Posts Tagged ‘St Patrick’

Brent St Patrick’s Day Parade

Thursday, March 17th, 2022

Brent St Patrick’s Day Parade

Brent is the London Borough with the largest Irish population and there are also significant numbers in the neighbouring boroughs of Camden and Islington and Hammersmith & Fulham, with Kilburn and Willesden Green being the in particular having large populations of Irish descent,

Brent St Patrick's Day Parade
St Patrick, Willeden Green, 2007

So it was hardly surprising that Willesden Green for some years had its own St Patrick’s Day procession, held on the day itself, March 17th, as well as the London celebration begun in 2002 when Ken Livingstone was Mayor on the nearest Sunday. Labour Brent also celebrated days for some of its other communities until recently cuts in funding from a Tory dominated central government made this no longer possible.

Willeden Green, 2007

The parade in Brent was on a smaller and friendlier scale than the London parade, and far more a community festival on the street, with others as well as the Irish joining in and having a good time.

St Patrick, Willesden Green, 2008

The multi-cultural nature of Brent was clear in that the parade began outside an Islamic Cultural Centre and those taking part included many local school-children from a whole mix of heritages. Brent as well as St Patrick’s Day also then celebrated Diwali, Eid, Christmas, Chanukah and Navrati, and Holocaust Memorial Day, along with a black history programme, its own ‘Respect’ festival and a world food and music festival.

Willesden Green, 2008

St Patrick blesses the photographer, Willesden Green, 2009

But it was very clearly an Irish event, with Irish people from all across London coming to watch and take part, both in the parade and in the various pubs and bars along the route.

Willesden Green, 2009

Some of the floats in the parade were also in the main London St Patrick’s Day parade, but the atmosphere here was much more relaxed. Here are a few pictures that I made from 2009-2013.

Willesden Green, 2009
Willesden Green, 2010
Willesden Green, 2010
Willesden Green, 2010
Willesden Green, 2010
Willesden Green, 2011
Willesden Green, 2012
Two St Patricks, Willesden Green, 2012
Willesden Green, 2012
Willesden Green, 2013

In 2013, the event was much smaller as council funding had been cut, thanks to Tory austerity policies. And because St Patricks Day that year was on the Sunday, the celebration in Brent was held a day earlier so not to clash with the London parade.

I think this was the last St Patrick’s Day Parade in Brent – certainly it was the last I photographed. You can see many other pictures from Brent St Patrick’s Day Parade on My London Diary

Brent St Patrick’s Day Parade 2007 (scroll down the page)
Brent St Patrick’s Day Parade 2008
Brent St Patrick’s Day Parade 2009
Brent St Patrick’s Day Parade 2010
Brent St Patrick’s Day Parade 2011
Brent St Patrick’s Day Parade 2012
Brent St Patrick’s Day Parade 2013


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St Pat’s Day

Wednesday, March 17th, 2021

I don’t think March 17th 2002 was the first time I photographed St Patrick’s Day celebrations in London, but it is the earliest that I have pictures of on My London Diary. It looks as if the picture above was taken outside Westminster Cathedral, and later images are clearly in Trafalgar Square.

In later years the parade went from Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square, and the event, with backing from London Mayor Ken Livingstone and considerable sponsorship grew larger and trickier to photograph. I became more interested in smaller St Patrick’s Day events taking place elsewhere in the capital, and especially in Brent, where there was usually a parade on the actual day itself, with a large local Irish population coming out on their own streets.

The London Borough of Brent for years supported a number of community events including this, but also others that reflected the multicultural nature of its population – until government cuts made this impossible to continue, and funding was withdrawn in 2013. These were events that drew the communities together, with others joining in with their Irish neighbours and local schools getting all their pupils involved. They also celebrated Diwali, Eid, Christmas, Chanukah and Navrati, as well as Holocaust Memorial Day, and had a black history programme, their own ‘Respect’ festival and a world food and music festival.

I think I first photographed the Brent parade in 2007, going there with several photographer friends, including Bronx-born Irish-American John Benton-Harris who has covered St Patrick’s Day celebrations for many years and whose Saint Patrick’s People is available from Cafe Royal books.

I went to Brent again in several years, and it was always a great event to cover. The only problem with it was that once the parade was over the local pubs were far too crowded and we had to go elsewhere to get a drink.

There are far too many pictures to show here – I’ll add some links at the bottom of the piece as usual.

In these later years I did find myself faced with a problem. While the Irish were celebrating their saint, a Romano-British missionary who converted Ireland to Christianity at some time in the early Fifth century – Syrians in the UK were marking the anniversary of their revolution – which was being brutally repressed by the Assad regime. While timings made it possible to cover both stories, it did mean rushing away from one or the other, perhaps missing the end of the events, and I found the necessary switch in mood difficult.

St Patrick’s Day on My London Diary
2002
2004 (scroll down the page)
2005 (scroll down the page)
2006 (scroll down the page)
2007 (scroll down the page – 2 stories)
2008
2009 – London and Brent
2010
2011
2012
2013


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.