St Patrick’s Day: Parades across Ireland are bathed in glorious sunshine - as they happened

Celebrations from New York to Newbridge take place as people take to the streets


It is St Patrick’s Day, with an estimated 500,000 people expected in the capital for the parade, with 100,000 visitors from overseas bolstering the local attendance.

Dublin’s parade kicked off under the stewardship of grand marshal Patrick Kielty. “Stuff just got real,” said the Late Late Show presenter who comes appropriately enough from Downpatrick.

The theme this year was “spréach”, the Irish for spark, which could manifest itself as “the glint of craic in the eye that is so familiar to Irish people” or “the light of innovation and discovery so present throughout our history”, examples in the official festival literature suggest.

There are also updates here from parades in the major cities across the country – and the towns expressing their traditional parade-float creativity.

There are also celebrations around the world from Vancouver to Tokyo, as well as the big ticket events in New York and Chicago.

Government Ministers are, of course, around the world promoting trade and the country’s cultural brand. Leo Varadkar will meet US president Joe Biden again the hand over the traditional shamrock amid debate at home over the US role in Israel’s invasion of Gaza.

We will bring you the latest updates on all this and more on what looks, so far, to be a great day for it – in Dublin at least.

St Patrick's Day parade route Dublin 2024. Map: Paul Scott
Best reads:


And that’s a wrap for me today. Thank you all for tuning in and I hope you enjoy the rest of St Patrick’s Day.


Seanín Graham reports from Belfast.

Crowds were ten-deep at Belfast City Hall where the St Patrick’s parade started with an explosion of music and colour.

“People, place and planet” was this year’s theme and theatrical performers atop celestial sculptures waved to the crowds to the pounding of drums.

Thousands of people lined the route as stilt-walking performers from Streetwise Family Circus high-fived small children.

Local dance troupes, schools, community groups and musicians also took part in the multi-cultural, cross-community event.



The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan was wearing an Irish puffer jacket given to him by a GAA team but which one?

It’s the Fr Murphy’s hurling and camogie club in Acton, west London. The club presented him with the Bodibro parade jacket two years ago for the London parade and he has been wearing it once a year ever since.

The name and the colours reflect a strong associated with Co Wexford. The club was founded in 1958 by Wexford emigrants living in London and the jacket comes from the Boidbro factory in Gorey.


Yet another mass shooting in the United States has led to the cancellation of a major St Patrick’s Day parade.

The St Patrick’s Day parade in Philadelphia was cancelled on Saturday. It followed a shooting in the Falls Township in Pennsylvania in which a man shot his stepmother, sister and another person.


Stephen Corrigan reports:

An estimated 40,000 thronged the streets of Galway for the city’s St Patrick’s Day parade this afternoon.

The theme of this year’s parade was ‘Olympics 2024 – Dare to Dream’ as 2,700 participants from 68 community groups took to the streets of the City of the Tribes – departing the grounds of the University of Galway at 11.30am as the bells of Galway Cathedral rang out ‘Hail Glorious St Patrick’.

And if the theme was dreaming big, organisers’ dreams of sunshine came true as early morning showers stopped minutes before the parade kicked off and the streets filled with spectators.

Among the highlights was the Swiss carnival band, Escheschränzer Eschenbach whose energetic sound got the crowds going for the wide array of sports, community and culture groups that followed.

There were several nods to the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris as Galway hopefuls were celebrated, and the famous ‘steak and spuds’ and ‘pull like a dog’ quotes from Cork rowers, Brian and Paul O’Donovan, featured on signs carried by some of the participants.

The parade was led by volunteers from the RNLI, an organisation celebrating its 200th anniversary this year, with Operations Manager at Galway Lifeboat Station, Mike Swan, at the helm of an open-top bus as one of two Grand Marshalls.


According to organisers, there are six large scale pageants, 11 showpieces and 14 marching bands from across Ireland, North America and France in the Dublin parade this year, including more than 4,000 participants.

The Ukrainian Community in Ireland is one of the groups featuring in this year’s parade: “Our friends and family in Ukraine often ask us what St Patrick’s Day parades are about. For us it’s a culture carnival where there’s a place for everyone, manifestation of creativity and unity, and great craic too!”

