St Patrick’s Festival, running from March 12-17, has always got the world sitting up and taking notice of one of the greatest cultural celebrations of Ireland, which invariably has spilled over to many other countries of the world. But, if you think the pandemic has shrouded the fun and gaiety of this wonderful festival, think again. This time, St Patrick’s Festival has gone virtual on SPF TV, a special online TV channel (https://www.stpatricksfestival.ie/spftv) that will bring to life the heart and soul of Ireland’s celebrations.
This larger-than-life figure, called the ‘Apostle of Ireland’ behind the international St Patrick’s Day extravaganza, is shrouded in mystery. He has been credited with curing the sick, raising people from the dead, and many other miracles. He is portrayed as trampling on slithering reptiles, in accordance with the belief that he drove all the snakes out of Ireland. He is said to have used a shamrock to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity, and to have baptised hundreds of people on a single day.
Factually though, what little is known about Patrick reveals that he actually wasn’t Irish. It is thought he originally came from either Wales or Scotland, from where he was abducted and brought to Ireland as a slave at the age of 16. He was sent to Slemish Mountain in County Antrim – still a popular pilgrimage spot to this day – and forced to herd sheep. After escaping back to Britain, he had a vision and returned to Ireland to spread the word of God. He remained in Ireland for the rest of his life, converting, preaching and building churches until his death – on 17 March – in 461 AD in County Down.
Today, his feast day resonates across the globe, with millions marking St Patrick’s Day as both a holy day and as a secular celebration of Irish heritage and culture. The Irish and the want-to-be Irish put on their best green clothing, watch parades, go to parties, enjoy a taste of Ireland and toast the luck of the Irish.
But not content with celebrating at home and online only, the Irish also take it to the next level as iconic buildings, historic sites and even rivers around the world go green for St Patrick's Day.
The annual Global Greening is a huge source of pride for Irish people worldwide, as the likes of the London Eye, the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, the Colosseum in Rome and Sydney’s Opera House all turn a shade of green on March 17.
There is also a rich plethora of events, created by hundreds of artists, musicians, performers, makers, creators, arts and community organisations across Ireland. The world, thanks to the digital medium, will also be able to witness it.
With music, theatre, art, performance, poetry, storytelling, traditional arts, tours, street and building lighting and art installations and much more, St Patrick Feast connects more than 80 million people of Irish heritage across the globe. And, for all of us to also take a front row seat and join in on this fab revelry. So let’s go green and enjoy St Patrick’s Feast from the comfort of our homes!