Sydney St Patrick's Day

Sydney Parade president has 2020 foresight

Thousands of revellers attended the Sydney St Patrick’s Day festivities in The Rocks this year.

Thousands of revellers attended the Sydney St Patrick’s Day festivities in The Rocks this year.

Planning for the 2020 Sydney St Patrick’s Day celebrations will begin in earnest this month when the new organising commitee is elected.

The annual general meeting will take place on Tuesday, June 18 at the Gaelic Club at which the current committee will stand down and new office bearers will be voted in.

Incumbent president Karen Murphy will again put herself forward to lead the organising committee.

“Yes I will be putting my hand up again for president,” Ms Murphy told the Irish Echo.

Moving the community celebration to The Rocks area had been a great succcess, Ms Murphy said, and it was important to continue working with all stakeholders to make it even better.

“The Rocks is the ideal location for the Sydney St Patrick’s Day Parade celebration,” she said.

“This year we elevated the profile of the event through different stakeholders in the Irish community along with Property NSW and Tourism Ireland. This will continue for 2020.”

Fundraising, she said, would be a key focus if she is re-elected

“We want to create a first-class event for the Irish community marking our nation’s heritage and culture.”

Karen Murphy wants to remain as president of the Sydney St Patrick’s Day Parade. The AGM takes place on June 18.

Karen Murphy wants to remain as president of the Sydney St Patrick’s Day Parade. The AGM takes place on June 18.

This year’s celebration attracted thousands of revellers to The Rocks but relentless rain during the day forced the early closure of the community concert at Dawes Point Park.

Ms Murphy said that the full impact of the early closure will be revealed at the AGM.

“We had a reserve fund for a rainy day but our performance this year was a little affected by the weather.”

Both she and the treasurer would report to the AGM, she said, but fundraising would remain a key priority.

“Fundraising is always needed as with any community group relying on the big hearts of volunteers,” she said.

“The committee will continue to organise regular fundraising events throughout the year, the highlight being our annual Christmas Ball which will be held late November or early December.

“The Mercantile Hotel is also organising a raffle whereby a $2,000 flight voucher is up for grabs with 100 tickets being sold for $50 each.”

Ms Murphy says if she is re-elected, she will also continue to devote her energy to “the parade, children and family culture activities, citizenship ceremony, great live music and possible international acts.”

The Rocks to host St Patrick's Day festivities in 2020

Revellers at The Mercantile Hotel in The Rocks on St Patrick’s Day. Picture: PropertyNSW

Revellers at The Mercantile Hotel in The Rocks on St Patrick’s Day. Picture: PropertyNSW

The Rocks will again play host to Sydney’s St Patrick’s Day festivities in 2020, the Irish Echo has learned.

Despite more than 44mm of rain on St Patrick’s Day, thousands of revellers made their way to The Rocks for the official Irish celebrations.

The determination of the Irish community to celebrate the national day despite the appalling weather impressed Property NSW, who manage The Rocks area.

“Our vision to transform The Rocks into an Irish village was a great success, with our restaurants, bars and retailers, and the Sydney St Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival organisers worked hard to ensure visitors had the best experience possible, despite the weather,” spokeswoman Sarah Cleggett told the Irish Echo.

“The Rocks shares a rich history with the Irish in Sydney and we look forward to celebrating St Patrick’s Day here again next year.”

More than 600 people took part in the modified parade, which weaved its way through the narrow streets of The Rocks. Outside the Mercantile Hotel hundreds of revellers enjoying the live music cheered on the parade as it made its way up to Dawes Point Park, the festival site.

Karen Murphy, president of the Sydney Saint Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival committee, was delighted that so many turned up to celebrate, despite the downpour.

Large crowds made their way to The Rocks on St Patrick’s Day despite the downpour.

Large crowds made their way to The Rocks on St Patrick’s Day despite the downpour.

“The Sydney St Patrick’ Day Organisation volunteers would like to thank the Irish, friends of the Irish and those who were Irish for the day who braved the rain, walked with the parade, splashed in the puddles and demonstrated that hail, rain or shine nothing stops the celebrations on St Patrick’s Day. We are so proud of you.

“We have come home to The Rocks and will return next year. A big thank you to Property NSW who manage The Rocks precinct for their help and support. They have now been adopted into the Sydney St Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival family. Looking forward to seeing everyone again next year.”

The rain eventually took its toll on the festival site at Dawes Point Park, which closed early, at 2pm.

The decision to go ahead with the volunteer-run event resulted in a big financial hot for organisers who are appealing for financial support from the community.

“Even though the day was a great success, the weather did mean that [we] took a financial hit,” Ms Murphy said. “The fact the park had to close early and the heavy rain meant that forecasted revenue and donations fell short. In order to make up for this the committee are planning a couple of exciting fundraising events. Alternatively you can donate using the donate button on the website.”

Putting The Rocks into Sydney's shamrock celebration

The Rocks area of Sydney will host Sydney’s official St Patrick’s Day celebrations.

