Hundreds of thousands throng Dublin for parade


Hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world thronged the streets of Dublin today for the annual St Patrick’s Day parade.

Organisers estimate some 675,000 people lined the 2.5km route for the two-hour spectacle, which got underway at noon.

The parade, made up of around 2,000 performers and over 900 marching band members, began from Parnell Square North and is the highlight of the capital’s six-day St Patrick’s weekend festival. Performers included street theatre troupes, artists, giant puppetry, dancers and marching bands from Ireland and further afield.

In a special move to mark the GAA’s 125th anniversary, the four All-Ireland winning captains lined out as joint Grand Marshals. Tyrone Football captain Brian Dooher, Kilkenny Hurling’s Henry Shefflin, Cork footballer Angela Walsh and Cathriona Foley of the Cork Camogie squad were selected to lead the massive march.

The stars represented the four winning teams in the senior cup championships and were selected for their achievements on the fields of play, as well as to mark the momentous anniversary.

Previous grand marshals have included Eamonn Coughlan in 2008, Micheal O’Muircheartaigh in 2007 and the late Ronnie Drew in 2006.

International marching bands joined the parade from as far a field as New Mexico, Indiana, Las Vegas, Colorado, Louisiana, Florida, Italy, Germany, British Columbia and Canada.

The Parade Ceremonial Section was led by the Army Band, the Band of An Garda Siochána and Dublin Fire Brigade of Pipes and Drums.

The winner of Best Pageant was CITY FUSION with The Conference of Birds. One of the largest pageants in the parade, it celebrated the diversity of Dublin's cultural landscape. The project is an inter-cultural collaboration produced by St Patrick's Festival in association with Dublin City Council's Office for Integration.

The award for Best Marching Band went to Simsegräbsler from Hofstetten in Germany’s Black Forest. 

St Patrick’s Festival spokeswoman Alison Kelly said the standard of floats and entrants in the parade was very high. “They’re just getting better every year,” she said. “The sun just made it a beautiful day and everybody had a great time.”

Superintendent Joe Gannon of Pearse Street Garda dtation said numbers were larger than expected. “Everything has gone perfectly. There were huge crowds, that far exceeded expectations we think,” he said.

There have been no reports of a repeat of the scenes of drunken violence that have blighted previous St Patrick's Day festivities.

Meanwhile, some 60,000 people took to the streets of Limerick today to watch the parade, which saw 3,000 participants and over 90 floats parade through the city centre. Tens of thousands more watched parades in Cork, Waterford and other towns across the country. Some 21 floats took part in a parade on  Clare Island, Co. Mayo  – making it the largest parade ever on the island.

In New York, the iconic Empire State Building will be lit up in green to coincide with the city's St Patrick's Day parade. Over 250,000 marchers and  up to two million spectators are expected at the parade this year.