St Pat’s day comes early
Forget Black Friday, the town will be painted green this weekend with the smiling Irish in full swing.
Irish festivities are coming to Auckland early this year with the St Patrick’s Day Parade down Queen St on Sunday, March 15, followed by the Fleadh (festival of Irish culture) and the ‘‘greening’’ of the Sky Tower.
New Zealand is among the first in the world to celebrate St Patrick’s Day and the special lighting of the Sky Tower kick-starts the Global Greening, which continues on many icons around the world, including Niagara Falls and the Eiffel Tower.
New Zealand’s honorary consul general of Ireland Rodney Walshe has been in the role for decades and will be a busy man even before the national day arrives on March 17.
‘‘St Patrick’s Day is the most internationally celebrated national day,’’ he says.
‘‘It’s due to massive emigration from Ireland.
‘‘About 400,000 Irish left in 1916 and 1.2 million between 1922 to 1969.
‘‘It was a mass exodus. President Mary Robinson (1990 to 1997) at the time recognised that the country should not forget them.’’
The St Heliers man emigrated from Ireland to New Zealand in 1960 and visits his homeland at least once a year via his diplomatic role.
It’s a great time to be an Irish supporter on the sporting front, particularly in rugby union and cricket.
With the Cricket World Cup in our backyard, Ireland has defied the status quo and are in the running to make it to the quarterfinals.
They need to beat Pakistan on Sunday to keep the Irish dream alive, which would make a memorable addition to St Patrick’s Day celebrations.
For Walshe and his team, the celebrations began almost three weeks ago. He will join Irish cabinet minister Alex White in the parade.
‘‘It’s a community day, and it’s not just all boozing,’’ Walshe says. ‘‘There’s also the commercial, diplomatic and business aspects of it.’’
Lucky charm: The big man himself at last year’s St Patrick’s Day Parade.
Emerald green: Rodney Walshe visits Ireland at least once a year.
Sham rockin’: Performers entertain the crowds in the 2014 parade.