Tag Archives: Saint Patrick’s Day

Hillcrest Bar /Saint Patrick’s Day Bombing

The Hillcrest Bar bombing

17th March 1976

The Hillcrest Bar bombing, also known as the “Saint Patrick’s Day bombing”, took place on 17 March 1976 in Dungannon, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), a loyalist paramilitary group, detonated a car bomb outside a pub crowded with people celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day.

Four Catholic civilians were killed by the blast—including two 13-year-old boys standing outside—and almost 50 people were injured, some severely.

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The Innocent Victims

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17 March 1976


Patrick Barnard,   (13)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed in car bomb explosion, outside Hillcrest Bar, Donaghmore Road, Dungannon, County Tyrone.

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17 March 1976


Joseph Kelly,  (57)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed in car bomb explosion, outside Hillcrest Bar, Donaghmore Road, Dungannon, County Tyrone

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17 March 1976


James McCaughey,   (13)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed in car bomb explosion, outside Hillcrest Bar, Donaghmore Road, Dungannon, County Tyrone.

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17 March 1976


Andrew Small,  (62)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed in car bomb explosion, outside Hillcrest Bar, Donaghmore Road, Dungannon, County Tyrone.

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Disclaimer

The views and opinions expressed in this post and page are soley intended to educate and provide background information to those interested in the Troubles of Northern Ireland.

They in no way reflect my own opinions and I take no responsibility for any inaccuracies or factual errors

In December 1980, UVF member Garnet James Busby confessed to having been one of the bombers and was sentenced to life in prison. The UVF unit responsible was the Mid-Ulster Brigade, which at the time was led by the notorious Robin Jackson.

The attack is one of many linked to the Glenanne gang, a loose association of loyalist militants and rogue members of the Northern Ireland security forces, who carried out a series of attacks against the Catholic/Irish nationalist community in the area during the 1970s.

Situation in Northern Ireland

By the mid-1970s, the conflict in Northern Ireland, known as the Troubles, showed no signs of abating. The Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) intensified its bombing campaign to drive British forces out, and began targeting English cities. The main loyalist paramilitary groups—the UVF and Ulster Defence Association (UDA)—responded with random attacks on the local Catholic population, which in turn led to IRA reprisals against Protestants.

During 1975 the IRA was officially on ceasefire. Loyalists believed the ceasefire was part of a secret deal between the British Government and IRA which would mean a British withdrawal from Northern Ireland. According to journalist Peter Taylor, the vicious tit-for-tat violence between the IRA and loyalists made 1975 one of the

 

“bloodiest years of the conflict”

 

Victims of Shankill Butchers

 See Shankill Butchers

In Belfast, the loyalist Shankill Butchers gang, led by Lenny Murphy, began an 18-month killing spree designed to strike terror into the Catholic community, whom they believed were giving succour to the IRA. The gang would drive around Catholic areas in a black taxi and kidnap random Catholic passersby, then torture and hack them to death. However, most tit-for-tat attacks were bombings and shootings targeting pubs, or roadside ambushes, as in the case of the Miami Showband massacre.

This saw three members of the popular Irish cabaret band shot dead at a fake military checkpoint by UVF gunmen in British Army uniforms. Two of those convicted were Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) soldiers. Investigations established that UVF Mid-Ulster Brigade commander Robin Jackson was the organizer and main gunman in the July 1975 ambush. Described as “the most notorious Loyalist paramilitary in Northern Ireland”, it was also revealed that he was a Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) Special Branch agent.

A further 50 paramilitary attacks have been linked to Jackson, including the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings, which killed 33 people.

In January 1976, the UVF killed six members of two Catholic families in a co-ordinated attack. The following evening, IRA members (using the covername “Republican Action Force”) retaliated by shooting eleven Protestant men after ordering them out of a minibus. Only one survived.

Loyalists sought revenge, and members of the UVF Mid-Ulster Brigade planned to attack a nearby Catholic primary school. The operation was aborted by the UVF leadership on the grounds that it was “morally unacceptable”, would provoke a terrible response from the IRA and could spark civil war.

Harold Wilson announced on 16 March 1976 that he was resigning as British Prime Minister. That same day, the British Army defused a 200-pound IRA bomb left outside a garage in Dungannon.

