IRELAND: ST. PATRICK CELEBRATIONS IN DIFFERENT CITIES

ST. PATRICK’S DAY IS KNOWN AND CELEBRATED AROUND THE WORLD. HOWEVER, IN THE U.S., THEY DYE AN ENTIRE RIVER GREEN OR HOLD THE LARGEST PARADE OF THE YEAR. THERE IS NOTHING LIKE EXPERIENCING A ST. PATRICK’S CELEBRATION IN IRELAND. HERE ARE THE 10 BEST CITIES TO PARTY IN AND HAVE A GREAT TIME!

BY MARIANA MEJIA

DUBLIN
Dublin is the city and capital of Ireland, located on the east coast of the province of Leinster. It comes as no surprise that Dublin is a warm and welcoming city, known for the friendliness of its people and its craic (crack), which refers to a mixture of repartee, humor, intelligence, and acerbic and deflating insights that has drew many writers, intellectuals, and visitors for centuries. The heart of the city is divided by the north—south by the River Liffey, with the O’Connell’s bridge connecting the two parts. South side is all about the pubs and social life, the best place to spend St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. On the north end, it’s all about the modernized historical city side where most of its fast-paced workers and students live there. So, on St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin promises to be a party, as the capital has the biggest and busiest party in the country. Dublin’s Temple Bar is where most of the action takes place. A carnival-style parade weaves its way through the streets of Temple Bar which is the highlight of the day. Locals and tourists alike flock to the streets to enjoy the spectacle before heading off to the pubs or, in the case of most locals, back home. While the famous parade does take place on the 17th of March, anyone planning on spending St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin make sure you arrive a few days before, because some celebrations start early. Make sure to walk around in the evening after dark to see some of Dublin’s most iconic buildings lit up with green lights in anticipation for the holiday. If you’re looking to party like crazy, Dublin is the place to be for St. Patrick’s Day!

GALWAY
Galway is an old city, steeped in history, with an interesting past. From medieval streets to modern thoroughfares, there is much to see and do in Galway in terms of times past. Galway, “The City of the Tribes,” was originally founded as a fishing village in the area close to the Spanish Arch, where the Corrib River flows into beautiful Galway Bay. Galway is known for having the best craic in Galway, so it is no surprise that this western city makes it onto the list of the best cities to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland. Galway hosts a fantastic St. Patrick’s Day festival that features many local artists and groups, with live music and amazing performances. A walk along the streets of Galway on St. Patrick’s Day will reveal an abundance of artwork, street performers, and parties! The after-party experience also seemed to be much more local in Galway. In Dublin, it’s mostly tourists that flock to the pubs in Temple Bar. However, in Galway, most of the people I met were Irish but from elsewhere in the country, coming to Galway’s great pubs to celebrate. If you are looking to drink and party with the locals, then you’ll want to spend St. Patrick’s Day in Galway.

 

ENNIS
The history of Ennis is closely tied to the O’Brien dynasty, descendants of Brian Boru, King of Ireland during the 11th century. In the 12th century, the O’Briens left their seat of power in Limerick and built a royal residence at Clonroad, now known as Ennis. Ennis is known for its thriving traditional music scene, numerous pubs, fantastic restaurants, and the friendliest people. With its narrow, medieval streets and lanes, Ennis is a pleasant blend of the historic past and the active present. A present where even in modern times, Ennis, Ireland, is a small town gem with a big religious belief system that follows the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. The St. Patrick’s Day celebrations began with Bishop Fintan celebrating the 9.30 am Mass in the Cathedral. At this Mass, the traditional blessing of the shamrock took place. Then the festival takes its share onto the streets where locals and tourists showcase their St. Patrick’s Day floats through the town and villages. Not only do they showcase their floats, they showcase traditions, culture, and music, as well as everyday life in farming, business, and industry throughout Ennis. Of course, there wouldn’t be a parade without colorful characters, from national to international figures and so much more!

CONNEMARA
Connemara, one of Ireland’s most iconic locations, is a wild and mountainous expanse bordering the Wild Atlantic Way. In this spectacular cultural region of Connemara, which is defined as being nestled between Lough Corrib, Co. Galway, and the southern realms of Co. Mayo, in particular, the barony of Ross, in the West of Ireland. There are many interesting facts, like that Connemara is one of Ireland’s few remaining strongholds of the Irish Gaelic language and is commonly referred to as the largest Gaeltacht region in Ireland. Another few facts are that there are multiple mountains on the southern edge of Ireland. Connemara is internationally renowned for breeding the largest population of ponies. The flora and fauna are spectacular. Finally, the name of Connemara derives from “Conmhaicne Mara”—meaning, descendants of Con Mhac, a mythical ancestor of the sea; the locals believe in a lot of myths and legends. With several ancient traditions about myths and legends, Connemara holds the ancient traditions of St. Patrick’s. In today’s times, tradition says that when St. Patrick walked through Connemara and climbed the mountains, it was at the holy well that he stopped to bless some of the wildest lands in Ireland. Today, visitors can still see the ancient holy well and a series of stone circles meant to represent the Stations of the Cross.

