THIS YEAR’S Grand Marshall for the 2022 Kilkenny City St Patrick’s Day Parade will be Kilkenny Paralympian Mary Fitzgerald.
The star athlete follows in the footsteps of Vicky Phelan (2019), Bobby Kerr (2018), and Cartoon Saloon Oscar nominated Producers/Directors Tomm Moore and Paul Young (2015).
Mary will lead the parade through Kilkenny City on March 17 at 1.30pm.
The parade is the central event in a six-day jam-packed festival of events for St Patrick’s Festival Kilkenny as it returns to the streets after a two-year break.
Councillor Joe Malone, Festival Committee Chairman told Kilkenny Press: “We are delighted to have Mary as Grand Marshall.
“Last year was a mammoth one for Irish sport with Paralympians and Olympians seeing success in Tokyo.
“Mary is a proud Kilkenny woman who has already achieved so much. We’re excited to cheer her on and to continue supporting her in her sporting career,”
A Callan resident, Mary is a Paralympic athlete who competes in shot putt, as well as javelin and discus.
REALISED A DREAM
Competing since 2010, Mary’s international achievements include winning three gold medals at the 2019 IWAS World Games in Sharjah, UAE and a bronze medal at the 2021 European Para Athletics Championships in Poland.
She competed at the 2019 World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai. In 2021,
She realised a dream by competing at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics in Japan. In tough conditions, Mary finished 6th overall in a very impressive Paralympic debut, and she says this is “only the beginning”.
She is a member of Gowran Athletic Club and studies Occupational Therapy at University College, Cork.
Gowran Club competes in a wide variety of events including track and field.
The club has members ranging from 6 to 70+ and works towards every athlete reaching his or her full potential, whether an amateur or a Paralympian.
The club welcomes new members who want to give athletics a go.
On being Grand Marshall, Mary said it was an honour to be asked.
“I have had an exciting few years, but I’m already working towards the next Paralympics in Paris in 2024.
‘HUGE PART OF MY LIFE’
“It’s exciting to see women’s sport and indeed disability sport going from strength to strength in Ireland, from a participation-focused level all the way up to elite.
“Para Athletics has been a huge part of my life from a young age and it has given me so many opportunities.”
Festival Director, Marian Flanner said the committee was thrilled to have Mary as Grand Marshal.
“We expect 20,000 people on the streets. This year’s festival is our biggest yet. We’re relishing the world being open again and we plan to celebrate it”.
David Denieffe, secretary Gowran AC and former coach to Mary, said he was delighted to see being being recognised in this way.
“She works so hard and is a great club member. She’s a wonderful ambassador for our club, for athletics in Kilkenny and for Para Athletics nationally.
“The whole club will be out supporting her on St. Patrick’s Day.”
Parade route is John Street, Rose Inn Street, The Parade, High Street and ending in the Market Yard.