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503,000 turn city green

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PARTYGOERS: Caitlin Clareborough and Hailey Stafford,

PARTYGOERS: Caitlin Clareborough and Hailey Stafford,

PARTYGOERS: Caitlin Clareborough and Hailey Stafford,

THE capital was a sea of green as a whopping 503,000 people lined the streets to witness one of the world's biggest St Patrick's Day parades.

Revellers from as far afield as Asia and South America were mesmerised by swirls of colour on the 2.6km parade route through the main streets.

Cyclist Stephen Roche led the festivities as the grand marshal of this year's parade.

"It's like going in a full circle again," he said before the festivities kicked off, referring to his victorious homecoming outside the GPO in 1987.

He cruised the parade route in a 1973 Rolls-Royce, and waved to the crowds, describing it as "an amazing, amazing honour to be here".

CARNIVAL

It was a carnival atmosphere as more than 3,000 participants, including marching bands, entertained the crowds.

Traditional artistic groups were on hand to add some colour, while embracing the theme of this year's festival- Let's Make History.

Spraoi from Waterford celebrated the millennial anniversary of the historic Battle of Clontarf, complete with viking ships.

Among the familiar faces at the parade on O'Connell Street was President Michael D Higgins with his wife Sabina, who wore a patriotic green scarf and hat.

"There is no limit to what Irish people can achieve," the proud President said.

In Cork, Lord of the Dance Michael Flatley was grand marshal and hailed being Irish on St Patrick's Day as the proudest feeling in the world.

This weekend also proved to be a big hit for publicans, as many of the revellers that visited the city for the celebrations tested the Irish cead mile failte.

Dublin City Council said that they had an "intensive" cleaning regime in place as the eyes of the world focused upon the capital.

"We've probably one of the best cleaning regimes in Europe for a capital city. We have a 24-hour presence in Dublin anyway. This weekend we will just be more intensive," a spokesperson said.

And it seems that revellers all enjoyed the array of events safely, as gardai said that "no major incidents" had occurred.

Meanwhile, leading gay rights activist Rory O'Neill has praised Guinness for pulling its sponsorship of Manhattan's parade. The hallmark Irish brand pulled the plug over the ban on openly gay and lesbian marchers.

CELEBRATIONS

"I think when a company like Guinness has decided that it would bad for business to be associated in an anti-gay parade like the Manhattan, I think it is a sign that the jig is up," said Mr O'Neill.

"I think it was a bad decision on Enda's part to go to the parade," he said. "And it just shows that Enda made a big mistake."

The Taoiseach earlier defended his decision to march in the parade.

"The St Patrick's Day parade [in New York] is a parade about our Irishness and not about sexuality, and I would be happy to participate in it," Mr Kenny said.

The party continued round the world with famous monuments including the Great Wall of China and the Leaning Tower of Pisa being lit up in green for the day.

And there were even celebrations in space, as astronaut Douglas Wheelock tweeted: "Hello, Ireland – from space! Happy St Patrick's Day! Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhaoibh!"

 


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