Lexington’s Alltech St. Patrick’s Parade on Saturday began with a tribute and moment of silence for Pearse Lyons, Alltech’s founder and a supporter of the Bluegrass Irish Society whose board members dedicated the event to Lyons.
Lyons, the billionaire who founded the international agribusiness and beverage giant Alltech and was the key figure in bringing the World Equestrian Games to Lexington in 2010, died March 8 at age 73 in Lexington. “The Bluegrass Irish Society and many in our community lost a friend and benefactor last week with the passing of Dr. Pearse Lyons,” said Megan Moloney, vice president of the society.
Born in Dundalk, Ireland, Lyons moved to the United States in 1976, making Central Kentucky his home. Just five years later, the society held its first St. Patrick’s parade, and Lyons was part of it. He has also served as grand marshal of the parade, Moloney said.
“As the title sponsor of the parade and festival, Alltech and the Lyons family have helped bring our St. Patrick’s celebration to life for tens of thousands of Central Kentuckians who have marched in the parade … and many more who have enjoyed watching it for nearly four decades,” Moloney said. “Dr. Pearse Lyons was a rare man who lived an enviable life in terms of his accomplishments. He managed to have personal success … and serve others along the way. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a h’anam.”
The Irish phrase translates as “May he rest at God’s right hand” and is the equivalent of the traditional “rest in peace."
The William Sutherland Reid Pipes and Drums group was scheduled to play “Amazing Grace.”
A plane scheduled to fly overhead on the parade route was the Alltech plane paying tribute to the company’s founder. .
At Lyons’ funeral Mass at the Cathedral of Christ the King Saturday afternoon, those who eulogized him spoke of his generosity, his love for everyone and the positive impact he had on the lives of those he met. He had boundless energy and transformed lives day in and day out, they said.
The parade, which moved down Main Street from Midland Avenue to Mill Street, is the longest running citywide civic event in Lexington. This is its 39th year.
The Irish festival kicked off Saturday morning at Lexington’s courthouse with the annual blessing of the keg at the Alltech Kentucky Ale tents. Local Irish dancers, musicians and pipe bands performed, and by late morning, scores of people were downtown and ready for the parade, many of them decked out in St. Patrick’s Day costumes.
The Lexington Division of Parks and Recreation produces the annual event with community support from local businesses and cultural organizations.
Ginny Ramsey, a civic activist who works with homeless people in Lexington, was named the parade grand marshal.