St Patrick's Day in the new land 1880. From the collection of the State Library of New South Wales TN115. Illustrated Sydney News, 20 March 1880, p5

From parliamentarians to publicans, the Irish are interwoven into the fabric of Sydney’s community. Each year the Irish come together on 17 March to celebrate the Feast day of the Patron Saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick and Sydney has hosted St Patrick’s Day celebrations since 1795. So in the lead up to St Patrick’s Day, Tim Higgins and I looked back at the festivities over the years.

Over the course of the century St Patrick’s Day took various forms: banquets, picnics, regattas, sports carnivals, concerts and so on. Often the day was packed with a combination of such activities. Not to be forgotten, of course, is the religious service – after all, the day was set aside to commemorate a Christian saint. From very early on the day started with a Mass at St Patrick’s Church Hill and then later solemn High Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral.

Jeff Kildea has written a great article for the Dictionary of Sydney about celebrating St Patrick’s Day in the nineteenth century. It is illustrated with some wonderful images of celebrations around Sydney. Over the course of the twentieth century and up to the present, St Patrick’s Day has continued to display its remarkable ability to adapt and change, ensuring that the feast day of the patron saint of Ireland does not pass unnoticed in Sydney. The parade and family day at Hyde Park will be happening this year on Sunday 16th.

The procession at corner of George and Bridge Streets, St Patrick's Day celebrations in Sydney 1886. From the collection of the State Library of New South Wales TN83. Australian Town and Country Journal, 27 March 1886 p27

In the lead up to St Patrick’s Day, the Dictionary of Sydney is delighted to release our new walking tour app – so you can get out and discover more of Sydney’s history. Our first walk, Old Irish Sydney, is an Irish themed walking tour, made possible through the support of the Irish Government’s Emigrant Support Programme. Discover the Irish people and history behind some of Sydney’s great churches, institutions and societies. Highly illustrated and with links to more content in the Dictionary’s repository, this is a fantastic way to explore Sydney’s history on the streets, on the go, or in the comfort of your armchair.

Download the free app from the end of this week, from Google Play or the Apple App Store.

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