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Ireland’s St Patrick’s Day party to banish gloom

18 March 2011 No Comment

HUNDREDS of thousands of people were expected to attend St Patrick’s Day parades throughout debt-ridden Ireland on Thursday with the traditional celebrations a welcome relief from economic austerity measures.

More than 100 cities and towns were holding parades in what is a traditional early kick-start to the tourism season with the festivities bringing in a much-needed 50-million-euro (S$90 million) spending injection for the battered economy.

The theme of the main Dublin parade comes from a story by Booker Prize-winning author Roddy Doyle about ‘banishing the black dog of depression’ in the national capital and ‘getting the city’s funny bone back’.

The feast day for the patron saint has become one of the world’s most recognised national holidays with parades around the globe, based on ‘craic’, or fun, music, green-coloured beer and fancy dress echoing the country’s favourite mythical creature – leprechauns.

The government uses St Patrick’s Day to showcase the country’s tourism, business, trade and cultural attractions.

Last November Ireland’s economic problems forced it to accept a 67.5 billion euro EU-IMF rescue package, triggering swingeing public spending cuts and hiked taxes.

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