A commemoration of Ireland’s patron saint and the arrival of Christianity in the Republic of Ireland, St Patrick’s Day is a celebration of the country’s religion and culture that takes place on March 17th every year. While the occasion is now celebrated in various countries around the world, nothing beats a trip to Ireland to join in with the festivities on the day’s home turf.
There are a number of traditions associated with St Patrick’s Day. The colour green has become associated with the occasion over the years, and wearing green, shamrocks or shamrock-related designs is incredibly common on the day. It is also a day when music, entertainment, parades and markets are held. All over the Republic of Ireland there are different events and gatherings to mark the occasion – and here are our top picks.
Without a doubt, one of the best places to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in the Republic of Ireland is in Dublin, where every year sees the city come alive with a four or five day St Patrick’s Festival. In 2014, the festival is taking place from March 14th to 17th: four days and nights of the very best in culture, entertainment, music, food and drink.
The festival aims to showcase the huge amount of talent in the Republic of Ireland, and demonstrates the skills that Irish people of all ages and backgrounds have to offer. The colourful and lively St Patrick’s Day Parade is one of the highlights of the festival, along with The Greening Of The City, where some of Dublin’s most iconic buildings (including the castle and Christchurch Cathedral) are illuminated with green lights to mark the occasion.
Dublin’s celebrations also include funfairs around the city for both children and adults to enjoy, and a 5 kilometre road race that is suitable for fun runners, amateurs and experienced athletes alike. The weekend also plays host to an Irish Craft Beer Village, where visitors can enjoy sampling a selection of the country’s finest beers while listening to a wide range of live music acts. Established in 2005 and becoming increasingly popular since, it is by far the biggest St Patrick’s Day celebration in the Republic of Ireland.
Alternatively, head to Cork where the 2014 St Patrick’s Day Festival will take place from Saturday 15th to Monday 17th March. Every year the event features a different theme, with the theme for 2014 being “Legends” – a theme which will determine the fantastic outfits that will be on display at the highlight of the event: the Cork St Patrick’s Day Parade on the 17th.
In addition to the parade, Cork’s celebrations also include street performers, music, food markets, live performances and far more: a celebration where the entire city is out in force to commemorate their patron saint.
Downpatrick is rumoured to be the place where St Patrick is buried, leading to major celebrations. Their Cross-Community Carnival Parade is the highlight of their celebrations, and see everyone – whether Irish or not – coming together to pay tribute to the patron saint.
Visiting Galway for the St Patrick’s Day weekend will also guarantee plenty of fun and festivities. Galway also hosts its own parade, with both floats and celebrants on foot. This year’s theme is “The Sea”, which should make for some interesting costumes! While the parade is the culmination of the festival, Galway will also be hosting a range of other events and festivities.
In County Kerry, celebrations of all shapes and sizes will be taking place across the region. The small village of Sneem hosts an annual celebration that proves that even the smallest of places can celebrate in style! The village’s street parade is very well known across the local area, with prizes awarded for the three best displays each year – as well as for the best window display, best dressed spectator and more. Sneem also hosts a street market over the St Patrick’s Day weekend, which features both locally produced products as well as those from further afield in the rest of Ireland. The celebrations also include live music and entertainment, as well as the annual Cow Dung Lotto – a fundraising event that covers the insurance costs that the day incurs.
In addition to big city celebrations, there are plenty of smaller events taking place all over Ireland. On St Patrick’s Day itself, most pubs and bars will be joining in with the festivities, with traditional food, plenty of Irish beer and often live music too. Wherever you end up celebrating, it’s a day when you’ll find the whole of Ireland out in force to pay testament to their patron saint in a variety of fun and entertaining ways.