Armagh to host St Patrick's Day pageant
St Patrick's Day will be celebrated in Armagh next year with a special pageant outlining the many facets of the patron saint's life.
This new approach to the traditional celebrations will echo to the sound of sandal-clad Roman soldiers' feet marching with Celtic warriors and the heavy tread of slaves.
Patrick's dramatic childhood and traumatic experiences in Ireland will be recreated on a large stage set in the natural amphitheatre of Armagh's Market Square, beneath the acclaimed Market Place Theatre and beneath the famous cathedral skyline.
The programme will include music, dance and drama and will be performed by a cast of some 200 local people.
It is being staged by David Kidd, an outdoor event producer and consultant, with the backing of a local committee.
He said: "Armagh has a history of pageants based on St Patrick and these date back into the 1920s.
"Some of the original scripts and sketches are on display in the Robinson Library.
"In reviving this tradition, Armagh will have a spectacle which will inform, educate and entertain in a way which is completely different to other celebrations throughout Ireland, and all the raw excitement, danger and adventure of this much-celebrated saint will be on view."
Local performers will be recruited before Christmas. Rehearsals will start early next year.
The long-term aim of the committee is to make the event a permanent fixture.
Local councillor Pat Brannigan, who is joint chairman of the organising committee, said: "We are extremely excited about next year's event.
"David Kidd has great experience in delivering high-profile events and he has a genuine interest and personal passion for the history that surrounds St Patrick and the life that led him to Armagh."
Patrick is said to have established his first main church in Armagh around 445AD. For centuries, the city has been the ecclesiastical capital of Ireland.
Both the major cathedrals in the city bear his name, as well as many hundreds of churches and religious establishments worldwide.