The bombing

The Hillcrest Bar (now McAleer’s) on Dungannon’s Donaghmore Road, was a pub frequented by Catholics and was jointly owned by a Catholic and a Protestant. An incendiary device had been planted inside the premises the year before. On the evening of 17 March 1976, the pub was packed with revelers celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day. There was also a disco for young people being held in a school across the road.

According to writer and former British soldier Ken Wharton, a loyalist attack had been anticipated in Northern Ireland as ‘Catholic pubs’ would be packed with people enjoying the Irish holiday. Earlier that day in East Belfast, Catholic teacher John Donnelly had been drinking in the Cregagh Inn on Woodstock Road.

When one of his former students identified him as a Catholic, UDA members who happened to be in the pub forced him outside (in full view of the customers) and stabbed him to death behind the building.

 

 

That evening, UVF members parked a green Austin-Healey 1100 car outside the Hillcrest Bar. It had been stolen in Armagh nine days earlier. At 8.20 pm, the time bomb hidden in the car exploded. The blast killed three people outright and fatally wounded another.Almost 50 people were injured, nine of them severely.

The force of the blast blew out all the pub’s windows and rained debris on the footpath outside. The pub manager, who had been upstairs when the bomb detonated, said :

“everything just simply erupted around us. There was no warning”

 

One of those killed was Joseph Kelly (57), who had been inside the pub. Two 13-year-old boys, James McCaughey and Patrick Barnard, were in the street near the car bomb when it went off; James was mutilated beyond recognition and Patrick would die of his horrific injuries in hospital the following day.

The boys were on their way to a disco at a school across the road. Andrew Small (62) was walking past with his wife and was also killed in the blast. All of the victims were Catholic civilians with no links to republican paramilitary groups.

The getaway car used by the bombers had been stolen in Portadown. It was found burnt out a mile from the bomb site.

Responsibility

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Glenanne Gang

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The 17 March bombing is one of the attacks that the Pat Finucane Centre (PFC) has attributed to the Glenanne gang. This was a loose alliance of loyalist militants (in particular the UVF Mid-Ulster Brigade) and rogue members of the Northern Ireland security forces: the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and the British Army’s Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR). The group carried out a series of attacks against Catholics/Irish nationalists in the area during the 1970s.

The PFC requested that Professor Douglass Cassel (formerly of Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago) convene an international inquiry to investigate allegations of collusion between loyalists and the security forces in sectarian killings. This international team concluded in their 2006 report that the Hillcrest Bar bombing was one of the attacks perpetrated by the Glenanne gang.

In December 1980, Dungannon UVF member Garnet James Busby confessed to having been part of the bombing unit. He also confessed to other attacks, including another Dungannon pub bombing, and the double murder of married couple Peter and Jenny McKearney in 1975. Although Busby named three other men involved in the Hillcrest Bar bombing he was the only one convicted. At his trial, an RUC inspector told the court that the same UVF group had carried out the Miami Showband killings.

In 1981 Garnet Busby received six life sentences for the murders of the McKearneys, Joseph Kelly, Andrew Small, James McCaughey and Patrick Barnard. He was sent to the Maze Prison.

See:  The Glenanne Gang – History & Background

See: Miami Showband Killings – The Day The Music Died

See McGurk’s Bar Bombing

See Shankill Bombing

See Greysteel Massacre

Saint Patrick’s Day – What’s it all about?

   Saint Patrick’s Day

17th March

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The History of St. Patrick’s Day

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Saint Patrick’s Day, or the Feast of Saint Patrick (Irish: Lá Fhéile Pádraig, “the Day of the Festival of Patrick”), is a cultural and religious celebration held on 17 March, the traditional death date of Saint Patrick (c. AD 385–461), the foremost patron saint of Ireland.

Saint Patrick’s Day was made an official Christian feast day in the early 17th century and is observed by the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion (especially the Church of Ireland), the Eastern Orthodox Church, and Lutheran Church. The day commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, and celebrates the heritage and culture of the Irish in general.

Celebrations generally involve public parades and festivals, céilithe, and the wearing of green attire or shamrocks. Christians also attend church services and the Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol are lifted for the day, which has encouraged and propagated the holiday’s tradition of alcohol consumption.

