Northern Ireland

St Patrick's Day celebrations take place across Northern Ireland

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Media captionA carnival parade passed through the streets of Belfast, as Ciara Riddell reports

Thousands of people have attended St Patrick's Day parades and festivities in towns and cities across Northern Ireland.

The Belfast parade began from the city hall at noon and made its way to Custom House Square for a free concert.

Parades and celebrations were also held in Londonderry, Armagh, Newry, Enniskillen, Omagh and Downpatrick.

For the first time, Stormont was among landmark buildings "going green" in honour of Ireland's patron saint.

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Media captionThousands of people from Londonderry turned out to watch the city's annual St Patrick's Day parade pass through the city centre
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Image caption Crowds gathered in Belfast city centre for the St Patrick's Day celebrations
Image caption Pipers led the Belfast parade
Image caption Flute players also engaged in the celebrations
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Image caption The event provided an opportunity to meet and greet
Image caption The lord mayor of Belfast, Nichola Mallon, was among those taking part
Image copyright Large puppet of St Patrick
Image caption A large puppet of St Patrick entertained the crowds
Image caption As did a selection of Irish dancers
Image caption One toddler sampled the atmosphere with the help of an ice-cream
Image caption Stormont was among the landmarks that turned green in honour of Ireland's patron saint

Derry City Council had promised a "kaleidoscope of colour and culture" during its celebrations, with a free family fun day in the city and a carnival parade set off from the council's headquarters at 14:30 GMT.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, was the guest of honour in County Down, where he took part in a service at Saul Church - built in 1932 to commemorate St Patrick's first church in Ireland.

The archbishop then set out on the pilgrimage walk to Downpatrick, where he laid a wreath at St Patrick's grave before joining a parade through the town.

Carnival

Armagh's five-day St Patrick's Day festival culminated in a carnival procession through the city centre on Tuesday, which began at Palace Demesne at 13:00 GMT.

Earlier, the leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin, delivered the homily at Saint Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh.

"All over the world today people of many creeds, languages and race are celebrating our national saint, Saint Patrick," he said.

"It is a testimony to the tremendous outreach to the rest of the world that Ireland has had over many centuries."

Newry's parade began at noon outside The Quays shopping centre and was followed by live music, Irish dancing and street theatre in the city.

Enniskillen's celebrations started at 13:30 GMT with a family fun day at Broadmeadow, followed by a parade through the County Fermanagh town from 15:30 GMT.

Image caption The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby set out on the pilgrimage walk to Downpatrick
Image caption Earlier, the Archbishop took part in a service at Saul Church in County Down
Image caption A tractor ensured St Patrick was at the centre of proceedings in Omagh, County Tyrone
Image caption It was full steam ahead in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh
Image caption The Apprentice Boys marched in Derry ahead of the main celebrations and separate from them
Image caption Some will never forget the main celebrations in the city

Omagh hosted a parade followed by an open-air concert, and the festivities kicked off in High Street from 13:00 GMT.

Elsewhere, in the Republic of Ireland, thousands of people attended parades, with the largest event taking place in Dublin where the comedian Brendan O'Carroll led participants as Grand Marshal.

Irish President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina attended the Dublin parade.

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Image caption Spectators take a selfie at the St Patrick's Day parade in Dublin

There were various events in Cork, Limerick, Galway, Waterford and many other towns and villages.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Duchess of Cambridge, presents a sprig of shamrock to the mascot of the 1st Battalion Irish Guards, an Irish Wolfhound called Domhnall

Meanwhile, in England, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were guests of honour at the annual St Patrick's Day Parade by the Irish Guards in Aldershot.

The Duchess handed out shamrocks to officers and guardsmen at Mons Barracks.

However, she struggled to pin a sprig on the collar of the regiment's mascot Irish wolfhound, Domhnall, as it kept falling off.

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