Nostalgia: A look back at the Dragon of Shandon street parade through the years

Nostalgia: A look back at the Dragon of Shandon street parade through the years

The Dragon of Shandon Festival, 2015. Photo: Andy Jay

Samhain celebrations are looking a bit different this year, with many cherished Halloween traditions unable to take place as a result of the Covid restrictions, including the much-loved Dragon of Shandon street parade.

This year would have been the 15th consecutive year of the event run by Cork Community Art Link, however, the Dragon of Shandon along with its usual cortege of ghostly characters won't be taking to the streets of Cork tonight.

"We are truly sorry to have to postpone the tradition this year.

The Dragon of Shandon Halloween Parade, 2008. Picture: Cillian Kelly
The Dragon of Shandon Halloween Parade, 2008. Picture: Cillian Kelly

"We are especially sad to not have the opportunity to engage with the participants who would have usually come through our doors and are equally sad to not be able to share the experience with the public of Cork and beyond who have greeted us with such enthusiasm for many years," Cork Community Art Link said in a statement earlier this month.

However, all is not lost as Cork Community Art Link has worked on innovative projects to ensure spooky season did not go unmarked in the city. 

"We are Cork Community Art Link, an art organisation unlike most others.

Pictured is Ray Sullivan, Wilton, working on a Cork Community Art Link Dragon of Shandon Parade 2012 float, on Albert Quay, Cork. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Pictured is Ray Sullivan, Wilton, working on a Cork Community Art Link Dragon of Shandon Parade 2012 float, on Albert Quay, Cork. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

"We have been built through resilience, solidarity, adaptability and with daring ambitions.

"We cannot simply do nothing.

"So, we have been working away within the health regulations and adapting periodically to changes in our project," the group said in their statement.

Collaborating with Meitheal Mara, Cork Community Art Link has created a river installation between Popes Quay and Kyrl's Quay by the Shandon footbridge, currently on display.

Oisin Towers with Oonagh and Nicola Murray pictured at the launch of the Dragon of Shandon Festival in 2010. Picture: Larry Cummins
Oisin Towers with Oonagh and Nicola Murray pictured at the launch of the Dragon of Shandon Festival in 2010. Picture: Larry Cummins

The skeleton boat installation has garnered much attention since its launch last week.

Cork Community Art Link has also created a Halloween carousel on display in Shandon.

Delving through our archives reveals a plethora of incredible images from previous festivals.

Launched in 2006, the Dragon of Shandon street parade was the brainchild of William Frode de la Foret, the Director of Cork Community Art Link.

The project began in a bid to showcase the artistic skills of various community groups.

Cork Community Art Link second river rehearsal row for Dragon of Shandon Samhain Parade in 2010. Picture: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision 
Cork Community Art Link second river rehearsal row for Dragon of Shandon Samhain Parade in 2010. Picture: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision 

It began as a platform for communities to reveal their creative talents and that still remains the pervading ethos of the project today.

An enormous dragon, created by various groups annually, is the star feature in the Halloween parade.

Following the inaugural street parade, journalist Ronan Leonard gave an account in The Echo about what the event was like.

Spectators watching the Dragon of Shandon Halloween Lantern Parade, 2007. Picture: Richard Mills.
Spectators watching the Dragon of Shandon Halloween Lantern Parade, 2007. Picture: Richard Mills.

"It [the street parade] centred around a 12-metre long dragon and had over 60 participants, including members of Shandon youth group No Frontiers Dance Company.

"The parade, a mixture of Halloween characters and a host of performers, started on Church Street and wound its way up John Redmond Street, ending outside The Firkin Crane and Shandon Craft Centre.

A cigar smoking skeleton cyclist making its way through the streets during the Dragon of Shandon Samhain parade, 2010. Picture: Richard Mills
A cigar smoking skeleton cyclist making its way through the streets during the Dragon of Shandon Samhain parade, 2010. Picture: Richard Mills

"We were then treated to a fantastic performance of newly composed music, dance, drama and fire jugglers," he wrote.

From 60 participants in 2006, the project has attracted many more community groups since.

Phenomenal community engagement last year saw in the region of 400 participants working together to make the event possible.

Whilst the Dragon of Shandon has been left to sleep this year, no doubt it will be back to roam the streets again in October 2021. 

More in this section

Sponsored Content