Facts

St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, although he was born in Britain, around 385AD. His parents Calpurnius and Conchessa were Roman citizens living in either Scotland or Wales, according to different versions of his story.

Saint Patrick’s Day is a public holiday in the Republic of IrelandNorthern Irelandthe Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the British Overseas Territory of Montserrat. It is also widely celebrated by the Irish diaspora around the world, especially in Great Britain, Canada, the United States, Argentina, Australia, and New Zealand.

 

St Patrick's Day 2012: the best parades in Britain and Ireland

 

Facts

As a boy of 14 he was captured and taken to Ireland where he spent six years in slavery herding sheep. He returned to Ireland in his 30s as a missionary among the Celtic pagans

Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated in more countries than any other national festival. Modern celebrations have been greatly influenced by those of the Irish diaspora, particularly those that developed in North America. In recent years, there has been criticism of Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations for having become too commercialized and for fostering negative stereotypes of the Irish.

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25 Little Known Facts About St. Patrick’s Day

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Saint Patrick

Saint_Patrick_(window).jpg

Main article: Saint Patrick

Patrick was a 5th-century Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland. Much of what is known about Saint Patrick comes from the Declaration, which was allegedly written by Patrick himself. It is believed that he was born in Roman Britain in the fourth century, into a wealthy Romano-British family. His father was a deacon and his grandfather was a priest in the Christian church. According to the Declaration, at the age of sixteen, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Gaelic Ireland.

It says that he spent six years there working as a shepherd and that during this time he “found God”. The Declaration says that God told Patrick to flee to the coast, where a ship would be waiting to take him home. After making his way home, Patrick went on to become a priest.

Facts

 Legend has it that he used the native shamrock as a symbol of the holy trinity when preaching and brought the Latin alphabet to Ireland.

 

According to tradition, Patrick returned to Ireland to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity. The Declaration says that he spent many years evangelising in the northern half of Ireland and converted “thousands”. Patrick’s efforts against the druids were eventually turned into an allegory in which he drove “snakes” out of Ireland (Ireland never had any snakes).

Tradition holds that he died on 17 March and was buried at Downpatrick. Over the following centuries, many legends grew up around Patrick and he became Ireland’s foremost saint.

Celebration and Traditions

 

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Today’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations have been greatly influenced by those that developed among the Irish diaspora, especially in North America. Until the late 20th century, St Patrick’s Day was often a bigger celebration among the diaspora than it was in Ireland.

Celebrations generally involve public parades and festivals, céilithe (Irish traditional music sessions), and the wearing of green attire or shamrocks.

There are also formal gatherings such as banquets and dances, although these were more common in the past. St Patrick’s Day parades began in North America in the 18th century but did not spread to Ireland until the 20th century.

The participants generally include marching bands, the military, fire brigades, cultural organizations, charitable organizations, voluntary associations, youth groups, fraternities, and so on. However, over time, many of the parades have become more akin to a carnival. More effort is made to use the Irish language; especially in Ireland, where the week of St Patrick’s Day is “Irish language week“. Recently, famous landmarks have been lit up in green on St Patrick’s Day.

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Christians also attend church services and the Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol are lifted for the day. Perhaps because of this, drinking alcohol – particularly Irish whiskey, beer or cider – has become an integral part of the celebrations. The St Patrick’s Day custom of ‘drowning the shamrock’ or ‘wetting the shamrock’ was historically popular, especially in Ireland. At the end of the celebrations, shamrock is put into the bottom of a cup, which is then filled with whiskey, beer or cider. It is then drank as a toast; to St Patrick, to Ireland, or to those present. The shamrock would either be swallowed with the drink, or be taken out and tossed over the shoulder for good luck.

 

Facts

Miracles attributed to him include the driving of serpents out of Ireland. However, evidence suggests post-glacial Ireland never had any snakes in the first place

Wearing of the Green

According to legend, Saint Patrick used the three-leaved shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to Irish pagans.

