One of the first casualties of the pandemic in Ireland was the cancellation of the St Patrick’s Day parade back in March 2020. However, after two long years, our national holiday is back with a bang as 400,000 people are expected to attend the parade today in Dublin city centre.
Cities and towns up and down the country are also set to celebrate the big day. Some of the country’s top politicians are visiting parades across the planet as the Irish diaspora join in the celebrations.
And there is good news on the weather front as largely bright and sunny weather is expected by the afternoon, although it will turn chilly overnight.
A Met Eireann forecaster said: “St Patrick’s Day will start a little cloudy with a few showers moving across the country. By the afternoon the showers will have eased and bright and sunny weather will develop. Moderate southwesterly winds will ease late afternoon and our highs should reach 10 to 14 degrees, warmest in the south.
After a two-year COVID-19 hiatus, the New York Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment will once again lead the world’s largest St. Patrick’s Day parade as it marches down midtown Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue on Thursday.
More than 150,000 people are expected to line the iconic parade route after two years of virtual celebrations forced by the pandemic. Watch the parade live on WNBC or here on NBCNewYork.com starting at 11 a.m. ET. The parade runs until 3 p.m.
James Callahan, president of the International Union of Operating Engineers, has been named Grand Marshal, while “The Fighting 69th,” which was organized in 1849 as an Irish-American militia unit and has led the parade annually since 1851, will do so again.
Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry, did try to keep the magic going the last two years. Some joined members of the parade committee in marching up Fifth Avenue in the early morning hours of March 17, 2020, just as the city was truly beginning to grasp the breadth of the COVID pandemic, with shutdowns, school closures and more.
Last year, 50 face-masked soldiers conducted an abbreviated parade once again to maintain the traditions of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. This year will mercifully be different — and mark a particularly significant parade for the battalion leading the march, 69th commander Lt. Col. Shawn Tabankin said.
The battalion’s Soldiers have been deeply involved in the two-year New York National Guard response to the COVID-19 pandemic and they are now focused on preparing for a deployment to the Horn of Africa for a security mission, Tabankin said.
“It represents a return to normalcy following the COVID-19 pandemic,” Tabankin added. “Many of the soldiers marching have been on the front lines of the COVID response mission and this parade will mark the point where we transition from our state mission back to our federal one as we prepare to deploy.”
During an event held at the Lexington Avenue home of the New York Army National Guard’s 69th Infantry Regiment, parade organizers said that 2022 will be the biggest parade that has ever been held.
The 2021 parade was supposed to be a salute to those who died when the World Trade Center Towers were attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, as well as first responders and essential workers. This year’s parade celebrations will include that salute following a special mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
New York Army National Guard Soldiers will play taps along with members of the New York Police Department and Fire Department New York in a salute to the 2,763 people who died at the World Trade Center.
The parade will also commemorate the Irish American labor movement and the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Irish government.
The 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry, supposedly earned the nickname “Fighting 69th” from the Confederate General Robert E. Lee. He is said to have referred to the Irish-American unit as “that fighting 69th regiment” following the battle of Fredericksburg in 1863.
The unit’s Soldiers have distinguished themselves in the Civil War, World War I, World War II, and deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan since Sept. 11, 2001.
Because of the regiment’s roots in Irish-American history St. Patrick’s Day is also the 1st Battalion, 69th’s “Unit Day,” during which the battalion’s soldiers are recognized for their accomplishments.
The 1st Battalion 69th Infantry is the subject of the Irish folk song “The Fighting 69th,” and the 1940 movie of the same name starring Pat O’Brien and Jimmy Cagney.