Ireland gears up for St Patrick’s Day celebrations
Festivals and events to take place over the weekend
St Patrick arrived in Dublin’s Grand Canal Square yesterday with festival characters from City Fusion Theatre Group Moe Coakely and Piyanuch Chanphet. Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times
Festivals have begun across the country ahead of next Monday’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations.
The organisers of festivals will be relieved that threatened strikes at Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports have been avoided.
In Dublin, today marks the start of the I Love My City festival programme, which sees 17 “eclectic events and happenings” taking place throughout the capital over the weekend.
The main national event takes place on Monday when some 400,000 people are expected to attend the Dublin St Patrick’s Day parade.
Limerick will host the 44th International Band Championship on Sunday ahead of the parade. More than 1,000 musicians are expected to compete in the marching band competition, while organisers expect tens of thousands of spectators to line the streets to watch 102 floats participate in what a spokeswoman called the “massive” St Patrick’s Day parade.
Galway will celebrate its 111th annual St Patrick’s Day parade on Monday. Organisers this year say “Galway’s relationship with the sea will be brought to life throughout its medieval streets over the course of the parade”.
The parade in Waterford City gets going on Sunday at 1pm, with Dooley’s Hotel the starting point.
Visitors to Cork can expect “three days of free family fun”, organisers said, with live music on the streets, circus walkabouts and comedy events taking place during the festival. The parade also starts at 1pm on Sunday.
Many hotels across the country have been raising their prices in anticipation of increased demand. Room rates in Dublin have increased sharply for the weekend, according to the trivago hotel price index for March. Prices in the capital rose by 86 per cent, with visitors expected to pay an average of €210 a night on Saturday compared to the monthly average of €113.
The hike is less than last year, however, when hoteliers faced a backlash after raising their prices by 174 per cent to an average of €287 a night.
In Limerick this year rates are up 33 per cent to €99; Kilkenny up 20 per cent to €107; Galway up 19 per cent to €84; Waterford 14 per cent (€74) and Cork 11 per cent (€82).
Elsewhere, the Garda and the Road Safety Authority have urged drivers to take care on the roads over the weekend and ensure they wear seatbelts.
RSA director Michael Rowland said 17 people have died in accidents on St Patrick’s Day over the last seven years. “Over 30 people have been killed over the period of the St Patrick’s holiday weekend,” he added.
Noting that one in five people who died on the State’s roads last year were not wearing their seatbelts, Mr Rowland said “we wanted to use this opportunity to ensure that people are wearing their seatbelt”.
Michael O’Sullivan, chief superintendent at the Garda National Traffic Bureau, said 1,500 people have received penalty points in the last two months for not wearing seatbelts. In the last 12 years over 8,000 people have received penalty points for not having children secured in cars.
“People get, I think, complacent and perhaps a little bit relaxed coming up to the weekend. They tend to rush their visits and perhaps there are more people on the road, and it’s about bringing about an enforcement strategy to remind people that they have to drive safely.”