A Happy St Patrick’s Day (17 March) to all our readers!

This year on St Patrick’s Day, Trade and Export Finance (TAEFL) is joining up with one of its strategic partners Clear Treasury, a Forex company. They will mix business with pleasure, watching The Cheltenham Gold Cup. Of course, they’ll be talking trade finance, foreign exchange and doing a bit of networking too, but they find that the cogs of trade mesh better when oiled well….over a pint of the black stuff…………also known as ‘drowning the shamrock’. Allegedly, there will be 13 million pints of the stuff (Guinness that is), sold all over the world on this day:-no doubt a large proportion in Ireland itself!

Based in Birmingham, some of the TAEFL team – Mary and Mark – will be enjoying the annual St Patrick’s Day Parade around Digbeth. This year it’s all about the dance and there is even a fun run – ‘The Emerald Mile’- for our two intrepid runners Mark and Ben to participate in.  And it’s not just the Irish that enjoy the day-there is usually a green (Chinese) dragon and people of other nationalities come out to play too and are given an “a hundred thousand welcomes”- “cead mile failte!”

Did you know that Birmingham has the second largest parade after New York?

In fact, how much do you know about Ireland’s patron saint?

Well, Saint Patrick’s Day, is a cultural and religious celebration held on 17 March, the traditional death date of Saint Patrick, patron saint of Ireland. He died in 461, in Saul Co Down. It’s a time of spiritual renewal, the original intended meaning.

St Patrick’s Day was great for me as a kid because it meant a day off school…However, we had to go to Mass and have memorised the words of Hail Glorious St Patrick, in order to perform it with our fellow classmates at the end of the service. Then, it was off to meet our friends and watch a parade with the usual bagpipe bands, colourful floats and a general carnival atmosphere. It was great craic, especially if the sun shone but then again it was not unusual to have snow! In the evening at home there would be a ceilidh or story telling-my favourite. We didn’t have TV’s or any ‘monitors’ so this is how we used our imaginations-allegedly better for our mental health.

Irish or not, the world goes green on St Patrick’s Day- rivers, buildings, fountains in Leicester square, even bridges! And TAEFL is very excited to learn that Dave and Bart from Armadillo (client), specialist in LED lightning; will be turning the Millennium Bridge green for us! The colour green is now identifiable with Ireland as people of Irish background wear it along with their shamrock. St Patrick used the shamrock – a young sprig of clover, as a metaphor to explain the Christian trinity-the father, the son and the Holy Spirit.

Interestingly, according to Wikipedia, the first St Patrick’s event was not held in Ireland at all but in Boston in 1737. This was followed by an ‘official’ parade in New York in 1766 while Ireland’s first parade was held in Waterford in 1903 and then Dublin in 1931! Today the parade in Dublin is a huge colourful, dramatic event that winds its way through that historic city with vibrant displays and international bands.

Watch out for the fairies and the leprechauns and if you spy one be sure and say, ‘Top of the mornin to ya!’

And finally, as they say in Ireland, “may you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead”!

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