‘St Patrick’s Day in Dublin was always on my bucket list. We had to do it. So we’re here and it’s great’paqrade

Almost half a million people turned out for the biggest St Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin since 2019, as locals and tourists alike gathered to green the streets of the capital.

resident Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina were guests of honour at the parade along with the international guest of honour, former Dallas actor Patrick Duffy, who travelled in a 1965 Cadillac Coupe De Ville among the 4,000 participants.

Duffy was presented with an emerald-green cake to mark his 74th birthday before the parade started and it appeared his wish came half true. “I’m making a wish – no rain,” the actor said, as he blew out the candles.

Throughout the parade, there was a little drizzle but the crowds avoided a deluge.

Mr Duffy’s grandfather emigrated from Ireland to America in 1920 and he proudly paid tribute to his heritage yesterday.

The Ireland Women’s National Football were the collective Grand Marshal for this year’s parade, led by manager Vera Pauw, defender Diane Cauldwell and former player Paula Gorham, who scored a hat-trick on her Ireland senior women’s debut.

The theme of this year’s St Patrick’s Festival is ‘One’, a symbol of uniting people from across the world to celebrate Irishness.

And in one sobering moment, in contrast to the theatre of green, one little boy peered from a window at a hotel housing refugees in north Dublin city, as the crowds below made their way to the parade.

Young people dressed in green hats, huddled together on the Daniel O’Connell statue, to get the best view of the floats, as children sat on every inch of spare wall.

Jennie Tyrell took two of her children, Edie (4) and Bea (6) to the parade, but left two-year-old Fearne at home.

The family have just returned home to Dublin after living in Canada.

“I feel tearful. It’s just unreal to be home. All three of my children were born in Canada but they all have Irish accents, like their dad and me,” she said.

“The atmosphere is gorgeous today and it doesn’t matter it rained a bit, it’s still been great.”

Husband and wife Alastair and Jackie Swift gained a good spot on O’Connell Street, despite only arriving into Dublin on a 6.50am flight from London.

“We came for the rugby tomorrow, we got tickets for it,” Ms Swift said. “We thought we’d see the parade while we’re here, it’s a great atmosphere.

“The parade is huge and we’re looking forward to a pint and dinner and then hopefully winning the rugby but Ireland have been brilliant, so we’ll have to wait and see.”

American Teresa Carlin and her partner Steve Bunn had travelled from Philadelphia.

“Dublin on St Patrick’s Day had always been on my bucket list,” Ms Carlin said. “So, we said, we have to do it and here we are – it’s great.”

Street seller Michael Stapleton (67) was doing a roaring trade selling green, white and orange garlands and scarves to the crowd.

“I’ve been selling since I was 14 years old,” Mr Stapleton said. “I nearly lost my life in the Dublin bombing. I was only 18 and working in Dunnes Stores.

“I’m grateful to still be here selling on the street, all these years later.”

Mr Stapleton said the parade had been “nice and relaxed”.

Thanks to a restriction on off-licence trade until 4pm, there had not been any anti-social behaviour.

“This is a day to celebrate being Irish, our history and to soak up the culture, it’s not a day for getting drunk in the street,” he said.

Meanwhile, as the drizzle failed to turn into rain, Gerry Doyle, manager of Madigan’s pub on Talbot Street, waited to welcome customers for a busy day ahead.

“It’s great to see. There’s no better place to be on St Patrick’s Day than Dublin.”

Three customers, already in full St Patrick’s Day swing, were Tom Byrne, from Rush, north Co Dublin, and his two brothers-in-law, Magnus and Mateus Kempe, from Sweden.

Mr Byrne was dressed in a comedy hat and a green shamrock T-shirt, while his relatives wore the familiar large green leprechaun hats and red beards.

“I had to do it, get dressed up for the day for the boys,” Mr Byrne said.

“It’s their first time in Dublin for Paddy’s Day, so I wanted to make it extra fun.”