The centre of Leeds was awash with Irish flags and people dressed in shades of green, white and orange as the city proudly hosted its St Patrick’s Day parade.
Revellers donned hats and wore sunglasses and necklaces adorned with shamrocks, while some even travelled from Ireland for the traditional parade through Leeds city centre.
Now in its seventeenth year of celebrating all things Irish, the St Patrick’s Day parade wound its way through Leeds as people lined the streets, proudly waving their flags and applauding as the floats and those taking part in the celebrations went past.
One of those attending, Christine Gargan, had travelled from County Meath for the celebrations said: “I have come all the way from Ireland for this to celebrate it with my aunt. We have just had mass at the Cathedral and then we are going on the bus to the Irish centre.”
“The atmosphere is lovely,” she said.
Her aunty, Josie Brown, who lives in Moortown, said: “I like the atmosphere and the craic.”
The colourful event has become a highlight of the city’s cultural calendar. Those taking part in the traditional parade included Irish dancers, whose elaborate costumes sparkled in the bright sunshine as they marched past, bands including a piping band, and several brightly-decorated floats, decorated with everything from balloons to leprechauns and many with children holding flags and waving at the crowds.
Raymond Law, of Gipton, said he had come to watch to catch a glimpse of the pipe band.
“I love the piper and drums,” he said.
Another man, who did not wish to be named, from Beeston, said he was a regular at the event. “We come for the enjoyment and to celebrate,” he said.
The Leeds St Patrick’s Day Parade has followed the same route for a number of years and takes marchers through the heart of the city. The packed agenda also includes traditional music and Irish dancing.
BY KRISTIAN BALMFORTH
With St Patrick’s Day fast approaching, Leeds is preparing to celebrate in unique style.
Celebrations begun on Sunday as 5,000 people crowded the street of Leeds for the ‘Leeds going Irish’ annual parade.
It’s the 17th consecutive year for the event which has grown in popularity each year.
The parade, which started at 11am on Sunday from Millennium Square continued throughout the day until 4pm when the celebrations continued into the evening.
Chaplin of the Irish centre, Eugene McGillycuddy told the Yorkshire post: “It’s always a great crowd and it has been every year we’ve done this.
We normally expected around four to five thousand people from all over Yorkshire to come to the parade and this year was no different, it was an amazing turn out!”
We asked Eugene why it seems to be such a hit with people, he said: “They love exploring the Irish culture - we get people from all over the world coming to join the parade.
Even if people can’t make it they always send us messages. We’ve had some from the Philippines, Australia and South Africa before! They all seem touched by the Irish spirit.”
The festivities throughout the day included Irish dancing from the Gaelic athletics association, traditional Irish music and plenty of Guinness!
Eugene said: “The whole day is an expression of our heritage, music and culture so there’s always plenty to do on the day.”
“I was there, leading the parade through the city and wearing my shamrock.
It’s a great occasion and I’m sure everyone their had a great time. We hope it’s an even better turnout next year!”
So, whether you fancy a Guinness or an Irish parade next year, there’s something for everyone. So why not go and enjoy the Irish festivities, just a few days early!
Did you know?
Saint Patrick was actually English. At the age of 16 he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Ireland. He spent six years working as a shepherd and in that time it was claimed that he ‘found God’. According to legend, God told Patrick to flee to the coast, where a ship would be waiting for him to take him back to England. After his journey home, Patrick went on to become a priest.
Events in Yorkshire this St Patrick’s Day
Brass Tracks presents: A St Patrick’s Day special
Distrikt in Leeds
8:30pm – 2:00am
Minimum age: 18
St Patrick’s Day with Kerrison Brown
Ferlas Bar, Halifax
8pm – 12am
Paddy’s day – Uni vs. Hallam tshirt bar crawl
Carver Street Block Party in Sheffield
10pm – 4am