Enthusiastic crowd lines Dublin streets for St Patrick’s Day

President attends parade and urges people to think of emigrants across globe


Mon, Mar 17, 2014, 18:12

The crowds in Dublin for the St Patrick’s Day parade were noticeably smaller than for last year’s Gathering celebrations, but those who were there were as enthusiastic as ever.

The largest parade in the State began in Dublin from Parnell Square at 12pm on the route to St Patrick’s Cathedral. The theme of this year’s parade is Let’s Make History and will honour Brian Boru with the 1,000th anniversary of the Battle of Clontarf happening next month.

President Michael D Higgins attended the event with his wife Sabina and urged people to think of those who have emigrated from Ireland in recent years.

“It continues to play a significant role in defining us as a society and as a people,” he said.

“Today we celebrate our wider and diverse Irish family, to whom we remain connected by a strong cultural heritage and history. We are grateful for all they do to keep that heritage alive in their adopted homelands across the globe, as well as for their interest in, and tangible support for, Ireland’s welfare and development.

“Today is a special day for all those Irish communities great and small across the world that come together in a spirit of pride and joy to celebrate their identity and their links of affinity and affection with their homeland of origin.”

For spectator Daniela Lionetti, it was her seventh visit to Ireland for St Patrick’s Day. She was wearing a giant hat into which most of a large furry leprechaun had vanished, leaving only it’s legs visible. “I live in Venice, and I would swap Venice with Dublin any time,” she declared.”It’s the atmosphere. I can dress up without feeling silly. I couldn’t wear this hat in Venice.”

“Enda Kenny? Who’s she?” asked Sheila Dewhirst, who left Co Kildare in 1958, and now lives in Yorkshire. Dewhirst was visiting on a coach tour with 50 others, including her sister, Evelyn Faulkner. Both sisters were clad almost entirely in green: scarves, berets, jumpers, earrings. “And socks,” Dewhirst pointed out, pulling up her trouser leg. “We might have left a long time ago, but we’re still definitely Irish,” she said. Her sister Evelyn was still puzzling over the identity of Enda Kenny. “Did she take over from Mary MacAleese?”

Meanwhile, the human-sized leprechaun busily posing for pictures at the Molly Malone statue on College Green wasn’t taking any chances. His large crock of gold had a clear protective lid over it, with a small hole for donations. The monies within might as well have been at the end of the rainbow, for all the chances an unpatriotic and light-fingered member of the public had of getting it.

The Cassidy family from Rathfarnham, Co Dublin, Jenny, Jim, and their two children, James (9), and Juliette (7) were in for their annual visit to the parade. “I like the way they use their imagination in the parade,” James volunteered. “I come because it’s a day we’re proud to be Irish,” Jenny stated. “Listen to all the accents — French, Spanish, Italian, American. They’re all here because of us, and that’s something to be proud of.”

Cyclist Stephen Roche had the honour of being grand marshal of the St Patrick’s Day parade this year.

Tourism Ireland’s Global Greening initiative, includes for the first time the Great Wall of China, the Treasury in the ancient city of Petra, Jordan and the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy. In Ireland some of the landmarks to turn green include the GPO, the Rock of Cashel, Trim Castle, Heuston Station and the National Gallery.