Luton Irish Forum celebrate St Patrick's Day in lockdown style

Even a year-long lockdown didn’t stop Luton Irish Forum (LIF) members and other locals enjoying St Patrick’s 2021.

Monday, 22nd March 2021, 7:17 pm
Updated Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 9:36 am

On the day itself (March 17), 50 local people who struggle to cook or are socially isolated enjoyed a bacon and cabbage lunch, kindly donated and cooked by O’Shea’s Bar & Grill and delivered to their home by the LIF team.

An interactive online quiz was opened by Therese Walsh, First Secretary for Economic and Trade Affairs at the Embassy of Ireland, welcoming guests with a pre-recorded message. Some 120 people joined the live Zoom event, including both MPs for the town, Rachel Hopkins (Luton South) and Sarah Owen (Luton North).

Quizmaster was Eddie Doherty (formerly of The Pines Hotel) whose entertaining banter made for an evening full of fun and laughter. So admired was his tie that he was ‘persuaded’ to donate it as an additional raffle prize!

Luton Irish Forum’s building on Hitchin Road, lit up in green to celebrate St Patrick’s Day 2021

The occasion was made extra special by many audience members dressing up in green and dining on traditional bacon and cabbage dinners or Irish snack boxes from Jack Berr Catering delivered to their homes.

Audience member Elaine Lister said: “Thank you all so very much for still celebrating St Patrick's day in a very different way... it has made it very memorable”, while Sharon O’Neill thought it was a “really good community gathering, lovely to see the older generations connecting”.

Anyone driving along Hitchin Road near the town centre at the time, on Wednesday evening, may have seen a huge green light. It wasn’t aliens but was Luton Irish Forum’s building, lit up kindly courtesy of BT Events, which usually does the staging, lighting and sound for the annual Luton St Patrick’s Festival.

A popular character at festival parades over the year is ‘St Patrick’ (aka Tony Murphy, LIF volunteer). Unable to parade this year, he joined LIF staff in fundraising by taking on the Jerusalema challenge. The group video and solo freestyling by ‘St Patrick’ can be viewed on the charity’s Facebook page, where there’s also a link to fundraising details.

Oldest recipient of a bacon and cabbage lunch Mary Cleary, 100 years young.

Themed activities packs and a booklet including the story of St Patrick are available to download free from the St Patrick’s page at“St Patrick’s was certainly different this year, but we still managed to laugh and have the craic!” says Liz O’Halloran, chair of Luton St Patrick’s planning committee. “Hopefully we can go ahead with a festival next year and it will be even more special to make up for the last two!”

LIF is appealing for anyone with photos or video footage of previous Festivals from the past 21 years to get in touch and help build an archive that will be available free online for anyone worldwide to view. Get in touch with LIF via 01582 720447 or [email protected] for details.

St Patrick (aka Tony Murphy, LIF volunteer) is a popular character at Luton St Patricks Festivals.
The Luton Irish Forum team delivered bacon and cabbage lunches to 50 local people who struggle to cook or are socially isolated, along with smiles and good cheer, on St Patricks Day 2021.