We walked into town because there were no buses, due to road closures everywhere. However, one of the benefits of living where we do is that about 30 mins of brisk walking and we are in the main street of Dublin, O’Connell St, and close by is Parnell Square where the parade starts. We arrived about an hour before the start time and there were already people several deep along the road. Estimates are that up to half a million people come out for the parade. We were lucky enough to find a spot on the steps of Abbey Presbyterian Church which gave us a bit of height. It was quite difficult to see the bands and marchers but the large floats stood out above the crowd.
Each year they appoint a local dignitary as “Grand Marshall” of the parade and this year Brendan O’Carroll was chosen, the man behind the TV series “Mrs Brown’s Boys”.
The outfits had to be seen to be believed – and that was the people WATCHING the parade! Leprechauns by the hundreds; people with shamrocks painted on their faces; various varieties of ‘Irish viking’ (Dublin was originally settled by Vikings); flags waving, green floppy hats, you name it.
It was really interesting watching it on the TV news that night too. For a start, on RTE1 (the Irish channel) the news was mainly in Irish, which it never is and was good to see. Then, there were shots of the St Patrick’s Day parades from all around the country. It was surprising to us that many of these featured people from different countries turning out in their native costumes and sometimes doing their native dances. We’d have thought on a distinctively Irish holiday, the parades would have featured just Irish people but no, the Irish are very inclusive. Although one of my colleagues, when I mentioned it to her today, said her father would be rolling in his grave…he didn’t ‘hold with’ all this multicultural stuff!