The first major street parade of the St Patrick's weekend celebrations has taken place in Athlone in Co Westmeath.

More than 5,000 people turned out to watch the parade despite heavy rain earlier in the day.

This year's parade was moved to the Saturday afternoon as the organisers were attempting to attract more floats and entertainment groups from around the midlands, and the switch seemed to work with greater participation in the parade.

Entries included the Green Knight Motorcycle Club, Military Vehicles Ireland, Moate Vintage Club, Famous Hit Machine Drummers, a ukulele band, yacht club, medieval group, as well as Junior Mayors, representatives from the Indian and Nigerian community, and a group representing the city of Providence in Rhode Island. 

Among the floats and entertainment that took part in the parade were superheroes including Spiderman and Batman, Ernie from Sesame Street, the 'Del Boy' Robin Reliant car, as well as a selection of colourful dragons, sharks, horses, elephants, whales, and lots more.

The main parade has now passed through the town, and later crowds gathered at Burgess park on the east bank of the River Shannon for the staging of an attempt to put the town into the Guinness Book of World Records.

Organisers were hoping to assemble in excess of 847 people in St Patrick's costume at the park this afternoon.