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St Patrick’s Day – an Irish celebration exported to the world

An estimated 58.3 million Euros for the Irish economy, a sense of Irish togetherness and several grand parades all over the world. These are just some of the impacts Saint Patrick still has today…

Lá Fhéile Phádraig. Saint Patrick’s Day. The words have long been enough to inspire giddy excitement in people in Ireland and the  rest of world. For many it is a celebration of our patron saint and of something which, as a nation, we have always aspired to have – a sense of Irish togetherness no matter where you are in the world. Some others simply take it as the chance to go out and have a good time with friends, regardless of their ties to Ireland.

The scale of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations seem to increase globally year after year. In a major achievement for Irish tourism in general, iconic buildings and attractions around the world including the London Eye, the Empire State Building and the Sydney Opera House  turned green in honour of the day. This is on top of the usual celebrations that many of these cities had planned. The Chief Executive of Tourism Ireland, Niall Gibbons, summed the idea up perfectly: “We aim to bring a smile to the world. The message is that there has never been a better time to visit the island of Ireland.”

Crowd celebrating St Patrick's Day

International parade in Dublin

An international parade in Dublin

Here at home, thousands of people lined the streets and many more tuned in to the RTÉ broadcast of the Dublin parade which this year adapted the theme of ‘Extraordinary World’. The Parade pageant companies were all joined on the day by marching bands from Ireland, the USA, Germany and Austria. Pageant companies came from the four corners of the country; LUXe in Donegal, Spraoi in Waterford, Buí Bolg in Wexford and City Fusion in Dublin to name but a few. They all spent the last few months designing, building and choreographing their pieces in preparation for the big day.

… and all over the world

The parade in London featured a giant St. Patrick, Snake pageant and a stunning Emerald Queen. A new addition in keeping with the modern age was the eco-friendly rickshaw floats joining the parade. Also helping to capture the imagination of the British were Jedward and Ronan Keating, both of whom joined Tourism Ireland in novel radio promotional campaigns in Britain.

The New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade marched for the first time on March 17th, 1762 – fourteen years

Colourful costumes in the parade

Colourful costumes in the parade

before the Declaration of Independence was adopted. Today it is the largest parade in the world. Each year a unit of soldiers marches at the head of the parade; the Irish 165th Infantry has become the parade’s primary escort, and they are followed by the various Irish societies of the city. Some of the other major sponsors and participants in the parade are the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the thirty Irish county societies, and various Emerald, Irish-language, and Irish nationalist societies.
A range of novel and fun campaigns were also planned across Mainland Europe.  In Sweden, Tourism Ireland took over Stockholm Central Station for St Patrick’s week, where commuters were entertained by Irish music and a Riverdance troupe as well as a visit by St. Patrick himself.  In Germany, vibrant Ireland ads and images were projected onto buildings in Cologne and Munich during peak travel times throughout the week.  Attention-grabbing “Flashmob” promotions also took place in the streets of Frankfurt, Düsseldorf and Munich on St. Patrick’s Day, with musicians, singers and dancers.

Millions for the Irish economy

Celebrating its 15th year at home, the St. Patrick’s Festival is not only an occasion for Irish people and tourists to mark our national holiday in March, but also returns an estimated €58.3 million to the Irish economy..
Speaking at the 2010 St. Patrick’s Festival launch, Martin Cullen TD, Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism said: “Now in its 15th year, the St Patrick’s Festival provides us with the opportunity to enjoy the best contemporary celebration of Irish music, heritage, culture and community, and encompasses a feeling of what it means to be Irish – and on most continents to be ‘honorary Irish’ – for the day. This important national celebration is good for Ireland and particularly good for our tourism industry.”

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