous people have thanked WAC and the organising group for putting on the parade, but the real thanks goes to the people who by their actions over the weekend completely vindicated our decision to go ahead and organised the parade in response to the council’s disgraceful decision to change the day.”

It has been described as one of the biggest and colourful parades in years going back to the time when the community used to organise monster parades through the town. Those parades were at a time when the council hardly recognised St. Patricks Day but eventually through constant pressure from local representatives the council began to take the day onboard. However, that has not been a smooth journey, they  have almost been dragged kicking and screaming to the conclusion that as a public body they should be supportive of everybody's expressions of culture and views. Nevertheless and even to this day, they  have sought to mitigate against the parade and any sense of Irishness . Their choice in bunting omits the recognised colours of green and white. They have a lengthy list of pre-conditions for those wanting to take part in the parade , so much so, that in recent years there has been very little community buy in. This in turn has forced the council to rely more and more on professional street performers. While such acts are very colourful, they alone cannot command the support and widespread community participation.


St.Pats Crowd

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A Round Up Of Pictures From West Armagh Community Festival 2018

Please click onto the link below to view photo montage. Hope you enjoy. We are indebted to Brian Corvan for compiling the short video. Some people have experienced difficulty with the first links. If that's the case click on the last link will take you to our FB page and the video.  

WAC Festival 2018 montage

£3,350 raised for P.I.P.S though festival.

PIPS presentation west armagh community festival
Seamus McCabe of PIPS along with some of the festival committee  receiving a cheque for £3,350 raised during the West Armagh Community Festival

Suicide awareness charity P.I.P.S have benefited to the amount of £3,350 from events in this years West Armagh Community Festival that concluded on Saturday with a fun day and sporting finals. There were all the usual attractions, bouncey castles, face painting music and dance. In addition there were numerous sporting events including football, camogie, tug-o-war as well as novelty challenges. The fun day was the culmination of a weeklong programme of events. A children's summer camp ran throughout the week catering for forty children aged from 7 - 11 year olds. Also throughout the week the evening saw ladies road bowls, pub quiz, under-14 Gaelic football and ladies Gaelic football and much more.  

Central to this year's festival was the 50th Anniversary of the Callan Street explosions that claimed the life of a five year old boy and injured over twenty more, mostly children. Over a twenty-four hour period from the 21st- 22nd of July 1967 there were two explosions in a disused railway tunnel. The death and injuries sparked a wave of protest at conditions in the area that had some of the worst housing conditions in the town.

To mark this anniversary the local residents group planned to erect a memorial on the spot of the explosions and to assist the festival committee devoted its sponsored 5km run and 2 km walk to raising funds for this. The run took place on Tuesday 8th and attracted several hundred runners and walkers. It became clear early on that the run/walk was attracting a considerable amount of attention and that the monies raised would surpass what was needed so it was decided to include   P.I.P.S  on the sponsor card. The organisers are pleased to announce that the total raised and presented to P.I.P.S is £3.350. They have thanked everyone who participated in the event form the runners to stewards and officials. 

The actual unveiling of the memorial took place the following night and was attended by a large number of residents. Following it there was an exhibition and talk in the consortiums hall at Sherry's Field Sports Complex. Local historian John Nixon delivered a talk on the subject to a packed hall. Some of the survivors of the explosions gave their accounts of the accident and the effect it had on their lives. There was a very moving moment when one of the contributors realised that the child a previous speaker had recalled helping was in actual fact, herself. For fifty years neither woman had realised the identity of the other, such was the confusion and the injuries sustained by some of the victims.

The festival organisers have described this year's festival as a great success. Paying particular attention to the many volunteers, Stephen Fields from the organising committee has thanked all involved. "While the festival is now a well established community event its success is solely dependant on the support of community and of the community volunteers who give freely of their time. This year those volunteers stepped up to the plate and the success of the festival is due to their efforts."

