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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

When Irish eyes will be smiling

The New Arbat will be transformed Sunday as Moscow's Irish community takes to the streets for the city's first St. Patrick's Day Parade.


A cortege of brightly decorated floats, a brass band and eight horses from a Moscow military academy with riders decked in cossack costumes will pass slowly down the street as Russian majorettes strut alongside Irish and Russian folk dancers. Beginning at 3 p. m. at the Arbat restaurant, the colorful procession will also finish up at the Valdai restaurant near the Kremlin.


But that's only the beginning of the celebrations in Moscow, of Ireland's national holiday. The Irish Store, the host and organizer of the parade, invites anyone who loves a party to toast the occasion with a mug of green Guinness and partake in other activities throughout the day. A group of Irish musicians flown here especially for the event will perform Gaelic tunes, and two Russian folk groups, one of . them a children's band will entertain. The store will close between 2 and 6 p. m. , but the bar will open again at 6 p. m.


"We want as many people as possible to join in", says parade coordinator Dee Mahoney. "We deliberately set the date for Sunday, although the actual St. Patrick's Day is March 17th, so that Russian people can enjoy the fun. We'll be doing face painting for example, and we'd like Russian parents to bring their children for that".


At a reception at the end of the afternoon Irish Ambassador Patrick McCabe will present the traditional cutglass shamrock the Irish national symbol to a member of Moscow city council.


The Irish Embassy is marking its country's national day with several events throughout the week. Ambassador McCabe will host two receptions, one for the Russian and diplomatic community, the other for Irish nationals. The University of Ulster Gaelic Football Club from Jordanstown, near Belfast will arrive in Moscow to play exhibition match and challenge matches against Moscow State University.


Such a wide range of festivities sprang from tales about St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. According to folklore, he was just a wee lad when he was taken there. Later, it is said, he expelled all the snakes from the island. St. Patrick also brought Christianity to the Irish and, in keeping with that spirit, there will be a service at 12: 30 p. m. , before the parade starts, at the Malaya Lubyanka Church of St. Louis Des Francaise.


Rounding off the observance of Irish culture, the embassy and the M. I. Rudomino State Library for Foreign Literature at Ulyanovskaya Street will present an evening on the works of novelist and playwright William Trevor on March 18.


Trevor, born in 1928, has won two Whitbread prizes, been nominated for the Booker prize, and awarded a CBE for his work for literature, "He's very interesting in that he was born into a small minority, the Protestants, in the southwest of the republic of Ireland", McCabe said "Now he lives in England and straddles two cultures".