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Jigs and reels to get four-day festival off to a flying start

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Eve Kirby (6), Erin Kirby (7) and Saoirse Kenny (6) encouraging people to attend the St Patrick’s Day Festival ceili in Dublin on Friday.

Eve Kirby (6), Erin Kirby (7) and Saoirse Kenny (6) encouraging people to attend the St Patrick’s Day Festival ceili in Dublin on Friday.

Eve Kirby (6), Erin Kirby (7) and Saoirse Kenny (6) encouraging people to attend the St Patrick’s Day Festival ceili in Dublin on Friday.

A HAON, a do, a tri. A troupe of high-kicking cailins urged would-be dancers to give it a lash as preparations for the St Patrick's Day festivities were stepped up.

The festival ceili in St Stephen's Green, Dublin, tomorrow will help kickstart a weekend of parades and other events.

Organisers said with the big day falling on a Saturday, they were hoping for an increase in the number of locals and international visitors descending on the capital for the four-day extravaganza.

Last year, the centrepiece of the festival -- the parade -- brought some half a million people onto the streets of Dublin. And 120,000 of them were from overseas and who had travelled specifically to enjoy the festivities.

Susan Kirby, chief executive of the festival, said: "We will have probably more visitors coming in, more visitors extending their stay either side of the weekend and then probably more Irish people who will be able to make their way into town.

"With it being on a Saturday it is special. . . and also the rugby team will be taking on England in Twickenham, so there would naturally be a buzz around town," she added.

The ceili gets under way at 4pm, with Dearbhla Lennon of Riverdance fame set to put dancers through their paces.

Full details of the festival can be found at www.stpatricksfestival.ie.

Irish Independent