The Irish community all over the world is celebrating St Patrick’s Day this Friday, March 17. Held in commemoration of Ireland’s patron saint and the arrival of Christianity in the country, the day has since morphed into a celebration of Irish heritage and culture.
The festivities are usually characterised by elaborate parades of people donned in green, with shamrocks and sipping Guinness, the country’s indigenous stout that is one of their most recognisable exports across the world.
In Uganda, the festivities kicked off on Sunday with the Uganda Gaelic Athletic Association family day at Kyadondo Rugby Grounds. This was then followed with the official celebrations that took place last night at the Irish Ambassador Kevin Colgan’s residence in Kampala.
The do attracted diplomats and Ugandan government officials including Uganda’s Foreign Affairs State Minister, Hon. Okello Oryem.
During the event, the Ambassador thanked the Republic of Uganda for being excellent hosts to Irish people and pledged to continue the mission’s work in Karamoja particularly in the education sector.
“We will continue our focus on Karamoja and the work we are doing in educating the people in the region. I also want to thank the Ugandan government for being excellent hosts and allowing the Irish community to flourish,” he said.
He concluded his speech by wishing guests a Happy St Patrick’s Day with a Guinness toast.
The Minister reiterated his words by extending his gratitude towards the Republic of Ireland and the Irish community for their continued efforts to foster education in the country.
“We note with appreciation Ireland’s support to primary and secondary education particularly in the Karamoja region. There has been an improvement and retention in schools and pre-vocational training amongst girls,” he stated.
He also thanked the Government of Ireland for their efforts in fostering trade amongst the two countries.
“Allow me also to commend the government of Ireland for hosting the Uganda Ireland Trade and Tourism Investment Forum which was held in Dublin in September 2019. However even though currently the volume of trade between Uganda and Ireland is still low, now that the COVID 19 Pandemic is over we shall need more economic engagements to increase trade volumes and investment between the two countries,” he added.
Guests at the event were treated to a performance by a traditional Irish Band and dance crew as they sipped the frothy dark Irish stout that is Guinness.
The week-long festivities are continuing today with a St Patrick Pub Craic at Kick Off Sports Bar & Grill in Bukoto, followed by the St Patrick Irish Charity Ball fundraiser that is slated to take place at the Sheraton Hotel on Saturday. The celebrations will climax with the Slan-St Patrick’s Farewell at Yellow Haven Lodge on Sunday.
Speaking about this year’s celebrations, Guinness Uganda Brand Manager Elizabeth Mutamuliza, reiterated Uganda Breweries Ltd’s effort in commemorating St Patrick’s Day, as a way to pay homage to Guinness’ Irish heritage.
“Guinness was first brewed in Dublin, Ireland in 1759 and it is a mainstay in St Patrick’s celebrations all over the world. As Guinness, we recognise that Ireland is our home and we encourage our Guinness consumers across the country to toast to St Patrick’s as we celebrate alongside the Irish community,” she said.
Proceeds from the festivities will go towards supporting Ugandan Charities supported by the Irish society. Some of these will include charities like Hospice Africa, an NGO founded in 1993 by Dr Ann Merriman with a mission to relieve pain and suffering by bringing palliative care to those in Uganda and Africa.
The day is marked annually in honour of St Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint who was killed in the fifth century.