St Patrick’s Day? I’ll drink to that

Revellers enjoy St Patricks day at the tent on Devonshire Green
Revellers enjoy St Patricks day at the tent on Devonshire Green
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The arrival of St Patrick’s Day is for many an excuse to party - but judging by the scenes on the streets of Sheffield there are more genuine folk from the Emerald Isle or boasting ancestry than you might have thought.

Plenty celebrated the patron saint in a more formal manner over at Victoria Hall Methodist Church, on Norfolk Street, where an official Catholic mass was held while St Marie’s Cathedral undergoes refurbishment.

Shoppers then watched as the Flag Bearer and two Irish wolf hounds led a St Patrick’s Day parade including a pipe band from Norfolk Row, along Barker’s Pool and Division Street to Devonshire Green and a specially-erected Irish Live Lounge.

Irish musicians and traditional dancing from the city’s Scoil Rinca Nua school set the theme of the afternoon leading up to and beyond the Six Nations rugby thriller between England and Ireland.

Sheffield Irish Association chairman Kevin Meagher said the day means a lot more to more people than many realise.

The group believes around 10 per cent of Sheffield’s population - some 50,000 people – can cite an Irish parent or grandparent who perhaps fled the famine or came to Sheffield to work on the Peak District rail tunnels and later in steel and coal.

“St Patrick’s Day is about celebrating connections, history and memories and people remembering they may have had a parent or grandparent who had a pretty hard time,” he said.

“It’s also an AGM for some people who have some Irish identity and it is done in an inclusive manner. It’s a day with a great sense of everybody coming together and having a good time.”