Global icons light up St Patrick's Day
It was a St Patrick's Day celebration danced to a samba beat rather than a slip jig in Brazil last night as the iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro turned green for Ireland's national holiday.
The now annual 'greening' of landmarks around the world has gained further momentum.
Tourism Ireland has arranged for major landmarks and iconic sites around the world to "go green" on St Patrick's Day, shining coloured lights upon the London Eye, the Burj al-Arab Hotel in Dubai, Table Mountain in South Africa and Niagara Falls on the US/Canadian border.
In Chicago, even the river turned green as celebrations in the USA were held a day early, to allow for Sunday's religious observances. In New York up to two million people lined Fifth Avenue for the parade.
Tourism Ireland CEO Niall Gibbons said that it is now a truly global experience.
"We've got some new ones as well. The statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro is going green, along with the ancient wonders of the world, the pyramids of Egypt, which went green on Friday night and looked absolutely wonderful."
Taoiseach Enda Kenny started the St Patrick's festivities in New York with a breakfast at Gracie mansion, the residence of the New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Mr Bloomberg praised the contribution of Irish immigrants to New York over the generations and urged politicians in the US to embrace immigration reform.
The mayor also praised the management of the Irish economy, heralding what he called a miraculous turnaround.
Mr Kenny told the gathering that US support and investment in Ireland has been "invaluable" in Ireland's drive for economic recovery.
The Dublin Airport Authority said it expects that 225,000 people will travel through the arrivals and departure gates over the bank holiday weekend for the festivities.
In Cork, giant puppets, a large whale which sprays water and colourful gondolas are among the highlights of this year's parade, which is expected to attract crowds of up to 80,000. San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee is this year's grand marshal.
Meanwhile, the bowl of shamrock to be presented to US President Barack Obama on Tuesday by Mr Kenny was grown in Ballinskelligs, Co Kerry, through the company Living Shamrock.
The company has supplied enough shamrock for the lapel of each of the 400 guests at the White House St Patrick's Day celebration and for the ceremonial bouquet afterwards. The sealed packs were sent in diplomatic bags and flown directly to Washington.