Ciara Kenny

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Our parade in… Abu Dhabi

Brian Cummins of the Abu Dhabi Irish society shares the Irish community’s plans for St Patrick’s Day in the desert

Revellers enjoying St Patrick's Day in the UAE last year.

Wed, Mar 12, 2014, 21:00


Brian Cummins of the Abu Dhabi Irish Society shares the Irish community’s plans for St Patrick’s Day in the desert:

As an Irish expat teaching in Abu Dhabi for four years, I have seen the community go from strength to strength. There are over 6,000 Irish in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, and St Patrick’s Day is a fantastic occasion for the Irish community to come together.

The highlight of Saint Patrick’s Day in the desert is the Abu Dhabi Irish Society’s St Patrick’s Day Ball, a sell-out black-tie event tomorrow evening at the Crown Plaza Hotel. Irish band The Kilkennys have being flown over especially to Abu Dhabi for their second consecutive year to entertain over 400 guests, dignitaries, newly-crowned Abu Dhabi Rose Patrice MacGillicuddy and the Irish Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Patrick Hennessey.

The five-course meal begins with a prayer ‘as gaeilge’ from Mayo man and long time Irish expat Pat English, and leads to a night of traditional Irish music, singing and a special performance from the young Irish dancers of Abu Dhabi.

On Friday, our weekly day off, The Kilkennys will play another set in Heroes Bar. On Sunday, Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan will be special guest at an Irish Business Council and Irish Embassy lunch in the Beach Rotana to mark his visit to the UAE’s capital. On St Patrick’s Day itself, the Minister will be the keynote speaker at the St Patrick’s Day Irish Business Network breakfast meeting in Dubai.

Like any parish, we are proud of our community and want to keep our culture alive for the next generation. Young and old members volunteer time from their busy schedules to teach Irish music, dancing, “ceachtai gaeilge”, and coach children in the skills of our native games on a weekly basis.

Having recently married a beautiful Tyrone woman, I consider Abu Dhabi home for the time being, like many Irish here. St Patrick’s Day allows us an opportunity to show other expat communities what makes Abu Dhabi our home – the fantastic people, strong community spirit and the supportive Irish population. Even though there isn’t much green around it’s a place where every Irish person, from Malin Head to Mizen Head, will make friendships for life under the desert sun.

Brian Cummins is a voluntary member of the Abu Dhabi Irish Society, and runs advice website .

The Dubai Irish Society will also host a St Patrick’s Day ball at the Conrad Hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road next Friday 21st.