The Wearin’ of the Green — St. Patricks Day in Hong Kong

I have been privileged to witness historic events in Admiralty during my brief time in Hong Kong. No, I’m not talking about Occupy Central this time. I was a spectator at the first ever Hong Kong St. Patrick’s Day Parade. One thing I love about Hong Kong is that they don’t quibble over whether or not a holiday fits strictly with their traditions. If there is a reason to celebrate, just round up a dragon team or two, break out the lion costumes and let’s do it!

In a city this international,  where many different languages, cultures and ethnic cuisines co-exist, I don’t know why I would be surprised by a St. Patrick’s Day celebration. New York, London and Sydney all have them. Why not Hong Kong?

The idea for a parade came from Ireland’s consul general in Hong Kong and Macau, Peter Ryan, who arrived in Hong Kong last August. There are roughly 3,000 Irish people in Hong Kong and many more of Irish decent, but for one afternoon it seemed as if everybody in Hong Kong was Irish for the day. I’ve loved bagpipes since I was a “wee one” watching my Uncle Jim play in parades, so I was pretty excited about the idea of this whole thing.

Parade participants get into the spirit by wearing' the green.
Parade participants get into the spirit by wearing’ the green.
Everybody is Irish for a day.
Everybody is Irish for a day.
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You’ve gotta love how willing people are to get festive.

Fortunately, part of the British legacy in Hong Kong was the tradition of  regimental pipe bands so there are enough pipers around to rally several pipe and drum bands.  The lively procession along the waterfront also included a troupe of Irish dancers and groups of  green-clad people merrily waving to the crowd. There was even a visit from St. Patrick, himself. This being Hong Kong, of course there was a dragon and several lion dances. Nice touch. My grandparents were Irish and they didn’t get this excited about St. Patrick’s Day. Well done, Hong Kong!

St. Patrick's appearance delighted the crowd.
The appearance of St. Patrick delighted the crowd.
A piper plays with the observation wheel in the distance.
A piper performs with the observation wheel in the distance.

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Young dancers await their turn to perform.
Young dancers await their turn to perform.
A young piper marches precisely with his unit.
A young piper marches precisely with his unit.
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Cell phones are another Hong Kong tradition, but that’s a post for another day.
A pipe band is followed by a dragon. You get kind of used to cultures blending like this.
A pipe band is followed by a dragon. You get kind of used to cultures blending like this.
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It was a gloomy day, but the mood was festive.
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A brass band performs on the stage at Tamar Park.
What St. Patrick's Day celebration would be complete without a lion dance?
What St. Patrick’s Day celebration would be complete without a lion dance?
Did St. Patrick drive the snakes out of Ireland, or was it dragons?
Did St. Patrick drive the snakes out of Ireland, or was it dragons?
A drum contingent accompanies the dragon dance.
A drum contingent accompanies the dragon dance.

Next we went to Delaney’s Irish Pub on the other side of the island to hear some Irish music. A bit of background, Alex and I love Celtic music and even go to Scottish festivals on occasion. We have a huge collection in our music library. We’re nerdy that way, so to find Irish music in Hong Kong was quite a pleasant surprise.

Delaney’s serves nachos and linguini carbonara so it isn’t an Irish pub in the truest sense of the word, but the weather was warm enough to sit outside and the sea lies just beyond so it was quite an enjoyable afternoon.

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A couple of fiddlers, some jigs and reels and a tall Guiness made for an enjoyable afternoon.

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Julie Nelson says:

    What a fun review–can just picture it all!

  2. Jane Duff says:

    Wish I could have been there to see it! Looks like a great day.

  3. Karen C says:

    That looks like so much fun! Definitely have to go next year.

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