DUBLIN, Ireland, March 17 (UPI) -- A crowd of about 600,000 people gathered Thursday for Dublin's St. Patrick's Day parade, one of 120 held across Ireland.
The celebration of the country's patron saint comes at a difficult time for Ireland and the Roman Catholic Church there, The Irish Times reported. The country has gone from Celtic Tiger to economic slump, while the church is coping with allegations of decades of sexual and physical abuse of children in its institutions and parishes.
The theme of the Dublin parade acknowledged the troubles, the newspaper said. The theme was "Brilliant," by the Dublin writer Roddy Doyle, a short story about two children fighting the black dog of depression hanging over the city.
The crowds, many of them wearing green, watched as floats made their way from Parnell Square to St. Patrick's Cathedral.
Susan Kirby, head of the St. Patrick's Festival, said the organization was "very very pleased" with the event.
"I think Dublin and its people looked very well. I would hope that if even for a short while we were putting our best foot forward and demonstrating what an optimistic country we are," she said.
St. Patrick's parades are a comparatively recent custom in Ireland. They were first held by Irish-Americans in New York.