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13 of the most inexplicable things about Dublin's St Patrick's Day Parade

Seriously, what’s going on with this parade?

THOUGH IT MIGHT now be dubbed a “Festival”, St Patrick’s Day will always be about the big Parade in Dublin city centre to us.

It was – and is – a magnificent, baffling beast. If you’ve been attending it faithfully for years, you’ve probably never questioned just how weird it is. Here are the most bizarre things that we all accept for normal every Paddy’s Day.

1. The sheer amount of marching bands

Who had any idea there were so many marching bands in America? And furthermore, that they wanted to come to Ireland?

Source: Photocall Ireland!

2. Cheerleaders freezing their pom-poms off

See above. Though the cheerleaders admittedly did give the Parade a frisson of true USA glamour, if only because they symbolised all that was exciting and magnetic about American kids’ TV.

Imagine the shock to their systems – from practising your round-offs in your high school’s quad in Florida to  performing for face-painted Irish people down a grey O’Connell Street.


Source: Photocall Ireland!

3. Steampunk vibes

Huge metallic spiders leer down at the crowd, coupled with machinery that Jules Verne could only have dreamt about. There are no truly satisfying answers to why the St Patrick’s Day Parade has taken on this macabre, metallic tinge. A chilling vision of things to come, perhaps.

Source: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Let’s see that in full-size, shall we?

Source: infomatique

Yep. Explain THAT.

4. Inevitable underwater theme

Why are there so many aquatic themed floats in the Parade? Why? Is there ANY EXPLANATION? Every second float seems to have a “under the sea” motif.

Source: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

Source: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

5. Big pauses between floats


Source: Flickr/William Murphy

6. Outlandish contemporary dance

Big leaps! Floaty dresses! SPINS!

Source: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

7. Stepladders

The people who bring stepladders to the Parade need to feck off. See also: the jammy feckers who view the parade from their ivory towers (ie, apartments lining the Parade’s route).

Source: graph: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

8. Plaited string

Plaited woolly string only ever really emerges from the recesses of the city during GAA match days and the Parade. Why can’t this be a year-round thing? Because it looks awful. That’s why.

Source: ebay

WHY don’t these woolly string headbands have a proper name? They’re an intrinsic part of many Irish days out, and yet they haven’t been dignified with a proper name. Any suggestions?

9. Dodgy facepaint

There’s a reason why people don’t wear facepaint every day. It’s because most people can’t paint their faces that well, and also as the day wears on, you start looking like the pot you wash brushes in.

Source: Photocall Ireland!

10. Proliferation of flags

Where do all the tricolours come from? You wouldn’t see a tricolour from one end of town to the other  on any other day in the year. Do people go home and carefully fold them away in their special flag keepsafe box after the Parade every year or something?

Source: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

11. Irish merchandise

Hats, bells, whistles, novelty ties, costumes, feather boas, sunglasses, deely-boppers, foam fingers, banners, clover to the lapel… Everything.

Source: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

12. Unintentionally but absolutely petrifying floats

I’ve seen things. Terrible things.

Source: Photocall Ireland!


Source: infomatique


Source: infomatique

13. Sweet-throwing

You got a better class of sweet thrown at you from the floats on the Dublin Parade. Sorry to those reading from beyond the Pale, but you’re just gonna have to accept this.

Source: Photocall Ireland!

What were your favourite parts of the Parade, baffling or otherwise? Share your stories in the comments. Ah, go on, we’ll chuck you a few marshmallows from our steampunk aqua float.

Read: Here’s why everyone should stop calling it St Patty’s Day>

Read: 8 people you will definitely see at the Parade>

About the author:

Fiona Hyde

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