 

Traditional St Patrick’s Day badges from the early 20th century, at the Museum of Country Life in County Mayo

 

On St Patrick’s Day it is customary to wear shamrocks and/or green clothing or accessories (the “wearing of the green”). St Patrick is said to have used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish.  This story first appears in writing in 1726, though it may be older. In pagan Ireland, three was a significant number and the Irish had many triple deities, a fact that may have aided St Patrick in his evangelisation efforts.

Patricia Monaghan says there is no evidence that the shamrock was sacred to the pagan Irish.[21] However, Jack Santino speculates that it may have represented the regenerative powers of nature, and was recast in a Christian context‍—‌icons of St Patrick often depict the saint:

“with a cross in one hand and a sprig of shamrocks in the other”.

 

Roger Homan writes, “We can perhaps see St Patrick drawing upon the visual concept of the triskele when he uses the shamrock to explain the Trinity”.

The colour green has been associated with Ireland since at least the 1640s, when the green harp flag was used by the Irish Catholic Confederation. Green ribbons and shamrocks have been worn on St Patrick’s Day since at least the 1680s.

The Friendly Brothers of St Patrick, an Irish fraternity founded in about 1750,  adopted green as its colour.

Facts

Wearing green, eating green food and even drinking green beer, is said to commemorate St Patrick’s use of the shamrock – although blue was the original colour of his vestments.

However, when the Order of St. Patrick—an Anglo-Irish chivalric order—was founded in 1783 it adopted blue as its colour, which led to blue being associated with St Patrick. During the 1790s, green would become associated with Irish nationalism, due to its use by the United Irishmen. This was a republican organisation—led mostly by Protestants but with many Catholic members—who launched a rebellion in 1798 against British rule.

 

 

The phrase “wearing of the green” comes from a song of the same name, which laments United Irishmen supporters being persecuted for wearing green. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the colour green and its association with St Patrick’s Day grew.

The wearing of the ‘St Patrick’s Day Cross’ was also a popular custom in Ireland until the early 20th century. These were a Celtic Christian cross made of paper that was “covered with silk or ribbon of different colours, and a bunch or rosette of green silk in the centre”.

Celebrations by region

Ireland

 

A St Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin

 

A St Patrick’s Day religious procession in Downpatrick, where Saint Patrick is said to be buried

 

Saint Patrick’s feast day, as a kind of national day, was already being celebrated by the Irish in Europe in the ninth and tenth centuries. In later times, he became more and more widely seen as the patron of Ireland.

Saint Patrick’s feast day was finally placed on the universal liturgical calendar in the Catholic Church due to the influence of Waterford-born Franciscan scholar Luke Wadding in the early 1600s. Saint Patrick’s Day thus became a holy day of obligation for Roman Catholics in Ireland. It is also a feast day in the Church of Ireland, which is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church calendar avoids the observance of saints’ feasts during certain solemnities, moving the saint’s day to a time outside those periods. St Patrick’s Day is occasionally affected by this requirement, when 17 March falls during Holy Week.

Facts

St Patrick was said to have proclaimed that everyone should have a drop of the “hard stuff” on his feast day after chastising an innkeeper who served a short measure of whiskey. In the custom known as “drowning the shamrock”, the shamrock that has been worn on a lapel or hat is put in the last drink of the evening.

This happened in 1940, when Saint Patrick’s Day was observed on 3 April to avoid it coinciding with Palm Sunday, and again in 2008, where it was officially observed on 14 March. St Patrick’s Day will not fall within Holy Week again until 2160. However, the popular festivities may still be held on 17 March or on a weekend near to the feast day.

In 1903, St Patrick’s Day became an official public holiday in Ireland. This was thanks to the Bank Holiday (Ireland) Act 1903, an act of the United Kingdom Parliament introduced by Irish Member of Parliament James O’Mara O’Mara later introduced the law which required that public houses be shut on 17 March after drinking got out of hand, a provision that was repealed in the 1970s.

The first St Patrick’s Day parade in Ireland was held in Waterford in 1903. The week of St Patrick’s Day 1903 had been declared Irish Language Week by the Gaelic League and in Waterford they opted to have a procession on Sunday 15 March. The procession comprised the Mayor and members of Waterford Corporation, the Trades Hall, the various trade unions and bands who included the ‘Barrack St Band’ and the ‘Thomas Francis Meagher Band’.

