St Patrick’s Day celebrates the patron saint of Ireland on his traditional death date on the 17th of March – a Saturday this year. Originally commemorating the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, the day is now known for celebrating Irish culture in general, both on the island and around the world. The best place to be for authentic Irish celebrations is, of course, Ireland itself! Since St Patrick’s Day is a major event for both tourists and the locals, and the cities are just overflowing with people, St Patrick’s Festival was established to celebrate and promote Irish culture, music and entertainment.
Lucky for you, we here at Celtic Group Hostels are all St Patrick’s Day veterans and have some essential tips for your group to enjoy yourselves on the busy streets of Dublin.
1 – Start the Day With A Hearty Irish Breakfast
The one true way to start off St. Patrick’s Day is a full Irish breakfast. That means bacon rashers, eggs (either fried or scrambled), pork sausages, white or black pudding, fried tomatoes and toast – served best with a cup of Irish breakfast tea. This will prepare both you and your stomach for the day ahead, you’ll need plenty of energy. You can get one at O’Shea’s on Talbot Street, a short walk from all our hostels, or at numerous other pubs, cafes and restaurants throughout the city.
2 – Rock the Shamrock Shade
Be sure to pack some green clothing for your group’s St. Patrick’s Day trip. From a classy and simple green cardigan, to the Kermit look in all green or the full leprechaun get-up, you’ll see all kinds of variations on this at the parade and throughout the city. You really can’t not wear something green – you’ll stick out like as sore thumb if you don’t! Shops like Carrolls Irish Gifts in the city will stock plenty of clothes and accessories in Ireland’s signature colour, so you’ll have no problem equipping yourself.
3 – Tips on the St Patrick’s Parade – The Big Event
St Patrick’s Day parades have been popular in Ireland for decades and Dublin has the largest one on the island. With Ireland’s best street theatre artists, marching bands from all over the world, and Irish singers and dancers celebrating this year’s topic Home is Where the Heart is, the fair city’s streets will be buzzing and vibrantly green for a couple of hours. As the crowds will be massive, it’s best to come as early as possible – the first eager spectators will be gathering at around 9 AM, if your group wants to stay together and get a good spot, avoid arriving any later than 10.30 AM.
And ladies: do yourselves a favour and bring some comfortable shoes – you’ll be on your feet at lot this day.
4 – Come Prepared and Have a Plan of Action for After the Parade
Your group should figure out what to do after the parade ahead of time to avoid discussing your next step among the dispersing crowds. If you split up, i.e. to get better spots, decide on a rendezvous point in the direction you plan to go. Maybe don’t use the Millennium Spire or Ha’Penny Bridge, as these will be some of the most crowded spots – a side street pub with a recognisable name might be a good meeting point. Use a buddy system to ensure nobody gets lost on their own.
As for where to actually go:
A classic place to enjoy the Irish celebrations is a pub, of course. If your group is above drinking age, get yourself a pint and join in. Minors* can of course still enjoy the electric atmosphere of a whole pub dancing and singing to Irish tunes.
If you want to celebrate at a restaurant, getting your reservation set up in advance is key. You’ll have a guaranteed spot to show for the effort though. Lots of restaurants will have special events, music and dance set up for the big day – so be sure to find a place with that genuine Irish feel to it.
You can also book tickets for one of Dublin’s many attractions for the day – the Guinness Storehouse will have a busy day, but there will be live music, dancing and special events to make up for it. VIPs (Very Important Patricks -everyone called Patrick or a variation) get free entry on St Patrick’s Day!
*Please note: children under 15 years of age cannot legally enter pubs without a parent or guardian – children aged 15 to 17 may do so. All under-aged visitors must leave the premise by 9.00 PM (10.00 PM from 1st May to 30th September).
5 – Join One of Our Numerous Cultural Events
St Patrick’s Festival takes place on five whole days from the 15th to the 19th of March – there are plenty of opportunities to learn about Irish culture here. The Irish language will be celebrated at Gaelspraoi and the Dublin Prawn Festival in Howth will send your taste buds on a journey deep into the Irish Sea. Traditional Irish songs and céilí sessions round off the program.
For those who seek a more active and group-focused event: why not join the annual St Patrick’s Day Treasure Hunt? It will take you on a trip through Dublin full of discovery and exploration, with fun questions and answers to challenge you.
Pat Liddy’s Walking Tours will be holding special St Patrick themed tours every day of the festival as well – be sure to join if you’re interested in Ireland’s national Patron Saint.
6 – Theatre Fans Beware – Where We Live Is Here
Where We Live theatre and music performances, a series of talks, Ireland’s first homeless choir and an exhibition are THISISPOPBABY’s answer to this year’s festival topic Home is Where the Heart is. The events will be held at the Complex on Mary’s Lane in Smithfield every day of the festival. The programme aims to balance the hard truths of modern life in Ireland with joy, inspiration and determination – among the topics discussed will be housing, migration and community.
7 – Enjoy the Funfair – Not Just For Kids!
For great family entertainment, join in on the funfair held at Custom House Quay on the north side of the river Liffey and Merrion Square on the south. See the city from above on the Ferris wheel and test your skills at numerous amusement stalls. Join the fun and get suspended upside down and turned over on one of the rides - or just get some cotton candy and enjoy the colourful rides and fun climate.
8 – Herstory – The History of Irish Women
Herstory is a new movement promoting the story of historical, contemporary and mythological women in Irish history. They have set up different events throughout the course of the festival:
The Suffragette Walking Tour
Learn about the Irish suffrage movement from the mid 19th to the early 20th century, the key period of the enfranchisement of Irish women. Even though overshadowed by the Irish independence movement post-1916, the movement was influential during these times, when Irish democracy was in its early stages. Stops include City Hall, Rosie Hackett Bridge and the Mansion House.
Ireland of Equals
Approaching the centenary of the enfranchisement of Irish women, this series of talks discusses women’s role in the development of democracy in Ireland and all around the world. Each speaker is followed by a performance of young contemporary poets.
Revolutionary Religious Women
From saints to goddesses, learn about the history of women in Christianity, Islam and ancient pagan religions. Explore figures you have never heard of and discover new angles on well-known figures, such as Mary Magdalene.
9 - The Next Day - What to do on Sunday?
After a busy and exciting St Patrick’s Day, allow your group to take a breather the day after. Go for a stroll through St Stephen’s Green, explore the many small shops around Grafton Street and see what else the festival program has to offer. Has the parade still not satisfied your lust for colour and carnival? Then the Big Day Out at Merrion Square is the place for you to be! With theatre, aerial performances, workshops, Irish Language activities and lots of music and a festival Céilí, your spirits will certainly be lifted. If you still have energy to spare after an exhausting St Patrick’s Day, there’s a 5K Road Race held by Metro St Brigid’s Athletics Club that takes you through the heart of Georgian Dublin – certainly a fun and unique way to see the city!
Since St Patrick’s Day is peak season for Ireland’s tourism industry, we recommend booking well in advance to secure accommodation for your school or other youth group - as soon as one year’s festival is over, bookings for the next year start coming in here our office. Contact Celtic Group Hostels now and secure your spot for St Patrick’s Day 2019!
09 February 2018
28 August 2013
14 March 2013