West Armagh Community Festival concludes with fun day

The audience at the Callan Street Gas Explosion's 50th anniversary event in the consortium's hall

The West Armagh Community Festival concluded on Saturday with a fun day and the finals of some of the sporting competitions that took place during the week. Many attended the last day and enjoyed football, poc/cic fada, bouncey castles, rodeo bull, gladiator ring and bungee run. There also musical entertainment provided by Crowbar Blues and the crowd was also entertained by Irish dancing and a belly dancer. It was quite a contrast in style but the crowd seemed to appreciate it.

The belly dancer at the festival fun day

The organisers of the festival would like to thank everyone who helped. They are too numerous to mention but suffice to say that the week-long festival would not have been possible without the active participation of the volunteers. Undoubtedly one of the highlights of the festival was the events in and around the 50th Anniversary of the Callan Street Gas Explosion. A 5km run and 2km walk was organised to raise funds for both this venture and for P.I.P.S. It surpassed all expectations with several hundred people taking part. The unveiling of the memorial and the exhibition and talk the following night were also very well supported. So much so that it was standing room only in the consortiums hall for the lecture and slide show delivered by local historian John Nixon.   

The Irish dancers at the festivals fun day
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Tremendous turnout for sponsored run/walk and unveiling

Sponsored run/walk 2017 for 50th anniversary Callan Styreet Gas Explosion
Getting ready for the off

There was a tremendous turnout for both the sponsored run and walk held as part of West Armagh Community festival. Several hundred runners and walkers took part in the event that was organised in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Callan Street Gas Explosion. Monies raised went towards the erection of a memorial stone. The other beneficiary of the run/walk is P.I.P.S.

Gas Explosiuon Memorial
Unveiling of memorial to mark the spot of the Callan Street gas Explosion

The following night the memorial stone was unveiled at a short ceremony on the spot where fifty years ago so many people mostly children were badly injured and resulted in the death of five year old Brendan Donnelly.

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All Fun At The Zoo


All the fun at the Zoo for the trip with the children’s summer camp. Look at the crazy human was probably on the minds of many of the animals as the little darlin’s look in at them. A good day was had by all with the exception of a few complaints about the mountaineering route around the zoo.

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Dr.Eamon Phoenix delivered the Historical Lecture

Lord Mayor Garath Keating welcoming Dr.Eamon Phoneix who delivered the lecture

Dr.Eamon Phoenix the well renowned historian deliver a very interesting lecture/discussion on the Easter Rising with a northern connection. The lecture was just one event in the West Armagh Community Festival and Dr.Phoenix took the opportunity to highlight the involvement of some Armachians in these historical events.



Féile Phobal Ard Mhacha/West Armagh Community Festival



A packed programme of entertainment has been taking place all week with the West Armagh Community Festival. Féile Phobal Ard Mhacha Thiar. The summer camp for 7-11 year old began at the start of the week with a trip out to Navan Fort. A day long of Celtic adventure was had by the children and some of the adults alike.

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Tayto park on day four of the summer camp




Day four of the summer camp was trip away day. Everyone piled  onboard the bus and headed off to Tayto Park in Co.Meath.The park is packed with attractions from play areas,animal enclosures to the almost obligatory high thrill attractions for an adventure park. The children certainly enjoyed the day.The only drawback, if it could be called that, was the crowds that resulted in lengthy waiting times for some of the more popular attractions. As for the community volunteers who supervised, even with the bright green t-shirts issued to all children it proved a dificult  job keeping an eye on them. The phrase 'kids is a candy shop' springs to mind.





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Day three of the West Armagh Community Festival and the summer camp continues with its activities.The weather wasn't too favourable but fortunately the days schedule was set indoors. Starting off with an irish lesson delivered through song and game the children have a great time with tutor Michael Hughes who entertained them for the morning session,during which they learned a  cuplá focal. Games and songs where the order of the day and it was fortunate that the building was not occupied by any other group at the time because the noise level was noticable increased.

After lunch the ever energetic Joanne Mullan took the kids for another dance and drama session. There was no reluctance on the part of the boys this time, who were worried on Monday that dance and drama meant something 'sissy'. Anything but it and once again the noise levels increased. The only concerns being expressed by our community volunteers who regretted not taking ear plug with them.

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