St. Patrick's Day | Posted 23 Feb 2015

Each year, March 17th holds a special place for the Irish and its culture around the world. It is the annual day of celebration for St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. In commemoration, an explosion of green covers the globe as people come together to celebrate with Irish communities or join the festivities in Ireland. Each year in Chicago (a city with a rich Irish heritage) celebrations include dying the Chicago River completely green!

Green River

The Green Chicago River by Bill Rand/CC BY (image and image size have been modified)

This year to pay tribute to St. Patrick’s Day, Jurys Inn has put together a brief guide on the history and best Irish events of this iconic day.

A Brief History on the Story of St. Patrick

St. Patricks Window
St. Patrick Window by Andreas Franz Borchert/ Creative Commons (image and image size have been modified)

St. Patrick was born in historical Roman Britain. According to the story, at around the age of sixteen Patrick was captured by a band of Irish raiders and taken to Ireland where he was a slave, mainly as a shepherd.

Believing that his capture was a punishment due to his lack of faith, Patrick developed and deepened his spirituality, eventually converting to Christianity. After six years in captivity, Patrick heard a voice telling him ‘that a boat was waiting on the coast to take him home’. Patrick fled his captors by night and made his way to a port two hundred miles away, where he convinced a captain to take him home. Upon his return, Patrick became a priest.

A few years after returning home Patrick had a vision of a man from Ireland named Victoricus (believed to be Saint Victricius, bishop of Rouen) who gave him a letter entitled ‘The Voice Of The Irish’, which he believed called him to Ireland by the voice of their people.

Following the vision Patrick decided to return to Ireland to work as a missionary and spread the word of the Lord. He was incredibly effective in his work, converting and baptising thousands of people. As the legend goes, Patrick taught the Irish about the Holy Trinity using a shamrock (3-leaf clover). Although he faced a number of difficulties, such as being imprisoned by local chiefs as well as being accused by other clergymen that his work was for personal gain, Patrick stayed in Ireland and continued his work.

One of Ireland’s most famous St Patrick legends narrates that during a forty day fast atop a hill, St Patrick was attacked by snakes. He chased them into the sea, banishing all snakes from Ireland.

By the time of his death, 17th March 460 AD, 200 churches had been erected and 100,000 Irish baptised. For his dedication to the Irish, he was proclaimed as the Patron Saint of Ireland by the seventh century.

St. Patrick's Day Celebrations - Dublin

St. Patrick's Day, Dublin by William Murphy/ Creative Commons(image and image size have been modified)

The capital of Ireland celebrates St. Patrick’s Day in fine fashion. From the annual street parade in the centre of the city (on Tuesday 17th March, 12 noon) to cultural events, such as live music and street performances; there are a number of things to get involved in. This is the place to dive into the spirit for a truly incredible cultural experience. If you’re not one for crowds, this may not be for you.

Explore below Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Day events and activities:

In the Footsteps of St. Patrick – Walking Tour:

Led by historian and author Pat Liddy, enjoy a special walk around Dublin in celebration of St. Patrick. The tour takes in ancient sites including the two great medieval cathedrals of Christ Church and St Patrick.

Date: Available from Saturday 14th March and runs until Tuesday 17th March.
Where: Corner Suffolk & Andrew Streets beside converted church
Time: Operating at 11.00am (except Tuesday 17th) and 2.30pm.
Finish point:
St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Tour duration:
Approximately 2 hours
Prices: €14 (€12 senior/students) per person. The price includes the entrance to St Patrick’s Cathedral.

Big Day Out:

Merrion Square Park turns into a vibrant street carnival for one day only, Sunday 15th March. Big Day Out is filled with street performances, theatrics, workshops, open-air shows, music, art and so much more! It’s a ‘fun-for-all-the-family’ day out in the beautiful area of Georgian Dublin, with picturesque, vintage townhouses surrounding the park.

Date: Sunday, 15th March
Where: Merrion Square, Dublin 2
Time: 12pm-6pm
Price: Free

Festival Céilí:

Make sure to pack your dancing shoes for Festival Céilí, an outdoor celebration of traditional Irish dancing that takes place on Monday 16th March. Learn the steps, listen to live Ceili, and be immersed in an entire afternoon of traditional Irish culture (with no experience required)!

Date: Monday, 16th March
Where: St. Stephen's Green, Dublin 2
Time: 4:30pm – 7.30pm
Price: Free

Where to stay:

If you’re planning to join the celebrations in Dublin, please feel free to check our Dublin Hotels for availability on these dates.

