Blue skies for green day as the sun shines on revellers
GREEN was the dominant colour, unsurprisingly, but it was the blue skies across Ireland that helped entice people to their local St Patrick's Day parades.
With spring having finally sprung and temperatures in the low teens in many areas, the result was huge crowds up and down the country.
A lot has changed in the past couple of years, but St Patrick's Day appears to be resolutely recession-proof. And with a strong multicultural theme apparent in the majority of events, the future also looks secure.
TENS of thousands turned out to see the 'ship to shore' themed parade led by marathon swimmer Lisa Cummins. Last September, she became the first Irish person to complete a non-stop double crossing of the English Channel.
More than 2,100 people marched in the parade, which was led by the Band of the First Southern Brigade and other members of the Defence Forces.
Also present this year were groups from Liverpool, Poland, Hungary, the Philippines, Bangladesh and Togo. The highlight of the day for most spectators was a 40-ft crocodile built by the Waterford-based arts organisation Spraoi.
THE biggest cheer was reserved for rugby hero Keith Earls. Along with his three-year-old sister Jenny.
The Munster star led 3,700 participants through the city's streets, watched by 70,000.
The Moyross player was showered in Munster red confetti when he presented a rugby ball to the mayor of Limerick, Kevin Kiely.
Sitting alongside the confetti cannon, former defence minister, Willie O'Dea -- an ever present fixture at the Limerick parade -- was covered in confetti from head to toe, much to the amusement of his wife, Geraldine.
The theme of the parade was 'I Love Limerick' and families were entertained by an assortment of colourful participants, including an Army colour party; singer Leanne Moore; Irish international Jerry Flannery; break dancers; athletes from the Special Olympics and the Irish Chamber Orchestra.
THE parade was fittingly led by town crier Liam Silke in his ceremonial garb.
A crowd estimated at 50,000 gave a hero's welcome to grand marshall John Killeeen, who brought the acclaimed Volvo Ocean Race to Galway last summer.
More than 50 groups took part in the festivities, which had the theme 'Over the Moon'.
Last night, a St Patrick's festival party took place at the Black Box theatre.
'THROUGH the looking glass' was the theme as citizens looked forward to June's opening of the new Waterford Crystal's Visitor Centre.
More than 60 groups and organisations were represented in the festivities, which wound through the main streets.
One of the highlights for the 50,000 crowd was Lang the Ludicrous, a 25-ft robot created by street theatre specialists Spraoi, accompanied by 30 costumed performers from the ranks of the popular company.
UP TO 15,000 turned out to see what was billed as the country's first carbon-neutral parade -- although the jury may still be out on that goal.
The parade was led by 'Ear To The Ground' presenter Helen Carroll and a strong hurling presence was also featured.
IN KILLARNEY, the star attraction was Hollywood actor Michael Fassbender. The 'Inglorious Basterds' star was grand marshall.
The 32-year-old was born in Germany but his family moved to Killarney when he was a toddler and his parents run a guesthouse in the town.
THE town's 40th parade anniversary was celebrated with a colourful event that drew thousands of visitors.
A group of 26 top US retail and tourism operators donned Disney costumes.
A hapless Tiger Woods llokalike being chased by a bevvy of somewhat dubious-looking females was one of the chief highlights.
THE local tradition of raising the papal and national flags was held as usual at St Patrick's Well outside the town, while a jug of water was brought from the well to mark 1,500 years of Christianity in the area.
ST PATRICK'S Day was the culmination of 10 days of cultural celebration, taking in Seachtain na Gaeilge and featuring a wide variety of entertainment, exhibitions, music, and more.
SUSTAINABLE travel was the theme of the parade at which the former world cycling champion Sean Kelly was grand marshal. Amongst the guests were delegations from Slovenia and Limavady in Co Derry, Westport's twin town.
GAA club Castlebar Mitchels had pride of place in this year's parade which was one of the largest in recent times. Enda Kenny was amongst those on the reviewing stand who greatly enjoyed the mini-GAA pageant staged by club members on Main Street.
FOR the first time ever, the parade had a grand marshal and the honour went to John O'Hara, one of the leading lights in the Bonniconlon Show Committee.
The occasion was enlivened by marching bands, including two from Northern Ireland.
Matt Farrell, one of the parade organisers said that it was most gratifying to see such a huge turnout of young people for the festivities.
VOLUNTEERISM was a strong theme in the parade, which was held in pleasant weather and was one of the largest ever.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen may have been in the US for St. Patrick's Day but a convincing lookalike turned up in the east Mayo town and was presented with a bowl of shamrock by a local admirer.
The former defence minister Willie O'Dea also featured in one of the many colourful float presentations.
THE musical society's recent presentation of 'The Pirate Queen' had gone down a treat with audiences and there was similar rapture yesterday with the appearance of the grand marshal, Sinead Heneghan, who had played the role of Grace O'Malley.
Cartoon characters, such as Mickey Mouse and Tom and Jerry, entertained the masses who turned out on mild weather, while old local stalwarts such as the Ballinrobe Town Band again played 'a blinder'.
ST PATRICK (Michael McAleer), who was carried aboard a cart pulled by a jennet, led the parade.
A cavalcade of 16 floats, made its way from the community centre to the middle of the island.