Foot and mouth disease dampens Ireland's St Patrick's Day celebrations
An Irish bishop led his congregation in prayers for an end to foot-and-mouth disease Saturday, on a somber St Patrick's Day overshadowed by the battle against foot and mouth disease.
As Irish celebrated overseas with parades and shamrocks, Ireland itself marked its quietest St Patrick's Day in living memory.
So great is the government's fear of the disease - which has spread across Britain but has so far not entered the Irish Republic - that it cancelled parades, fireworks and other festivities across the country.
"The outbreaks in the United Kingdom have dealt a severe blow to the farming community, significantly muting the traditional celebrations," said Philip Boyce, the Catholic Bishop of Raphoe.
His diocese straddles the border with Northern Ireland, where one case of foot-and-mouth has been identified.
"It is a blessing the Republic has escaped so far and prayers that Ireland may be spared are being offered," Boyce said in his St Patrick's Day message.