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'Virtual' parties as celebrations show defiance to virus on St Patrick's Day

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Nurses Kaye Cook and Judy-Anne Smith from Riverhead New Zealand on Dame Street in Dublin. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Nurses Kaye Cook and Judy-Anne Smith from Riverhead New Zealand on Dame Street in Dublin. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Nurses Kaye Cook and Judy-Anne Smith from Riverhead New Zealand on Dame Street in Dublin. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Not even a virus pandemic was going to stop enterprising Irish families from wearing the green to proudly mark St Patrick's Day.

A combination of ingenuity and technology allowed people to honour Ireland's national saint while still respecting public health controls and social distancing rules.

Cork city centre restaurant Soho went a step further in flying large Irish and Italian flags side by side as a gesture of Covid-19 solidarity between the two countries.

The smallest St Patrick's Day parade went ahead in Limerick with strict social distancing observed.

Lone piper Paul McMahon marched around the Park Gardens estate in Corbally to keep an 18-year parade tradition alive.

"It was very emotional," Mr McMahon admitted as he was joined by his wife Barbara and daughter Clodagh.

Fermoy International Choir used camera phones and social media to broadcast a special Irish anthem which it had hoped to perform at the local St Patrick's Day parade.

Founded by Graham Clifford, the choir is directed by Lisa Dunphy and boasts almost 100 members drawn from more than 30 countries.

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Sharon Hodkinson, Ginelle Williams, Wendy Ruddell and Kaz Samson all from Melbourne, Australia, outside The Temple Bar pub in Dublin. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Sharon Hodkinson, Ginelle Williams, Wendy Ruddell and Kaz Samson all from Melbourne, Australia, outside The Temple Bar pub in Dublin. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Sharon Hodkinson, Ginelle Williams, Wendy Ruddell and Kaz Samson all from Melbourne, Australia, outside The Temple Bar pub in Dublin. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Farmers Peter and Paula Hynes celebrated St Patrick's Day at their Aherla holding in Cork for their children and three veterinary students from the US and Canada.

"We just got a notion at the weekend that we wanted to do something, with all the local parades cancelled for our children Chloe, Becky and Georgina," Mr Hynes said.

"With these students (Morgan from North Carolina, Adam from Ontario and Alecia from Alberta) here we wanted to show them the Irish spirit before they left the country."

The Mayor of Co Cork, Cllr Ian Doyle, admitted it was a St Patrick's Day like no other with parades cancelled, pubs closed and churches shut.

"We can show how proud we are as a nation by supporting each other, by adhering to the guidance from the HSE and by demonstrating how much we value each and every member of our communities," he said.

The University of Limerick decided to adopt a 'virtual' celebration to mark St Patrick's Day.

Director of the Irish World Academy of Music at UL, Dr Sandra Joyce, said a celebration of culture, music, community and unity was more important than ever.

The Irish World Academy of Music and Dance and the International Education Division collaborated with international and Irish students to mark St Patrick's Day with a beautiful rendition of the song 'Mo Ghile Mear'.

Mexican composer Oscar Mascarenas, a lecturer at the Irish World Academy, arranged the Irish traditional song.

"With everything that is happening across the world right now, it is more important than ever to focus on what connects us, like culture, music and spirit. On March 17, we are all connected, we are all Irish," Dr Joyce said.

In Kerry, where the St Patrick's Day events are traditionally lavish and mark the opening of the busy tourist season, it was eerily quiet.

Dingle cancelled its famous pre-dawn parade - a tradition dating back to the 1870s when Crown Forces banned daylight gatherings in the Kingdom at the height of the land war.

Bishop of Kerry Dr Ray Browne said the ringing of church bells was a reminder that all Irish people should now look out for each other.

In Waterford - the first city to make St Patrick's Day a public holiday in 1903 - a special link was offered on the parade social media page so people could compare their home-based celebrations.

Irish Independent