St. Patrick's Day Celebrations - Galway

Renowned for some of the best St. Paddy’s Day festivities in Ireland, Galway is the place to be. With parades, fireworks, street parties, lots of food and drink, traditional music and dance, there is much to experience and enjoy. Each year, Galway chooses a diverse, exciting theme that forms part of its parade and the numerous events leading up to the day itself. Keep an eye on official announcements for more information on the official theme. On the day there will be a variety of artistic displays and performances across the city’s theatres and streets, generating a bustling and exciting atmosphere for all to be a part of.

Here are some of the Galway St. Patrick’s Day highlights:

St. Patrick's Day Parade:

The Galway St. Patrick’s Day Parade will take place making its way through the centre of the city, starting on Lower Dominick Street and finishing at the Galway County Council Buildings. Guaranteed to be a colourful and vibrant display, the Galway Parade is one of the best places to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

Date: Tuesday, 17th March
Start: Lower Dominick Street
Time: 11.30am – 1pm

St. Patrick's Day Festival:

The St. Patrick’s Day festival in Galway is used as a stage to showcase the local artists and community groups that this fantastic city has to offer. The aim is to celebrate the city’s diverse culture and talent through a wide-range of events to spreading the carnival vibe into every inch of the city.

Where to stay:

If you’re planning to join the celebrations in Galway, please feel free to check our Galway Hotel for availability on these dates.

St. Patrick's Day Celebrations - Cork

St. Patrick's Day, Cork by Hywe J Williams/ Creative Commons(image and image size have been modified)

Aside from Dublin, Cork’s St. Paddy’s Day celebration is known to be one of the biggest in all of Ireland, with around 100,000 people expected this year. Running from 14th – 17th March across the city the event is to feature street art, pageantry, artisan food markets, live music, carnivals and much more. There are also numerous attractions and exhibitions organised throughout Cork, ranging from storytelling and puppet shows to live music.

The proceedings culminate with the Parade, which welcomes marching bands from all over Ireland and the USA, samba bands, street performers, and costumed dancers, all raucously making their way through the centre of the city. Cork offers a bustling alternative to those who want to avoid the crowds of Dublin on the busiest day of the year.

Be sure to check the updated details from the official website:

Where to stay:

If you’re planning to join the celebrations in Cork, please feel free to check our Cork Hotel for availability on these dates.

St. Patrick's Day Celebrations - Belfast

St. Patrick's Day, Belfast by Ardfern/ Creative Commons(image and image size have been modified)

Belfast comes alive on St. Patrick’s Day with family-friendly fun with a dedicated Kiddie Zone on Donegall Quay (beside the Big Fish). While not as large as some of the other celebrations, Belfast’s festivities offer visitors a slight twist on the traditional day.

Belfast Carnival Parade

Promising to be a spectacular, high energy carnival experience, this year’s theme in Belfast is ‘St. Patrick… to the future’. It will be a re-imagination of St. Patrick as a time-travelling adventurer on a vibrant journey to the future of Belfast! It will of course include the traditional eye-catching float parade, performers, music, and much more from the local community.

Date: Tuesday, 17th March
Start: Belfast City Hall
Time: 12 Noon

Free Concert at Custom House Square

The parade finishes at Custom House Square where there will be a free outdoor concert from 1pm (the gates open at noon). Entry to the event will be based on a ‘first-come, first-served’ basis so make sure you arrive a little earlier to catch the acts! The line-up this year includes Shayne Ward (X Factor UK 2005 winner), Emerald Armada (Irish folk band), Sontas (10-piece group musicians, dancers and singers of Irish and Scottish background) and more!

Date: Tuesday, 17th March
: Custom House Square
: 1-3pm
: Free

Punjana St. Patrick’s Tea Dances

The Punjana St. Patrick’s Tea Dances is a great chance to throw on your dancing shoes and revel in an afternoon of old time dancing and refreshments with the John Trotter Band. The tickets are free and available from the Box Office from Monday 2nd February at 9am. However, tickets do not guarantee a place at the event which also works on a ‘first-come, first-served’ basis, so make sure you’re there with plenty of time to avoid disappointment!

Date: Tuesday, 17th March
Where: Ulster Hall
Time: 12-2pm and 3-5pm
Price: Free

Where to stay:

If you’re planning to join the celebrations in Belfast, please feel free to check our Belfast Hotel for availability on these dates.

Enjoy Ireland!

A visit to any of these Irish cities on or around St. Patrick’s Day is a wonderfully immersive experience and the perfect way to soak up this historical celebration. Each city has its own special way of honouring the day and all of them are just awaiting your discovery so grab a glass of Guinness and get involved with the Irish festive fun! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


Glass of Guinness by Mike Kniec/Creative Commons (image size has been modified)

To prepare for your St. Paddy’s adventure, take a look at our previous blog ‘The 15 Most Misunderstood Irishisms’.

Main image by Wikimedia Commons CC BY (image and image size have been modified)

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