Skip to main content

WCU Stories

Pride of the Mountains Marching Band set for St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Ireland

potm ireland

The Pride of the Mountains Marching Band will perform in the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Dublin, Ireland, Sunday, March 17.

By Chaz Lilly

Jillian O’Beirne, a junior music education major, has never been on a plane. Little did she think her first flight would be across the Atlantic to Ireland.

O’Beirne is traveling with Western Carolina University’s Pride of the Mountains Marching Band to perform in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin March 17.

“I’m nervous, excited, anxious. It hasn’t fully hit me yet that I’ll be flying to Ireland,” O’Beirne said. “I think when I’m going through the airport for the first time it will be surreal.”

potm charleston southern


O’Beirne’s bandmate Sean Ohmann, a junior who plays the mellophone, said he was happy to be making the trek with some of his closest friends.

“It is really hard to put into words how exciting this trip is going to be,” Ohmann said. “I’ve met so many cool people through my band career at Western. It’s so incredible that I’m now going with some of my best friends to perform for an international audience.  It’s going to be impossible to not be overwhelmed with the excitement and awe of the whole experience.

The band has been planning the trip for the last two years.

“We’ve played in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (twice) and across the U.S., but never internationally,” said Jack Eaddy Jr., WCU’s director of athletic bands. “Our students will make memories that last them a lifetime. They’ll take with them a valuable cross-cultural experience, which makes the world a better place.”

potm samford


Apart from marching in the parade, the band has a slew of fun excursions scheduled.

Their first stop will be to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Built in honor of Ireland’s patron saint, the building dates to 1220.

The group will also visit the iconic Guinness Brewery and Storehouse. Students will have the option to try dishes influenced by local produce. Among other selections, the menu includes Ardsallagh goat’s cheese, Irish mussels from Carlingford and Waterford Blaas bread.

“I’m actually excited to try traditional Irish foods,” O’Beirne added. “I think food is one of the biggest ways we learn about other cultures.”

The band will share some American culture when they give a short performance at Kilkenny Castle. A towering landmark, the 12th century fortress was the principal seat of royalty for almost 600 years.

“I’m excited to see the architecture and the beautiful castle grounds,” Ohmann said. “I think it's going to be a challenge to adapt to the change in scenery, but this is what we work for all season. Our upper student leadership has been absolutely fundamental to our ability to perform at such a high level and it’s due to them that I know we are going to play our best.”

The trip includes two more scenic stops.

potm ireland52


First, they will see the Cliffs of Moher, one of Ireland’s most spectacular sights. The cliffs stand some 250 yards above the ground and five miles long.

“Personally, I’m most excited for the cliffs,” Ohmann said. “It’s a stunningly beautiful landscape and I truly cannot wait to go. This is such a great opportunity for us to experience the beauty of Ireland.”

To wrap up the visit is an outing to Trinity College, the oldest university in Ireland. There, they will see The Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript and Celtic gospel from 800 AD.

“I’m excited for our students to see both the Irish influence on our country and how America has impacted their way of life,” Eaddy said. “And, it will be a proud moment to hear WCU’s fight song echoing in the streets of Dublin.”

Follow WCU’s social media for daily posts from the trip.

Office of Web Services