KILKENNY
Kilkenny is located in the southeast of Ireland in the province of Leinster. The county of Kilkenny has three major rivers running through it, known as the “Three Sisters”: the Nore, the Suir, and the Barrow. The history of Kilkenny began with an early sixth-century ecclesiastical foundation, with a church built in honour of St. Canice, which is now St. Canice’s Cathedral, and was a major monastic centre from at least the eighth century. Kilkenny is known as the “Marble City” because of its distinctive black marble. The city has a medieval feel with well-maintained and preserved old buildings. History and all. At the heart of the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Kilkenn County, they have the annual parade and the city and county come to see their wonderful displays, like going through the “time traveling train”. This is where tourists and locals stop to see history, culture, and photo opportunities, all while feeding into medieval times by dancing, drinking, fighting, and “fire dogging witches.” Concerts, marching bands, Kilkenny’s special Olympic team, running with a lit torch, meeting comedians who juggle, do acrobats and circus-like things, stilt walkers, and an amazing day filled with activities that family and friends would love to run into and enjoy are also on the agenda.

WATERFORD
As Ireland’s oldest continuous urban settlement, it is believed to have been established by the Viking Ragnall in 914 AD. Waterford is reputed to be the birthplace of Luke Wadding, a Franciscan friar in the 17th century who established St. Patrick’s Day as a feast day for Thomas Francis Meagher, an enigmatic figure in the cause of Irish nationalism in the 19th century who later fought in the American Civil War. Before 1903, St. Patrick’s Day was not an actual holiday anywhere in Ireland. It was the Waterford Corporation (essentially the city council) that decided to suspend business for the day, and declare St. Patrick’s Day a general holiday throughout the city. St. Patrick’s Day in Waterford. At a glance, is really no different than the celebrations in the other cities. It has a big parade but not a huge one like Dublin, there are special events but no additional festivals like in Kilkenny, and it’s no more of less local or family-friendly than anywhere else. But what Waterford has going for it that is unique, is that Waterford was the first city to declare St. Patrick’s Day a holiday, and that in itself is worth celebrating.

DINGLE
Dingle is reputed to be the most historic of the towns and villages that make up the Dingle Peninsula. It’s thought that the earliest settlers in history arrived during the Stone Age. Dingle was developed as a port by the Normans, who came to Ireland after they had consolidated their hold on England. Dingle is located right on the West Coast of Ireland, with stunning sea cliffs, beaches and rolling hills. During the holidays, Dingle on St. Patrick’s Day kicks off their celebrations as early as 6AM with the Dingle Fife and Drum Band leading the way down the streets and all across the neighborhood. If you, your friends or family members like to party all day, the local pubs in Dingle are definitely a great choice for you, if you’re interested in the fun, traditional Irish partying and the live music that will get you off your feet and start the party. Come to Dingle and cherish some good ole’ Irish memories!

LIMERICK
Limerick City is almost 1,100 years old. It has been a Viking settlement, a medieval walled town, a Georgian city, and is now a modern, vibrant metropolitan area with a rich and historic hinterland. Limerick has played a central role in the ebb and flow of Irish history since its establishment as a town by the Vikings on King’s Island over a thousand years ago. Its status as a major administrative centre in the medieval period is reflected in the construction of St Mary’s Cathedral, King John’s Castle and the city walls, which has continued to the present day. But enough about history; we are here to party and St. Patrick’s Day in Limerick created a major influence; in 434, the said visited the city at Saingeal (Singland), where while laboring on a church in Donoughmore, he laid on a flat stone and slept. This stone was locally known as leaba Paidraig, or Patrick’s bed. St Patrick left his mark throughout the country, and how his feast day is celebrated has changed throughout the centuries. St. Patrick’s Day only became an official public holiday in Ireland in 1903. Around 70,000 spectators flock to Limerick on St. Patrick’s Day for a massive parade and festival! During the festival it hosts a series of fun events, including the Limerick International Band Festival, Fossett’s Circus, fireworks, and much more!

KILLARNEY
Killarney is a town in County Kerry, located in southwestern Ireland. The town is on the northeastern shore of Lough Leane, which is part of Killarney National Park. Killarney National Park is one of the very few places in Ireland that has been continuously covered by woodland since the end of the most recent glacial period, approximately 10,000 years ago. Killarney is one of Ireland’s most beautiful heritage and tourist spots, famed for its song and story. The town and its hinterland are home to St Mary’s Cathedral, Ross Castle, Muckross House and Abbey, the Lakes of Killarney, Mac- Gillycuddy’s Reeks, Purple Mountain, Mangerton Mountain, the Gap of Dunloe, and Torc Waterfall. Killarney is a popular tourist destination owing to its natural heritage, history, and location on the Ring of Kerry. But, during the holidays, especially on St. Patrick’s Day, the entire city goes green for St. Patrick’s Day: the buildings, the people, everything! Their St. Patrick’s Day festival involves street dancing and music. The pubs will be sure to be kept busy with Guinness and live music galore.

CORK
Cork is located on Ireland’s south coast, as the second largest city within the Republic of Ireland after Dublin and the third largest on the island of Ireland after Dublin and Belfast. Cork City is the largest city in the province of Munster. Its history dates back to the sixth century. Cork is super unique among other Irish cities in that it is the only one that has experienced all phases of Irish urban development, from 600AD to the present day. The settlement at Cork began as a Monastic Centre in the seventh century, founded by St. Finbarre. As you can see, Cork and its history will certainly keep you on your toes, especially when you and your friends get into the fun of the St. Patrick’s Day crowds here without even going to Dublin. Cork holds the shortest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the world, only traveling 100 yards. Although the parade is short, Cork is famed for its cuisine, and foodies will be spoiled for choice with the Barry’s Tea Market and Mahon Point Farmers Market on Emmet Place, where specialist local food producers bring the freshest and tastiest delicacies into the heart of the city. So come to their parade that runs from the South Mall to the Grand Parade and a festival with food, arts and crafts, street performers, and more!