St Patrick’s Day grabs global headlines

Ireland in the news for all the right reasons

Bagpipe players march in the St. Patrick's Day parade in New York on Saturday. Photograph:   Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times

Bagpipe players march in the St. Patrick's Day parade in New York on Saturday. Photograph: Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times


“Erin go brrr’ was the headline on the New York Post’s coverage of the city’s St Patrick’s Day parade yesterday, though freezing temperatures and snow flurries failed to deter crowds.

Now in its 252nd year, the parade down 5th Avenue drew well over a million Irish including the usual mix of baton twirlers, marching bands and police and fire personnel.

While Mayor Bloomberg and Taoiseach Enda Kenny marched the route, Irish American democratic mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn refused, saying she was mystified why LGBT groups were forbidden from displaying gay-pride messages while marching.

"I've marched in Dublin (in its St Patrick's Day parade) with visibly identifiable stickers and buttons that made clear we were both Irish and LGBT," she told Associated Press. "If you can do that in Dublin, in God's name, why can't you do it on Fifth Avenue?"

Down under, St Patrick’s Day celebrations were a much sunnier affair.

In an interview with Victoria newspaper The Age, manager of PJ O’Brien’s pub in Melbourne, Irish man Trevor Hines told the paper that 40 kegs or 3,600 pints of Guinness alone would be drained by closing time at 1.30am on Paddy’s Day.

In the nearby suburb of Carlton meanwhile, warm sunshine brought revellers onto the grass outside the Dan O’Connell pub where jerseys from every county rubbed shoulders in the heat.

Sir Bob Geldof launched the parade in Perth, a break from promoting the forthcoming Boomtown Rats tour. “There were thousands of people; it was an absolutely brilliant atmosphere," Geldof told website “In Dublin the same parade is a tiny thing. This was fun and very cool.”

The Irish Echo reported that after the 60,000-strong parade in Sydney, the fun moved to Hyde Park where musical entertainment included Irish-boy -done-good in Australia, Brian McFadden. Over 40 Irish people took up Australian citizenship at an official ceremony on site.

It was back to freezing temperatures in Toronto where an estimated 500,000 spectators turned out for the parade, now in its 26th year.

Mayor Rob Ford told the Toronto Sun the parade was “huge” for the city economically. “(There are) tonnes of tourists coming, restaurants are full. It’s a lot of fun.”

Parade chairman Pat Canavan estimated this year’s parade generated more than $3 million for the city. “There are 60 to 70 Irish pubs that are all doing business today because of it.”

In a hot and humid Singapore, Channel News Asia reported that some 2,000 people took part in the St Patrick’s Day parade which this year also supported World Down Syndrome Day. Singapore’s Irish community gathered at Boat Quay over the weekend for a three-day festival, which featured street performances, buskers, and Irish food and drink.

While news coverage of Ireland in recent years may have centred on our economic woes, in the Washington Post, the New York Times, The Guardian, The Sydney Morning Herald and countless other news outlets, for this weekend at least, Ireland was all about St Patrick’s Day.