On the occasion of St. Patrick's Day - Ireland's National Day, Irish Ambassador to Vietnam John McCullagh writes about how St. Patrick's Day is celebrated around the world and in Việt Nam
March 17 is St. Patrick’s Day, Ireland’s National Day. It’s an important day for people in Ireland and for the Irish community, 70 million strong, around the world. The day is usually marked by parades and cultural events and through the “greening” of hundreds of monuments and buildings across the globe.
In previous years, various locations in Hà Nội such as the historic Pen Tower have been illuminated in green light on March 17. However, in light of the recent COVID-19 outbreak and in compliance with Vietnamese Government advice, this year Ireland’s Embassy in Hà Nội has put on hold plans for greenings in Hà Nội and HCM City.
The cliffs of Moher on Ireland's Atlantic coast. — Photo courtesy of Tourism Ireland
The small but vibrant Irish community in both cities will mark St. Patrick’s Day in a low-key way. Gaelic sports clubs will arrange exhibitions of football, hurling and camogie. Thoughts will of course turn to home and to the hope that once international travel restrictions are lifted, it will be possible to travel to Ireland to see family and friends and for them to travel to experience the beauty and hospitality of Việt Nam.
2021 is an important year for Ireland in Việt Nam. It marks the 25th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between our countries and 15 years since the opening of Ireland’s Embassy in Hà Nội. Events to mark the 25th anniversary will take place throughout the year.
Over the past 15 years, Ireland and Việt Nam have co-operated closely in areas such as research and teaching methods in universities, food safety, mine risk education and support for youth, persons with disabilities and ethnic minority communities. Last year we worked with our partners to re-direct funding towards COVID-19 prevention. In October, Ireland contributed some VNĐ7 billion (US$303,000) as an emergency response to the devastating floods in central Việt Nam. Now that the initial emergency has receded, we will support the longer-term recovery and resilience of communities most affected.
Ireland and Việt Nam are co-operating closely on the global stage too. Last June, Ireland was elected as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. Our term in office overlaps with Việt Nam’s this year and we are working together on shared priorities such as UN peacekeeping and disarmament.
2021 marks another important anniversary – the centenary of the end of Ireland’s War of Independence. The truce agreed on July 11, 1921, led to the formal agreement for Ireland’s independence in 1922.
The low-key St. Patrick’s Day celebrations this year are a reflection of the challenging times in which we live due to the pandemic and recognition for the hardship and suffering caused by COVID-19 over the past year. With vaccines on the way, there is light in the darkness and the possibility of life returning to normal for all in 2022.
Hopefully, next year will bring renewed opportunities for Irish and Vietnamese peoples to travel, to deepen the ties between us and to share each other’s culture, music and heritage. — VNS