Blow for march after Blarney baron bans Paddy's Day parade
ONE of Ireland's most famous St Patrick's Day festivals has had to be moved after Blarney Castle owner Sir Charles Colthurst refused permission for the village square to be used.
Mr Colthurst - who owns the square - raised concerns over public liability insurance cover despite the fact that the site has been used for festivities in the past.
Parade organiser Kevin Conway last night said he felt the issues raised were "trivial" - and caused a major headache for the parade organisers just 72 hours before the gala event.
Despite months of planning, the festival committee only discovered that Mr Colthurst was refusing permission for use of the village square at 6pm on Tuesday night.
"We have a record entry for the Blarney parade this year, it is all about providing entertainment for people and persuading tourists to come to Blarney and spend their money here," Mr Conway told the Herald.
"We have now had to ensure that every stall and attraction is moved from the square out to Blarney GAA grounds. But we are very grateful to the GAA for allowing us to use their facilities - otherwise we don't know what we'd do," he added.
Now, all children's attractions, food stalls and the farmer's market will be staged at Blarney GAA grounds.
Mr Colthurst did not respond to queries from the Herald.
However, a five-page letter sent on his behalf to Blarney Community Council raised specific concerns about insurance - and cited the risks associated with some stalls.
The letter bluntly warned that he believed the public liability insurance cover in place was not sufficient.The letter was read out at an emergency meeting of Blarney Community Council - and the parade organisers felt they had no option but to move the planned stalls and reroute the parade to the GAA grounds.
Festival PRO Tom O'Dwyer said they were shocked by the late notice given.
"We found out about this at 6.05pm on Tuesday. This isn't the first festival we have had on the square - this would have been the fifth.
"We have had two previous St Patrick's Day festivals and two September Fun Days. So we don't understand why there was suddenly a problem with insurance this year," he said.
Blarney Chamber of Commerce chairman, Damian Boylan, said the11th hour changes were "very disappointing" given the enormous voluntary effort that goes into the parade.
Mr Colthurst previously hit the headlines in 2010 when he called for the minimum wage to be cut - arguing that Ireland had become too uncompetitive in Europe.
Blarney annually attracts over 300,000 visitors and those who have kissed the Blarney stone over the years include Winston Churchill, Laurel & Hardy, Prince, Michael Madsen and Billy Connolly.