As Ireland recovered from World War II, a deeply Catholic society was sending a message to "buy Irish" in order to create jobs. This fascinating British Pathe newsreel is an eye-opener.

Today, in 2023, Ireland's largest St Patrick's Day parade, held in Dublin, is a carnival-type event filled with color, dancing, bands and incredible floats. However, this British Pathé footage shows that things were quite different back in 1950s Ireland. 

This newsreel shows the solemn scene of President of Ireland Sean O'Kelly being hosted by the Archbishop and Primate of Ireland at St. Mary's Pro-Cathedral, on Malborough Street, in Dublin. Showing the crowds looking on, including two beautiful children's faces, we see the President leaving the Presbytery.

The footage, from 1950, then pans to an elevated shot of the St. Patrick's Day parade on O'Connell Street, on the afternoon of March 17. The parade includes a ladies' pipe band leading the parade, which is filled with floats boasting of Irish produce including Guinness and the transport company CIE.

Children in the procession hold banners, as crowds wearing shamrocks enjoy the parade. In one of the final shots a lorry drives by with the message "Don't force us to emigrate - buy Irish". This was in reference to the mass emigration occurring in Ireland during the period with people going abroad to find work.

St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin

While St. Patrick's Day has long been celebrated as a religious holiday it only became a public holiday in 1903 when Irish Member of Parliament in Britain, James O’Mara introduced the law. It required pubs to be closed on the holiday. This provision was repealed only in the 1970s.

The first St. Patrick’s Day parade held in Ireland was in Dublin in 1931. Although secular celebrations now exist, the holiday remains a religious observance in Ireland, for both the Church of Ireland and the Roman Catholic Church.