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The parade began at the premises of the Gaelic League in George’s St and finished in the Peoples Park, where the public were addressed by the Mayor and other dignitaries.

On Tuesday 17 March, most Waterford businesses—including public houses—were closed and marching bands paraded like they had two days previously. The Waterford Trades Hall had been emphatic that the National Holiday be observed.

On St Patrick’s Day 1916, the Irish Volunteers – an Irish nationalist paramilitary organization – held parades throughout Ireland. The authorities recorded 38 St Patrick’s Day parades, involving 6,000 marchers, almost half of whom were said to be armed.  The following month, the Irish Volunteers launched the Easter Rising against British rule. This marked the beginning of the Irish revolutionary period and led to the Irish War of Independence and Civil War.

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The dyeing of the Chicago River 

During this time, St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Ireland were muted, although the day was sometimes chosen to hold large political rallies.

The celebrations remained low-key after the creation of the Irish Free State; the only state-organized observance was a military procession and trooping of the colours, and an Irish-language mass attended by government ministers.

In 1927, the Irish Free State government banned the selling of alcohol on St Patrick’s Day, although it remained legal in Northern Ireland. The ban was not repealed until 1961.

The first official, state-sponsored St Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin took place in 1931.

In the mid-1990s the government of the Republic of Ireland began a campaign to use St Patrick’s Day to showcase Ireland and its culture. The government set up a group called St Patrick’s Festival, with the aims:

  • To offer a national festival that ranks amongst all of the greatest celebration in the world
  • To create energy and excitement throughout Ireland via innovation, creativity, grassroots involvement, and marketing activity
  • To provide 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
  • 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 on 17 March 1996. In 1997, it became a three-day event, and by 2000 it was a four-day event. By 2006, the festival was five days long; more than 675,000 people attended the 2009 parade. Overall 2009’s five-day festival saw almost 1 million visitors, who took part in festivities that included concerts, outdoor theatre performances, and fireworks.  Skyfest forms the centrepiece of the festival.

The topic of the 2004 St Patrick’s Symposium was “Talking Irish”, during which the nature of Irish identity, economic success, and the future were discussed. Since 1996, there has been a greater emphasis on celebrating and projecting a fluid and inclusive notion of “Irishness” rather than an identity based around traditional religious or ethnic allegiance.

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The week around St Patrick’s Day usually involves Irish language speakers using more Irish during Seachtain na Gaeilge (“Irish Language Week”).

Facts

Popular Irish toasts on St Patrick’s Day, include: may the roof above us never fall in, and may we friends beneath it never fall out.

Christian leaders in Ireland have expressed concern about the secularisation of St Patrick’s Day. In The Word magazine’s March 2007 issue, Fr Vincent Twomey wrote, “It is time to reclaim St Patrick’s Day as a church festival”. He questioned the need for “mindless alcohol-fuelled revelry” and concluded that “it is time to bring the piety and the fun together”.

As well as Dublin, many other cities, towns, and villages in Ireland hold their own parades and festivals, including Cork, Belfast, Derry, Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick, and Waterford.

The biggest celebrations outside the cities are in Downpatrick, County Down, where Saint Patrick is said to be buried. The shortest St Patrick’s Day parade in the world takes place in Dripsey, County Cork. The parade lasts just 100 yards and travels between the village’s two pubs.

Great Britain

St Patrick’s Day parade in London usually takes place at Trafalgar Square.

St. Patrick’s Day festival Coatbridge is celebrated in the Irish descent majority town of Coatbridge in Scotland.

 

In Great Britain, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother used to present bowls of shamrock flown over from Ireland to members of the Irish Guards, a regiment in the British Army consisting mostly of soldiers from Ireland. The Irish Guards still wear shamrock on this day, flown in from Ireland.

Christian denominations in Great Britain observing his feast day include The Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church.

Horse racing at the Cheltenham Festival attracts large numbers of Irish people, both residents of Britain and many who travel from Ireland, and usually coincides with St Patrick’s Day.

Birmingham holds the largest St Patrick’s Day parade in Britain with a city centre parade  over a two-mile (3 km) route through the city centre. The organisers describe it as the third biggest parade in the world after Dublin and New York.

