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Shona at the parade

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Shona was really excited when she got her first green Dancing Skirt. It was the week before the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and she was so looking forward to it. Her little feet hardly touched the ground as she practiced her 1-2-3s and her 3-heels. She danced in the kitchen and in the garden. She danced on the way to school and in the yard at ‘big break’ hopping and skipping as light as a feather.

St. Patrick’s Day promised to be fine, but Shona wouldn’t have cared if it snowed – as long as the Parade was on! Mammy brought her to the assembly point, and soon the Judges were going around looking at all the different groups. The 50 or 60 girls in green were the second last of the marchers, and there was a big band in front of them. They pointed their toes and twirled around, all on their best behaviour. Shona saw the boys and girls from the GAA Club way up in front, in their club jerseys – there was Jacob, and Emma, and Conor, and Owen and lots of girls and boys she knew – and the Scouts, and the Brigíns, and right at the very back there were clowns. Then the music started and they were off on their long trek to the village.

There were crowds at every corner, (she saw Harry and Charlie, and Cian with his sister Megan) and along the paths waiting to see the Parade, and Shona danced for them all the way. She just never stopped. When they rounded the corner at the Village Green and she saw hundreds and hundreds of people all cheering and waving and she danced as if her little life depended on it. There was Sinéad in her Mammy’s arms, with a little green ribbon in her hair; and Donal with his little baby brother Tommy sitting proud as punch in the buggy. Shona did a very special twirl for them. And further down Main Street, right beside the Review Stand (where Mammy had told her all the really, really important people were), was Uncle Darren with Daniel up high on his shoulders. Shona was dying to wave to them, but the music was still playing and her little feet still dancing. Cameras flashed as she made her final bow.

When they had passed the Stand, her little legs just stopped – they couldn’t do even one more 1-2-3 – they were exhausted. She was glad to sit down on the edge of the path with her big sister and her Mammy and take a long drink from a bottle of lemonade.

But all that night, Shona dreamed of Music, and Fun and Excitement and her little feet did 1-2-3s under the lovely comfy duvet. She can’t wait for next year!

Joan O'Flynn