More than 200 residents of Belfast’s Sandy Row celebrated the life of St Patrick in a ground breaking service in St Aidan’s Parish Church on Friday March 16.
The service to celebrate the life of Ireland’s patron saint was a first for this predominantly Protestant community, and was organised by the Sandy Row Residents’ Association.
It was led by the Rev Terence P Kerr, rector of St Aidan’s. Local politicians Alistair McDonnell, SDLP MP for South Belfast, Michael McGimpsey, Ulster Unionist Party Assembly Member for South Belfast, and Tom Ekin, Alliance Councillor, all took part in the service.
Music was provided by the choir of Blythefield Primary School.
Rev Kerr said: “Many people see St Patrick as belonging to one side of the community and Sandy Row Residents’ Association asked me to raise awareness that St Patrick should be remembered by both sides of the community as the one who brought Christianity to Ireland. The service celebrating the life of St Patrick has received widespread support from the residents of the Sandy Row.”
The service was one of a number of events organised by the Residents’ Association to celebrate St Patrick’s Day this year.
Anna McEvoy, voluntary project worker with the association, said: “Young parents at a history project we organised believed St Patrick had nothing to do with them, that he was of the other faith. I have been telling the story of St Patrick to schoolchildren so they see that St Patrick is as much a part of our tradition as anyone else’s and it’s time we started to celebrate. It’s good fun.”