St. Patrick’s Day is a global phenomenon – with merrymakers the world over donning green ensembles, ‘drowning’ the shamrock and raising a toast to traditional Irish culture. Rivers are dyed green, landmarks shine emerald, and revellers proclaim that on this day in March, everyone is Irish.
So where better to celebrate than in the Emerald Isle itself? Especially with the holiday falling perfectly on a Saturday this year. Read our guide to the best places in Ireland to celebrate St Patrick’s Day, as well the traditional dishes you should try while you’re there.
Where to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland
With all of the country’s major cities celebrating the event in their own unique way, naturally, the best place to celebrate St Patrick’s Day is in Ireland. Each area prides itself on its pageantry, and you’ll find that many will have their own traditions that differ from the next.
St Patrick’s Day in Dublin
There’s a reason why St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin holds a place on many a travel bucket list. The city is abuzz with patriotism and pride, with the winding streets of the legendary Temple Bar serving as the epicentre of activity on this feast day. For as long as anyone can remember, celebrations have lasted way beyond March 17th, and this year is of course no different. The free St. Patrick’s Day Festival takes place this year between the 15th-19th March, and it’s perfect if you want to immerse yourself in Irish culture. Make use of the poetry workshops, buskers, folk performances and more and be sure to visit some of the city’s most iconic landmarks, which will be lit in green for the celebrations.
St Patrick’s Day in Galway
Found along the craggy coast of the natural wonder that is the Wild Atlantic Way, Galway is a thriving, bohemian city that’s revered for its cultural roots. Now in its 116th year, Galway’s St. Patrick’s Day parade sees an average of 50,000 visitors along its 1.5 mile route, and it’s growing with each year. The spectacle’s theme changes annually, and while the one for this March 17th is yet to be announced, you can be sure it will highlight the rich cultural fabric of Galway. Highlights typically include the Colours Street Theatre, Galway Arts Centre, Galway Theatre Festival and plenty of shows and workshops held by the local community – all creating a patchwork of Galway’s rich blend of cultural diversity.
St Patrick’s Day in Cork
This year, Cork’s chosen theme for their St. Patrick’s Day parade is a celebration of Democracy For All, marking 100 Years of the Vote for Women. Starting in the heart of the city, the parade will run from the South Mall to the Grand Parade, along St. Patrick’s Street (of course) before finishing the pageantry at Merchant’s Quay. While you’re in Cork, be sure to head to Blarney Castle. For over 200 years, people from all walks of life, including film stars and world statesmen, have climbed the steps of this fortification to kiss the Blarney Stone in search of the gift of eloquence.
Don’t leave Ireland without trying…
With lush green fields and miles of craggy coastline, Ireland is known for its fresh produce. As such, typical Irish cuisine is hearty and fuss-free, with most of its flavour stemming from the natural land. From succulent lamb in spring, to stews and soups in the winter, make sure you try these dishes while you’re in Ireland.
Though its base ingredient remains a constant of bicarbonate of soda, buttermilk and flour, almost every Irish family has its own take on soda bread. This staple dish can be enjoyed sweet, with honey or dried fruit, or savoury – served alongside a steaming bowl of soup, or simply laden with creamy butter.
Most every Irish house has once had a pot of Irish stew slowly cooking over a turf-fuelled Range. Traditionally made with mutton, but now more readily available with lamb, this one-pot wonder is comfort cooking at its very best.
Colcannon and champ
Potatoes are in large supply in Ireland, so there are plenty of Irish recipes that use this foodstuff. Essentially mashed potato with cabbage, ‘colcannon’ is a particular favourite, while its counterpart, ‘champ’ is just as good, substituting the cabbage for spring onions.
A fruitloaf that’s typically served with a thick spread of butter and a cup of tea, Barmbrack is eaten all year round, but evokes a particular affinity on Halloween night, when charms are baked into the mix to foretell your future.
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