Middle Eastern countries celebrate St. Patrick's Day

Middle Eastern countries celebrate St. Patrick's Day
Traditionally a Catholic day of festivities, St. Patrick’s day has become an opportunity to celebrate Irish identity in diasporic communities around the world. This year, commemorations took place from Palestine to Dubai.
3 min read
18 March, 2022
Irish folk legend Martin Hayes played at Dubai Expo, while the last surviving Kufiya factory in Palestine started producing the 'Saoirse Kufiya' [Getty]

As parades took place across the globe yesterday to mark St. Patrick's Day, countries across the Middle East celebrated Irish contributions to music, culture and resistance to British colonial rule. 

The small Gaelic nation, which has a long history of colonial rule by the British empire, shares many links of solidarity with organisations in Palestine and among the Palestinian people living under Israeli occupation. 

To mark the day, Hirbawi - Palestine’s last producer of traditional Palestinian headscarves - made a new design called the "Saoirse Kufiya", remembering decades of shared struggle and solidarity between the Irish and Palestinian peoples. 

“To this day, the Irish people are the most outspoken European defenders of the Palestinian right to liberty and self-determination… for the memory and consequence of colonization lives on in the marrow of every Irish bone!” Hirbawi said in a statement. 

Meanwhile, in the UAE's Dubai Expo, Irish fiddle player and world-famous musical ambassador Martin Hayes performed alongside a host of musicians to a packed crowd of children and adults - including a large contingent of Irish children dancing enthusiastically. 

In Turkey, Istanbul's notorious Irish pub held its annual festival to mark the occasion. The James Joyce Irish Pub, just off one of Istanbul’s most notorious nightlife streets, featured live dancing, music, an ample beer selection, and plenty of traditional Irish food.

St. Patrick, a catholic born to immigrant parents from Italy, was captured and taken to Ireland as a slave in the fourth century A.D. 

He is traditionally heralded as the man responsible for driving the "snake" of paganism out of Ireland - and spreading Catholicism across the Gaelic-speaking country - though historians now believe his role as a missionary to be overstated. 

In Ireland today, meanwhile, activists re-launched the Black Shamrock campaign on St. Patrick’s day, which mourns the lives lost as a result of Irish collaboration in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. 

The Irish state’s long-held tradition of military neutrality and careful diplomacy has been tested by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine - as Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney made clear to the Irish parliament last week. 

“We have chosen to take sides in that regard because we believe that Russian aggression is not only illegal . . . but is also something that Ireland needs to morally take a stand on,” he told the Dáil Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence on Thursday.