Co. Fermanagh natives celebrate St. Pat's

Check out our St. Patrick's Day, Dublin photo galleries: part 1 and part 2

Across the globe, Irish and non-Irish alike celebrated St. Patrick's Day on March 17.

Half a million people attended Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, the high point of the Irish city’s six-day St. Patrick's Festival.

Meanwhile, a whopping 2 million Irish and honorary Irish celebrated at New York's parade.

In Dublin, the parade provided the Irish with some respite from the dissident Irish Republican Army violence and economic troubles plaguing the country.

Ireland’s religious figures appealed to the island's 4 million Catholics to pray today for an end to dissident attacks that have already claimed three lives this month in Northern Ireland.

Though there was a somber note to the day, the Irish still celebrated. Parades and Irish cultural events took place in towns all over the country. 

Speaking at a St. Patrick's Day reception on the morning of March 17, Irish President Mary McAleese, said: "On this day we do what the Irish and their friends are doing from Dublin to Dubai and from Belfast to Beijing, we gather to enjoy each other's company, to celebrate our Irish heritage and to remember St. Patrick, his mission and his message. May that mighty strength that got him through each difficult day be ours too."

And in New York, the Irish still came over in their thousands - recession or no recession.
 
Business at O'Neill's Bar, a popular Irish bar on Third Avenue, was booming. "We've had around 50 people in for breakfast," the bar owner Ciaran Staunton said on the day.
 
On the menu was the full Irish breakfast experience: sausages, bacon, black and white pudding, fried tomatoes, and baked beans.
 
Neil O'Donnell, a Co. Leitrim man who left Ireland in 1959 for Birmingham, England, came over to New York for the occasion a few days prior to March 17. "It's my first time here," he said. "My son took me over as a treat. So far, we're having a ball."
 
Suzanne Hughes, 33, from Belfast, has been visiting New York since 2001 - although this was only her second New York-style Paddy's Day. An O'Neill's regular, Hughes said that while the U.S. economy mightn't be in much better shape than the economy at home, "at least the weather sure is better here."
 
But the Fifth Avenue celebration is not the only green the city was hoping to attract.

Parade organizers expected the 247-year-old parade to bring in much-needed revenue to N.Y.C.: St. Patrick’s Day is the second most lucrative day for the city (Black Friday comes in first).

Money, of course, wasn't the only focus of New York’s St. Pat’s celebrations.

This year Grand Marshal Michael J. Gibbons, the Ireland-U.S. Council president and Estee Lauder Executive Vice President, had the honor of leading the parade, which featured N.Y.C.’s police and fire departments, bagpipers and regular Irish folk marching by county and clan. The celebration, which began at 11 A.M., started at 44th Street and brought marchers up Fifth Avenue past St. Patrick’s Cathedral to 86th Street.

Around 1,100 soldiers from the New York National Guard's Fighting 69th marched ahead of the others.

They were led by Ranger Seth Morgulas, 38, of Manhattan, and behind him were an NYPD mounted contingent, a bagpiper and the Fighting 69th's troops.
 
The Fighting 69th is a unit rich in Irish heritage. It is said that when fighting in the Civil War, its troops would shout out "Fág An Bealach" –   the Gaelic for "Clear the Way." The unit was formed in 1849, and has been involved in every St. Patrick’s Day New York parade since 1851.
 
Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly also marched down Fifth Avenue on March 17 in the world’s largest parade.