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.

Meanwhile, in a St Patrick’s Day message Taoiseach Enda Kenny said Ireland was known around the world for its people and their ability to change the circumstances of others.

Mr Kenny said: “That our small Atlantic island should inspire so much global affection is due in no small part to the nobility, or the uaisleacht, of our people who time and again saw to it not just to make the difference but to be the difference in parts of the world visited by war and famine and destruction.”

“Even now as I speak in remote field-clinics and feeding stations and in border crossings there is an Irishman or Irishwoman bringing not just help but confidence, not just hope but indeed love.”

Mr Kenny, who is in the US for the weekend, also used his address to say thank you for the sacrifices made in Ireland since the economic crisis.

“I know the process of transforming Ireland has been extremely difficult, many aspects galling for you. The shock of the fall was followed by the seemingly endless sacrifice by you and your families,” he said.

“We are at last and thanks to you and to your patience and your resolve putting Ireland first. We are now back on the road to recovery.”

The longest and oldest St Patrick’s Day parade in the United States takes place in Manhattan today. Guinness has pulled its sponsorship of New York City’s parade, joining with New York mayor Bill de Blasio in boycotting the event over the ban on openly gay and lesbian marchers.

The decision by the world-famous Irish brand turns greater focus on Mr Kenny’s participation in today’s parade. He will march alongside the New York GAA in the parade to help commemorate its centenary. The parade is being dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the association.

Mr Kenny arrived in New York last night ahead of meeting Mr de Blasio this morning at his residence in New York before the march.

In Cork the parade started at the Mall at 1pm, travelling to Merchant’s Quay. Irish dancer Michael Flatley was the grand marshal, with tens of thousands descending on Patrick Street for the festivities.

Galway marked its 111th annual St Patrick’s Day parade today. It started at Dominick Street at 11.30am, and ended at Eyre Square.

The parade in Waterford City began at 1pm, with Dooley’s Hotel the starting point.

In Limerick the parade began at midday from O’Connell Street. Special Olympics athletes from Team Munster served as grand marshals and some 4,000 people participated.

Yesterday Belfast held one of its biggest St Patrick’s Day parades in years. Many people watched the colourful carnival procession in the city centre — a day before the actual date — and attended a free concert featuring former X Factor winner Shayne Ward at Custom House Square. Eye-catching floats included a Back To The Future flying DeLorean and a Doctor Who Tardis.

In a statement for St Patrick’s Day, the bishops of Ireland said: “In 2014 we celebrate our national saint’ s day in the midst of an ongoing economic recession which has resulted in domestic heartbreak throughout Ireland for many individuals and families due to the pressure of unemployment and emigration.

As the plight of Patrick, himself a migrant, has been faced by many Irish people who have struggled to live and integrate into new cultures, we encourage all the faithful to pray for migrants at home and abroad as many face challenges arising from displacement and poverty.”