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Sunday 21 October 2018

1961. . . a whole year of saints and shamrocks

Ken Sweeney

THEY were the longest celebrations for St Patrick ever seen here.

Unlike more recent times, with parades and fireworks marking the saint's feast day, these celebrations lasted an entire year.

The year is 1961, named Patrician Year, which was marked by 12 months of religious celebration in recognition of 1,500 years of devotion to St Patrick in Ireland.

A recently unearthed documentary of the year -- called 'Hail Glorious St Patrick' -- has shed new light on Ireland of nearly 50 years ago.

And instead of celebrities from the worlds of music, film or sport, the famous faces mobbed by adorning crowds were from the ranks of the clergy.

A highlight of this year was a visit to Ireland by Papal Legate Cardinal Gregorio Pietro Agagianian.

In June, the pope's envoy visited the country and he and Cardinal John Charles McQuaid can be seen travelling through the packed streets of Dublin.

Then-president Eamon de Valera is pictured bending to kiss the Papal Legate's ring at Aras an Uachtarain.

The Irish public can be seen welcoming their papal visitor in scenes of a mass outpouring of spontaneous and unquestioning devotion to the Catholic hierarchy, not witnessed since the Eucharistic Congress in 1932 and not to be seen again until Pope John Paul II visited in 1979.

"People have an assumption about the swinging '60s but what this film records is a very different Ireland where the church and its servants enjoyed an uncontested position of privilege in Irish society," said Sunniva O'Flynn Curator at the Irish Film Institute (IFI).

'Hail Glorious St Patrick' is running at lunchtime in the IFI in Dublin on selected days throughout March.

Irish Independent

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