Shang­hai Ir­ish

St. Pa­trick’s Day party held at Jing’an Kerry Cen­tre

Global Times – Metro Shanghai - - FRONT PAGE - The ar­ti­cle was writ­ten by Cather­ine Val­ley

Agreen Ir­ish party was re­cently held on the out­door stage at the Jing’an Kerry Cen­tre Plaza at­tract­ing a num­ber of singing, par­ty­ing Ir­ish na­tion­als. The event was or­ga­nized by Le Chéile, an as­so­ci­a­tion for the Ir­ish com­mu­nity in Shang­hai, with the sup­port of the Con­sulate Gen­eral of Ire­land in Shang­hai and the Jing’an District For­eign Af­fairs Of­fice.

“The Ir­ish sense of com­mu­nity is very strong. Thanks to the Ir­ish Con­sulate in Shang­hai and Chi­nese warm wel­come, we all feel China to be our home away from home, which is re­ally nice,” Sarah O’Connell, a stu­dent of East China Nor­mal Univer­sity, told the Global Times. “To me per­son­ally, our na­tional hol­i­day, St. Pa­trick’s Day, means a lot, that is why I am here to­day.”

Saint Pa­trick’s Day, or the Feast of Saint Pa­trick, is a cul­tural and re­li­gious cel­e­bra­tion held ev­ery March 17. The day com­mem­o­rates Saint Pa­trick and the ar­rival of Chris­tian­ity in Ire­land and cel­e­brates Ir­ish her­itage and cul­ture.

Cel­e­bra­tions gen­er­ally in­volve pub­lic pa­rades and fes­ti­vals, the wear­ing of green at­tire or sham­rocks and Ir­ish peo­ple ex­tend­ing their fa­mously warm Ir­ish Failte or “Wel­come.” Since the first St. Pa­trick pa­rade in 1762, the oc­ca­sion has be­come an an­nual party tra­di­tion all across the world.

Ir­ish for one day

The Ir­ish Na­tional Day, St. Pa­trick’s Day, took place in Shang­hai on March 11 with the theme “Ir­ish for one day” to cel­e­brate Ire­land’s long cul­ture of mu­sic and dance. Cel­e­brat­ing St. Pa­trick’s Day in Shang­hai has in­deed be­come a tra­di­tion start­ing in 2005. Since then, the event has en­com­passed a wide range of well-or­ga­nized fea­tures con­ducted by de­voted Ir­ish and lo­cals.

“Gen­er­ally, Ir­ish peo­ple do not carry an um­brella un­less it rains heav­ily. So even if it was rain­ing, we would def­i­nitely have some op­tions,” said Con­sul Gen­eral of Ire­land in Shang­hai Therese Healy dur­ing the event, which was at­tended by more than 3,500 peo­ple wear­ing green glasses and gar­lands, stick­ers and tem­po­rary tat­toos, clothes and shoes.

A tra­di­tional Chi­nese red dragon ris­ing over the long pro­ces­sion was also col­ored green, sym­bol­iz­ing the col­or­ful mul­ti­cul­tural mix of Chi­nese and Ir­ish at­ten­dees.

“The rea­son the event has be­come more pop­u­lar is the grow­ing trend of Ir­ish ex­pats in Shang­hai mar­ry­ing Chi­nese peo­ple and vice versa,” Healy clar­i­fied for the Global Times. “A new gen­er­a­tion of Ir­ish-Chi­nese chil­dren have be­come a part of the Chi­nese fam­ily. By es­ti­ma­tion, there are over 1,000 Ir­ish liv­ing in Shang­hai.”

Shared tra­di­tions

A num­ber of young Ir­ish or mixe­drace per­form­ers per­formed on the out­door stage of Jing’an Kerry Cen­tre to­gether with eth­nic Chi­nese friends. Many Le Chéile kids, the chil­dren of the Ir­ish com­mu­nity in Shang­hai, can­not speak the Gaelic lan­guage, yet they have mas­tered songs in the lan­guage and also learned tra­di­tional Ir­ish danc­ing.

An­other im­pres­sive per­for­mance, by Cnoc na Gaoithe, com­prised 10 mu­si­cians and dancers from Ire­land while lo­cal Chi­nese dance groups were also an in­te­gral part of the show. Celtic Storm and Fu­dan Univer­sity Ir­ish Dance Group en­ter­tained the crowds with world-fa­mous Ir­ish tap­danc­ing.

In ad­di­tion, Jing’an district au­thor­i­ties in­vited three per­for­mances from Jing’an Tem­ple to par­tic­i­pate in the cul­tural ex­change event, in­clud­ing the Tongxin dance team for a “Rain in the flower” dance, Chil­dren Shaox­ing Opera with “Flirt­ing Scholar,” and qi­pao show “Shang­hai ru­mor.”

“Over 90 per­cent of the Gaelic Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion (GAA) in Shang­hai are Chi­nese, but none of them are ac­tu­ally Ir­ish-Chi­nese. Those young mem­bers have proudly de­vel­oped their in­ter­est in an­cient Gaelic foot­ball,” a GAA mem­ber told the Global Times.

“In fact, Chi­nese and Ir­ish peo­ple are very sim­i­lar. Both China and Ire­land have very an­cient tra­di­tions, so we feel com­fort­able to­gether,” the GAA mem­ber said. “Our peo­ple are very hard-work­ing and like hav­ing fun too. We all be­lieve that the state of fam­ily and ed­u­ca­tion are cru­cially im­por­tant. Ev­ery­thing we do is for the ben­e­fit of our fam­i­lies and friends.”

Peo­ple have fun at this year’s St. Pa­trick’s Day party in Shang­hai. Pho­tos: Cather­ine Val­ley/GT

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