40 shades of green make for memorable St Patrick's Day across island
Thousands of revellers came out across Northern Ireland to honour St Patrick yesterday in the most weird and wonderful style.
There were large parades in Downpatrick, Londonderry, Omagh, Enniskillen and Armagh – with the Patron Saint of Ireland the guest of honour at each and every one.
The St Patrick's Day celebrations were a reflection of those held around the globe yesterday as well-known landmarks and rivers turned a distinctive shade of green.
While Belfast held its main parade on Sunday, many towns decided to host festivities on the day itself.
Yesterday afternoon tens of thousands of people turned out to watch parades dressed in an array of greenery and all things Irish.
There was green face paint, hats, clothing and costumes for the young and old – one dog even got in on the celebrations with a suitably green outfit.
In Armagh culture, art, music, song and dance were the main focus of family-friendly festivities (below) which attracted 15,000 people to the cathedral city.
Downpatrick, where the theme was world music and dance, lays claim to be the final resting place of the saint. The Co Down town's very own St Patrick took to the streets barefoot, followed closely by a gigantic green dragon and a dog on a tractor.
In Derry around 600 participants took part in the parade themed on music, magic and myth. It was estimated that around 14,000 people came out to enjoy the parade.
In Omagh an open-air concert was held, and in Enniskillen St Patrick arrived at the celebrations courtesy of a police speedboat.
Parades across the Republic, featuring all sorts of vans, trucks and colourful performers, took place in the likes of Limerick and Waterford, and in Dublin over 500,000 people enjoyed the island of Ireland's largest parade, where the theme was Let's Make History. Champion Irish cyclist Stephen Roche, an ambassador for the Giro d'Italia event starting in Belfast this May, held the position of grand marshal at the eye-catching event.
Meanwhile, in the US a key sponsor of New York's St Patrick's Day parade, Guinness, pulled out of the event because gay and lesbian groups were excluded from taking part and marching with equality banners.
On Friday two other major beer companies, Sam Adams brewer Boston Beer Company and Heineken, dropped their sponsorship of parades in Boston and New York respectively over the issue.
New York's mayor Bill de Blasio refused to take part in its parade and Irish-American mayor of Boston Marty Walsh boycotted the city's St Patrick's Day parade.
However, Taoiseach Enda Kenny defended his decision to take part in the march, saying the conditions set by organisers were out of his control.
Tourism Ireland's 'global greening' event was a huge success again this year, with the Great Wall of China, the Pyramids and the Moulin Rouge in Paris all getting into the spirit of the annual religious and cultural commemoration of the patron saint of Ireland.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Burj Al Arab in Dubai and South Africa's Table Mountain were also illuminated green last night.