Tuesday 16 July 2019

St Patrick's Day parade is not a moveable feast

St Patrick (Jason Nelson) at the announcement that the St Patrick's Day festival will go ahead on
Monday, March 17, this year
St Patrick (Jason Nelson) at the announcement that the St Patrick's Day festival will go ahead on Monday, March 17, this year

The Catholic Church may have been forced to switch St Patrick's Day to March 15, but the Dublin parade will go ahead as usual on March 17.

Bishops had decided to move the feast day back after it was discovered the festivities would clash with the second day of Holy Week, which is early this year.

But festival organisers confirmed yesterday they would hold the national parade in Dublin on the traditional date to avoid confusion.

"Our festival office has been inundated with phone calls from people wanting to know when St Patrick's Day will be celebrated this year," said Donal Shiels.

"We would like to take this opportunity to clear up any possible confusion in relation to the date well in advance of the big day and to confirm that the festivities will be held on March 17. We have invested a lot of money to market this date and sell it around the world. Moving it would confuse a lot of people.

"A lot of bands have been working two or three years, fundraising to come to Ireland on this specific date."

It is estimated the five-day festival, which has the parade as its centrepiece, brings in between €60m-€70m to the local economy each year.

More than 600,000 people annually attend the parade.

Under the Church's rules, the General Norms for the Liturgical Year and Calendar, the saint's feast day does not rank as highly as the Monday before Easter and so has to be moved.

Church leaders felt the celebrations would overshadow the serious nature of Holy Week.

In strict accordance with the rules, this year's St Patrick's Day should have been moved to the next available day in the Church calendar, Tuesday, April 1.

However, senior clerics were anxious to keep the date as close as possible to the international civic celebrations, which are often planned many years in advance.

After much deliberation, Rome gave Irish authorities the green light to shift the official religious celebrations two days back to March 15, which falls on a Saturday.

Festivities

According to festival organisers, this year will see the biggest number of American bands participate in the festivities.

A total of 16 have been booked, but organisers are remaining tight-lipped about the rest of the line-up.

They confirmed there would be no change to the route, which starts in Parnell Square and ends in St Patrick's Cathedral.

This is the third time St Patrick's Day has been moved because of a clash in the Church calendar.

In 1913, it was moved to April 1 because of a clash with Holy Week. In 1940, church leaders celebrated the day on April 3 rather than March 17 as it coincided with Palm Sunday, the first day of Holy Week.

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