Saint Patrick’s Day Parade London 2016

On Sunday morning, thousands of revelers gathered in Central London to celebrate the annual Saint Patrick’s Day festival and parade. Patrick may be the patron saint of Ireland, but it’s not so well known that the man mythology claims to have driven the snakes from Irish shores was actually born in Britain. In light of such a revelation, it seems only befitting that London should hold a parade in his honour all its own.

There are only few occasions in a year that a person is afforded permission to wind oneself into a drunken frenzy before noon, Paddy’s Day is, of course, one of them. It was a sea of faces lining the streets in Piccadilly Circus and although it was a Sunday morning and the actual celebration isn’t until Thursday, I’d say at least a quarter of them had dedicated their mornings to getting cranked-up on some concoction or other. Alcohol carries with it the magnificent potential to make even the most tedious of situations bearable and after waiting in the grizzly March air for over an hour before the parade got started, I certainly could have done with a slight tipple of whisky to hold me over. Unfortunately, we forgot to bring anything to tide us over and so our wait for the parade to start was an entirely sober affair.

The Americans love Saint Patrick’s Day more than anyone and I don’t think I’ve ever met one of them who didn’t claim at least some Irish heritage of their own to me. Not that this is in anyway a bad thing, I am of the school of thought believing that “the more, the merrier”. If there is the offer of a pint accompanying such a claim, then I’m even happier listen to whatever else you’d like to share about your family history.

I may have mentioned drinking twice in this post, but I didn’t touch a drop all day. Thursday, however, may be an entirely different story. As you can see, there were certainly quite a few curious characters who took part in the proceedings this year.

This year’s parade is the first since the Republic voted to allow gay marriage last May and it was great to see the gay population represented. The parade is a celebration of the best of what Ireland can achieve, but it also provides an opportunity to draw attention to those areas of Irish culture where we fall short. The case for abortion rights in Ireland, for example, is still a matter of fierce contention. Abortion is prohibited in the Irish constitution in all cases except when to continue a pregnancy would result in the mother’s death. Known as the Eight Amendment, this piece of legislature has been labeled both shameful and draconian by critics who would like to see the act repealed. Campaigners carrying a banner calling to “Repeal the Eighth” were among the parade’s participants but I wonder if their statement made any real impact on the Sunday Morning crowd. Amnesty International is promoting an online petition appealing to the Irish government to repeal the 8th and no to longer treat women seeking an abortion as criminals.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. paulinebsc says:

    An abiding memory of mine is of watching an Orange day parade in Belfast. I don’t know where it ended but there was clearly drink available because many hours later a group of four people walked towards where we were carrying a banned from the parade, weaving all around the road, but still managing to keep the banner upright. Ever since I have wondered how they did it.

  2. Brilliant piece, loved it

  3. kethuprofumo says:

    Saint Patrick in person would have been astonished.

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