Grand parade to be sure, when St Patrick's Day falls on a Saturday

The 29th annual St Patrick’s Day Parade marches through Brisbane. Photo: Toby Crockford – Fairfax Media. Courtesy: Brisbane Times

For first time in more than 75 years, Brisbane St Patrick’s Day parade has been held on the actual Irish public holiday, turning the city to a sea of green. 

For the first time since the 1930s, Brisbane’s St Patrick’s Day Parade has been held on the actual Irish public holiday, as a sea of green marched through city streets for the 29th annual parade.

The sound of bagpipes and drums echoed through the CBD on Saturday as an estimated 40 floats, 700 parade participants and 20,000 spectators celebrated Queensland’s Irish heritage. 

The Brisbane parade began in 1885, but was cancelled at the outbreak of World War II, according to St Patrick’s Day Parade Association vice president Gavin Roche.

It was resurrected in 1990 and since then there have only been a handful of instances where March 17 has fallen on a weekend. 

So previoulsy orgranisers have chosen to hold the parade on the weekend before St Patrick’s Day.

“Normally St Patrick’s Day would fall on a weekday where we can’t have road closures so it’s just great to be able to roll it into one big day,” Mr Roche said.

“The parade and festival are not just for Irish people. It’s about sharing the Irish culture and it’s about recognising the Irish community here and the people with Irish heritage.” 

Mr Roche believed the parade had continued to grow in recent years, with a noticeable increase in the number of young families in attendance.

“Particularly in last 10-15 years with the economic downturn in Ireland, a lot of young Irish families have come to Australia,” he said.

“In that way, we’ve got a whole new younger Irish group coming through.”

Mr Roche said it was important for the parade’s participants to celebrate the Irish contribution to Queensland.

“They (parade participants) can celebrate being Irish and they can share the Irish culture,” he said.

“The Irish people have been an integral part of Queensland life for such a long time, our history here goes back since the founding of Australia and that’s so strongly shown in the turnout here,” he said. 

Mr Roche said the celebrations showed the true spirit of the Irish community in Queensland, which he believed was important following the police investigation into groups of Irish scammers during the past week.

“It was really just a blip,” he said.

“The fact that they were identified as being Irish definitely might be taken as being an attack on the Irish, but I never saw it as that.

“It was just random people, who happened to be Irish, so close to the festival doing terrible things.

“Obviously, we don’t condone it and as you can see today, Irish people are just fun-loving – they (scammers) were just a few bad apples.”