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St. Patrick's Day

loyalists's detonated car bomb

Wednesday Mar 17, 1976
Dungannon, Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, the celebration of St Patrick's Day was affected by sectarian divisions. A majority of the population were Protestant Ulster unionists who saw themselves as British, while a substantial minority were Catholic Irish nationalists who saw themselves as Irish. Although it was a public holiday, Northern Ireland's unionist government did not officially observe St Patrick's Day. During the conflict known as the Troubles (the late 1960s–late 1990s), public St Patrick's Day celebrations were rare and tended to be associated with the Catholic community. In 1976, loyalists detonated a car bomb outside a pub crowded with Catholics celebrating St Patrick's Day in Dungannon; four civilians were killed and many injured. However, some Protestant unionists attempted to 're-claim' the festival, and in 1985 the Orange Order held its own St Patrick's Day parade. Since the end of the conflict in 1998, there have been cross-community St Patrick's Day parades in towns throughout Northern Ireland, which have attracted thousands of spectators.


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