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AS IT HAPPENED: St Patrick's Day festivities take place at home and abroad

It’s the most Irish day of the year..

LAST UPDATE | Mar 17th 2023, 11:45 AM


The most Irish day of the year has kicked off with parades of every size around the country, as well as traditional celebrations around the world spearheaded by the Irish diaspora.

The parade in Dublin passed through the city with tens of thousands in attendance and plenty of smiles too. 

Good morning, and Lá Fhéile Pádraig shona daoibh. A very happy St Patrick’s Day!

It’s Emer Moreau here, bringing you all the latest news from festivities at home and abroad.

Stay with us for parades small and large – such as the Dogs Trust ‘pawrade’, which you can watch here.

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An estimated 450,000 people will attend the national parade in Dublin city centre today.

The theme of this year’s St Patrick’s Festival is ‘One’ – an invitation to people all across the world to connect and celebrate Ireland and Irishness.

President Michael D Higgins will be the guest of honour at the parade, and the Irish women’s soccer team will act as grand marshalls, led by manager Vera Pauw, defender Diane Cauldwell and former player Paula Gorham.

Here’s Pauw at the pre-parade press briefing this morning.

Vera Pau Sam Boal Sam Boal

The so-called ‘global greening’ campaign – landmarks around the world lighting up green for St Patrick’s Day – will not go ahead this year due to the energy crisis, but some famous building and monuments went ahead on their own, such as the Sydney Opera House.

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Tourism Ireland confirmed earlier this week that it would not be promoting the campaign due to the energy crisis.

The initiative was also paused last year due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which was then just weeks old.

Then-Taoiseach Micheál Martin wrote to Irish embassies asking that the embassy buildings, monuments and other sites typically lit up green on 17 March should instead be lit up in yellow and blue, the colours of the Ukrainian flag.

unnamed (1) Torianna Fletcher from Detroit, dressed up to enjoy the Saint Patrick's Day parade in Dublin Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /

The organisers of St Patrick’s Festival have said this year’s parade is the most ambitious ever, with over 4,000 participants.


The parade’s themes will include community, diversity, youth and sustainability.

If you’re debating whether to venture into Temple Bar today – or are simply looking to watch incredulously as it floods with people – you can see events unfold from the comfort of your home thanks to the Temple Bar Webcam.

As you can see, it’s already filling up.

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In London, a pop-up Irish dancing set courtesy of Tourism Ireland.

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The national parade in Dublin city is kicking off soon – it’ll be live on RTÉ One too, if you’d rather watch from the comfort of your sofa.

275Saint Patricks Day Sarah and Kwacha Dzinkambani Malawy enjoying the Saint Patricks Day Festival

Famous faces at this year’s parade will include Vera Pauw, manager of the Irish women’s soccer team and erstwhile Dallas star Patrick Duffy.

Pauw and her team will be grand marshals for the parade.

1286Saint Patricks Day Sasko Lazarov / Sasko Lazarov / /

We all know the shamrock ceremony, but the Taoiseach’s annual trip to the White House is about a lot more than just photo ops – it’s the most important date in the Irish diplomatic calendar, a government-wide exercise in showcasing Ireland’s soft power on the world stage.

Our reporter Carl Kinsella traced the evolution of Patrick’s Day on the political world stage, from presenting a bowl of shamrock to the US president to a Cabinet globetrotting expedition.

President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina has arrived on O’Connell Street

Speaking as Gaeilge about the theme of the parade, ‘We are One’, President Higgins tells RTÉ he hopes Irish people at home and abroad will come together now and in the future to celebrate all facets of Irishness.

He says it’s one of the most important days of the year, giving Irish people a chance to reflect on their identity and heritage.

Across the Atlantic, our Political Correspondent Christina Finn is covering events in Washington DC.

The parade has kicked off with Lord Mayor of Dublin, Caroline Conroy, arriving in a very swanky gold carriage.

295Saint Patricks Day Lord Mayor Caroline Conroy and actor Patrick Duffy Sasko Lazarov / Sasko Lazarov / /

The carriage dates back to the 1700s, when it was made for the then-Lord Mayor by William Whitton, one of three coach builders based in Dublin’s Dominick Street.

It’s been an annual feature of the Patrick’s Day parade since 1976.

Meanwhile in DC:

The Pride of Bixby marching band from Oklahoma are performing a rendition of Uptown Funk as they make their way across O’Connell Bridge.

Their uniform is all white, which is rather brave in this weather.

Vera Pauw, originally from the Netherlands, has said she was “blown away” that she could lead the parade.

“The thought that I, as a foreigner, could lead the team out and represent the team – is a highlight of my life”, she said.

291Saint Patricks Day Sasko Lazarov / Sasko Lazarov / /

“I’m absolutely delighted that Ireland has let me in to their celebrations of this magic day,” she added.

Is this a first? Mickey and Minnie Mouse are in the parade, part of a Disney float celebrating the company’s 100th birthday.

