Snow and rain failed to dampen the spirits as thousands of tourists added a mix of color to the St Patrick’s Day festivities all across Ireland.

Over 220,000 arrivals at Dublin Airport over the bank holiday weekend ensured the capital city was packed for the traditional parade.

And the stars of the show were the pipes and drums of the New York Fire Department according to the Irish Sun newspaper.

The paper reported that the musical firefighters had flown in just hours beforehand and were just one of a dozen US bands who flew in for the festivities.

The report says over half a million hardy souls braved the cold and wet conditions in Dublin alone as marching bands and carnival floats celebrated the national feast day.

Over 6,000 people from 144 nations marked the year of The Gathering by taking part in the People’s Parade which preceded the main event and followed the same route.

Brazilian samba dancers offered a little entertainment for the men while sailors from visiting French frigate De Grasse won over a legion of female fans.

Parade Grand Marshal Nicky Byrne, the Westlife singer, told the media how the afternoon’s frequent downpours had failed to dampen spirits along the route.

Byrne said: “This brings back memories of parades as a young fella sitting on my dad’s shoulders. The weather isn’t great but it’s a great day out.

“Traveling with Westlife meant we were away a lot on St Patrick’s Day. So to be home now is pretty special.”

Parades in Cork, Belfast and Galway and all across the country also drew big crowds.
Shop owners reported an increase in business on last year.

And President Michael D. Higgins thanked those who had made the day special.

Speaking at the Dublin parade, the President said: “This is a day to celebrate being Irish and to celebrate the Irish and we have done just that.”


The St. Patrick's Day Parade in Dublin. Festivities go on regardless of heavy rain and sleetThe Gathering