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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Irish Eyes on St. Patricks Fete

Moscow's Irish community has begun planning St. Patrick's Day festivities that will include 150 entertainers to be flown here from the Emerald Isle for a week of cultural events.

"We're building on the success of last year's parade", said Damian Gibbons, local business development manager for the Irish company AerRianta International, which is spearheading the event.

Last year the Irish community organized Moscow's first St. Patrick's Day Parade. A flock of foreigners and hundreds of bewildered Muscovites unfamiliar with St. Patrick's Day lined Novy Arbat to view 38 Irish and Russian bands and floats. About 1, 000 attended a reception afterwards.

AerRianta, which operates the Arbat Irish House and the Duty Free Shops at Sheremetyevo II, spent 30, 000 Irish pounds (approximately $50, 000) on the event.

"This year, we've spent about 70, 000 Irish pounds and we have the same number of entries signed up for the parade, with seven weeks to go", Gibbons said.

"It's a huge stress on our resources, but the idea of a parade seems so natural - especially since we have about 400 in the Irish community here now", he said.

The Irish Embassy and the Moscow City Committee of Culture are helping organize the festivities, which begin March 8 and climax Sunday March 14 with the parade. The date was selected because March 17, St. Patrick's Day itself, falls on a Thursday.

Several cultural events are planned to familiarize Russians with Irish culture, Gibbons said. The events will be free, with tickets distributed through sponsors, he said.

"We hope the international community will join us in giving something back to Russia", he said. Companies will pay $2, 000 to sponsor events and receive a bulk number of tickets to be distributed free to Russians and the foreign community.

Irish concert pianist John O'Connor and The Artane Boys Band, well known in Ireland as the band traditionally associated with St. Patrick's Day parades, will be among the entourage coming to Moscow, Gibbons said.

"The band turned down two invitations from the United States to come to lead the parade in Moscow", he said.

O'Connor will play nocturnes composed by John Fields, who died and was buried in Moscow, at a performance on March 9. Several Irish films are planned to be shown, including the award-winning "My Left Foot" and "The Commitments".

A Russian premier of "The Island Wedding", a classical composition by Cathal Lennon is scheduled for March 12 to be performed by 10 Irish musicians and the Moscow Conservatory Orchestra.

Other events include a showing of Walt Disney films for about 2, 000 Moscow orphans and a gala performance for the public including the Irish Rock Band Celtic Fusion, the Artane Boys Band, and Irish and Russian folk dancers and singers.

"Muscovites know little about the Irish culture", said Alexander Lazarev, deputy chairman of the Moscow Committee for Culture. "We hope this event will help to develop a long-term exchange of art and culture between Moscow and Dublin".