The city of Beirut, Lebanon has joined Ireland’s global greening initiative for the first time ever this year. Nejmeh Square, also known as Place de l’Etoile, located in the heart of the city centre lit up emerald green signifying Ireland and Lebanon’s solidarity and friendship.
The greening event was organised by the Irish Consulate in Beirut and the Irish Embassy in Cairo in partnership with the Mayor of Beirut. The greening celebrates the role in which Irish peacekeepers serving with UNIFIL played in protecting Lebanon during decades of conflict, in restoring peace and stability to Lebanon and in forging the bonds of friendship which unite the two countries.
Speaking at the greening event in Beirut, Ireland’s Ambassador to Lebanon, Isolde Moylan – who has also been involved in the greening of the Pyramids in Egypt and Petra in Jordan – talked of the symbolism of the Beirut greening, commenting:
“More than with any other country in this region, the bonds of solidarity and friendship between Ireland and Lebanon are particularly deep and significant, forged as they were in a time of conflict, danger, trauma and suffering in Lebanon and through the service and sacrifice of Irish peacekeepers, 47 of whom gave their lives in this cause and whom we remember tonight.
“The lighting of the heart of Lebanon’s capital city in green, which is the colour of Ireland, of the iconic cedars which are the emblem of Lebanon, and which is the colour too of rebirth and regeneration, symbolises graphically and poignantly the ties which bind us together.”
Nejmeh Square was reconstructed to look exactly as it was before Beirut was razed to the ground in the 25 years of conflict.
Captain Philip Carey, currently serving with UNIFIL in At-Tiri, south Lebanon, said at the event: “Over 30,000 members of the Irish Defence Forces have served as peacekeepers with UNIFIL in Lebanon since 1978 and I am intensely proud to be here at this Greening for St Patrick’s Day, commemorating our role in restoring peace in Lebanon and celebrating the friendship between our two countries and people.”
Tourism Ireland’s annual greening has grown from strength to strength. A number of new landmarks have joined the 2015 celebrations including Jumeirah At Etihad Towers, the Colosseum, the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, the Grand Ole Opry, the famous Porte de Bourgogne in Bordeaux, the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge in Nashville, the Town Halls of Munich and Bamberg, the National Sanctuary of Cristo Rei in Lisbon, the Fram polar exploration ship in Oslo, as well as City Hall in Tbilisi, Georgia.
The new sites will join ‘old favourites’ which have gone green in previous years – including Burj Al Arab, the Great Wall of China, Niagara Falls, the London Eye, the Allianz Arena in Munich, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Sky Tower in Auckland, Cibeles Fountain and Palace in Madrid and one of last year’s newcomers, the Sleeping Beauty castle at Disneyland® in Paris. And, once again, Chicago will be ‘going all out’ with greenings across the city.
Tourism from the Middle East region continues to grow with CSO figures for 2014 announcing that arrivals to Dublin from Asia and the Middle East markets grew by 13% when compared with 2013.