St. Patrick's Day: 500,000 celebrate in Dublin (PHOTOS)


Parade goers shout as they watch St Patrick's Day festivities in Dublin, Ireland on March 17, 2012. More than 100 parades are being held across Ireland to mark St Patrick's Day, with up to 650,000 spectators expected to attend the parade in Dublin.



Half a million people in Ireland crowded into central Dublin on Saturday to view the Saint Patrick's Day parade, the start of tourist season and the highlight of worldwide celebrations to commemorate the day.

Bands from the US, Britain and Russia joined thousands of Irish volunteers in a two-hour procession down Dublin's major boulevard, O'Connell Street to St. Patrick's Cathedral, the Associated Press reported.

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Although Ireland is celebrating the beginning of it's tourist season, times are sobering.

Unemployment stands at 14.4 percent and the country has had to raise taxes and cut spending in recent years, according to the AP.

Saint Patrick's also took over New York as more than two million people crammed into Manhattan's own annual Saint Patrick's Day parade, AFP estimated.

The Fifth Avenue parade was awash in green - green shirts, green hats and green-tinted beer from local pubs. Irish folk dancers, police in blue inched and lots of New Yorkers soaked up the sounds of Irish bagpipes and drums.

AFP reported Cardinal Timothy Dolan gave the traditional morning mass at Saint Patrick's Cathedral.

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CNN reported that in Boston, which has a large Irish population, thousands showed up for that city's parade set to meander through South Boston and in Midwest, the Chicago River was dyed green, an annual tradition.