Visiting Ireland any time of year is special.
Visting Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day?
Well, that’s taking things up a notch or ten million.
Let’s start with some basics. St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland who is believed to have died on March 17 around the year 460 A.D. Record keeping might not have been quite as stringent in the 5th century. Hence, all the qualifying words.
It is believed that St. Patrick brought Christianity to Ireland or, at least, had a large influence on Christianity in Ireland.
Many of the stories about St. Patrick aren’t necessarily factual. However, they are impressive if you have certain phobias. For instance, the story goes that he banished all snakes from the island. That’s something I can get behind!
And here’s the man himself…the sunglasses are a nice touch.
Historians do agree that St. Patrick was British. He was captured by Irish raiders and taken to Ireland. It was during his captivity that he found religion. Some years later he escaped from his captors and returned to Britain. When home, an angel came to him in a dream and told him to return to Ireland as a missionary. He took this revelation very seriously and studied Christianity for over 15 years before returning to Ireland as a priest.
St. Patrick combined some of the pagan Irish symbols with Christian symbols in order to make his message more palatable to the Irish. For instance, the sun was an important Irish symbol, so St. Patrick combined the sun with the image of a cross to make the Celtic Cross.
St. Patrick is one of the most widely recognized saints around the world and St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in more countries than any other national festival (according to Wikipedia).
If you are visiting Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day, there will be parades all across the country. The site Discovering Ireland usually keeps a list of parades and where to find out what’s happening in each area.
If you’ve been reading this blog for very long, you know I LOVE a parade. The St. Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin isn’t quite to the level of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, but it’s pretty spectacular. It also doesn’t feel overly commercial in nature, which I appreciate. The creativity of each parade entry is what really shines, not who paid for it.
What surprises me is the amount of American influence in Dublin’s parade. In 2018, for instance, there were 9 marching bands and 1 dancing troupe from the U.S. participating. That was pretty much 90% of the parade’s live music.
If you do attend the parade in Dublin, two things are certain. First, the weather is going to be questionable. Second, the city is going to be packed with people.
This year 500,000 people were expected to watch the parade. As a point of reference, less than 5 million people call the Republic of Ireland home, so that’s a pretty big chunk coming out to watch one parade. Although, I suspect a large number of them are tourists.
I saw people climbing statues, standing on building window ledges and busting out ladders to get a better view of the parade. Pretty much anything goes!
While there are always a host of cultural activities bookending St. Patrick’s Day, it seems to me like the holiday is a very good excuse for a party.
Ireland is famous for whiskey and Guinness. The pub scene is always lively. The legal drinking age is 18. This is a national holiday, which means a day off work. Combine all those things with an influx of tourists and it’s party time!
If you’re in your 20s, you’re going to love it! Book your ticket now!
If you’re not in your 20s, somewhat introverted, and have 2 kids, like me, then you’ll probably enjoy the parade and be happy to avoid the rest.
If you ever want to see what you are missing, click on the Temple Bar webcam to see a live stream of
the tourists what’s going on in Dublin.
Trust me, it won’t look this quiet on St. Patrick’s Day…
I’ve only been in Ireland for two years, so I’m not going to claim to be an authority on St. Patrick’s Day.
I’m merely sharing my observations.
The most important one being, don’t even think about celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland without wearing green.
The classier, the better.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again, the BEST part about Ireland is not the scenery, the history, the beer. It’s the people. They are incredible and no matter when you visit, I’m sure they will do their best to make your stay memorable.
P.S. My 10-year-old took the parade pictures featured in today’s post. Feel free to give her a shout out! Besides the 10x zoom resulting in a blurriness on most of the photos, I think she has potential and I love her to pieces!
Thinking about visiting Ireland? Read on!
If you want to know more about our experience of moving to and living in Ireland, check out these posts: