Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 31 August 2014

Thousands at St Patrick's Day event

Pyramids and the Sphinx in Giza, Egypt, were lit green for Tourism Ireland's St Patrick's Day celebrations (Tourism Ireland/PA)
Burj Al Arab, Dubai, was lit green for Tourism Ireland's St Patrick's Day celebrations (Tourism Ireland/PA)
The Armadillo in Glasgow was lit green for Tourism Ireland's St Patrick's Day celebrations (Tourism Ireland/PA)

A giant Irish-knit jumper and the world's biggest raggy doll were among the spectacular sights and sounds at the annual St Patrick's Day parade in Dublin.

Around half a million revellers formed a sea of green, white and orange as they lined the streets of Ireland's capital city for the world-famous event.

North of the border, Belfast staged its own carnival and parade through the city centre, with street performers and an open-air music concert.

But the emerald isle was not the only place where the Guinness was flowing and the craic was mighty. With an Irish diaspora of 70 million worldwide, major cities around the globe also paid tribute to the nation's patron saint.

Marching bands and pageants kept thousands on their toes in central Dublin as they marked the year of The Gathering - Ireland's 12 months of homecoming celebrations.

Floats, performance artists, dancers and acrobats portrayed what it means to be Irish.

A giant door and roaring fireplace symbolised the return of family abroad, while the inflatable woolly jumper was wheeled down the city's main thoroughfare of O'Connell Street to offer up hugs to all. A seven metre raggy doll and oversized toys like robots and teddy bears delighted thousands of excited children, with leprechaun hats and painted faces.

Renditions of traditional songs like Danny Boy rang out as brass, pipe and drum bands proceeded through the centre of the city.

Twelve bands travelled from the US to take part in the Dublin parade, including the Fire Department of the City of New York, which flew in early on Sunday morning. They joined 40 members from the French Navy who paraded through the streets, along with the nation's own Garda Band and the National Ambulance Service of Ireland's pipe and drum band.

Other St Patrick's Day parades were held across the island - including in Cork and Limerick, and Downpatrick and Derry in the north. Dublin Airport said it expected around 225,000 passengers to pass through its gates over the holiday weekend - an increase of 6% from the same time last year.

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