Updated: Tuesday, 18 March 2014 02:35 | By Agence France-Presse

Ireland's rugby win adds to St Patrick's Day party mood

Ireland was awash with green on Monday as the Emerald Isle celebrated Saint Patrick's Day -- with a rare Six Nations rugby championship victory on Saturday adding to the jublilant scenes. 


There were plenty of Irish eyes smiling along the 2.6-kilometre (1.6-mile) parade route in an overcast Dublin following Ireland’s win on Saturday, when Ireland defeated France in Paris to claim the title.

"It had to happen around Patrick’s Day. It must be written in the stars," reveller Gavin Boyle told AFP, wearing an Irish rugby jersey.

"It just means the celebrations can go on longer."

Ireland claimed a rare victory in the French capital on Saturday evening, ending France and England's hopes of capturing the championship -- in what was a perfect last hoorah for retiring Irish rugby legend Brian O'Driscoll.

Almost half a million people were expected at the Dublin parade while celebrations were taking place in dozens of towns and cities in Ireland and across the world.

"Everything has been really well attended and mother nature has even been on our side," said Susan Kirby, chief executive of the Dublin St Patrick’s Day Festival.

Over 100 landmarks from the Moulin Rouge in Paris to the Great Wall of China were lit up green in honour of Ireland's national holiday.

Tourism Ireland’s annual 'Global Greening' initiative has become one of the most striking of the international celebrations. 

"This is the fifth year of Tourism Ireland’s 'Global Greening' initiative and each year I am delighted to see even more well-known attractions and landmark sites wishing to get involved," said Niall Gibbons of Tourism Ireland.

On Friday at the White House, Prime Minister Enda Kenny presented US President Barack Obama -- who himself has Irish roots -- with the traditional gift of a bowl of shamrock, Ireland's three-leafed national emblem.

The annual All-Ireland club finals of the Ireland's national sports, hurling and gaelic football, attracted thousands of supporters to the city's Croke Park stadium.

-'Let's make history'-

This year’s parade theme was ‘Let’s Make History,’ a colourful exploration of Ireland’s past — from Dublin’s Viking origins to its more recent economic bust.

"We should also look to the past with respect. It is, in the end, one of the sources of the ethics of our present," said Irish President Michael D Higgins as he arrived to watch the parade.

"It is our greatest resource we have for imagining a better future which we all aspire to."

Monday’s parade was the first since Ireland exited its international financial rescue programme in December.

Famed for its double-digit growth in the 1990s, Ireland's once-proud "Celtic Tiger" economy crashed in the late 2000s when a property bubble burst, forcing Dublin to turn to the EU and IMF for funding. 

The Celtic Tiger made a return to the streets of Dublin Monday — this time in a mocking pageant.

The parade’s tiger, enchanting the people with promises of wealth and luxury, was chased to the sea by artists, musicians and children in one of the more creative floats.

Madeline Philips from County Kildare, proudly wearing shamrock on her jacket, was in the Irish capital with her two sons.

"It’s a great day. We’re just hoping the rain will stay away so we can enjoy it all," she told AFP.

"Today’s not a day to talk about bailouts or the government, it’s about having a bit of fun again."

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