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Saint Patrick banishes the blues as nation goes green

DUBLIN got its smile back today as hundreds of thousands flocked to the capital to celebrate St Patrick’s Day.

From early morning, the streets began to teem with thousands of tourists here to share in our national celebrations.

April Payne (22), a law student from Wellington, New Zealand, travelled by bus and boat from London and made three new friends along the way who had also decided to hit Dublin for the big day.

“We have had celebrations in New Zealand for St Patrick's Day but it's 10 times better here. I'm delighted I decided to come,” said April.

WHIMSICAL

While the majority of the country is battling its economic woes, negativity was put aside in order to revel in the annual pageant.

An estimated 120,000 tourists have arrived to celebrate St Patrick’s day in its home country, as well as a huge number of locals making their way to the centre to join in.

Kicking off today’s celebrations was the Dublin parade, which was set to attract 500,000 spectators, the theme of which was inspired by Roddy Doyle’s whimsical short story, Brilliant.

The story is focused on banishing the black dog of depression over Dublin and getting the city’s funny bone back.

Beginning at Parnell Square at noon, the participants made the 2km walk to St Patrick's Cathedral, via O'Connell Street, Dame Street and Christchurch Place.

OPEN-AIR

Marching bands from India, North Carolina, Louisiana, Bulgaria, Austria, France, Spain and Britain added to the international flavour.

Floats and street performers also made sure that the day was one to remember.

Dublin was bursting at the seams with activities, including open-air performances of live music, and street dancers, who popped up in the most unexpected of places weaving in and out of crowds.

South King Street, Kildare Street and the Stephen’s Green Luas stop were the destinations of choice for performers, keen to make an impact on passers-by.

Merrion Square, Custom House Quay and Wolfe Tone Park were transformed into mini amusement parks.

And in their annual tradition, University College Dublin and Trinity College took to the Liffey to race for the Gannon Cup, with rowers making their way from O’Connell Bridge upstream to St James’s Gate,the site of the Guinness Brewery. Many of the tourists joining in the celebrations were from America.

“It's really great, awesome, amazing,” said Diana Buyaki (29), a native of Miami.

“I've drank pints of green beer in America and it was a bit disgusting but the Guinness in Dublin is just delicious,” she said

A group of Germans from Nuremberg stood on O'Connell Street waiting for the parade to begin and said they were having the time of their lives.

Steffi Habermann (30) said: “We have festivals in Bavaria but the people in Ireland are much friendlier.”

SAFE

Her friend, Thomas Tichatschke (31), added: “It is so friendly, so clean and so safe here. And we have been enjoying the Irish folk music very much.”

Ana Amela, (35), from Brazil, was full of praise for the St Patrick’s day spectacle in the city.

She said: “I think the Irish celebrations are more natural than the carnival in Rio. “I think there is more love here. It is too commercial in Rio.”