London, since 2002, has had an annual St Patrick’s Day parade which takes place on weekends around the 17th, usually in Trafalgar Square. In 2008 the water in the Trafalgar Square fountains was dyed green.

Liverpool has the highest proportion of residents with Irish ancestry of any English city.[55] This has led to a long-standing celebration on St Patrick’s Day in terms of music, cultural events and the parade.

Manchester hosts a two-week Irish festival in the weeks prior to St Patrick’s Day. The festival includes an Irish Market based at the city’s town hall which flies the Irish tricolour opposite the Union Flag, a large parade as well as a large number of cultural and learning events throughout the two-week period.

Facts

St. Patrick’s Day was first celebrated in America in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1737. Around 34 million modern Americans claim Irish ancestry.

The Scottish town of Coatbridge, where the majority of the town’s population are of Irish descent,  also has a Saint Patrick’s Day Festival which includes celebrations and parades in the town centre.

Glasgow has a considerably large Irish population; due, for the most part, to the Irish immigration during the 19th century. This immigration was the main cause in raising the population of Glasgow by over 100,000 people.

Due to this large Irish population, there are many Irish-themed pubs and Irish interest groups who hold yearly celebrations on St Patrick’s day in Glasgow. Glasgow has held a yearly St Patrick’s Day parade and festival since 2007.

United States

 

Chicago

St Patrick’s Day, while not a legal holiday in the United States, is nonetheless widely recognised and observed throughout the country as a celebration of Irish and Irish-American culture. Celebrations include prominent displays of the colour green, eating and drinking, religious observances, and numerous parades. The holiday has been celebrated in North America since the late 18th century.

Canada

 

Montreal hosts one of the longest-running and largest St Patrick’s Day parades in North America.

 

One of the longest-running and largest St Patrick’s Day parades in North America occurs each year in Montrealwhose city flag includes a shamrock in its lower-right quadrant. The yearly celebration has been organised by the United Irish Societies of Montreal since 1929.

The parade has been held yearly without interruption since 1824. St Patrick’s Day itself, however, has been celebrated in Montreal since as far back as 1759 by Irish soldiers in the Montreal Garrison following the British conquest of New France.

In Manitoba, the Irish Association of Manitoba runs a yearly three-day festival of music and culture based around St Patrick’s Day.

In 2004, the CelticFest Vancouver Society organised its first yearly festival in downtown Vancouver to celebrate the Celtic Nations and their cultures. This event, which includes a parade, occurs each year during the weekend nearest St Patrick’s Day.

In Quebec City, there was a parade from 1837 to 1926. The Quebec City St-Patrick Parade returned in 2010 after more than 84 years. For the occasion, a portion of the New York Police Department Pipes and Drums were present as special guests.

There has been a parade held in Toronto since at least 1863. The Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team was known as the Toronto St. Patricks from 1919 to 1927, and wore green jerseys. In 1999, when the Maple Leafs played on St Patrick’s Day, they wore green St Patrick’s retro uniforms. There is a large parade in the city’s downtown on the Sunday before 17 March which attracts over 100,000 spectators.

Some groups, notably Guinness, have lobbied to make Saint Patrick’s Day a national holiday.

Facts

It is believed that St Patrick died on March 17 in 461AD. It is a national holiday in Ireland, and on the island of Montserrat in the Caribbean, which was founded by Irish refugees. It is a bank holiday in Northern Ireland and a provincial holiday in the Canadian province of Newfoundland

In March 2009, the Calgary Tower changed its top exterior lights to new green CFL bulbs just in time for St Patrick’s Day. Part of an environmental non-profit organisation’s campaign (Project Porchlight), the green represented environmental concerns. Approximately 210 lights were changed in time for Saint Patrick’s Day, and resembled a Leprechaun‘s hat. After a week, white CFLs took their place. The change was estimated to save the Calgary Tower some $12,000 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 104 tonnes.

Argentina

Celebrations in Buenos Aires center on Reconquista street.

In Buenos Aires, a party is held in the downtown street of Reconquista, where there are several Irish pubs; in 2006, there were 50,000 people in this street and the pubs nearby.

Neither the Catholic Church nor the Irish community, the fifth largest in the world outside Ireland, take part in the organisation of the parties.

