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Saturday 16 December 2017

A festival celebration that's really out of this world

Anne-Marie Walsh and Paddy Clancy

THE wearing of the green was taken to heart by millions of revellers on St Patrick's Day, in and out of this world.

Celebrations were in full swing from rain-drenched Dublin and sun-kissed Sydney, to the deep silence of outer space.

For at least one man, St Patrick's Day was like nothing on earth. Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield did not need a dozen pints of green Guinness to feel weightless as he celebrated the dawn of Ireland's national holiday from space.

"Maidin mhaith from the International Space Station!," he tweeted to his more than 500,000 followers. "Happy Saint Patrick's Day to the Irish all around the globe. Good morning!," said the astronaut, whose daughter is studying in Dublin.

English business magnate Richard Branson dyed his beard and eyelashes green, while the Virgin website also took on a green hue.

Outside the Emerald Isle, iconic landmarks including the Pyramids of Giza, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Niagara Falls, the Burj al Arab in Dubai, Sydney Opera House, Berlin's TV Tower, New York's Empire State Building, and the Christ the Redeemer statue overlooking Rio were floodlit.

Up to 60,000 spectators soaked up the sun for the first major parade on the national holiday in Sydney, Australia.

In Perth, Bob Geldof wore a green jacket as he stood on a double-decker open-top bus to launch the parade. He stopped off at the Irish club in Subiaco to have a pint of Guinness, where he remarked that Dublin's parade was "tiny" in comparison.

Geldof is in Australia to promote his upcoming Boomtown Rats concerts in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.

Australia has celebrated St Patrick's Day since 1810, when Governor Lachlan Macquarie declared the date an official day of celebration.

Almost two million people lined Fifth Avenue in New York for the parade.

GAA star Eamonn O'Hara was Grand Marshall at the biggest St Patrick's Day parade in Spain on the Costa Blanca. The Sligo footballer was accompanied by former Kilkenny hurling All-Ireland captain Christy Heffernan and former League of Ireland soccer star Jim Sheridan as 10,000 joined the craic at Cabo Roig in Alicante.

Meanwhile, up to 430 Irish soldiers deployed in 15 countries on 12 peace support missions wore shamrocks in their caps to celebrate the day. The majority, stationed in Camp Shamrock in south Lebanon, attended a special Mass and a blessing of the shamrocks by the chaplin to the 107 IrishFinn battalion.

Irish Independent

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