No rain on parades as thousands come out to celebrate


HUNDREDS OF thousands of spectators attended almost 120 St Patrick’s Day parades across the country yesterday, with more than half a million at the Dublin city parade alone.

Despite warnings from Met Éireann of the possibility of wet and windy parades, particularly along the east coast, conditions remained dry, and even sunny in most parts of the country.

Dark clouds did hover over Dublin city centre during the main national parade which began at Parnell Square at noon, but the rain held off for the approximately two-hour duration of the march to St Patrick’s Cathedral led by grand marshal and world boxing champion Katie Taylor.

The Cork city parade, which attracted more than 60,000 spectators, started at 1pm on Parnell Bridge continuing to South Mall and finishing on Parnell Place. “Happiness” was the theme of the parade, which included arts group Spraoí, Cork Circus and Dowtcha Puppets as well as more than 2,000 people from community and voluntary groups.

With 4,600 participants, Limerick city laid claim to the biggest parade outside Dublin. Four of the country’s top sporting stars – Ireland and Munster rugby hero John Hayes; transatlantic rower Seán McGowan; Limerick GAA star Gary Kirby; and former soccer player and manager Eoin Hand – led the parade as the city celebrated being crowned 2011 European City of Sport.

Galway city attracted more than 50,000 spectators for its “World of Wonder” parade. Traditional music also featured as part of the festival’s Trad Trail.

Parades were held across Northern Ireland. In Belfast, SDLP Lord Mayor Pat Convery led a parade with the environment as its theme. The Saint Patrick Centre in Downpatrick, the world’s only permanent exhibition to the patron saint, held a special day of entertainment.

The parades may be over but St Patrick’s festival and celebrations continue over the weekend. The main spectacle, the annual Skyfest fireworks display, takes place in Wexford this year. The show begins at 6.28pm precisely tomorrow on Wexford Quays. The highlight will be a pyrotechnic waterfall that will produce a 300m (984ft) wide curtain of cascading silver fire, the largest of its kind ever seen in Ireland.

Met Éireann forecaster David Rogers said the odds looked good for a dry night for the fireworks. “Wexford probably has the best chance in the country of staying dry. There might be a few spots of rain later in the evening but nothing that should put them off.”

The west and the northwest are the areas most likely to see showers over the weekend, but the weather is set to brighten up everywhere as the weekend goes on for the rest of the festivities.

In Dublin, fun fairs and carnivals continue until Sunday at Merrion Square and Wolfe Tone Park; and on Sunday the Big Day Out offers a celebration of Irish street arts in Merrion Square.

Various music and cultural events are also continuing over the weekend around the capital with details available at Local authority websites carry listings of events in their areas.