Friday 24 November 2017

Million revellers to hit streets for parades, ceilis and craic

Grainne Cunningham and Fergus Black

MORE than one million people will take to the streets tomorrow as St Patrick's Day festivals are celebrated across the country.

The traditional 'drowning of the shamrock' got under way in cities from Shanghai to London on Sunday while, closer to home, most of the fun takes place closer to the day itself.

Failte Ireland said the St Patrick's festival marked the official start to the tourist season and would be used to showcase what the country had to offer to the world.

Up to 500,000 people are expected to descend on Dublin for the city's biggest ever parade and Failte Ireland said that figure would easily be matched at parades and festivals across the country.

Dublin's parade will include a visit from 60 international journalists from Ireland's top tourist markets and the festivities will be broadcast live by American networks CBS and NBC.

"This is the one time of the year when the world stops what it's doing and looks to Ireland," said a Failte Ireland spokesman.

In Dublin, the five-day festival officially gets under way tomorrow. Pageant companies in the Dublin parade will take inspiration from Roddy Doyle's short story, 'Brilliant', which is about getting the city's funny bone back and banishing the black dog of depression.

Other free events include the outdoor ceili on St Stephen's Green tomorrow and 'Big Day Out' this Sunday, which features street performances in Merrion Square.

New to the line-up this year is a unique ticketed event, 'DublinSwell -- Words and Voices from the City of Literature', which celebrates Dublin's UNESCO designation.

Taking place in Dublin's Convention Centre on Friday, famous local faces performing on the night include writers Roddy Doyle, Joseph O'Connor and Sebastian Barry, while Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney will give a short reading.

TradTrails, another new addition to the programme, is a series of one-hour long 'seisiuns', where audiences can join in and 'gig together' with some of the most talented artists working within the genre. Further down the coast, Wexford has been chosen as the site of this year's spectacular National Lottery Skyfest on Saturday, at 7.30pm.

Firework specialists, Pains Fireworks Ltd, have promised they will be 'Making Magic Happen', using a massive 1.6 tonnes of fireworks, five tonnes of firing equipment, 6,000 pyrotechnic effects and the largest pyrotechnic waterfall ever fired in Ireland.

In Cork, festival organisers hope to attract more than 100,000 people to the city from Thursday to Sunday for ceilis, literary events and, of course, the city's parade.

And once again, the country's shortest parade, will traverse the 100 yards between the two local pubs in Dripsey, Co Cork. In Kilkenny, celebrations take on a healthy glow, with a 5km dash planned for St Patrick's Day.

The Fun Run/ Jog/Walk, organised by Kilkenny City Harriers and Kilkenny fit4life, take place tomorrow, with lots of prizes up for grabs, including for best 'fancy dress'.

In Co Wicklow, the seaside town of Bray is holding its seventh annual St Patrick's Festival featuring what organisers claim is Ireland's largest funfair, ceilis and The Trail of St Patrick.

Due to favourable tides, the annual University College Dublin vs Trinity College Dublin boat race for the Gannon Cup will also take place tomorrow.

This exciting and historic race starts at O'Connell Bridge and rows upstream, finishing at St James Gate, the site of the Guinness Brewery.

Irish Independent

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