I went into Dublin City Center to see the St Patricks Day parade. I got there late and all the road was lined with spectators. Since I did not feel like standing behind 3 rows of people I decided to take a friends advice and headed up to Parnell Square where the parade was starting from. There were still lots of spaces up there. I was positioned on a bend so as the groups tried to maintain step and turn the corner they came right up against the barrier where I was standing taking photos.
The parade itself seemed smaller than on previous years. Fewer floats and fewer big marching bands. I don't know why this would be the case and the parade still took well over an hour to go past at which stage I was perfectly happy to head to a warm coffee shop. There were several bands, some from Ireland, some American and other smaller groups from Europe. There were just a few floats, and street performers, the floats and performers finding the gusting wind a little hard to deal with as they headed downhill towards O'Connell Street.
RTE news tonight reported that 400,000 people braved the cold to attend, and I can tell you it was bloody cold standing on the side of the road. Met Eireann reports that at 4C it was colder in Dublin today than in Iceland or Moscow. However cold I was there were some hardy Brazilian samba dancers who braved the cold, wind and hail to bring a little sunshine and warmth to the spectators. Though the local inner-city ladies had a few amusing comments to make about the poor bikini clad girls. Most of the participants looked frozen but they were still happy and waved at the crowds while performing their dances, waving their flags and playing their instruments.
The atmosphere in the city center was pretty festive. I saw none of the trouble and aggressive drunks the media had forecast would descend on the city to bring chaos and rioting. There were 1000 Gardai on the streets to make sure no trouble could take hold but they were not agressive, one Garda kicking football with the samba football kids. In the end I think it was a small but successful parade.