Emerald Heritage | How St Patrick’s Day is Celebrated in Ireland
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How St Patrick’s Day is Celebrated in Ireland

As calendars turn from one year to the next, and Christmas celebrations become New Year plans, attentions in Ireland turn firmly towards this year’s Saint Patrick’s Day. 

Besides Valentine’s Day (which isn’t celebrated by everyone…), St Patrick’s Day represents the first big public holiday of the new year in Ireland and as a result it’s usually something most look forward to!

We know from the outside looking in it can seem like green clothes, green beer and green everything really, but there’s always more going on than meets the eye. 

History & Traditions

The history and story of St Patrick changes slightly depending on who you’re talking to but last year we distilled the most likely version of events into a blog which you can read by clicking here

Regarding traditions, Ireland is strangely lacking when it comes to traditions for the day of her patron saint.

The celebration of St Patrick’s Day only properly came to prominence in Ireland during the 20th century and traditions, if you could call them that, generally revolve around a local parade, the wearing of green and a few drinks with friends and family during a traditional Irish music session.

Despite the day now having worldwide fame some areas of Ireland still maintain low-key celebrations. 

Modern Irish Celebrations

Besides the basic traditions and parades, some people might be surprised to know just how big a role live sport plays in modern Irish St Patrick’s Day celebrations. 

Every year, on March 17th, the finals of the All Ireland Club Championships for hurling, camogie and gaelic football take place in Croke Park, Dublin. Huge crowds travel to Dublin for these games and thousands around the country watch as the finals are televised live for audiences at home.

Another modern quirk related to St Patrick’s Day and sport is the inclusion of Rugby Union 6 Nations in festivities. 

The 6 Nations, a rugby tournament featuring Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, France and Italy, runs for approximately 6 weeks and usually ends around March 17th. As a result Irish crowds celebrating St Patrick’s Day will also watch Ireland’s last game of the tournament, hoping for a 6 Nations Championship trophy, the Triple Crown, or at the very least a big victory.

St Patrick's Day Parades in Ireland

As you might well expect Ireland, north, south, east and west, is always bursting with St Patrick’s Day activities every year. 

In Belfast the big day will be celebrated around City Hall and Custom House Square with a carnival parade, live music, Irish dancing and traditional Irish music sessions throughout the city’s bars.

Dubliners will go a step further by having a 5-day mega celebration for the country’s patron saint. Between the 15th and 19th of March Dublin will go green, have a huge parade, host a 5k road race and feature plenty of live music and performance throughout!

In the west, along the Wild Atlantic Way, Galway natives will enjoy their 116th St Patrick’s Day parade! The tradition, which now stretches back over a century, will feature a parade, live music and plenty of local artists out on show. 

Finally, in the Rebel County, Cork will host their own celebration between 16th and 18th of March featuring a parade with the theme of “Democracy for All – 100 Years of the Vote for Women”.

Plenty of other smaller towns and villages will host their own celebrations so remember, this is just a taster of the craic that will be found up and down the country in honour of St Patrick!


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