'It's a huge honour', says parade Grand Marshal Annalise
Ireland's Olympic heroine Annalise Murphy spoke of her delight at the "huge honour" of being selected as the Grand Marshal of Dublin's St Patrick's Day parade.
The silver medal-winning sailor was yesterday announced as the person who will lead the parade through the capital.
"It's such a huge honour. I'm really looking forward to it. I've spent so many Patrick's Days away competing or training, so it's going to be brilliant to be at home in Dublin," said Annalise.
"I am always extremely proud to represent Ireland but that is normally out on the water, so this will be a completely different experience for me.
"The parade is always a great day and I'm really looking forward to being part of it."
The 27-year-old from Rathfarnham added that she has returned to intensive training in preparation for a competition in the Netherlands in May.
She enjoyed a rest period after her Rio Olympics success, which included meeting friends and enjoying lie-ins.
She said she will have to work as hard as ever to succeed, including facing the challenge of qualifying for the next Olympics and competing with younger female sailors for her place in the Irish team.
St Patrick's Festival chief executive Susan Kirby said the organisers were absolutely thrilled to announce Annalise as Grand Marshal.
"Annalise's achievements to date are an example of the ability of a strong will and determination and she is a great ambassador for Ireland," she said.
"We wish Annalise the best of luck in her role and we hope she enjoys every minute of the experience."
The theme of this year's festival is 'Ireland you are'. It is funded by Failte Ireland, Dublin City Council, and the Department of the Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.
The festival will run from March 16 to 19. The parade will begin at Parnell Square on March 17 at noon.
Funfairs will take place at Merrion Square and on Custom House Quay for three days.