Irish expats in Shanghai celebrate their culture with St. Patrick’s Day

By Qi Xijia Source:Global Times Published: 2018/3/11 18:28:39

A sea of green

Following the long, cold winter, Shanghai is finally seeing green with the upcoming annual St. Patrick's Day celebrations.

St. Patrick's Day is a cultural celebration held on and around March 17 worldwide to celebrate Irish culture and commemorate one of Ireland's patron saints, St. Patrick.

On Saturday, the Irish community in Shanghai held its annual celebration of the Irish National Day at Waitanyuan Square near the Bund, featuring a full afternoon of Irish and Chinese cultural activities.

The small yet vibrant Irish expat community came together to showcase their rich culture, arts, music and dance, and extended their warm welcome to Chinese residents to dress up in green (the traditional color of Ireland) and "become Irish for a day."

The event kicked off with a performance by Le Chéile Kids (children of the Irish community in Shanghai), who danced and sang songs in Irish. Local cultural groups from Huangpu district also entertained the crowd with Chinese performances, kung fu and Sichuan opera.

Highlights were an Irish marching band and Chinese dragon dancers during a parade led by the Consul General of Ireland in Shanghai.

Going international

On and around St. Patrick's Day, major celebrations take place not just in Ireland but across the world.

St. Patrick's Day has been celebrated in Shanghai since 2007. Therese Healy, the Consul General of Ireland in Shanghai, said she sees it as a good way to reach out to local residents.

"On our national day, we just don't celebrate on our own; we want to celebrate it with all our friends across the globe, including our Shanghainese friends," Healy told the Global Times on Saturday.

"We've had a long winter here in Shanghai. And now it's nice just as the sun is coming out to celebrate with the start of the spring and friendship between Cork [a sister city of Shanghai] and Shanghai," said Healy.

According to Healy, the Irish expat community in Shanghai numbers about 1,000 people. Despite this relatively small number, they are very visible here and appreciative of the opportunity to live in such a global city.

"We are connecting very much with many Shanghainese here," said Healy.

Green badge of honor

Gerard MacMahon, master of Wellington College Shanghai and an Irish national who has been in Shanghai for two years, played as St. Patrick and led the parade.

"I've never had so many photographs taken in my life. Lots of children, lots of adults, all wanted to take photographs with me. It's been lovely," MacMahon told the Global Times on Saturday.

Hollie Dixon, an Irish national, joined the Shanghai celebration for the first time. Originally from Cork in Ireland, Dixon now works as a history teacher at Soong Ching Ling School in Shanghai.

"It's great. It's really like giving me a taste of home. The weather is beautiful. It's really lovely," said Dixon.

She said that, every St. Patrick's Day in Ireland, people go to a parade to watch the show and wear a green badge. "All around the world now, St. Patrick's day has become very ­international, very global, and it's fantastic to see our Irishness being celebrated here," said Dixon, who has also ­celebrated St. Patrick's Day in London.

Therese Healy delivers a speech at the event. Photo: Courtesy of

A boy in a mask


Attendees wear green at the event.


Young people in green


Participants celebrate St. Patrick's Day on Saturday.

Participants celebrate St. Patrick's Day on Saturday. Photos: Qi Xijia/GT



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