Also, participating in the parade for the first time ever, is North East Inner City initiative.



Where’s Roderic? He’s in Tokyo as the grand marshal of the Tokyo parade while his department at home has dismantled the tent city around the International Protection Office in Mount Street and moved the asylum seekers to Crooksling in south-west Dublin.

Speaking to David McNeill in Tokyo, he said the government is under too much pressure to “provide people with accommodation in a location of choice”.

Minister O’Gorman, who is on a six-day visit to Japan, said he acknowledged that “a small number” have indicated they are not happy with the new location, on the site of a former nursing home, but insisted it is an improvement.

“They have access to showers, toilet facilities…meals and they have security as well. And they didn’t have access to any of this at the site in Mount Street,” he told The Irish Times. “I think it’s significantly better than the place they were in.”

“Unfortunately, with the amount of pressure on accommodation right now the government isn’t in a position to provide people with accommodation in a location of choice,” he continued.

“We’re under real pressure. But again, this site has security, it has access to sanitation, toilets, showers and meals for the international protection applicants.”


St Patrick’s Day Dublin parade grand marshal Patrick Kielty says he is “the proudest man in Ireland” as he gets ready at the start line for the big event. “Stuff just got real,” he told RTÉ.

More than 7,000 letters from emigrants to North America spanning four centuries have been collected and digitised, giving poignant insight into the homesickness, tribulations, and occasional triumphs, of those who crossed the Atlantic.

Kerby Miller, a US historian, amassed the trove over nearly six decades by combing archives and private collections, and making public appeals for letters, memoirs and other documents in trunks, drawers and attics, yielding more than 150,000 pages spanning the late 1600s to the 20th century.

The University of Galway has placed the collection in a digital repository that is searchable and free to access.

It can be accessed here.


From the PSNI:

With a number of events taking place in Belfast on St Patrick’s Day, Police are encouraging those visiting the city to celebrate safely while respecting local residents and businesses.

Road users are advised to anticipate some traffic disruption and plan for potential delays in Belfast on Sunday due to a number of events. Those participating in the SPAR Craic 10K event will leave Belfast City Hall at 9am, travelling throughout the city centre before finishing in Ormeau Park.

A Traffic Management System and signage will be in place and motorists should follow directions of Police, any signage and exercise caution along the route. Then from 1pm through to 3pm, traffic disruption can be expected as the St Patrick’s Day carnival parade gets ready to leave from City Hall at 1.30pm.

The parade then travels through the city centre via Chichester Street, turning left into Victoria Street, then left again at High Street and along Castle Place. It will then turn left into Donegall Place, making its way back to Belfast City Hall. Superintendent Gavin Kirkpatrick said: “If you’re going out in Belfast for St Patrick’s Day put your safety first. If you are socialising, drink responsibly, stay with your friends and get home safely. “We have been working alongside partners and event organisers to ensure we all have the right resources and plans in place for the St Patrick’s Day celebrations, to ensure it is a day of enjoyment for everyone. “

Alongside our colleagues from Belfast City Council, Queen’s University Belfast, Ulster University and local schools, we have again been working hard to highlight that the residential areas of south Belfast are NOT a party or nightlife destination.

“We want everyone to have an enjoyable, peaceful and crime-free day. We would like everyone to enjoy the public holiday and would ask that all act responsibly, think of others and have a great St Patrick’s Day.”


Conor Pope reports:

How many people are attending the parade has been a matter of some debate in recent days with one letter writer to The Irish Times suggesting that for the oft-quoted half a million to be reached, the crowd would need to be 50 deep along the entire parade route. When The Irish Times asked the head of the St Patrick’s Festival Richard Tierney where the 500,000 figure comes from he said that they were official numbers provided by various state bodies.

He also said that not all 500,000 people would be lining the route at exactly the same time with people coming and going as the parade snakes - if that is not the wrong word on St Patrick’s Day - its way through the city centre.


Conor Pope reports:

Grand marshal, Patrick Kielty struggled to contain his emotion at a press event ahead of the day’s big event and his voice audibly cracked when asked what it meant for him to be leading the 2024 parade.

