Tourism Ireland did not want to actively ask monuments to be turned ‘green’ for St Patrick’s Day with concerns over how it would be perceived where cities were trying to save on electricity costs.

The tourism promotion agency was particularly worried about central and eastern Europe, which had been worst hit by higher energy prices, according to internal records.

One said: “Local Authorities [in those countries] are saving on public lighting costs because of higher energy pricing brought about by the war in Ukraine and we are keen to respect this perspective.”

Certain “greenings” were still going ahead, according to correspondence with the Department of Foreign Affairs, with plans in place for lighting up Sydney Opera House and the Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil.

However, Tourism Ireland said they would not “actively seek greenings” in March, for the second year in a row, on both occasions due to the impact of the war in Ukraine.

They did say they would not seek to hinder cities where it was “established practice or where the local administrations are already disposed to green landmarks for St Patrick’s Day”.

Discussions over whether ‘global greening’ would go ahead began as early as last November with a senior official at Tourism Ireland asking colleagues how it would be “perceived” in 2023.

By December, the agency had set staff a new challenge of trying to come up with the “next big idea” for St Patrick’s Day.

One internal email said: “We’re looking for ideas similar to Global Greening in terms of impact and budget – a very hard task I know but one we’re definitely up for!”

Nearly two dozens ideas were put forward for a vote including turning bus stops green, or “going green” with living walls.

Other ideas suggested were turning lights off on international monuments to support sustainability and “swapping global greening for greenery”.

Other ideas included ‘the Great Paddy Dash’, ‘The Voice of the Irish’, ‘the Great Paddy Planting Drive’, and one called ‘Saint for a Day’.

In internal emails, Director of Markets Siobhan McManamy said there had been “three pretty clear winners” from voting on the initiative while some other concepts might work in the longer term with more time to prepare.

The three chosen ideas were ‘A world reimaged this St Patrick’s Day’, one about creating art installations that ‘fill your heart with Ireland’, and another based around kinetic interactive dance, which ended up taking place in London.

Asked about the records, Tourism Ireland said they had taken the decision not to promote Global Greening due to the energy crisis.

” Although we did not promote [it] this year, the Tourism Ireland teams around the world rolled out a major programme of trade, media and consumer activity to highlight the island of Ireland as a superb holiday destination,” a spokesperson said.

“St Patrick’s Day is a hugely important date in our calendar and traditionally marks the real start of the tourism season for us. It is a unique opportunity for Irish tourism and Tourism Ireland rolled out a really extensive programme of promotions to leverage that opportunity.”

– reporting Ken Foxe

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