Friday, March 10, 2023

Michael Bolton

With preparations underway across the country for St Patrick’s Day parades, one Mayo town is set to have a very special guest.

Tony Christie (Anthony Fitzgerald), famous for his version of ‘Is This the Way To Amarillo’ — which had double chart success — will be the grand marshal in Claremorris.

Mr Christie, who celebrates his 80th birthday next month, has connections to Mayo, with his grandparents hailed from south Mayo (Robeen and Balla) and the Yorkshire native has always been proud of his roots.

Amarillo was a chart-topper in 19711 and thanks to a call from comedian Peter Kay, it became a hit again in 2005 introducing Christie to a new generation.

He may be synonymous these days for that crowd pleaser, but Christie grew up in an Irish emigrant family in the coal-mining town of Conisbrough, outside Sheffield. He learned how to sing and hold a crowd in working men’s clubs across the north of England. In 2015 he released a collection of Irish standards — The Great Irish Songbook – songs he grew up listening to among the migrant community in South Yorkshire.

In an interview in the Examiner to promote that album, he spoke about his time as a pop star in the 1960s, crossing paths with a who’s-who of celebrated artists – he was on first name terms with The Beatles and spoke glowingly of Sinatra. He also met many Irish performers and was especially close to Joe Dolan.

The Claremorris parade will take place on Friday, March 17th at 3pm and promises to be a day filled with plenty of entertainment for young and old alike.

Chairperson of the town’s parade committee, Nina Pilbrow, is looking forward to welcoming the parade back to the town after a four-year absence.

“We’re not putting a theme on it this year because we haven’t had one the last few years so, we want people to be as bright, colourful and as loud as possible,” Nina told the Western People. “It’s our first parade since 2019, so we want to ease people into it.”


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