Coatbridge St Patricks Day Festival 2017
Written on January 14, 2017
Friday 5th March to Saturday 18th March 2017
A festival is born
The original committee – J. Bradley, Jim McCue, Tom Nolan, Fr Eammon Sweeney, Patricia Ferns, James O’Neill, together with Gerry Croal and Janice Sullivan who joined soon after – set out to create a celebration of Irish heritage and culture that could be enjoyed and participated in by as many people as possible. From this, the Coatbridge St Patrick’s Day Festival was born.
The first, one-day festival took place in 2003. In spite of the dire predictions of the small minority who opposed it, the Festival was a huge success for the 5,000 revellers who turned out to enjoy the entertainment provided from two stages in the town centre.
In subsequent years, more and more events were added to the programme which soon grew into a week-long affair. Some events from these early festivals are still popular today and continue to feature including the Irish Quiz Night, The Quiet Man Night and the Annual Lecture. The latter has been a particular success and has featured a range of respected and well-known speakers including Professor Sir Tom Devine, Professor Christine Kineally, George Galloway and journalist and writers, Eammonn McCann and Tim Pat Coogan.
Other visitors welcomed to the Festival have included Ireland’s former President, Mary McAleese, former Irish Ambassador to Britain, Bobby McDonagh, and RTE radio presenter Pascal Mooney.
New name, same values
In 2015, the Festival Committee changed its name the Coatbridge Irish Heritage Committee in order to better reflect the broad range of cultural and social initiatives that it brings to the Irish community in Lanarkshire throughout the year.
From its small beginnings, the Festival has grown to become a welcome fixture on Scotland’s what’s on calendar and in 2009, was included by TripAdvisor in its list of the world’s Top Ten St Patrick’s Day Festivals. The Family Street Festival highlight is regularly enjoyed by up to 20,000 people and has attracted visitors from Ireland, England, Spain, Sweden, Germany, Holland and America, as well as from across Scotland.
There are several accounts of Saint Patrick’s death. One says that Patrick died at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland, on March 17, 460 A.D. His jawbone was preserved in a silver shrine and was often requested in times of childbirth, epileptic fits, and as a preservative against the “evil eye.” Another account says that St. Patrick ended his days at Glastonbury, England and was buried there. The Chapel of St. Patrick still exists as part of Glastonbury Abbey. Today, many Catholic places of worship all around the world are named after St. Patrick, including cathedrals in New York and Dublin city. A toast for St Patrick’s Day, “May the roof above us never fall in, and may we friends beneath it never fall out.”Saint Patrick’s Day?
Saint Patrick’s Day has come to be associated with everything Irish: anything green and gold, shamrocks and luck. Most importantly, to those who celebrate its intended meaning, St. Patrick’s Day is a traditional day for spiritual renewal and offering prayers for missionaries worldwide. Why is it celebrated on March 17th? One theory is that that is the day that St. Patrick died. Since the holiday began in Ireland, it is believed that as the Irish spread out around the world, they took with them their history and celebrations. The biggest observance of all is, of course, in Ireland. With the exception of restaurants and pubs, almost all businesses close on March 17th. Being a religious holiday as well, many Irish attend mass, where March 17th is the traditional day for offering prayers for missionaries worldwide before the serious celebrating begins.
The most important element of Saint Patrick’s Day, after mass, is the Saint Patrick’s Day Parades. Over 300 Saint Patrick’s Day Parades around the world celebrate this famous Saint Patrick’s Day .
The beating heart of these Saint Patrick’s Day Parades are the Pipe Bands with their stirring music & powerful presence.