Tricolours flew high in London’s St Patricks Day Parade as a Cork woman led the way as grand marshal.
Blarney woman, Catherina Casey took centre stage in Trafalgar Square in London on Sunday afternoon, March 12, as London celebrated its annual St Patrick’s Day parade a few days early.
The Cork expatriate has worked as full-time life coach and mentor since she first moved to the U.K. capital over 20 years ago, as well as founding the Irish in London Network, an online network supporting the Irish community in London.
Ms Casey was overjoyed to receive a call from fellow Cork native, Paul Whitnell, the president of the British-Irish Trading Alliance, inviting her to lead the Mayor of London’s 2023 St Patrick’s parade as grand marshal.
She is also set to receive the Freedom of the City of London at Guildhill in April in honour of her work in strengthening relations with Irish and London community.
The parade kicked off at noon, where the Cork woman led the procession alongside Minister for Social Protection and Rural & Community Development Heather Humphreys TD and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.
Speaking after the parade, Ms Casey said: “It was such an honour to have been given the privilege of the role of grand marshal permitting me to lead this year’s parade.” The Blarney native had previously served as chairwoman of the Mayor of London's St Patrick's community advisory board (CAB), where she was invited to Buckingham Palace to meet with Queen Elizabeth II.
Members of An Garda Síochána were also in attendance on the day to march alongside officers from the London Metropolitan Police.
London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, referred to the “historic bond” between the British and Irish people.
Mr Khan insisted that relations between the neighbouring Isles has not been damaged despite political standoffs over Brexit seeming to have “soured relations” between the two nations.
The London mayor believed that the London city parade would be the biggest in Europe, outside of Ireland and acknowledged the contribution made in London by generations of Irish workers.
Minister Humphreys spoke ahead of the festivities: “There is a very close relationship now. The Taoiseach and prime minister here seem to get on very well, actually, and they’re both of Indian descent. There are a lot of good connections being made. We always have to look to the future.” The parade will be followed by a week of events across the city as organised by London’s Irish community.