St Patrick’s celebrations

Photographs courtesy of St Patrick’s Festival.

It’s that time of the year again, when we and the rest of the world celebrate all things Irish. St Patrick’s Day has really snazzed itself up from previous decades of watching barely put together locals floating down O’Connell Street in the freezing wind and rain, either in person, where let’s face it you were never early enough or tall enough to see anything or as many of us did, arriving back from the obligatory mass with shamrock pinned to our lapels and switching on RTE where it was covered from a one, fixed angle, camera and letting it drone on in the background. There really wasn’t much to do on the day that seemed to celebrate our nation,and/or entertain the family and visitors with a large meal. If the meal was lovely and fun that was something and still is, but on the whole it was a rather apathetic and unenergetic ‘celebration.’ However this has been addressed over recent years and our national saint’s day is now a proper festival offering lasting a full great days with lots on offer from many quarters; cultural, culinary, social, family events to exhibitions and marathons not forgetting the much improved parade itself.

Inaugurated in 1995 the St Patrick’s Day Festival is a Government initiative i.e ‘owned’ by the Irish people – after all what is government? (This can’t be emphasised often enough in this country) It involves fairs, amusements, exhibitions, restaurants and pubs offering food for thought, the greening of the city as well as many companies and business like Irish Ferries and Failte Ireland sponsoring pageants. Meanwhile the vibrant and burgeoning youth and community groups whose efforts are always outstanding, make it is what it is an enlivened and colourful celebration of the Irish spirit, initiative and community. 

However the festival is just about the parade as it set out since its inauguration in 1995 to offer a national festival that ranks amongst all of the greatest celebration in the world. To this end it has harnessed all the elements together to create energy and excitement throughout Ireland via innovation, creativity, grassroots involvement, and marketing activity.  And to turn it around from a very drink laden and boring day to a more carnival atmosphere over which the owners of the festival, the Irish people, stand proud. It now reflect the talents and achievements of Irish people on many national and world stages, while also acting as an exciting showcase for the manifold skills of the people of Ireland, of every age and social background.

This has, in turn, has provided the opportunity and motivation for people of Irish descent (and those who sometimes wish they were Irish) to attend and join in the imaginative and expressive celebrations. It has elevated a somewhat interior and lacklustre day to project, internationally, an accurate image of Ireland as a creative, professional and sophisticated country with wide appeal.

The first St. Patrick’s Festival was held over one day, and night, on March 17th 1996, it has since grown to a 4-5 day celebration. For a fully comprehensive overview check the website listed at the end to see the worthwhile array of events and offerings for families and individuals. As the one national holiday that is celebrated in more countries around the world than any other, St. Patrick’s Day is the day when everyone wants to be Irish.

So it’s only right that us natives set out to seize that opportunity, and completely transform the national and international perception of St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin. This country is bursting with the kind of creative energy, ideas and enthusiasm required to do the job and now makes our national holiday an unforgettable experience for all.

This year it opens on Thursday 15th with Made In Dublin, an exhibition. Made In Dublin is an immersive installation in sound and vision constructed as an infinitely unravelling coil of events played out by the movement of people caught up in time and place. And that place is Dublin.

Built around Doyle’s photography, with drawings and sound by Sweeney and Donohoe, Made in Dublin is a choreography of the city itself, its fabric, populations and light, its body and its psyche. The greening of the city is another popular draw. All the iconic buildings in Dublin will be lit up green, illuminating the city with our national colour. An evening time stroll is ideal viewing!

The city’s fun fairs are back on Merrion Square and Custom House Quay from waltzers to family attractions to the carousel, there is something for everyone at the festival’s fun fairs. St Patrick’s Cathedral will host a rare screening of Rex Ingram’s The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Ingram, an internationally renowned Irishman and film director Rex Ingram emigrated from Ireland to the United States in 1911 and directed the epic, silent 1921 war film. It will be accompanied with live musical accompaniment by  the masterful musicianship of Matthew Nolan, Barry Adamson (UK), Seán Mac Erlaine, Adrian Crowley, & Kevin Murphy. A highlight not to be missed.

Innovative theatre performances from some of Ireland’s most creative and energetic production companies exploring our multiculturalism, juxtaposing real life asylum seekers and Irish emigrants, are also being staged alongside not to be missed gigs and musical performances, city marathons, local activities and all the usual revelry. Ireland you’ve come a long way.

For in depth listings, descriptions, events and tickets see Festival Dates 2018: Thursday 15th – Monday 19th March