He recalled growing up in Downpatrick, a town that was bitterly divided along religious lines, and said that when he was a child the notion that the two communities in his town would come together to celebrate the Island’s patron state would have seemed impossible.

But he heralded the changes in the North and noted that for many years now there had been a St Patrick’s Day parade up in Downpatrick.

As for his own role across the Irish cultural landscape over the last 12 months,, he said the turn his life had taken amounted to a plot twist that stretched credibility further than the one that saw last year’s star turn Patrick Duffy step out of a Dallas shower oblivious to the fact that he had been “dead” for the previous season.

He said that when he the call came asking him if he would be the grand marshal he thought he was being pranked by Ant and Dec, so unlikely did the idea seem but he said that “the journey from me waking past St Patrick’s grave as a school boy and ending up here is a massive, massive deal.”

He said his wife Cat Deeley and his children would be watching the parade from their London home as she has work very early in the morning presenting This Morning while the kids have school first thing tomorrow.

He also pointed out that last weekend when his family gathered to celebrate another aspect of Irishness, the crunch Six Nations match between Ireland and England, his Irish rugby jersey wearing children and himself were left somewhat disappointed by England’s win with the last kick of the game but he said there would be more joy in the house this weekend.


The Irish Guards gave three cheers for their absent colonel, the Princess of Wales, during a St Patrick’s Day parade at Mons Barracks in Hampshire.

On Sunday, 250 Irish Guardsmen marched onto the Parade Square at the Aldershot barracks led by their mascot, a three-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Turlough Mor, also known as Seamus.

Kate, who has been colonel of the regiment for a year after officially taking over from her husband, the Prince of Wales, is still recovering from abdominal surgery in January and has not resumed her public duties.

William and Kate have attended several past parades together and she was pictured in the rain last year presenting mascot Seamus with the traditional sprig of shamrock before the couple enjoyed a glass of Guinness with the troops.

The British Army in London posted on X, formerly Twitter: “In keeping with tradition wherever they are in the world the @irish_guards give a rousing three cheers for the Colonel of the Regiment HRH the Princess of Wales at their St Patrick’s Day Parade in Aldershot.”

They removed their bearskin headdresses before giving three cheers of “hip hip hooray”.

It was the first time in nearly a year that a full contingent of Irish Guardsmen had come together for a parade, with the last being the coronation of the King in May 2023, according to the Army.

Commanding Officer James Aldridge said: “St Patrick’s Day is a wonderful opportunity to strengthen the friendships that are so fundamental to our regimental ethos and identity.

“With our busy and diverse operational schedules, it is the most prominent occasion for the regimental family to come together, and we are really looking forward to welcoming Micks of all ranks, from across the Army, past and present, and their families. We will raise a glass to those unable to attend this year.”


Darragh Moriarty reports from Waterford.

Despite yesterday’s troublesome weather lingering over the penultimate day of the St. Patrick’s Day Festival in Waterford, today’s annual parade in the city enjoyed radiant sunshine and remained rain-free for the thousands of onlookers.

Over 2,100 participants took part in the parade, which weaved its way from Waterford’s Quay, towards The Mall, packed with sport, art and cultural groups.

To get proceedings underway, the Thomas Francis Meagher Foundation presented the Irish tricolour to Mayor of Waterford City & County, Joe Conway, just a step away from where the flag first flew in Ireland, at No 33, The Mall.

Mayor Conway’s opening speech reflected on what the parade has traditionally meant to the people of Ireland, and what it means for future generations.

“As you all know, St. Patrick was brought here, and sold into slavery” he remarked, “It is interesting to see that one with such a humble and deprived background, could end up 2000 years later, as somebody who embodies our national spirit.

“I think there’s a message there for all of us, that many people are coming from abroad into Waterford and Ireland and I think we have to look forward to the new Ireland that they will bring.”


Laura Coates reports from Newbridge

Grey skies and steady drizzle couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the well-wrapped-up young marchers in this year’s Newbridge parade, whose enthusiasm kept them warm even as showers thinned out the crowds.

