Ireland's biggest ever St Patrick's Day parade will take place in Dublin at noon with more than 3,000 participants expected to take part.
The parade will begin snaking its way through the city centre from its starting point at Parnell Square North and travel down O'Connell Street, passing the grandstand at the GPO, from where President Mary McAleese will be watching. The parade will then go up Westmoreland Street, turn on to Dame Street and up to Christchurch Cathedral before ending at St Patrick's Cathedral. Olympian athlete Eamonn Coghlan is the Grand Marshal and 2008 marks 25 years since he broke the world record for the indoor mile. The parade is expected to take two hours to wind its way along the 3km route and organisers estimate that it will attract more than 500,000 people. The parade will also be broadcast live on RTÉ. Some 16 marching bands from countries such as the US, Japan and Italy will provide entertainment. There will be 11 pageants from street theatre companies and theatre groups from Ireland and further afield. The Céilí Mór, which is being billed as the world's largest outdoor Irish music and dance event, will then get start at Earlsfort Terrace at 2.30pm. Parades will take place in other Irish cities today with 50 floats will take part in the Cork city parade which will start at 1pm at the Parnell Place end of the South Mall. Belfast's St Patrick's Day celebrations will centre on a carnival parade, which leaves City Hall at 12pm. It will be followed by a free concert in the 5,000-capacity Custom House Square at 1pm. The Galway parade starts at Dominick Street at 12.30pm, before making its way to the city's Eyre Square. The Limerick city parade will begin at 12 noon and will be grand marshalled by the Munster rugby team's most capped player Anthony Foley. The Killarney parade will begin at Ross Road at 2pm and will be led by Antarctic explorer Pat Falvey. Listowel marked its 30th annual St Patrick's Day parade yesterday with contributions by several sporting groups including the Kerry County GAA club champions, the local Feale Rangers.