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Irish heritage on display for St. Patrick’s parade in Kingston – Kingston

Irish heritage on display for St. Patrick’s parade in Kingston - Kingston
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Despite the forecasted heavy winds and rain, Irish culture enthusiasts gathered eagerly in Skeleton Park on Saturday afternoon to kick off the St. Patrick’s Day festivities with the annual parade. This tradition has become synonymous with the celebration in Kingston.

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“It’s always cold, or it’s snowing, and rarely is it raining. But it brings out the best of the best,” remarked Tony O’Laughlin from the Kingston Irish Folk Club, highlighting the resilience of the community in the face of adverse weather conditions.

The significance of Skeleton Park, the burial site of Irish immigrants who perished in Kingston during the construction of the Rideau Canal in the early 1800s, adds a sombre undertone to the parade’s commencement. O’Laughlin elaborated, “An estimated 10,000 were buried in this area. Mostly Irish and Scottish. In the 1890s, a lot of the headstones were knocked over and it was turned into a park.”

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The occasion’s solemnity was marked by the haunting melody of bagpipes playing renditions of “Amazing Grace” as wreaths were laid at the Celtic Cross monument.

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From Skeleton Park, the procession wove its way through Princess Street, culminating at City Hall, where the parade concluded amidst cheers and applause.

Participation in the parade extended beyond those with Irish heritage, as Jennifer Van Reenen, a recent arrival from Ireland who has resided in Kingston for about a year, attested,

“So it’s nice to actually have a parade where I live now, a little slice of home over in Kingston. So it’s great to be a part of the Irish Kingston Folk Club.”

Van Reenen’s sentiment was echoed by many attendees, who found solace in the familiar rain, reminiscent of their homeland.

“Typical of Irish weather, it’s raining. So this is quite common for what I’m used to – so we have the rain,” she quipped.

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Despite the subdued atmosphere of the parade compared to the jubilant celebrations anticipated on March 17th, the resilience and camaraderie exhibited by the participants exemplify the enduring spirit of St. Patrick’s Day in Kingston. As the saying goes, you can’t have sunshine without the rain.

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