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Irish Calgarians celebrate their heritage on St. Patrick’s Day 2023

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Many Calgarians celebrated St. Patrick's Day 2023 with a pint in hand while donning their green attire, but many others used the day to learn more about the significance of Irish culture.

The Irish Cultural Society (ICS) held a special mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Mission, followed by a luncheon in the parish hall featuring Irish dancing and choir singers.

Co-chair Ray Kavanagh says the day is more than just about drinking green beer at your local pub.

"If you're Irish, it's the day of the year that’s bigger than your birthday or your anniversary," he said.

"It’s also fitting that the mass we had this year was celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement."

Signed on April 10, 1998, the signing of the Good Friday Agreement ended most of the violence of The Troubles, a political conflict in Northern Ireland that had prevailed since the late 1960s.

ICS co-Chair Mike Tuohy says St. Patrick’s Day is also a chance for others to recognize that Irish-Canadians have a spiritual side to them.

"St. Patrick himself brought Christianity to Ireland so in the depth of our Irish heritage, we have a very strong faith that arises with each generation," he said.

"It’s just so great to encourage the younger people to come together here and meet so many people that have been part of these celebrations here in Calgary for more than 40 years."

Speaking of the younger generation, some of the city’s most talented Irish dancers and singers performed Friday at various venues.

Shaela Brossart is just 10-years-old but she’s already been dancing for almost half of her life, alongside her 12-year-old sister Aine.

The pair will be representing Calgary’s Casey O’Loughlin Academy of Irish Dance at the world championships in Montreal later this year.

"It’s really cool to be able to share Irish culture with so many people every single day," said Shaela.

Aine agrees, saying she can’t wait to showcase her skills.

"It's really difficult as a dancer sometimes, but I find for me and for other people in my dance studio, our main goal is to go there and have fun and just enjoy ourselves."

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