Monday 23 October 2017

Global vitality of St Patrick's Day culture

Irish identity is celebrated worldwide in March. Photo: Reuters
Irish identity is celebrated worldwide in March. Photo: Reuters

* St Patrick's Day parades will be in many countries and cities. The small Caribbean island of Montserrat is said to be the only country outside of Ireland to have the day as a public holiday. The first St Patrick's Day observance was held in Boston in 1737 by well-to-do Irish immigrants of the Charitable Irish Society of Boston. They attended a religious service and a special dinner. They didn't hold the next one until 1794.

New York, meanwhile, had its first celebration in 1766 by Irish soldiers in the British army in the American colony, and in 1780 during the American War of Independence, General George Washington gave permission to his army, which had men of Irish descent camped in Morristown, New Jersey, to celebrate the holiday "as an act of solidarity with the Irish in their fight for independence". Morristown still celebrates St Patrick's Day.

New York is the largest parade in the world, with two million spectators watching a parade of 150,000 marchers on the 1.5-mile route along 5th Avenue, which takes five hours and is led by the 69th Infantry Regiment (New York). When asked, as is tradition, by the commissioner of the parade are they ready, the reply is "The 69th are always ready!".

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