Christian saints may not be renowned for their ability to throw a party but Saint Patrick is one canonical carouser who certainly breaks the mould. Even the Lenten restrictions on drinking alcohol and other indulgences are lifted on St Patrick’s Day, giving everyone the chance to let off some serious steam following several weeks of abstinence.
Of course, you don’t have to be religious to appreciate the attraction of St Patrick’s Day, with huge celebrations of Irish heritage taking place across the world on March 17th. From New York to Sydney, rivers will run green and many a pint of Guinness will be drunk, although if you want to experience the ultimate craic then you really can’t beat a trip to the Emerald Isle itself.
St Patrick’s Day in Dublin
Unsurprisingly, Dublin is the epicentre of the global St Patrick’s Day celebrations, and the St Patrick’s Festival is something not to be missed. This year’s event will take place from Thursday 14th to Monday 18th March, and will feature a fantastic programme of parties, performances and pint-pouring extravaganzas, with the aim of showcasing the best of Irish culture.
Among the highlights will be an Irish Craft Beer Village, which will be set up specially for the festival and will include a range of traditional Irish food stalls. Visitors on the Friday and Saturday will also be able to attend a talk entitled Brewing in the Time of St Patrick, which will detail the history of beer-making in Ireland.
Several of the city’s most iconic buildings will also be illuminated green throughout the festival, with the likes of Dublin City Hall, Christchurch and the National Gallery among those that are set to take on an emerald hue. This should provide the perfect backdrop to the main event itself – the St Patrick’s Day Parade on the 17th. Featuring a number of floats representing Irish heritage and marching bands from around the world, the procession will once again draw millions of people out onto the streets of Dublin as it winds its way from Parnell Square to St Patrick’s Cathedral.
Pubs around Ireland
Whether you head to Dublin or elsewhere in Ireland, you’ll find hordes of people painting the town green on St Patrick’s Day, with pubs across the country going into overdrive to keep everyone well-oiled. Aside from offering traditional Irish beers and spirits, these establishments are also a cornerstone of the nation’s culture, so if you want to soak up some of that famous Irish charm then you’re best bet is to head to a pub.
These come in all shapes and sizes, with no fewer than 34 pubs across Ireland listed in the 2014 Michelin Guide, so whether you’re looking for something cheap and cheerful or a more refined venue, you’ll not go thirsty (or hungry) on St Patrick’s Day in Ireland.
The Brazen Head, Dublin
Officially Ireland’s oldest pub, the Brazen Head has been fuelling the Dublin craic since 1178, with the likes of James Joyce, Jonathan Swift and several other cultural icons all thought to have frequented the establishment. If it’s Irish tradition you’re after then this is the perfect place to start.
The Crane Bar, Galway
One of the top Trad bars in Galway, the Crane Bar is the place to come for Irish music, beer and atmosphere. Having hosted many of the country’s most acclaimed traditional musicians, the venue’s upper floor holds legendary status among lovers of Gaelic culture, and there’s no better time to visit than St Patrick’s Day.
The Old Thatch, County Cork
As Ireland’s oldest thatched pub, this establishment really does feel like it belongs to a bygone era, with the Sweeney family having made great efforts to maintain the venue’s appearance and ambience since taking ownership in the 1700s. Great for both eating and drinking, this little gem is well worth a look.
The Irish capital’s oldest microbrewery is sure to be packed to the rafters on St Patrick’s Day, with only the pub’s own beers being served. Of particular note is the Porterhouse Oyster Stout, which is made with real oysters and goes great with a plate of traditional Irish stew.
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