World goes green as expats celebrate St Patrick's Day

The world’s cities turned green for the day as tens of thousands of Irish expats, new and old, gathered to celebrate St Patrick’s Day.

Members of Penrith Gaels Football Club celebrate in Sydney.

In Sydney — one of the first parades of the year given the time difference — the revellers were even treated to typically Irish weather with the rain cascading down just as the event got under way.

The numbers attending the Australian events have been bolstered in recent years by the thousands of new immigrants who have fled these shores in the hope of finding work.

London’s parade was held on Sunday. After spearheading preparations for the city’s Olympics, the city’s mayor Boris Johnson no doubt found it easier to coordinate the celebration with the support of many Irish businesses.

The event, now in its 13th year, was themed under the title of “World of Dance” and was led by the Lord of the Dance Michael Flatley. He was joined by the Irish Ambassador Dan Mulhall and his wife, as well as Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte.

According to the organisers, the theme was chosen to celebrate the rich heritage of dance within Irish culture and the parade featured floats and marching bands from across Britain, as well as sports clubs and Irish dancing schools.

As part of the celebrations in Britain, the Duchess of Cambridge presented shamrocks to soldiers from the Irish Guards. Last to receive the accolade was Domhnall, the regiment’s Irish wolfhound mascot, who had his head stroked by Kate before she pinned some shamrock to his collar.

In Canada, controversial Toronto mayor Rob Ford made headlines once again after he dressed himself in a massive green bow tie and necktie and threw green beads at the crowd.

Ireland’s national day was also celebrated by 417 Irish soldiers who found themselves deployed in 17 countries on 16 different peace support missions across the globe.

The EU Training Mission to Mali celebrated St Patrick’s Day there last Friday when the Irish contingent held a Shamrock Parade followed by an international “All Africa Poc Fada” competition, where the Irish took on competition from several other contributing nations, including the Malian soldiers who tried their hand at hurling. In an ironic twist, the French were victorious in the sporting contest.

The highlight of the day’s festivities there saw the town monument in Koulikoro illuminated in green to mark the occasion, thereby adding to the list of prominent landmarks around the globe that were ‘greened’ for St Patrick’s Day.

It is understood more than 100 such landmarks around the world changed colour to mark the occasion, among them the Great Wall of China and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

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