St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin: so much more than Guinness

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St. Patrick's Day in Dublin: so much more than Guinness

You think you see someone you know on the street, you walk up to that person, completely enthusiastic, and then you come to the conclusion that it is not that person. Oops. Irish people do this all the time, only without the conclusion that that person is not it: even with complete strangers, Irish people have a look in their eyes as if they are at home with you. A very special sensation, which not only provides a lot of fun and accessibility, but also a very welcome feeling. That’s what St. Patrick’s Day is: that warm Irish feeling.

Dublin St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin

The three-leaf clovers (shamrocks) that you see everywhere, the pots of gold, the red-haired dwarfs and that color green: they all say something about the Irish and this holiday, but ultimately the feeling of St. Patrick’s Day is one of coming home , even if you’ve never been to Ireland. Atmosphere, conviviality and of course some pints of Guinness, but otherwise generally little harm: that is St. Patties. Or at least how we experienced it in Dublin.

Together with VisitDublin and IrelandTourism, we spent an entire weekend uncovering the real Ireland. It started with a walking tour of all kinds of important places for St. Patrick, the man around whom the festival that is held every year on March 17 revolves. March 17 is the anniversary of his death, but there is no feeling of sadness: St. Pat is a folk hero, even for people who are not Christians. This is mainly because there are great stories going around about the man who was ultimately responsible for introducing Christianity to otherwise mainly Celtic, pagan Ireland.

St Patrick's Cathedral

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Why clovers?

During our walking tour, our guide tells stories about snakes being expelled, about a fire that St. Patrick made on a hill, to make a point to the Celts, but also about how far Pat would have gone to prove God: a building with a child inside was set ablaze to prove that God would save the child. But there was also a downside to this urge to prove: there were two buildings, both made of different materials and both with a child in them: a Christian child and a Celtic child, the Celtic child had already lost his clothes in the sea of ​​fire and was then killed after all. saved by St. Patrick. Partly because of these types of actions, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated by the entire Irish people. He is the patron saint of the entire country, which has a cathedral named after him in Dublin.

After the tour we were challenged to put St. Patrick on canvas. Where most people went for a stencil with the best man himself on it, we went for the fire, a lot of shamrocks and ahead, a bit of St. Patrick himself, but with a somewhat mischievous face: after all, he was one of the Celts. teasing a little with his fire. Those three-leaf clovers are not even so popular because of the green: St. Patrick is said to have often used them to proclaim Christianity: the trinity that we know from Christianity, the father, the son and the holy spirit, were beautiful represented in that three-leaf clover. So it has nothing to do with 4-leaf clovers. Later, the dwarves were added, based on how the Irish used to be depicted in satirical stories.

The tour guide

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March 17: St. Patties

Fast-forward to Sunday, when it’s St. Patrick’s Day. You haven’t been able to ignore this for a while in a city like Dublin: the city’s biggest hotspot, the Temple Bar, has been decorated with shamrocks and greenery for some time now. Official buildings are lit green and you can’t ignore it in shops: where’s Waldo with a St. Patrick theme, leprechaun socks and basically all kinds of junk you can find to immerse yourself in that special holiday.

In Dublin there is a special festival area where families can enjoy the carnival and live music, but the biggest event is the parade. It leaves at about 12 or 1 o’clock in the afternoon, with the Lord Mayor in the lead, followed by hundreds of emergency workers from all kinds of disciplines and then… us. We were allowed to ride the official St. Patrick’s Day double-decker bus and that was a special experience. At first it wasn’t that noticeable, because we started in a fairly quiet part, but then you drive the bus past tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of waving, cheering and, above all, laughing people. Call for them to shout if they are proud to be Irish and there will be a big cheer. People are crammed together and some streets are impassable, but it doesn’t matter: everyone wants to see the parade.

St Pats


There is much more parade behind us. This year the theme was Spark, or in Gaelic: Spréach. You would expect everyone to parade around in green, but nothing could be further from the truth. More than 10 brass bands and bands from the United States came over to play cheerful music in their band colors, there were colorful fish costumes, funny, checked Irish costumes and a lot of large puppets that we can best compare with our carnival parade. Check them out in our article with St. Patrick’s Day in 50 photos and enjoy for a while.

The groups in the parade train very hard to ensure that there are choreographies, that it is beautiful to see in terms of costumes and that everything still works technically. Very impressive, but everyone did a great job. The drive, the fun, those smiles again and the joy that radiates from them: you must have experienced it once, and not necessarily from a bus on the parade itself, but in the audience. Party with the Irish, you will feel completely at home within a few minutes.

Join the parade


Irish King’s Day

After the parade it is fun for the children to go to the fair, while many older adults then wind down and enjoy their day off (if St. Patrick’s Day falls on Sunday, like this year, they also have the following Monday off) . The young people, however, go for it. Those who dive with fake St. Patrick’s hats and painted shamrocks on their cheeks into the pubs, where many long queues arise. To see friends, to enjoy live Irish music and of course to create a tasty Guinness moustache. Sometimes the streets become as busy as some streets such as Leidsestraat in Amsterdam during King’s Day. And the later it gets, the more people you see sitting on the sidelines to recover from the often large amounts of alcohol. There is also plenty of wandering, but you don’t necessarily have to go along with that: it is also a lot of fun to experience this party sober.

St. Patrick’s Day may feel far-fetched to someone unfamiliar with Ireland, but you won’t feel like an outsider for a second in Dublin. The people are friendly, it is truly a popular festival and learning more about the idea behind the celebration ensures that you experience it even more intensely. But especially all those smiles you see, they make you very happy with or without a pint of Guinness in your hand. Dublin is a beautiful city to visit and especially if you are planning to go, we recommend that you do so in mid-March. Also very suitable if you travel alone: ​​you will automatically be completely absorbed into that smiling crowd of people. Then try not to ‘speak’.


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