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Ireland reschedules St. Patrick's day

DUBLIN, Ireland -- St. Patrick's Day celebration is set to go ahead in Ireland two months later than planned due to a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak.

The annual national festival, which traditionally attracts over a million people to the streets of the capital, Dublin, will take place on May 18-20, officials said.

The postponement of St. Patrick's Day festivities on March 17 caused bitter disappointment both in Ireland and among thousands of Irish abroad who travel home each year for the weekend.

Aine McCann at the St. Patrick's Festival Board in Dublin said: "It's a big party to celebrate our national saint, and hopefully, to mark the end of the foot-and-mouth crisis. And there will also be the novelty of having it in May and the possibility of sunshine."

Irish Agriculture Minister Joe Walsh said the three-day party was going ahead under strictly controlled conditions and that people would be discouraged from traveling from restricted areas, particularly Britain.

"We have to prevent the virus coming into Ireland. I can't over emphasise this...and I want to appeal to people to continue with the good work they are doing," he said.

Ireland, which quickly introduced measures to prevent the spread of the animal virus, has confirmed only one outbreak -- on a farm close to the border with Northern Ireland last month.

St. Patrick's Day is the biggest event in Ireland's national calendar and marks the death of Ireland's patron saint.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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