SAMHAIN celebrations were in full swing in the city tonight as the Dragon of Shandon parade made a welcome return to the streets of Cork.
The original format of the Halloween parade, now into its 17th year, was scuppered for the past two years due to the pandemic but the mighty dragon and her cortege of ghostly characters re-emerged this year, much to the delight of Leesiders young and old.
Renowned touring band Santa Machete set the tone for what was to be a night of spooky splendour by opening the much-anticipated event run by Cork Community Art Link (CCAL).
There was a jovial atmosphere amongst the crowd as the 36-foot dragon proceeded from Shandon Street along with other giant floats and an array of talented performers through town and finishing on Cornmarket Street.
Some 300 participants danced, stomped and strode along the route filling the encapsulated audience with wonder and awe.
The Dragon of Shandon parade is described as the highlight of CCAL’s annual arts calendar and is the result of a three-month outreach and community engagement programme with local artists, over 20 groups and support services working in partnership with local artists to create a cultural hub and provide a friendly and carnival atmosphere within the entire city on Halloween night.
Groups involved in this year’s event included Enable Ireland, the Circus Factory, Joan Denise Moriarty School of Dance, Cork City Samba, The Tribe Dance Academy, National Learning Network, YMCA and many more.
Speaking ahead of the parade, Laura Pauwels, general manager of CCAL, said the organisation came up with innovative ways to celebrate Halloween in a safe way during the pandemic and that those efforts were well received by the public.
However, after a two-year hiatus, people were very much looking forward to the traditional parade.
“We were definitely very much active during the Covid era but this is really exciting that we’re actually able to go back to the full blown parade – we’re just hoping that it stops raining for two hours!”
And fortunately, it did.
Seasoned parade attendees Margaret Lettice and her daughter-in-law Lorraine were relieved that the rain eased off just before the commencement of the parade.
“We’ve been coming to the parade for about eight or nine years,” Lorraine told
“We missed it during Covid so we were really looking forward to it and thank God the weather dried up! I’ve some of my brood here and their cousins and their friends - they’re very excited.”
Friend group Colette O’Mahony, Mary McCarthy, Emma Barrett and Eleanor Barrett were also among the assembled crowd and said they were also delighted to see the return of the parade.
Launched in 2006, the Dragon of Shandon street parade was the brainchild of William Frode de la Foret, the artistic director of Cork Community Art Link.
It began as a platform for communities to reveal their creative talents and that still remains the pervading ethos of the project today.
Each year, CCAL’s community outreach and open door policy programmes mean hundreds of participants benefit from learning skills in prop making, float construction, mask and costume creation and more.
While CCAL does receive some funding, the charity has launched a GoFundMe campaign to ensure that, with the growing demand for group participation and its ethos to try and keep providing as many free workshops for the community as possible, CCAL can continue to run the annual event.