Thousands of dressed up revellers descended on the Old Market Square yesterday to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in style.
The colourful parade assembled at 11am on The Forest Recreation Ground and set off down Mansfield Road at midday. After marching through the city, it ended in Old Market Square which became a sea of green as thousands of celebrators gathered to sing, drink and be merry.
The parade, now in its 15th year, included marching bands, wolfhounds, school children and even a man dressed as a nun playing the piano.
Among the partygoers there were many activities for all members of the family to enjoy, the most popular being an Irish language taster session, a food stand offering traditional Irish stew and for the adults a temporary bar had been set up for anyone who fancied sampling some Irish Guinness.
Many of the revellers were actually Irish, Fiona Kelly and Clare Caley voiced their opinions on why it was important to honour the patron Saint of their home country :
Every year someone is picked to be the honorary ‘St. Patrick’ for the day. This year Mary Garvin, a Nottingham resident but Irish descendant who moved here 52 years ago, was the lucky lady chosen. She was born in County Tyrone and came over to England when she was just 20. She still visits home several times a year and was very proud to be leading the parade on behalf of her heritage. “I was thrilled to be nominated by my friends and family, I had no idea, I’ve had a great day!” “Today means a lot to me because it brings up tonnes of memories of my childhood”.
St. Patrick, the patron Saint of Ireland, is one of Christianity’s most widely known figures. He was born in Britain and is believed to have died on March 17, around 460 A.D.
At the age of 16, Patrick was taken prisoner by a group of Irish raiders who were attacking his family’s estate. They transported him to Ireland where he spent six years in captivity.
St Patricks Day is celebrated on March 17th because it is believed to be the day he died. Since the annual holiday began in Ireland, it is believed that as the Irish spread out around the world, they took with them as part of their history and celebrations.
With the exception of some restaurants, shops and pubs, almost all businesses close on March 17th to honour the occasion. Being a religious holiday as well, many Irish attend mass in the morning, where they offer prayers for missionaries worldwide before the serious celebrating begins.
The parade was not the only event, the celebrations for St. Paddy’s Day started early last week with a ‘Cupla Focal’ at The Bell Inn where members of the community could learn a few Irish words and phrases.
There were also workshops, story-telling for children, Irish myths, Irish language taster sessions and a brief lesson on the history of the Irish. The activities were both equally enjoyed by parents and children.
In case you missed out, celebrations still continue tomorrow at the Five Leaves Bookshop in Nottingham. Cliff Housley, from The Sherwood Foresters Museum, will be telling the dramatic story of what happened in Dublin during Easter of 1916.
Every year the parade raises money for a selected charity, this year all the generous donations will be going to the The Rainbow Hospice– the only East Midlands’ hospice for children and young people.
The Rainbow Hospice is in Loughborough, and is a peaceful place for life-limited children and young people to live at the end so they can receive around the clock care in comfort. The amazing team not only helps the children immensely but they also help the bereaved parents come to terms with the situation.