Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia

Irish (The) and Ireland

Saint Patrick’s Day Parade

Color photograph of a group of men playing bagpipes. They are wearing kilts and other traditional Irish clothing. Behind them city hall and a large crowd of spectators is visible.

For decades, Philadelphia’s Saint Patrick’s Day parade has celebrated Irish heritage through song, dance, costume, and general revelry. (Photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)

Visit Philadelphia

For decades, Philadelphia’s Saint Patrick’s Day parade has celebrated Irish heritage through song, dance, costume, and general revelry. Though some groups choose to wear bright, flashy costumes, others opt for somber, military-inspired dress.

The kilt, worn by the men pictured here, is often associated with traditional Irish dress, though it was likely introduced to the Irish by the Scottish in the twentieth century and made popular by Irish nationalists seeking a uniform, military ensemble to lend legitimacy to the cause of Irish Independence. The men pictured here also hold bagpipes, an instrument often associated with the Scottish that has been used across Britan and Ireland since the mid-eighteenth century and was traditionally made out of sheep intestines.

In the twenty-first century, a variety of bagpipe ensembles march in the Saint Patrick’s Day parade along with high school marching bands, flutists, dancers, local businesses, and many Irish and non-Irish groups. (Photograph by R. Kennedy)

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