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St. Patrick's Day in Ireland

Decorated town center and flag banners colored in orange and green.

We’re all familiar with St. Patrick’s Day, right? A holiday adorned with images of shamrocks, leprechauns, and pots of gold; March 17 has become somewhat of a party holiday in the USA. If you know the origins of St. Patrick’s Day, then you’ll know that St. Patrick himself was a Christian missionary that brought Christianity to Ireland. Since the beginnings of this holiday around the fifth century, celebrations and traditions are bound to change. So, how does Ireland celebrate St. Patrick’s Day today?

Up until the 1970s, St. Patrick’s Day—or Paddy’s Day, as you will hear locals say—was a strictly religious holiday in Ireland. Pubs were closed, work and school were stalled, and Catholics celebrated their country’s patron saint. After St. Patrick’s Day made its way to the States and became more of a partying holiday, the Irish government followed suit. After pubs opened on March 17, Paddy’s Day became a joyous celebration of national pride.

Nowadays, the streets are filled with festivals and parades, especially in Dublin. Marching bands, local officials, and community arts groups march down the streets in the morning, playing music to a cheering crowd. Children enjoy watching parades with dancers and floats dressed as characters and creatures from Irish folk tales. As a tourist, you may find yourself confused about some of the content of the songs and performances in these parades. But never fear—there is plenty more fun to be had for all!

After the parades in the morning, the Irish turn to pubs to continue the celebration. Local bands play, and pub patrons enjoy expertly crafted Irish beer. You may see the same holiday getup that you would see in the States: shamrocks painted on faces, green clothing all over, and Irish flags waving. If you want a truly touristy experience, be sure to visit Temple Bar in Dublin. This pub and the street are packed with young partygoers, laughing and listening to music. No matter where you go in Ireland on Paddy’s Day, there will be a crowd, but Temple Bar is particularly full of visitors.

To the people of Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day is a national and patriotic celebration. Though the parties and merriment may have originated in America, Ireland has followed suit and reclaimed their holiday in full force. Should you visit Ireland for this happy day, be sure that you’re prepared for traffic, crowds, and a good time!