Fake News – St Patrick’s Day Doesn’t Attract Hundreds Of Thousands To Ireland

We are all urged to be on our guard against fake news these days so as a public service we will be highlighting stories which are indeed untrue, those fakes that we must be so aware of. This one being about St Patrick’s Day, that thing that all of us with even the merest shred of Irish heritage are currently trying to recover from.

It’s ITV that gets this wrong – it’s not just Facebook and Twitter that need to be guarded against, obviously:

St Patrick’s Day parades attract hundreds of thousands of revellers to Ireland

This is not so. Ireland’s population has not swelled by some 10% or so as a result of the festivities over the patron saint. It’s that “to” there which makes this fake news. If it had been an “in” then it would have been fair enough:

Hundreds of thousands of people have attended St Patrick’s Day parades in cities, towns and villages across Ireland. Young and old alike of all nationalities lined streets across the country dressed in varying shades of green on Sunday to celebrate the national day.

Fine and I’m sure we’d all agree. Indeed we did, toasting that rather too many times as we did so. Hundreds of thousands went to parades in Ireland. Which is different from hundreds of thousands went to Ireland to go to parades.

Vanessa Ives and Kim Mac Quet were among the thousands of international visitors lining the streets of the capital. The friends travelled from South Africa to attend the parade during their first trip to Ireland. “We love it here. We’re definitely coming back,” they said. But they said that they had come from a heatwave in Johannesburg so they were feeling the cold. They donned green tops, green skirts and had even dyed their hair green for the day. “The atmosphere is great but we think it’ll be even better when people have a couple of pints,” Ms Ives said. Ms Mac Quet said she had decided to visit Ireland to put her Irish passport to use for the first time. Her grandparents were from Ireland. Michael Morel travelled from Paris with his father Patrick and 11 of their friends for the festivities. “It’s really great to be here,” Mr Morel said. “It’s a great festival. People are very nice and very happy.”

There are thousands of foreigners in Dublin at any one time. There might even be some of them who went specifically for the parade and the festivities. But it’s still not true that hundreds of thousands travelled from outside the country to go to the party.

Do note that the population of Ireland is around 5 million at present. 500,000 people is thus 10% of the population, 200,000 (the minimum for hundreds of thousands) is 4%. Tourism as a whole might well swell the population by that much just as outward such will lower it – judging by the street outside yesterday by possibly more. But it isn’t going to be true that the population of Ireland swelled by 4 to 10% just for Paddy’s Day. That’s fake news.

Or a typo of course.

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