A St Patrick's Day like no other
As you might expect, St. Patrick’s Day this year is going to be much quieter than usual. It may be some time again before we see the streets crowded with people around the Cathedral Quarter in Belfast or Times Square in New York, but there are still plenty of ways to celebrate Northern Ireland’s most famous son.
For the Northern Irish diaspora, the impulse to travel and be with family and friends is especially strong at this time of year. Nothing creates a longing for home quite like the songs and stories inspired by St. Patrick and hearing them delivered in a Northern Irish accent definitely adds to the experience.
Luckily, there are numerous events taking place this year that will allow you to do just that. On the home front, Belfast’s Féile an Phobail – which also has the distinction of being Ireland’s largest community arts festival – is hosting an impressive 70+ virtual events over a 17-day period. Having already started on March 2, the Féile will conclude on March 17; with everything from home GAA training to virtual language classes, political debates, music, historical tours and more. Short of having the festival organisers reach through the screen to pour you a pint, this year’s Féile promises the full St. Patrick’s Day experience from the comfort of your living room.
South of the border, our friends and organisers of the St. Patrick’s Festival are hosting a series of thought-provoking and family-friendly events in celebration of the island’s patron saint. Taking place between March 12 and March 17, highlights are sure to include a talk by renowned folklorist Eddie Lenihan, fresh sounds from contemporary indie-pop band Pillow Queens, and a virtual parade with all the pomp and ceremony of years gone by.
Depending on where you’re based, there are also plenty of virtual activities to get the diaspora involved; including a full schedule of events in London, Stateside in Chicago & New York, as well as Sydney where events will be hosted at a slightly later date of March 21 to accommodate workers and families with limited availability.
The impact of COVID-19 can be felt all over the world, especially at times when dates on the cultural calendar (like St. Patrick’s Day) serve as reminders of our distance away from home. But Northern Ireland is nothing if not resilient. For such a small corner of the world, our influence as innovators and entrepreneurs can be felt on all seven continents, and that’s in no small part due to the drive of Northern Irish people to succeed.
We’re confident that we’ll meet again soon, but for now from everyone at NI Connections, Happy St. Patrick’s Day.