Tourism chiefs and politicians have plans 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 under way to turn Dublin’s dividing river green, with help from city plumbing authorities in Chicago.
Mr Gibbons said 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.
Dan Mulhall, Irish ambassador to the US, 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,” said Mr Lawless.
"It would also complement 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. Nicknamed ‘leprechaun dust’, its contents are a closely guarded secret. Mr 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 and the Victoria Falls in Zambia.