St. Patrick’s Day – Part 3

Celebrations by Region

Ireland

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 March 17 falls during Holy Week. This happened in 1940, when Saint Patrick’s Day was observed on April 3 to avoid it coinciding with Palm Sunday, and again in 2008, where it was officially observed on March 15. St Patrick’s Day will not fall within Holy Week again until 2160. However, the popular festivities may still be held on March 17 or on a weekend near to the feast day.

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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the law which required that public houses be shut on March 17 after drinking got out of hand, a provision that was repealed in the 1970s.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, March 15. 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’. 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 March 17, 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.

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 celebrations 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.
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The first St Patrick’s Festival was held on March 17, 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. The Skyfest which ran from 2006 to 2012 formed the centerpiece of the St Patrick’s 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. The week around St Patrick’s Day usually involves Irish language speakers using more Irish during Seachtain na Gaeilge (“Irish Language Week”).

(Information
from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia )

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