The Evolving Nature of St Paddy’s Parade

It’s nice to see people enjoying the St Paddy’s Day parades , taking place again after the Covid-19 years (this photo from the Cork parade in 2022 – from Cork County Council).

It’s also interesting to see how the parades have changed so much over several decades.

It’s probably worth noting that the parade was originally very religious in nature, acting as a demonstration of faith for Irish Catholics. After the sixties it became demonstrably more ‘national’ in nature, equally representative of national identity as well as religion.

By the late 80s and 90s, the religious nature was pretty much gone, displaced by a far wider celebration of ‘Irishness’ and a commercial and political branding opportunity for various entities. It also took on a far wider entertainment and creative meaning (i.e. an entertainment event) which, to be honest, appeals far more than any of the preceding articulations.

The St Paddy’s parade will never lose the religious, political, and commercial connotations but if you can keep all those at arm’s length, its actually good craic.

It’ll be interesting to see what its like in another 20 years.