Bernadette Frain and Councillor Ger Deere (Castlebar Autism-Friendly Town Committee), Wil O’Brien, Carmel Ryan, Fiacre Ryan (grand marshal for this year’s parade), Carole O’Brien (Castlebar Autism Committee), Liam Rice (treasurer) and Bernard Hughes (chairman, Castlebar St. Patrick’s Day parade committee). PHOTO: MICHAEL DONNELLY

Unique St. Patrick’s Day parade in store for Castlebar

HISTORY will be made in Castlebar this coming Friday as Mayo’s county town will host the first ever sensory friendly parade.

The event will start at 2 p.m. at McHale Road, with line-up time at 1 p.m. at An Sportlann end, and it will follow its traditional route.

The theme this year is ‘Castlebar – our all inclusive town’, to celebrate the development of Castlebar as an autism-friendly town. The initiative is the brainchild of a local committee seeking to secure accreditation for Castlebar as an Autism-Friendly Town.

The committee, chaired by John Page and involving Councillor Ger Deere, has been working with the national autism charity, AsIAm, to increase accessibility, understanding and acceptance of autistic people in the community as well as building infrastructure and support to make the town more inclusive. As a result, Chapel Street will be a noise-free zone for the parade to ensure that those on the autism spectrum will enjoy the event without stress or discomfort.

The chief marshal for the parade is Sean Horkan and this year the honorary grand marshal is Fiacre Ryan, a powerful advocate for the voice of autistic people and all those with a disability in society. Fiacre is an autistic writer, poet and Mayo Person of the Year award winner.

Chairman of the St. Patrick’s Day’s parade committee, Bernard Hughes, said: “We’re delighted to be able to support the development of Castlebar town in becoming an autism-friendly town. There is a lot of work being done with the Autism Friendly Town committee over the last couple of years. We’re lending our support in asking that this parade is an autism-friendly parade.

“A section of the parade will see the bands and all those taking part being quiet while they walk or march along Chapel Street.

“It’s supported by the Castlebar Autism Committee, the town parade committee and the autism-friendly committee will have signs up and marshals on duty to ensure we have a quiet section on Chapel Street.

“I would like to thank all the local businesses and dignitaries for their help in what will be a historic day for the town.”

There will be recognition and prizes for the efforts made in promoting the parade theme including best shop front, best float, best group, most interesting individual entry and others.