The 17th of March is the annual celebration of St. Patrick, Ireland’s Patron Saint. For a small island with less than 5 million inhabitants, the day certainly leaves its mark with St. Patrick’s Day being celebrated by the Irish diaspora and Irish Communities across the world.
There are 34.5 million Americans who list their heritage as being primarily or partially Irish and the Irish American population is 7 times larger than the actual population of Ireland. The New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade is the largest of its kind in the world. Compare this to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dripsey Village, Co. Cork, Ireland, which held the World Record for the ‘Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Festival in the World’ for 9 years where the parade route was 23.4 metres and ran between the 2 doors of the villages 2 pubs.
The influence of the love for Ireland and all things Irish is so great that it is even celebrated in outer space. Astronaut Chris Hadfield took photographs of Ireland from earth’s orbit and a picture of himself wearing green on the International Space Station on St. Patrick’s Day in 2013 and posted them online. British Billionaire Richard Branson also posted pictures of himself with a green beard and green clothing in celebration of the day in his holiday home Necker Island in the Caribbean.
In 2014, the UNESCO World Heritage Site Petra in Jordan in the Middle East along with the Egyptian Pyramids are set to turn green in celebration of the day along with the Princess Castle in Disneyland Paris, France. These are just a few of the world wide landmarks turning green as part of a Tourism Ireland marketing initiative.
There are lots of traditional Irish customs that are celebrated on St. Patrick’s Day such as wearing a Shamrock and wearing green, but Ireland is also traditionally known as the ‘Island of Saints and Scholars’ due to its Christian background and prolific giants of literature such as James Joyce, W.B. Yeats and George Bernard Shaw. What is often not known, is the many inventions made by the Irish that completely changed the world. These include inventions such as colour photography, the submarine and the tank.