Saint Patrick’s Day is bearing down on us in a few short weeks and you know what that means? Green beer and stupid hats? Maybe, but that’s really only if you’re an American and can turn any holiday, traditional or obscure, into a reason to get drunk and cause a ruckus. At least you’re fun and know how to party! In Ireland, you will likely find NO green beer, shamrock sunglasses or green felt leprechaun hats, unless it is marketed solely to tourists. In fact, in Ireland Saint Patrick’s Day is a religious holiday to commemorate the day that St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland (Supposedly. I 'm pretty sure there weren’t any there in the first place. Easy!)
With the holiday in Ireland becoming more secular and less celebrated came a brilliant idea from the government! Giant festivities to get people worldwide interested in traveling to Ireland to join the parties and soak up the culture! Meaning more tourism. Amazingly, the first festival to be held in Ireland didn't occur until 1996 and it was only one day. Since then, it has grown into a week-long celebration of all things Irish that draws hundreds of thousand of visitors every year who come to party, join parades, watch concerts, witness fireworks, attend sporting events, take in theater performances and, of course, to drink beer.
Awesome Fact: Witness the shortest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the whole world in Dripsey, Ireland of County Cork. The parade lasts just 100 yards and travels between the village's two pubs.
Get yourself a Dublin Pass. As always, I am recommending the city pass for those visiting Dublin. Not only is it a great deal if you plan to do a fair amount of sightseeing on the Emerald Isle, but it also it lets you skip the queues at the ticket booths. Your Dublin pass comes with an airport-city center transfer, entrance to over 30 top attractions, the Croke Park Experience (for those of you who are sports lovers), discounts on dining, shopping, etc. and even unlimited public transportation! Purchase online before you go to save 20% off. Your Dublin pass is valid for 12 months from purchase and “activates” upon your first use.
My Goodness My Guinness! Do you love Guinness like I do? How would you like a FREE pint? If you’re in Ireland, take a walk through the Guinness Factory and see how it’s made, enjoy a free pint at the end of your tour and take in all of Dublin from the 360 degree view in the Gravity Bar on top of the factory. Before you leave, make sure to stop into the visitor centre and museum to view old adverts and pick up some souvenirs. Here’s a good tip: purchase your entry ticket(s) online to bypass long queues and get 10% off (the not-so-cheap admission price of 14 Euros) or use a Dublin Pass that includes admission.
Do you prefer Jameson whiskey? You can take a distillery tour of their factory as well! Again, your tour ends with a good size “sample”. You can volunteer to do a taste-test, and if you are chosen it includes 3 Irish whiskeys, a Scotch whiskey and an American Whiskey and then a fancy diploma saying you took the taste test. Take a trip through the gift shop and buy a nice bottle for the rest of your trip or send some home for you, family or friends. The tour lasts about an hour and the distillery is open 7 days a week, but you can make reservations online and save 15% off the admission price of 13.5 Euros.
Both tours were highly recommended by those that took one or both of them.
Obviously, no matter where you are, you are bound to be near some St. Patrick’s Day celebrations on March 17th. Almost every city has an Irish pub that throws a huge party where everyone gets rip-roaring drunk, pretends they're Irish, wears crazy stuff and takes a cab home (hopefully) in the wee hours of the morning to sleep it off. In Portland, that party can go on for many nights, depending what day St. Patrick’s Day falls on. Our popular restaurant called Kells takes up an entire city block with tents full of vendors and music and all things Irish and people have been known to take days off of work, just so they can start their weekend partying early. A great way to find such celebrations is your local paper’s entertainment or local section and online. What’s On When has listings for entertainment and goings on in most cities worldwide.
And if you’d like to at least see a bit of Ireland even if you can’t visit, check out some of these movies to enjoy the rolling green countryside and Irish lilt:
Boy Eats Girl (kitchy rom-zom movie)
The Crying Game
Darby O’Gill and the Little People
Far and Away
Laws of Attraction
Leap Day (best sightseeing in a movie, by far)
P.S. I Love You (my pick for 2nd best sightseeing movie)
The Secret of Roan Inish
Tristan & Isolde
Waking Ned Devine
This is by no means all of them, just ones that I know are probably available through Blockbuster, Netflix, Redbox or your own DVD collection. Find a more complete list HERE.
How will you be spending your St. Patrick's Day?