Montserrat

The tiny island of Montserrat is known as the “Emerald Island of the Caribbean” because of its founding by Irish refugees from Saint Kitts and Nevis. Montserrat is one of three places where St Patrick’s Day is a public holiday, along with Ireland and the Canadian province of Newfoundland & Labrador. The holiday in Montserrat also commemorates a failed slave uprising that occurred on 17 March 1768.

Switzerland

While Saint Patrick’s Day in Switzerland is commonly celebrated on 17 March with festivities similar to those in neighbouring central European countries, it is not unusual for Swiss students to organise celebrations in their own living spaces on St Patrick’s Eve. Most popular are usually those in Zurich’s Kreis 4. Traditionally, guests also contribute with beverages and dress in green.

Russia

 

Moscow hosts an annual Saint Patrick’s Day festival.

The first St Patrick’s Day parade took place in Russia in 1992. Since 1999, there has been a yearly “Saint Patrick’s Day” festival in Moscow and other Russian cities.

The official part of the Moscow parade is a military-style parade and is held in collaboration with the Moscow government and the Irish embassy in Moscow. The unofficial parade is held by volunteers and resembles a carnival. In 2014, Moscow Irish Week was celebrated from 12 to 23 March, which includes St Patrick’s Day on 17 March.

Over 70 events celebrating Irish culture in Moscow, St Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Voronezh, and Volgograd were sponsored by the Irish Embassy, the Moscow City Government, and other organisations.

Asia

St Patrick’s Parades are now held in many locations across Japan. The first parade, in Tokyo, was organised by The Irish Network Japan (INJ) in 1992.

The Irish Association of Korea has celebrated Saint Patrick’s Day since 1976 in Seoul, the capital city of South Korea. The place of the parade and festival has been moved from Itaewon and Daehangno to Cheonggyecheon.

In Malaysia, the St Patrick’s Society of Selangor, founded in 1925, organises a yearly St Patrick’s Ball, described as the biggest St Patrick’s Day celebration in Asia. Guinness Anchor Berhad also organises 36 parties across the country in places like the Klang Valley, Penang, Johor Bahru, Malacca, Ipoh, Kuantan, Kota Kinabalu, Miri and Kuching.

 

International Space Station

 

Chris Hadfield wearing green in the International Space Station on St Patrick’s Day, 2013

Astronauts on board the International Space Station have celebrated the festival in different ways. Irish-American Catherine Coleman played a hundred-year-old flute belonging to Matt Molloy and a tin whistle belonging to Paddy Moloney, both members of the Irish music group

The Chieftains, while floating weightless in the space station on Saint Patrick’s Day in 2011.  Her performance was later included in a track called “The Chieftains in Orbit” on the group’s album, Voice of Ages.

Chris Hadfield took photographs of Ireland from earth orbit, and a picture of himself wearing green clothing in the space station, and posted them online on Saint Patrick’s Day in 2013. He also posted online a recording of himself singing “Danny Boy” in space.

Criticism

In recent decades, St Patrick’s Day celebrations have been criticized, particularly for their association with public drunkenness and disorder. Some argue that the festivities have become too commercialized and tacky,   and have strayed from their original purpose of honouring St Patrick and Irish heritage. Journalist Niall O’Dowd has criticized recent attempts to recast St Patrick’s Day as a celebration of multiculturalism rather than a celebration of Irishness.

St Patrick’s Day celebrations have also been criticized for fostering demeaning stereotypes of Ireland and Irish people. An example is the wearing of ‘leprechaun outfits’,  which are based on derogatory 19th century caricatures of the Irish.

In the run up to St Patrick’s Day 2014, the Hibernians successfully campaigned to stop major American retailers from selling novelty merchandise that promoted negative Irish stereotypes.

Some have described St Patrick’s Day celebrations outside Ireland as displays of “Plastic Paddyness“; where foreigners appropriate and misrepresent Irish culture, claim Irish identity, and enact Irish stereotypes.

Facts

Dublin has a parade that attracts hundreds of thousands of people, while in Chicago the river is dyed green for a few hours. The biggest parade is normally held in New York, while the largest celebration in the southern hemisphere is in Sydney, Australia