First St. Patrick's Day in Shanghai

Update:23 Mar 2007

17th March is the St. Patrick's Day, the day Irish all around the world celebrate the occasion

The forecast for Saturday is prolonged outbreaks of green interspersed with orange, clovers, shamrocks, and Guinness as Shanghai's first St Patrick's Day Parade takes to the streets around Xintiandi, writes Douglas Williams.

Saturday sees Shanghai joining a jolly green club that includes member cities around the world. The city's first St Patrick's Day Parade gets underway at noon at the Xintiandi lakeside and is set to demonstrate the fun-loving nature of the Irish and their ever-increasing presence here in Shanghai.

"It's wonderful that Shanghai will have its first St Patrick's Day parade on Saturday," says Nicholas O'Brien, consul general of Ireland, Shanghai. "Almost every major city in the world has such a parade so it's great that we've been able to work together with our Chinese friends to organize this event."

Last year's St Patrick's Day Parade in the Irish capital, Dublin, was attended by 500,000 people, New York's drew two million spectators. The oldest parade outside Ireland takes place in the United States in Boston, and dates back to 1737.

"St Patrick's Day is a chance to celebrate Irish-ness and all that means," says O'Brien. "As a small nation anyway, we've suffered from 150 years of emigration that has thankfully been recently reversed. Subsequently the Irish and their descendants are spread far and wide."

As Irish luck would have it Dr Sha Hailin, the former Chinese ambassador to Ireland, is now closely involved with the Luwan District, where the parade will take place.

"We're particularly grateful to all the people in the Luwan District government who we have worked very closely with to make Saturday's celebrations happen," adds O'Brien.

Fahey says: "It's our job as Irish to make people smile and one thing this parade is guaranteed to do is create smiles."

The friendliness of the Irish is oft-remarked upon, Fahey says: "We're a pretty small community here in Shanghai but because we've go so many friends there will be a good few people on the parade."

There are an estimated 300 Irish who are full-time residents of Shanghai. An anticipated 300 to 350 will participate in the parade. This number is restricted but members of the public are very welcome to line the route, Xingye and Madang roads, and enjoy the many fun activities that will be on offer.

In Shanghai as part of the Irish Week will be the Irish Minister of State for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources John Browne T.D., a clear indicator, were one required, of the importance that the Irish government places on relations with Shanghai and China in general.

The parade will even feature its very own St Patrick, none other than Ken Carroll, chairperson of the Irish Business Forum and founder of Kai En language school.

Carroll says: "I've not been to a St Patrick's Day Parade in 20 years and I'm not that sure what exactly goes on but this will definitely be very 21st century."

As Shanghai's St Patrick for the day Carroll will be happily employing his fluent Mandarin and conversational Shanghainese. "We'll have a laugh, I'll get into character with a few pints of Guinness the night before."

By Douglas Williams 

From the Editor
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