Manchester Irish Festival: Green and white of Ireland invade Manchester’s red and blue as 200,000 expected

The red and blue of Manchester is about to see an influx of green and white – as 200,000 people prepare to flock to the city’s 11-day Irish Festival, which kicks off today.

A wide range of events celebrating Irish culture, heritage, comedy, literature, music, sport and theatre will take place around Manchester throughout the annual festival.

The festival will draw to a close in spectacular fashion with a St Patrick’s Day parade through the city, which features floats representing every Irish county.

Around 100,000 are expected to join the march, which is the biggest annual parade in the UK.

The parade is being organised by the Irish World Heritage Centre – based in Cheetham Hill – and the centre’s Cultural Development Officer Margot Power is extremely excited about the festival.

“It’s a great opportunity for people to come together and celebrate Irish culture and heritage,” she told MM.

“There’s so many people in Manchester who have Irish heritage, even it’s going back four or five generations, there’s a brilliant relationship between the Irish community and Manchester and it is a great example of successful integration of a culture into a community.”

The Irish World Heritage Centre have also organising the Irish writing workshops, family history workshops and performance from Irish comedian Jimmy Cricket.

Margot expects the family history workshop in particular to be a highlight, as families can utilise the services of professional genealogists to find out more about their roots.

“If someone was able to hire their (the genealogists’) services it would really be quite costly,” she added. “But the family history workshop is only £5 admission.”

“It is a brilliant opportunity for people in Manchester to talk to people doing research and discover more about their family history, I think it is a really worthwhile event.”

Other highlights include tomorrow night’s Manchester Irish Blues Festival headlined by singer-songwriter Sean Taylor at m19 bar in Levenshulme.

All of the planned events over the 11-day period will mark the festival’s 19th birthday.

Anne Beswick, a tour guide who specialises in Manchester’s Irish heritage and history, believes similarities between the Irish and Mancunians has been key to its success over the years.

“Irish culture is fun-loving and straightforward, a culture of ordinary working people who need to let their hair down occasionally,” she told MM.

“That is also pretty much what Mancunians are like too. It’s a convivial, friendly and inclusive culture which fits with what Mancunians enjoy and also makes it an easy festival to join in.” 

It is estimated that the annual event generates £10million in revenue for Manchester and its suburbs, with approximately one million pints of beer sold over the 11-day jamboree.

Paul Simpson, managing director of Visit Manchester, welcomes the much needed boost the festivities will inject into the city’s economy.

“Having grown from a small community festival to one of the biggest celebrations of Irish heritage and culture outside of its home country, Manchester Irish Festival is a fantastic event which draws thousands of visitors to the city each year and provides a significant boost to the local economy,” he said.

A spokesman for the festival said: “The Irish like a good party and there is always a welcome on the mat for the whole of Manchester, who all enjoy turning Irish for the 11-day shindig.”

For more information about the Manchester Irish Festival click here.

Image courtesy of Ardfern, via Flickr, with thanks.


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