Dublin, Ireland comes alive during the infamous St Patrick’s Day Festival, which is one of the most prolific and well-know national cultural festivals in the world. So what is the experience of Saint Patrick’s Day like in the homeland itself? This article looks at the history, the colour and the celebrations had in Dublin itself.
The History of Saint Patrick
Considering the fanfare around St Patrick, his known history is surprisingly subdued, with limited information available. He lived around late 300 AD and was brought to Ireland as a slave. He eventually was freed and returned home, before eventually returning to Ireland as a missionary.
He is regarded highly in Ireland as he was a part of a larger movement at the time that saw the rapid increase of Christianity in the country, although this movement isn’t specifically historically attributable to St Patrick. He is one of three Patron Saints of Ireland, by far the most famous and well known.
A New Festival in Dublin, Ireland
Despite the fact that there have been parades held outside Ireland, particularly in New York, to celebrate St Patrick’s Day for years, the Dublin version of the parade and festival is a relatively young invention. The parade was first held in 1995, and the locally recognised festivities only started to snowball in the ensuing years, culminating in the week long festivities held today.
Nowadays, the festival brings in thousands of overseas tourists a year.
The ‘Festival’ officially kicks off on the 12th of March with a series of events such as a comedy festival, a fireworks spectacular known as the ‘Skyfest’, a film festival and numerous cultural and musical events that give visitors a fun insight into the Irish traditions. The St Patrick’s Festival culminates in a huge street parade through the main streets of Dublin on the 17th of March, followed by an afternoon and evening of celebration, Irish-style.
The St Patrick’s Day Street Parade in Dublin
Commencing at midday from Parnell Square in central Dublin, the massive St Patrick’s Day street parade winds it’s way through the city streets; a mass of colourful floats, costumes and dancers. With a space-age St Patrick leading the way, the street parade has a particularly modern feel with clear Techno-music influences and futuristic themes, married together with subtle nods to Irish tradition.
Interspersed in between the floats are marching bands from the U.S.A. – a clear reference to the influence of Ireland in the New World, and vice versa. The costumes and floats range from colourful to bizarre; giving this festival both a fresh and unique feel to it, promising to surprise visitors with a sense of bold modernity.
The Meaning of Craic on St Patrick’s Day
After the parade the Irish enjoy what is locally known as ‘Craic’, an Irish word meaning simply ‘to have a good time’. So the Craic is the St Patrick’s Day party, where revellers gather to enjoy music, dancing, drinking and good company. The part of Central Dublin known as Temple Bar is a small section filled with Irish bars that are flooded during St Patrick’s Day, filled to the brim with people, dancing and music.
Temple Bar is notorious in Dublin as a tourist hang out, and any person looking for a legitimate Irish ‘St Patrick’s Day experience’ should steer clear of that area and find a local bar around the fringes of the town. For the rest of the afternoon and deep into the evening visitors can expect to enjoy dancing, chatting and drinking in the traditional Irish style as St Patrick’s Day fades away into the dusk hours.
Things to do In Dublin, Ireland
Dublin is a city worth at least a few days of general sightseeing outside the action of St Patrick’s Day. This is a city with a lengthy history and at its core is the magnificent ‘Trinity College’, a beautiful set of old University buildings, which are home to the famous ‘Book of Kells’, one of the oldest books most people will ever witness and full of amazing history.
Visiting Dublin for St Patrick’s Day surely means a visit to the world famous Guinness Factory, where Ireland’s most famous beer is produced. For those who aren’t beer fans, the Jamieson’s Irish Whiskey Factory tour is a must, and for those who aren’t drinkers there’s a great deal of history in Dublin, from the magnificent and scary old goal to the literary tours of renowned Irish writers.
Is St Patrick’s Festival Worthwhile?
What better time to visit Ireland than during it’s most famous and lively cultural festival. St Patrick’s Days is not just for the locals, but is celebrated by people worldwide because the joyous positive spirit of the Irish is so contagious. Thus, a visit to Dublin on the week of the 17th of March is a must for anyone who loves a party and who loves good Craic.