Walt Disney himself had Irish ancestry.

The parade in Rush in north Dublin has another beloved children’s character…on a quad bike.

Nicky Ryan stepping in here for Emer as takes a break to go chase some snakes, or whatever it is people do these days on St Patrick’s Day.

Some more scenes of today’s parade in Dublin from


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There wasn’t a lie-in to be had in An Daingean this morning.

The locals were out bright and early for their traditional parade, which got underway around 6am this morning – RTÉ’s Seán Mac an tSíthigh explains that the tradition dates back to an attempt to ban parades between sunrise and sunset.

Conducting a quick vibe check on the Temple Bar webcam and it all still seems fairly tame? A few selfies, a few group shots, and there was also a man posing with a bucket of KFC chicken. It is still early days…

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A truly stunning ‘stache spotted in the parade.

unnamed 4 Sasko Lazarov / Sasko Lazarov / /

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Here’s a picture of a couple in the United Kingdom who managed to get away from the kids for a while to enjoy a couple of pints of Guinness for the day that’s in it. Aren’t they very well dressed? I understand the gentleman pictured here gives a sprig of shamrock to the British Army’s Irish Guards every St Patrick’s Day, in a tradition dating back decades.

the-prince-and-princess-of-wales-enjoy-a-glass-of-guinness-during-a-visit-to-the-1st-battalion-irish-guards-for-the-st-patricks-day-parade-at-mons-barracks-in-aldershot-picture-date-friday-march-1 Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

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The Taoiseach shares a laugh with US Vice President Kamala Harris during the traditional St Patrick’s Day breakfast. Our Political Correspondent Christina Finn is there – follow her tweets here.

Cork’s parade is in full swing and looking fantastic (and features the obligatory marching band from a college in the United States).

These colours definitely livened up a dull and dreary O’Connell Street.

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unnamed 7 Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

And there’s President Higgins having a great time at today’s parade, looking only delighted with himself.

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Although I suppose it would be fairly bad form if he was standing looking forlorn at the sidelines…

A reminder as well that cost of a ticket for the grandstand for the national parade was fairly eyewatering.

They were going for €250 a seat at the O’Connell Street grandstand, with the lowest tier being two stands bookending the route at Parnell Square and St. Patrick’s Cathedral costing €100.

This is up 20% on previous years due to an increase in production costs, the parade organisers have said.

Organisers were quick to remind The Journal that people were willing to pay that amount of money.

It was, of course, still free to attend at the sidelines, even if it would be harder to see – and if you were really desperate to get a glimpse, it would be cheaper to simply pay a tall friend to let you get up on their shoulders.

It’s Emer again here. I didn’t chase a single snake while I was away, unfortunately.

Once again to Washington: The Taoiseach has expressed his and his partner’s admiration for vice president Kamala Harris “as doctors and members of the LGBT community”.

He said “Allow us to say how inspired we are by your advocacy for marriage equality in California and nationwide and your defence of the Affordable Healthcare Act.

taoiseach-visit-to-the-us PA PA

“From Stonewall to Harvey Milk, America has led the world on LGBT equality and marriage equality is now protected in our constitution. We are also pursuing our own Affordable Healthcare Programme in Ireland called Sláintecare – abolishing hospital charges, capping the cost of prescription medicines, abolishing doctors fees for children and seniors and those on modest incomes and phasing out private practice in public hospitals.

“We have much in common.”

The tradition of the vice president hosting the Taoiseach for breakfast was started by Joe Biden when he was Barack Obama’s VP.

Kamala Harris is pictured here raising a glass…of orange juice. Very Californian.

vice-president-kamala-harris-meets-with-irish-taoiseach-leo-varadkar ABACA / PA Images ABACA / PA Images / PA Images

Some more photos of the parade performers coming in. Aren’t they only gorgeous?

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The Taoiseach has arrived at the White House:

From DC to Delhi, here’s what Equality Minister Roderic O’Gorman was up to today:

Speaking to the Taoiseach in the Oval Office, President Biden said he was as “very strong supporter of the Windsor Framework”.

He said the two would discuss the framework during their private meeting.

Biden is due to visit Ireland for the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement next month.

The Taoiseach thanked Biden for his support with regard to Brexit.

The Taoiseach also thanked Biden and the US for its support and leadership with regard to the war in Ukraine.

Varadkar said: “I never thought we’d see a war like this happen in Europe in my lifetime.

“America is at its best when it stands with its European partners to defend freedom and democracy. Thank you for that.”

Here’s the Taoiseach’s remarks in full

PastedImage-22184 TheJournal / Christina Finn TheJournal / Christina Finn / Christina Finn

Back at home and the main St. Patrick’s Day parade is over in Dublin. 

The weather at least held up for the most part. 

Here are some final pictures from the parade and we’ll sign off for the day!

Have a happy St. Patrick’s Day and thanks for being with us. 

padddies day 59_90673891 Sam Boal Sam Boal

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