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Parades of yesteryear reveal our love for the celebrations

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Irish
dancers
entertain the
crowd at the
Dublin parade
in 1982

Irish dancers entertain the crowd at the Dublin parade in 1982

girls
dressed as
Rubik's Cubes
in the capital
in 1982

girls dressed as Rubik's Cubes in the capital in 1982

crowds at the
Dublin parade
in 1959

crowds at the Dublin parade in 1959

the
Scouts' Big
Wheel in 1976

the Scouts' Big Wheel in 1976

a float in
the 1959
parade

a float in the 1959 parade

/

Irish dancers entertain the crowd at the Dublin parade in 1982

SOME things never change -- the beat of the marching bands, the squash behind the railings and the battle to get the best vantage point.

Photographs dating from the 1950s, 70s and 80s, unearthed from the Irish Independent archive, show that Ireland's love affair with the St Patrick's Day parade has not waned.

Spectators were invariably wrapped up against the biting cold, flags were held aloft and children squirmed into the narrowest gap to catch a glimpse of the wonders floating past.

Meanwhile, on the street, dozens of marching bands snaked their way through the capital -- the Americans with their brass buttons and trumpets rubbed to a high sheen, the Irish somewhat more sedate but just as loud. The light-footed cailins, their hair in sturdy ringlets, danced in formation outside the GPO.

The crowds were 20-people deep as the parade made its way down O'Connell Street on March 17, 1959. Spectators were treated to some unusual floats that would be lucky to pass muster with audiences these days.

The Dublin Typographic Provident Society introduced bemused crowds to the wonders of printing. "Typography and Paper. Behold we bring the second ark!", it proudly proclaimed as it displayed its wares.

One of the most innovative floats ever seen in the history of the parade must be that created by a troop of boy scouts in 1976. They fashioned their own 'Big Wheel' out of wooden poles and plastic chairs and transported it atop a shamrock-strewn lorry down the street.

It gave six children a fun -- if slightly precarious -- view of proceedings that would make many a modern health and safety inspector quake in their boots.

There could also be a political dimension to the parade, as seen in the group of men who carried a banner proclaiming "England Get Out of Ireland", during the 1976 event.

However, one thing that remains the same year after year is the scramble to get the best vantage point.

Crowds

While there are fewer telephone boxes to scale in 2012, lamp posts and monuments are still the ideal spot to peer over the crowds, as adventurous boys have known for decades.

While full of tradition, the parade has also given a nod to passing fads, such as the year The Wombles came to town. In 1982, as Rubik's Cube mania was spreading around the world, three girls decided to dress up as their favourite puzzle.

Elsewhere, Brendan Grace entertained spectators outside the GPO.

The parade was usually preceded by St Patrick's Day Mass and successive presidents have flocked to the nearby Pro-Cathedral sporting a flourish of shamrocks. In 1982, then-President Patrick Hillery made the traditional pilgrimage and paused to meet and greet parishioners before going inside.

Irish Independent