The event, which prides itself on being one of the biggest parades outside the capital, set off shortly before midday. It was lead down main street by a motorcade which included military vehicles from the nearby Defence Forces Training Centre on the Curragh.

‘Legends of Kildare’ was this year’s theme, and the town’s own Brenda Donohue of RTE radio took up her traditional annual role on the emcee’s mic, energetically shepherding performers, sports clubs, lorries and trucks past the viewing stand.

A delegation from Newbridge’s twin town of Bad Lippspringe in Germany took part, along with spectacular floats and dance numbers from Kildare’s many multicultural organisations, including the Newbridge Malayali Association and the Kildare Filipino Community.

Today’s parade is the main event of a new two-day St Patrick’s festival in the town - the highpoint of tomorrow’s action will be a St Patrick’s Festival raceday at the Curragh Racecourse.


From Anne Lucey in Killarney

A nostalgic reflection on Killarney’s proud past, including its rich history, folklore and legends, was the focus of this year’s gala St Patrick’s Day parade in the town where thousands turned out.

But the look back to the island monastic university of Inisfallen or the visit of Queen Victoria did not banish the present.

Yanks in tall hats and Uncle Sam stripes mingled with Killarney’s new Irish. The town has one of the largest Ukrainian refugee communities in the country and took an active part for the second year.

The 2,000 year old Mangerton Luna, discovered in a bog on Mangerton now in the British Museum was the theme of the Two Mile Educate Together primary school and the Irwin School of dance celebrated 52 years.


Olivia Kelleher reports from Cork

Cork band The Frank and Walters proudly served as Grand Marshals of the St Patrick’s day parade in their native city today with the Barrack Street Band playing the quartet’s biggest hit “After All’ as the festivities got underway at 1pm today.

The band were known for their oversized purple and orange clothing back in the 1990′s. However, today group members Paul Linehan, Ashley Keating, Rory Murphy and Cian Corbett wore black suits with the splash of colour coming courtesy of their orange ties.

The popular musicians were visibly touched when they received claps and cheers from the crowd as they walked down South Mall and Patrick Street in the city.

The band, who scooped the “Cork Person of the Year” award last year, lead the field of 3,000 participants in a celebration which had the theme of “Pure Imagination.”

Drummer Ashley Keating said that The Frank and Walters have been enjoying a revival in popularity in recent times.

“The Young Offenders (TV show) kind of kick started something (by using their song) and led to a lot of younger punters starting to come to see us. That kind of 90′s music is kind of getting a resurgence. So we will just go as long as we can and enjoy it.”

Meanwhile, the Lord Mayor of Cork, Kieran McCarthy, who was dressed as Willy Wonka in keeping with the parade theme, said that the day was “a celebration of life in Cork and in our city of the welcomes.”


David Raleigh reports:

An estimated 50,000 St Patrick fans roared on a massive vibrant parade in Limerick City this afternoon, organisers said.

The parade was led by grand Marshall BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition Winner 2024, and Coláiste Chiaráin, Croom student, Seán O’Sullivan, who made national headlines last January when his A.I related project VerifyMe project secured him the top prize at the 60th year of the event.

The theme of this year’s parade “Limerick: A Different Kind of Energy” captivated the crowds as a giant snake - the only one to escape St Patrick - weaved through the streets, operated by visual artists Buí Bolg.

The festivities burst into life and colour from Lumen Street Theatre, Limerick Youth Dance Company, the Hit Machine Drummers and hundreds of local participants.

Baked in sunshine, the Treaty City’s streets were drowned in bombastic marching bands from home and abroad including the St Mary’s Prize Band, Limerick, which has been performing 139 years; the CBS Pipe Band (established 1963) and Claddagh Mhor Pipe Band which travelled all the way from United States in Portland, Maine.

This year’s theme also encapsulated Limerick’s evolution, where past and present combined to generate Limerick’s unique energy, as 75 floats and groups spilled past the 13th Century King John’s Castle, the majesty of St Mary’s Cathedral, elegant Georgian architecture quarter and the artistic treasures housed in Limerick’s museums and galleries.

Electrifying the city with sirens and blue lights were local State and voluntary emergency services heroes, led by Limerick City & County Fire and Rescue Service, Limerick Marine Search and Rescue Service, An Garda Siochana, Civil Defence, Irish Red Cross, Bunratty Search and Rescue Service.

