Patrick’s Day

It’s just a little bit after ten in the morning, and as I type I can hear a load of drummers having a warm-up practice prior to the big St Patrick’s Day Parade through Dublin’s city centre later on today. According to press reports, there are some 4,000 participants taking part in the parade, and an estimated one million spectators expected.

The parade is just one of the events being held today (and over the weekend) to celebrate Ireland’s saint. The St Patrick’s Festival has included concerts, film, street theatre, children’s events, and a funfair. And, of course, St Patrick’s Day itself is a public holiday here in the republic – so everyone can take part in the fun.

This is all of a marked contrast to the saint’s days in the UK, which hardly ever get mentioned these days. I know that Scotland has been trying to raise the profile of St Andrew’s Day, and the Scottish parliament have been exploring the idea of making it a public holiday. But in England it seems that almost nothing is done to mark St George’s Day. Indeed, a survey taken last April found that a third of all English people didn’t know the date of St George’s Day.