St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland

Emerald Isles Festivities

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Certain festivals and events are inextricably linked with countries around the world.

Oktoberfest and Germany; Japan and cherry blossom festivals; and, of course, Ireland and St. Patrick’s Day. And whether they’re Irish or just feel Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, for many, being in the Emerald Isles on this special holiday is the ultimate bucket list trip.

A National Holiday

March 17 is a national holiday that is held in honor of Ireland’s patron saint, St. Patrick. As such, schools, government offices and many businesses are closed, just as the U.S. closes for President’s day.

Because St. Patrick’s Day is also considered a religious feast day, it wasn’t until the 1970s that pubs were actually allowed to open on this holiday, at which point we’re quite sure the entire celebration took on a new tone.

Today, the Irish and the rest of us, now celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with great exuberance, and you’ll find many fun events being held throughout the country on this holiday.

Parades and Festivals

Don’t spend all your time in the pub, head outdoors to enjoy one of these fantastic celebrations, but be ready to pace yourselves they aren’t just a one day event.

The Home of St. Patrick Festival
Held in Armagh, Ireland’s oldest city, the Home of St. Patrick’s Festival is a 17-day event that celebrates the life of Ireland’s patron saint, spiritual faith and the amazing culture of this country. The festival is also a showcase for Ireland’s many talented artists.

The St. Patrick’s Day parade in Galway
This colorful parade, which will be celebrating its 114th anniversary in 2017, will feature many local artists and community groups.  The Irish Mirror included Galway’s parade on its list of the best St. Patrick’s Day parades in Ireland.

St. Patrick’s Festival in Dublin
Not surprisingly, the capital of Ireland throws an amazing celebration. This four-day festival includes fireworks over the River Liffey, approximately 30 events and more than 4,000 performers, and its parade attracts about half a million people each year, making it the largest in Ireland.

It wasn't until the 1970s that pubs were actually allowed to open on St Patrick's Day.

Irish Fare 

For Americans, corned beef and cabbage is heavily associated with St. Patrick’s Day. In Ireland, not so much.

What do the Irish eat on St. Patrick’s Day? A recent poll conducted by an Irish radio station discovered that, there really isn’t any specific dish associated with St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland.

If you’re dead set on eating something very Irish for St. Patrick’s Day, consider ordering a shepherd’s pie or nibbling on some soda bread. You’ll, of course, want to indulge in at least one Guinness or two to wash it all down.

In Dublin, check out Johnnie Fox’s Pub, it’s one of Ireland’s oldest and most famous pubs. Johnnie Fox’s Pub features live traditional Irish music every night, as well as on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.  And during its Hooley nights, you can enjoy a four-course meal, live Irish music and a performance by Irish dancers.

Interesting St. Patrick’s Day Facts and Legends

  • Although the color green has long been associated with St. Patrick’s Day, the saint himself is typically depicted wearing light blue vestments.
  • According to legend, St. Patrick banished snakes from Ireland. The truth? Scientists believe that there never were any snakes on the Emerald Isle.
  • The village of Dripsey in County Cork, Ireland, once held the record for the shortest St. Patrick’s Day parade. The route was only 25 yards long and was held between the village’s two pubs. Sadly, the parade had to cease when one of the pubs closed in 2007.
There really isn't any specific dish associated with St. Patrick's Day in Ireland

Travel Tips

Not surprisingly, visitors from around the world descend on Ireland during this period of time, so it’s important that you:

  • Time your visit to the Guinness Storehouse. According to the Daily Mail, the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin is the most popular tourist attraction in Europe. So you can only imagine what it is like on St. Patrick’s Day. That is why some people suggest that you visit this popular tourist attraction on the days before or after the holiday.
  • Don’t pinch. If someone is not wearing green, refrain from pinching them. That is an American custom, not something that is done in Ireland.
  • Buy your green items before you go. If you want to save money, stock up on your silly green leprechaun hats and sunglasses before you head to the Emerald Isle. You’ll pay a premium if you wait to buy those same items in Ireland.

Our biggest tip, relax and soak up this incredible atmosphere!