Jordan Norris

Plans have been outlined for Dungarvan to be the first small town in Ireland to have its own LGBTQ+ Pride Parade in 2022.

The Pride flag was raised high outside the Civic Offices on Friday June 4th by Mayor of Waterford, Cllr. Damien Geoghegan.

With June being Pride month, local publican Emilene Stafford was among those to approach the Mayor and Waterford City & County Council with her ideas for Dungarvan Pride. She noted that there was a sufficient opportunity for Dungarvan to be in a league of its own and be the first town in Ireland to mark Pride Month.

“Last year, Damien put up the Pride flag and I thought it was fantastic. I thought it was a really great thing for a small town of 9,500 people to think outside of the box and do something like that. As a result of that, I really felt that Dungarvan needed to have its own Pride. There’s no small town in Ireland that does its own Pride.”

Having witnessed Dungarvan and various parts of Waterford go green as part of Virtual St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in March, Emilene assembled a team of many talents in order to bring ideas to life.

Cllr. John Pratt (Labour), Emilene Stafford (Dungarvan Pride), Cllr. Thomas Phelan (Labour), Mayor Damien Geoghegan (Fine Gael) and Cllr. Conor McGuinness (Sinn Féin).

“I saw on St. Patrick’s Day the Devonshire Bridge going green and how it was a massive success, and I felt on the back of that we could light buildings the colour of the rainbow for Pride. I approached Damien, and I approached John Bermingham of All That Can Be Productions and mentioned my idea about lighting buildings the colour of the rainbow, but having the rainbow run through the streets of Dungarvan, and having the buildings light up as the rainbow comes along. John told me that it would be possible and no problem at all.”

Having received the seal of approval from the Mayor, John and Dirk Baumann teamed up to create an amazing video showcasing LGBTQ+ pride and inclusion across Dungarvan and West Waterford. It is hoped that all going to plan, next year will see Dungarvan become the first small town in Ireland to host its very own Pride Parade.

“John Bermingham has created the most amazing video which will launch on June 24th. It’s a fantastic thing that we can let it be known to everybody that we are a welcoming town and the LGBTQ+ community and everybody of all shapes and sizes are welcome here.”

It has been confirmed that the video created by John Bermingham will be showcased for Pride celebrations in Dublin, London, New York, Barcelona and Manchester.

Emilene Stafford and Mayor Damien Geoghegan raise the LGBTQ+ flag outside the Dungarvan Civic Offices. Photos: John Bermingham

Mayor of Waterford, Cllr. Damien Geoghegan spoke of his honour to raise the flag in both Dungarvan and Waterford City on Friday. He was joined at the Dungarvan Civic Offices by Labour Party councillors Thomas Phelan and John Pratt, as well as Sinn Féin Councillor Conor McGuinness. Cllr. Geoghegan told the Munster Express that he hopes the tradition of the Mayor raising the flag is something that lasts long into the future.

“One of the first things I did last year when I became Mayor of Waterford City & County was raise the pride flag at the Civic Offices in Dungarvan and The Mall in Waterford. I think it’s important that we show solidarity with members of the LGBTQ+ community and I sincerely hope that any Mayor that follows on from me will continue to do this. Pride celebrations all over the world are fantastic. I think it’s something that we can do quite well here in Dungarvan. The message is going out that Dungarvan is a very welcoming place for people of all creeds and colours and backgrounds.”

Members of the emergency services were also invited to the raising of the flag as well as featuring in the video, to honour the outstanding contributions that they have made to the local community and beyond in the COVID-19 pandemic.