The Guide

Sara Keating: St Patrick’s Day – when you don’t have to be Irish to be Irish

Over the years, the idea of national identity has became more fluid and St Patrick’s Day has always been multicultural – after all, the first recorded parade didn’t happen in Ireland, but in New York in the late 1700s

St Patrick’s Day revellers in Dublin: by the early 2000s Ireland was a country of net immigration, with more people travelling to Ireland for work than leaving it. Picture: Getty

“You don’t have to be Irish to be Irish,” sing the crowd of revellers gathered in the Phoenix Park for the St Patrick’s Day parade at the climax of the cult film Flight of the Doves. Among the celebrants are an army of gardaí, a chorus of dancers in dirndls and a tribe of multicultural merrymakers crooning along.

Filmed across the island in 1970 by Ralph Nelson, while his native Britain was struggling to redefine ...