The Rocks area of Sydney will host Sydney’s official St Patrick’s Day celebrations.

The Rocks area of Sydney will be the centrepiece of the city’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations.

The Saint Patrick’s Day Festival, with the theme Back to Our Roots, will kick off with a walking parade through the area on Sunday, March 17, reminiscent of the first Irish community parade.

The parade will kick off at 11am from First Fleet Park and will make its way through the historic area finishing at Dawes Park.

The parade will be family focused, an event spokeswoman, Mary Doherty, said.

The map of the St Patricks Day Parade route for Sunday, March 17.

The map of the St Patricks Day Parade route for Sunday, March 17.

“Already applications have been coming in from local dancing schools, mothers groups and sporting clubs. Groups or individuals who want to join the parade can still submit an application on the Sydney Saint Patrick’s Day Festival website,” she said.

The celebration will include a day-long program of activities at Dawes Park starting at 11.30am.

“This year’s festival has something for everyone, young and not so young, Irish, non-Irish and those who just want to join in the craic,” Ms Doherty said. “As always music will be at the centre of the celebrations and this year’s line-up is fantastic.

“There will be live music from favourites such as Strawberries and Cabbage, Blackwater, Chris Harper and The Bottlers and plenty of up and coming acts in the form of buskers and street artists.

“The kids can enjoy dancing, Irish language sessions, cultural entertainment acts, musical performances, prizes for best dressed, crafts, face painting, a tattoo artist, raffles and lots more.”

Approximately 50 Irish nationals will become citizens at a special citizenship ceremony on the day.

A large licensed bar and various stalls will offer everything from food and drinks, to crafts. The party extends from Dawes Park with the entire Rocks area transforming into an Irish village for the day. To add to the celebration, the sails of the Sydney Opera House will be illuminated in green as part of Tourism Ireland’s Global Greening project.

The layout for the family celebration at Dawes Point Reserve.

The layout for the family celebration at Dawes Point Reserve.

“Now, would you get a better photo opportunity than that?,” Ms Doherty asked. “The Harbour Bridge, a green Opera House and a park full of people being happily Irish!”

The Mercantile Hotel, the iconic Irish pub in The Rocks, will be offering a full Irish breakfast from 7.30am on the day, plus live entertainment.

The Sydney Irish business community will celebrate St Patrick’s Day on Friday March 15.

More than 1,000 revellers are expected at the Lansdowne Club’s annual St Patrick’s Day Lunch at the International Convention Centre with special guest Heather Humphreys TD, Ireland’s Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation. Earlier in the day, the Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce will host a St Patrick’s business breakfast at Doltone House at Hyde Park.

The Rocks to host St Patrick's Day festivities

The Rocks area of Sydney.

The Rocks area of Sydney.

SYDNEY’S historic precinct The Rocks looks set to host the official community celebration of St Patrick’s Day in 2019.

The news was revealed at the recent sold-out Christmas Ball fundraiser at the Shangri-La Hotel.

The Irish Echo understands that the 2019 celebration will transform The Rocks into an Irish village with live music, stalls and family-friendly activities.

There are also plans for a children-focused parade from Circular Quay to Dawes Point Reserve and a citizenship event at which eligible Irish nationals can become Australian citizens.

The family friendly event will take place on St Patrick’s Day itself. which falls on a Sunday next March. The proposed move to The Rocks, which has yet to be finalised, marks a positive new direction for the volunteer-run event.

The Rocks is an area which is rich in Irish Australian history and includes one of the country’s best-known Irish pubs, The Mercantile.

Sydney has not staged a St Patrick’s Day Parade since 2014 when a rainstorm resulted in the event losing tens of thousands of dollars and facing possible financial ruin.

As a consequence, there was no official community celebration in 2015 but a determined fundraising effort resulted in the event returning in 2016.

The construction of the light rail and street closures in the city ruled out the possibility of a city parade and access to Hyde Park, which had hosted previous celebrations, had been lost.

So organisers moved the celebrations to Prince Alfred Park in Surry Hills. However, rain again forced the cancellation of the so-called Green Gathering. Then, last year, organisers moved the celebration to The Entertainment Quarter in Moore Park.

Sydney St Patrick’s Day Organisation president Karen Murphy said the committee was excited to share the news about The Rocks event.

“We have listened to the community and heard the desire to bring the celebrations back to the city,” Ms Murphy said. “And so, St. Patrick’s Day 2019 will see the return of a parade to the CBD.

“The Rocks has many historical links to the Irish community in Sydney, being one of the first places Irish people settled when they arrived in Australia.

“We want to celebrate the rich cultural heritage of the area and its many associations with the Irish community.”

Sydney will one of the first cities in the world to celebrate St Patrick’s Day and the committee president said the new location will offer the opportunity to showcase the best of the harbour city.

“With the iconic backdrop of the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, we hope it will be a magical day for all those who attend the celebrations,” Ms Murphy added.