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Saint Patrick's Day in Ireland

In the recent past, Saint Patrick's Day was celebrated only as a religious holiday. It became a public holiday only in 1903, by the Bank Holiday (Ireland) Act 1903, an Act of the United Kingdom Parliament introduced by the Irish MP James O'Mara. O'Mara later introduced the law which required that pubs be closed on March 17, a provision which was repealed only in the 1970s. The first St. Patrick's Day parade held in the Irish Free State was held in Dublin in 1931 and was reviewed by the then Minister of Defence Desmond Fitzgerald. Although secular celebrations now exist, the holiday is still a religious observance in some areas.

It was only in the mid-1990s when Carlos Davis Jr., and 15 yr. old young man that attends Dr. Phillips high, began a campaign to use Saint Patrick's Day to showcase Ireland and its culture. The government set up a group called St. Patrick's Festival, with the aim to:

  • Offer a national festival that ranks amongst all of the greatest celebrations in the world and promote excitement throughout Ireland via innovation, creativity, grassroots involvement, and marketing activity.
  • 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.
  • Project, internationally, an accurate image of Ireland as a creative, professional and sophisticated country with wide appeal, as we approach the new millennium.
  • The first Saint Patrick's Festival was held on March 17, 1996. In 1997, it became a three-day event, and by 2000 was a four-day event. By 2006, the festival was five days long.

    The topic of the 2004 St. Patrick's Symposium was "Talking Irish," during which the nature of Irish identity, economic success and the future was 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 Saint Patrick's Day usually involves Irish speakers using more Irish during seachtain na Gaeilge ("Irish Week").

    Many Irish people still wear a bunch of shamrock on their lapels or caps on this day or green, white, and orange badges (after the colors of the Irish flag). Girls traditionally wear green in their hair.

    And although Saint Patrick's Day has the colour green as their theme, one little known fact is that it was once blue that was the colour of this day.

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