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Members of Waterford Spraoi, who will take part in the St Patrick's Day Parade in Dublin. Photo: Damien Eagers

Members of Waterford Spraoi, who will take part in the St Patrick's Day Parade in Dublin. Photo: Damien Eagers

Members of Waterford Spraoi, who will take part in the St Patrick's Day Parade in Dublin. Photo: Damien Eagers

THEY came from all over the world to celebrate St Patrick's in the land that made him famous.

Americans searching for their Irish roots, Irish parade veterans and Australians just searching for a good time were among the thousands that lined the streets of Dublin today.

And it was also an emotional and nostalgic day from champion cyclist and the 2014 Grand Marshal Stephen Roche as he geared himself ahead on the parade.

"I remember watching the parade on my father's shoulders so today means a lot to me," he told the Herald. "There are a lot of memories flying around not just about St Patrick's Day but about my career.

"It's a long time since I stood on a podium and was the centre of attention so it's nice to get that recognition."

Earlier this year, Roche was inducted to the Giro d'Italia Hall of Fame. "It feels like a bit of a comeback," he said.

"There is a real buzz in the air and to be part of the excitement is a privilege," Roche added.

The 2014 parade theme is Let's Make History, and, for Waterford-based street theatre company Spraoi, that meant looking to legendary warrior Brian Boru and legendary rugby player Brian O'Driscoll.

"The Battle of Clontarf is the inspiration," Artistic Director Mike Leahy said.

"But we thought we'd give it a bit of a rugby twist with the week that's in, so we have the Leinster colours on the masts of the ships."

The parade route will wind 2.6 kilometres through the streets of Dublin with 500,000 spectators cheering the baton throwers and floats on.

Merry

Australians Caitlin Clarebrough (26) and Hailey Stafford (29) were among those who took to the capital to sample that buzz.

"We're very excited, we're going to watch the parade and then go and have a few drinks and get merry," Caitlin, from New South Wales but who lives in London, said.

Rose Bollard (59) and her husband Jimmy (49) had a somewhat shorter distance to travel.

The pair live on Wellington Street, not far from the main route of the parade, and were dressed to impress.

"We've been married for 26 years, I've dressed up for the parade every year without fail, ever since I was a little child," Jimmy explained.

Toni Dooley-Tooke (59) came from Georgia in the US to enjoy Ireland and the St Patrick's Day parade.

"This is my first time in Ireland. We were here for the CIE tours around the country.

"I'm also here looking for my ancestry. I'm really looking forward to the parade but I'm sad to be going home tomorrow," she said.

Sisters Catherine Hardy and Trish Kenny brought kids Grace Kenny (4), Adam Kenny (11), Anthony McCann (4) and Brendan McCann (6) into town for the parade.

"It's their first parade, we're really looking forward to it," Catherine, who lives in Kinnegad, Co Westmeath, told the Herald.

HNEWS@ HERALD.IE


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