Irish sports stars Kellie Harrington and Ellen Keane will lead this year’s national St Patrick’s Day Parade as Grand Marshalls.
Harrington took home the lightweight boxing gold medal at last summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo while swimmer Keane won gold in the SB8 100m breaststroke in the Paralympics just over two weeks later.
The pair will now lead the first national St Patrick’s Day Parade since the outbreak of the pandemic.
In a statement, St Patrick’s Festival organiser said their achievements “represent the very best of Ireland - strength, perseverance and generosity of spirit”.
“They represent all who wear their Irishness with pride, uplifting our people, connecting us as a nation,” they said.
“Ellen and Kellie reflect more than sporting achievement, they represent all our people whose talent and commitment to excellence brings pride to Ireland - sportspeople, artists, makers, creators, thinkers, dreamers, innovators, entrepreneurs and many more, from all realms of life.”
The parade will get underway at 12pm on Thursday March 17th, making its way from Parnell Square to St Stephen’s Green.
Organisers said it will be the “most ambitious yet” with new pageant participants, bigger creative builds and breath-taking new artistic elements.
Harrington said she carried the Irish flag around the world with “great pride” and can’t wait to bring it home to the parade.
“Anyone that knows me, knows how much I love this city so I can’t wait to be leading the magic through the streets of Dublin and to see all of those faces smiling back at me, having the time of their lives,” she said.
Keane said she always breamed of taking part in the parade when she was a child in Dublin.
“I am so excited to be a Grand Marshal alongside Kellie for this year’s St Patrick’s Day Parade,” she said.
“When I was younger and watching the parade in Dublin, I always wanted to be one of the children taking part and now I cannot wait for my childhood dream to come true.
“I’m so honoured and grateful for this opportunity and I know it is a day I will remember for the rest of my life.”
This year’s St Patrick’s Festival runs from March 16th to 20th with events happening around the country.
New to the festival this year is Festival Quarter at the National Museum of Ireland which will be home to a “magical day-to-night urban Festival for all”.
Festival Quarter will also host the Irish Food & Craft Village, a daily showcase of Ireland’s incredible produce, arts and crafts and a space for all to relax and connect.
Main image is split-screen of Kellie Harington (L) by Seb Daly/Sportsfile and Ellen Keane (R) by REUTERS/Alamy Stock Photo