River Liffey to be dyed green for Paddy's Day, tourism chiefs say

River Liffey to be dyed green for Paddy's Day, tourism chiefs say
Members of the plumbers' union dye the Chicago River green for St Patrick's Day on March 17, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The River was first dyed green in 1962 and has become a St Patrick's Day tradition in Chicago. Picture: Brian Kersey/Getty Images

Tourism chiefs and politicians are planning to dye the River Liffey green for St Patrick's Day next year, to mirror the attraction of Chicago's waterways which are turned an emerald shade every year.

Tourism Ireland CEO, Niall Gibbons, confirmed to the Irish Examiner that efforts are underway to turn Dublin's dividing river green, with help from city plumbing authorities in Chicago.

Mr Gibbons said local city council authorities here will need to be consulted, but that there is a desire at a tourism and political level to dye the waterways for the national day.

Ambassador of Ireland to the United States, Dan Mulhall, said negotiations have begun on the project.

Senator Billy Lawless, a Chicago businessman, is facilitating the plan and is in contact with the US city's plumbing union, the body which adds the dye to the Illinois river:

“The Plumbers Union has been greening the Chicago River for many years. It is environmentally safe. They would be delighted to do a once-off greening of Liffey next St Patrick’s Day.

I believe it would be a great tribute to the relationship between Ireland and Chicago. It would also compliment Ireland’s worldwide greening project on St Patrick’s Day.

The first official dyeing of the Windy City's waterways took place in 1962, an idea pushed by Irish American city mayor Richard J Daley, whose parents hailed from Waterford. A friend of the mayor's noticed a plumber's overalls stained with a particular shade of green - the substance was a dye to test for leaks in pipes.

Every year, an environmentally-friendly vegetable based-dye is used in the city's waters. Its contents are a guarded secret and it is nicknamed 'leprechaun dust'. The city's plumbers union are expected to make contact with Dublin city officials here.

Sen Lawless said consideration is also being given to whether the same could be done in Galway for St Patrick's Day celebrations.

Ireland's so-called 'greening of the world' around St Patrick's Day helps attract tourists here. Major monuments around the globe are light up in green.

This year some 470 sites in 55 countries went green. Highlights included the greening for the first time of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai – the world’s tallest building – and the Victoria Falls in Zambia.

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