Half-Way to St. Paddy’s Day in Kilkenny

The toilet bowl race was one of the most popular events of the day. The team “Honorbowls” (pictured), made up of racers (from left) Shawn Barta, Scott Perschau and Mayor Kevin Taaffe Jr., put their backs into getting their bowl across the finish line in first place. To see more photos of the event, click on the blue button. (Jay Schneider Photo)

Irish eyes were certainly smiling in Kilkenny on Saturday, Sept. 21, out of appreciation for the first Half-Way to St. Paddy’s Day celebration. The day had all the makings of a seasoned festival, complete with parade, 5K race, beer and fireworks. And to bring tradition to the brand new celebration, a team Toilet Bowl Race rolled down Kilkenny streets, much like it did on St. Patrick’s Day in the 1980s. 

The idea to organize a city festival came from Kilkenny Mayor Kevin Taaffe Jr. He said he remembered how fun it was when he was a kid, and wanted to bring it back. From there, his enthusiasm spread, especially after his trip to Kilkenny, Ireland in March, when he and the Ireland mayor signed an agreement making the Kilkennys twins, promising to help promote each other’s cities.

To show he was serious about the twinning agreement, Taaffe threw out the idea of inviting Brett to attend the festival, and to his great pleasure, on Friday, Sept. 20,  Brett arrived to see his city’s twin, meet its people and partake in the festival. He stayed with Bud and Bette Miller for the weekend and participated in the celebration. Being a good sport, he even rode a toilet bowl down the street.

Angela Taaffe, Kevin’s wife and the city clerk, reported that the Leprechaun 5K run/walk had 95 registered participants, exceeding their expectations for the day. Thirty entries made up the parade that brought crowds to town, followed by the seven toilet bowl teams for the race. The winner of the porcelain prize? Mayor Taaffe along with teammates Shawn Barta, Lonsdale, and Scott Perschau, Arlington. 

Mayor Taaffe said the celebration was more than he expected and that he hopes to continue the festival for years to come. He added that he heard many comments about how much fun it was and how spectacular the fireworks were. 

“The day was a lot of fun. A very heartfelt thank you to all who turned out. Mayor Martin Brett and Mr. John Mulholland of Kilkenny, Ireland were absolutely blown away by the kindness, generosity and hospitality shown to them by the people of Kilkenny,” Taaffe said. “A big thank you to the volunteers who made this day a success.”