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St. Patrick's Day Around the World - 2002
San Francisco will be celebrating its 150th annual tribute to St. Patrick. The traditional Mass takes place before the parade at 10.30 a.m. in St. Patrick's Church on Mission Street. All the Irish pubs have finalized their plans for the grand craic ahead, including Johnny Foley's, Kate O'Brien's. The Field, O'Reilly's, Durty Nelly's, Ireland's 32, Pat O'Shea's, An Bodhran and many others.
New Orleans. In most parades, participants staidly walk the parade route - with, perhaps, an occasional display of Irish dancing. Not so, in New Orleans. Strongly influenced by Mardi Gras, the parade features floats, jazz bands and colorful costumed characters. This year, there are actually two parades, one in the city itself and the other in nearby Matairie; both are expected to attract huge crowds who reach out to catch various Irish-related goodies thrown from the floats; instead of plastic beads as in Mardi Gras, there's liable to be the makings of Irish stew and parade-goers need to be careful they don't get conked on the noggin by a head of cabbage! After the parade, the crowds head for their favorite watering holes including Parasols, Pete's, Kerry Irish Pub, Monaghan's Erin Rose, O'Flaherty's Pub and Ryan's Irish Pub, all located in the French Quarter.
Across the Globe
Florence, Italy. Around St. Patrick's Day, the city hosts 'Festa Irlandese' - ten days of live music, food and drink. The event takes place in a huge tent and attracts thousands of visitors who avidly consume the Italian interpretation of Irish food and drink, including potato soup, beef in Guinness, smoked salmon and gallons of stout.
Tokyo, Japan. About 2,000 participants march down fashionable Omotesando Avenue, lined for the occasion by Irish and Japanese flags, cheered on by as many as 7,000 spectators. The Irish Ambassador to Japan leads the kilt-wearing, bag-pipe playing participants and it doesn't seem to matter that very few of them are from the ould sod. The Japanese love a good party and they are particularly fond of all things Irish - including Guinness at about $7.00 a pint! However, there are a growing number of Irish pubs that send attractive young ladies to the parade for the sole purpose of handing out free beer vouchers. Not surprisingly, the 'voucher girls' are a parade highlight!
Australia. Since March is festival season down under, the entire month's calendar is full of events, many of them with an Irish theme. Revelers will be able to celebrate their Irish heritage at breakfasts, lunches, dinners, balls, race days, golf days, and concerts. And, of course, there'll be rounds aplenty in Australia's more than 150 Irish pubs. It's not (quite) all about drink, however. The traditional Saint Patrick's Day Mass will be held at St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney.
Toronto, Canada. The Toronto St. Patrick's Day Parade is one of the largest in North America. Since it began in 1988, the parade has grown to include 100 organizations, 32 Irish county associations, 2,000 marchers, 30 floats, 14 bands as well as an assortment of wolfhounds, leprechauns and talking shamrocks.
Oslo, Norway . The Irish community in Oslo celebrates with a lively parade through the city. Nearly a thousand people join in the fun as the parade steps off through shopping streets, past Oslo cathedral, on to Town Hall Square for some entertainment. Accompanying the pipe band are St Patrick, driven by a red-bearded chauffer in a horse and cart, and a host of other colourful Irish characters. Dressing up is encouraged! Brian Boru and Molly Malone are joined by walking whiskey bottles, and a full Irish breakfast has been known to join the parade. The most original participant wins a weekend for two in Dublin, with a special prize for the kids.
Sao Paulo, Brazil.The 150-strong Irish community in Sao Paulo, Brazil celebrates with a St Patrick's Day shindig at the Bridge Restaurant, Rua Ferreira De Araújo, 741, Pinheiros. Traditional Irish stew is on the menu, to be washed down with generous volumes of Guinness and Irish whiskey.
Seattle, Washington. Seattle celebrates St Patrick's Day in grand style, with a full week of activities. Festivities kick off with the proclamation of Irish Week. Later, there's a mini-parade to prepare the parade route with the ceremonial painting of a green stripe down the center of 4th Avenue. The day of the parade begins with a Catholic Mass for peace.
Manchester. Manchester is celebrating St Patrick's Day with gusto this year. More than 100,000 people are expected to enjoy 70 events around the city, as part of the seventh annual Manchester Irish Festival. The city's Town Hall at Albert Square will even glow festivally greenish, thanks to special lighting effects. A spectacular parade on the 17th will feature more than 60 floats, Irish wolfhounds, ponies and traps, brass and samba bands, flutes and fiddles. The parade will kick off from the Irish World Heritage Centre and travel to the Town Hall steps.
Rome. The Irish Club in Rome will host the 11th Annual Celtic Ball. The black-tie event will benefit Alone in Dublin, a charity working with elderly people, and the Multiple Sclerosis Centre of Young Adults in Rome. The event will be held at the Sheraton Hotel and will feature a champagne reception, followed by a sit-down dinner and dancing all evening. Prizes will include flights from Aer Lingus, a Stephen Pearse bowl, and meals at Irish restaurants.
Malaysia. St Patrick's Society of Selangor, which has been in existence since 1925, will host the highlight of Kuala Lumpur's social season - a black-tie ball for over 1000 people. This year, Society President Darina Walsh will welcome Minister Dermot Ahern to the event. No doubt the event will be abuzz with talk of Eddie Jordan's possibility for winning the Formula One racing event taking place in Malaysia during the weekend.
So there you have it - just a brief look at what's happening around the world on this glorious St. Patrick's Day. As always, here in Cincinnati, our parade will begin at noon - and, of course, it's cold and wet! But that won't dampen the spirits of participants who have learned to laugh at our "Irish Sunshine" on March 17th!
Note: For everything you ever wanted to know about parades all over the world and then some, please click here: The Wild Geese.You can even find out the number of parades that are planned state by state in the US!
The Round Towers
The Round Towers of Ireland are remarkable among the world's ancient monuments; one author has called them 'Elegant, free-standing pencils of stone.' Today, 65 survive in part or whole. Hand-crafted in native stone and cemented with a sand, lime, horsehair and oxblood mortar - a technique imported from Roman Britain - it's said by many historians that they were built by monastic communities to thwart Viking invaders. And yet, there's reason to believe that the towers were built long before Christianity came to Ireland. Whatever their origins, monasteries did indeed flourish where the round towers existed. And why not. These imposing edifices provided a watch tower, a keep and a refuge.