It’s funny how millions of people observe this holiday even though they’re not Irish. Maybe it’s just because it’s a bit of fun. The Irish are renowned for their good craic, and they need no excuse to throw a party.
Every year on March 17 there is much merriment and if you want to let your hair down, there’s no better place to be on St Patrick’s Day than Dublin. The city is one giant party and everyone’s invited.
This year, The National St Patrick’s Festival – A Global Celebration of Irish Arts, Culture and Heritage is taking place in Dublin from March 16 until March 20 – clearly one day just isn’t enough!
Ireland is a great place to enjoy yourself at any time of the year but Dublin’s celebrations take things to another level. The whole world wants to be Irish on St Patrick’s Day.
At the heart of the celebrations is the spectacular National St Patrick’s Day Parade – the extravagant centrepiece to the St Patrick’s Day Festival. The highly anticipated return of the National St Patrick’s Day Parade will take place on Thursday, March 17, winding its way through the streets of Dublin, from Parnell Square to St Stephen’s Green, after a two-year absence.
If you do nothing else while you’re in Dublin, make sure you do not miss this.
Aside from the parade, there’s lots of cracking stuff going on in and around the city to celebrate the occasion.
Visit www.stpatricksfestival.ie for the full parade and festival programme.
If you are thinking of a last-minute trip to the Emerald Isle for St Patrick’s Day, you can fly direct to Dublin with Loganair from Aberdeen airport and Aer Lingus and Ryanair flights are available from Edinburgh and Glasgow.
For places to stay in Dublin take a look at Clayton Hotels www.claytonhotels.com or for a wider range of accommodation options try www.booking.com. You better be quick though, the city will be packed over St Patrick’s Day. You never know, with a wee rub o’ the green, you might still be able to find somewhere to stay at short notice.
If you’re not lucky enough to be able to head off to Ireland for St Patrick’s Day, you can still have some fun at home. Food and drink are a big part of celebrations in most cultures and Irish traditions are no exception. Irish people are some of the most hospitable people I have ever met. I have happy memories of eating and drinking my way through Dublin’s Temple Bar neighbourhood on a lost weekend a few years ago, striking up conversations with everyone I encountered along the way.
The watering holes of Dublin’s Temple Bar district are bursting at the seams with visitors and locals alike just soaking up the atmosphere. Many of these places will have traditional live music on too and you must try and experience at least one live band when you're there. It’s proper toe-tapping stuff. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself wanting to burst into song or dance a wee jig. I doubt you’ll find any judgement there.
I loved the food in Dublin and I was amazed at the stylish twists some of the eateries had on what is essentially quite basic yet wholesome grub. One of the tastiest dishes I had was a traditional Irish Stew at the lively Oliver St John Gogarty. Maybe there was a secret ingredient in the recipe that has likely to have been handed down through generations but it was pretty special. Be sure to add that venue to your list too www.gogartys.ie.
Some of the other dishes I devoured on that trip were a feast for the senses and you could recreate one or two of them at home. Staple foods in Irish cuisine are bacon, cabbage, corned beef, Colcannon, soda bread and, of course, a good old Irish stew. For dessert you can always use up any leftover Guinness (yeah right!) to make some boozy, Stout infused puddings. I wonder what Tiramisu would taste like Irish style? Might give that a go.
Speaking of Guinness, if you enjoy a drop of ‘the black stuff’ there’s a fancy cocktail you might want to try. An unlikely pairing of half Guinness, half Champagne together in one glass and there you have it – a Black Velvet. It sounds like a bizarre combination, but it works well. Trust me, I have tried one (or two) and it’s lovely, albeit rather potent.
To round off your evening, settle down with a nice Irish Coffee – coffee and whipped cream laced with a splash of Irish whiskey. Another tasty concoction.
Sure, it might not be as much fun as being in Dublin for St Patrick’s Day but at least you’ll have brought a bit of colour to what might have been an otherwise dull day.
And you know what they say about the luck of the Irish…