If the official launch of the Carrick 400 celebrations is anything to go by, this year’s programme of events promises to be something truly spectacular!
Mums and Dads, toddlers and teenagers, grans and grandads, people from all walks of life and indeed, the many ethnic groups that have come to make their home in Co Leitrim, all came to help Carrick-on-Shannon celebrate its big 4-0-0 last Friday - after all, it’s not everyday you get to mark such a big occasion!
Proceedings were given the ‘Presidential’ seal of approval by guest of honour President Michael D Higgins, who was mobbed by the crowds while on a special meet and greet following his speech. But even the First Man of Ireland could not compete with the unexpected ‘stars’ of the evening, a pair of 8 foot tall dancing fish.
While crowds surrounded our President as he talked and laughed with some of the hundreds who attended the official launch, unbeknownst to Michael D, there was something of a fishy revolution occurring only metres from his entourage.
What started with one little girl excitedly screaming “the big fish, it’s the big fish!” suddenly took on the proportions of a teen concert as the pair of dancing fish were mobbed by youngsters of all ages. Oh, if only the President could have taken the fish back with him to Dublin - things would probably never be the same in the Aras again.
But the dancing wasn’t merely confined to the mascots, students from the Victoria Walker School of Dance and Sean Nós Ar An tSionnan, delighted the crowds getting everyone into the party spirit despite the freezing winds blowing off the Shannon. The Marist NS Girls Choir also treated everyone to some beautiful songs before the musical entertainment was rounded off with a set by acclaimed musician, Sharon Shannon, who had everyone’s toes tapping as she played on stage at the Quay.
Topping off the evening’s celebrations was the fireworks spectacular which drew large crowds and plenty of ‘oohs and ahhs’ as well. Local school children also joined in by lighting the special paper lanterns that they had worked so hard to decorate over the last few weeks.
As the crowds made their way back out of Carrick-on-Shannon for the journey home there was a real buzz of excitement in the air for the town’s birthday celebrations are only getting started and somewhere, I suspect, those two dancing fish, may still be jigging their way along the banks of the Shannon. Carrick-on-Shannon, where else would you get craic like that!