This weekend was a proud one for the country as no less than three huge Pride celebrations took place. Carlow, Drogheda and Mayo showed the rest of us how it’s done by throwing fantastic events which succeeded in bringing their LGBT+ communities and their allies out in force.
Carlow Pride proved to be a huge success, thoroughly enjoyed by all attendees. Grand Marshall Nicole Carroll led revellers in a joyous celebration of community spirit.
We spoke to one of the organisers, John Paul Payne, in advance of the celebrations who shared with us, “Since we began this journey to the first Carlow Pride Parade, we have been inundated with support and messages. It has caught the attention of other towns, villages and cities around Ireland. Many people have reached out to let us know that seeing the support we have had has really given them hope about the future.”
John Paul continued, “We hope that we can continue on being that beacon of hope for LGBT+ people in rural Ireland and the south east by eventually having a permanent LGBT+ mural in the centre of town. Recently we presented this idea to Carlow’s municipal district, including our new Lord Mayor and elected officials and the idea was voted for in favour.”
Drogheda played a blinder with their very first Pride Parade filling the streets with joy and all the colours of the rainbow. Peter Nugent, one of the organisers, shared the happiness the successful event brought about – “What an amazing day and super night at Drogheda Pride Festival. It was so amazing to see people so happy and proud to walk in Drogheda’s first LGBT+ Pride Parade. It brought tears in my eyes.”
Peter continued, “I really want to thank everyone for joining us for the weekend, but a huge thank you to my team of volunteers, family and friends, the organisations that joined us in the Parade, Kieran and his team of musicians, the Gardai and the support from local businesses and sponsors and venues for Drogheda Pride Festival. Most importantly – You!”
Castlebar played host to the fabulous Mayo Pride, with a Parade which proudly marched through town led by the Grand Marshall – Paula Fagan of LGBT Ireland.
One of the organisers, Cathy Blake, shared how important the celebration is for the LGBT+ community. “Mayo is a rural county with mainly small towns and villages, there are no gay bars and only a few known LGBT+ friendly venues. The community can often feel isolated and alone. Pride gives them a sense of belonging and pride in themselves and in their own county.”
Cathy also suggested how we can carry the spirit of Pride throughout the year – “I hope that the community will look after and support one another. It’s so much easier to talk to someone who understands you, so reach out to just one person who is confused, alone or feeling vulnerable and offer them support. Discourage discrimination and victimisation – promote ‘Unity in the Community’ (the theme of Mayo Pride).”
With Pride celebrations still to come in Belfast, Cork, Galway, Larne, Newry and Tipperary, long may Ireland’s celebration and support for its LGBT+ community continue.
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