Fidget Feet enthralled with acrobatic pirates swinging out of a pirate ship, and members of the Defence Forces, Limerick Youth Dance Company, Munster Wheelchair Hurlers, Stilt-walkers, mirror dancers, gymnasts, Munster Martial Arts injected further razzmatazz.

Further explorations will continue throughout the bank holiday weekend at the megalithic wonders at Lough Gur, medieval charm in Kilmallock, heritage in Adare, the bustling market town of Newcastle West and the birthplace of Irish coffee in Foynes.


Conor Pope reports:

Caio Benício, the Brazilian food delivery driver who intervened in in last November’s knife attack outside a school on Dublin’s Parnell Square, made a surprise appearance in the parade as he joined a samba group who danced their way past the grand stand in front of the GPO.

Mr Benício has been invited to the parade by the Brazilian consulate in Dublin and briefly left his seat to hug the members of the troupe to the cheers of the crowd.

“I was at the parade last year but I was working so I couldn’t really enjoy it,” he told The Irish Times as he spoke of his pride at being an invited guest this year. “It is just amazing.”


The leader of the Belarus opposition, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, has tweeted a Happy St Patrick’s Day to the Irish people.

Ms Tsikhanouskaya, who is exiled in Lithuania, spend summers in Ireland as a child fleeing the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Her husband Sergei Tikhanovskywas arrested by the Lukashenko regime in 2020 and has been in jail since. Her tweet can be seen here.


One of the United States oldest St Patrick’s Day parade celebrated 200 years yesterday.

The parade in Savannah, Georgia was started in 1824.

Ahead of the bicentennial, Georgia’s oldest city had nearly 18,000 hotel rooms booked for the weekend.

It is traditionally the biggest parade in the United States after New York. It began in 1813 with the observance of St Patrick’s Day by Catholic emigrants to the city.



Our photographer Alan Betson is catching lots of the action from the Dublin parade, with hundreds of dancers, creative displays and marching bands entertaining the crowd.



Some photographs of festivities in Dublin:


Our man in London.

Noreen Kehoe and Jim Cooper of St Colmans pipe band, Ballindaggin, Co. Wexford, at the starting point on Piccadilly in London of the parade there. They are part of a 50-strong troupe who have travelled to London for the parade. The London parade, whose leading party includes education minister Norma Foley and Martin Fraser, the Irish ambassador to Britain, kicks off around noon.


Our man on the ground at the Dublin St Patrick’s Day parade is the redoubtable Conor Pope. Here’s his first take.

“St Patrick must have struck a deal with the sun gods ahead of the big day as for the first time in donkey’s years Dublin is being bathed in sunshine which might almost be described as warm while the skies are blue.

“Those who have taken up prime positions at key spots along O’Connell St are clearly delighted by their life choices with no-one having a bad word to say about Ireland.”


Hi, I’m Ronan McGreevy. Top o’ the mornin’ to you all. I’ll be liveblogging today. If you have photographs, tweets or suggestions, I’m at

In the UK the annual St Patrick’s Day ritual is the presentation of shamrock to the Irish Guards regiment of the British army by the Prince and Princess of Wales.

This ritual goes back to the Boer War period. This year the absence of the Princess of Wales from public engagements adds an element of intrigue to the tradition.

Will she make her first public appearance for months since her absence for abdominal surgery? It is highly unlikely, but the Prince of Wales will be there today. Watch this space as they say.


Government Ministers have already been travelling the world, meeting counterparts and making announcements throughout the week, with the Dáil in recess. Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue in Ethiopia on Saturday announced €30 million in funding for the United Nations World Food Programme in the Horn of Africa, where drought, conflict and climate change have left many in a dire situation.

Tánaiste Micheál Martin met Canadian leader Justin Trudeau in Canada; Michael McGrath met his counterpart, the Chinese minister for finance; and Varadkar, of course, met Biden in the Oval Office, where the need for a ceasefire in Gaza was discussed.

Here is the full list:

Map of all the destinations for diplomatic trips for St Patrick's Day