Ireland shrugs off austerity for St Patrick's Day party

AFP , Saturday 17 Mar 2012

Water fountains turn green with envy on St Patrick's Day, as Ireland goes all-out this year to inspire confidence in an economic upturn

St. Patrick's day is celebrated all-over the world (Photo: Reuters)

Parades and festivals were being held throughout Ireland on Saturday as the debt-ridden country shrugged off economic austerity measures for the traditional Saint Patrick's Day party.

The centrepiece of the celebrations, the Dublin parade and its marching bands, attracts about half a million people onto the capital's streets, about 120,000 of them from abroad.

Some 60 million people worldwide claim Irish heritage and the feast day for Ireland's patron saint has become one of the world's most recognised national holidays.

There are parades around the globe, based on "craic," or fun, music, green-coloured beer and fancy dress echoing the Emerald Isle's favourite mythical creatureleprechauns.

The Dublin parade involves marching bands from Britain, Russia and the United States and it will be reviewed on its 2.7 km route through the city by President Michael D. Higgins and Dublin Lord Mayor Andrew Montague.

The merriment provides a traditional early kick-start to the tourist season, bringing in a much-needed injection of 43.5 million euros ($56.8 million) to the Irish economy.

Prime Minister Enda Kenny and most members of his government are out of the country celebrating with the Irish diaspora scattered throughout the world and promoting the message that the country's economy is recovering.

There are 12 senior ministers and five junior ministers visiting countries like Britain, China, Singapore, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Finland, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

Landmark sites throughout the world, including the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Niagara Falls, the London Eye observation wheel, the Burj al Arab hotel in Dubai, the Cibeles fountain in Madrid, the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw and Table Mountain in Cape Town are to be illuminated green as part of the international celebrations.

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