The streets of Cork and other Irish cities were quiet on St Patrick’s Day in sharp contrast to the usual lively festivities.
The usual colourful parades that attract thousands were called off following medical advice for social distancing to slow the spread of Covid-19.
Individual Cork communities and families celebrated in unique ways while staying true to the all-important guidelines on social distancing.
Cork City Lord Mayor John Sheehan commended the people of Cork for their innovation and humour in the face of such difficult times.
“People respected the guidelines but celebrated in their own ways, in their homes and gardens, and it was quite uplifting to see,” he said. “These are difficult and worrying times for many, so it is so important that at moments like this people keep their spirits up.”
Normally, the St Patrick’s Day Mass in the North Cathedral is a joyous celebration with a large crowd but yesterday, the Lord Mayor and his family were the only attendees, representing the people of Cork. Mr Sheehan joined Bishops Fintan Gavin and Paul Colton in offering a message of hope to all watching the ceremony online.
Catholic primate Archbishop Eamon Martin celebrated a live-streamed Mass at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, during which he urged an “outpouring of the works of mercy towards the sick and vulnerable, and for a spirit of generosity and self-sacrifice, compassion and charity in Ireland, and across the world”.
The Defence Forces sent a St Patrick’s Day message from south Lebanon and from Syria, where they are serving on peacekeeping duties. Lieutenant Colonel Robert Hurley, officer commanding of the 115 Infantry Battalion, said they are making every effort to minimise the impact of coronavirus.
“The Lebanese authorities have taken unprecedented measures to prevent the spread of the virus,” he said. “In the meantime, peace support operations will continue as normal.”
Lieutenant Paul Murphy said leave has been cancelled for many troops.
“Due to the coronavirus, many of our troops will not be returning home on leave,” he said. “We would like to thank our families and loved ones at this difficult time for their love and support.”
Meanwhile, the annual global greening initiative in which famous buildings around the world are lit up to mark St Patrick’s Day continued, including Madison Square Garden in New York, City Hall in Bangkok, the Palace Bridge in St Petersburg, the London Eye, Burj al Arab, Niagara Falls, and the famous Welcome sign in Las Vegas.
Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said he hoped the move would “bring a little positivity and hope to people everywhere”.