Like many internationally-celebrated holidays, St. Patrick’s Day is seen much differently in Australia or America than it is in its country of origin.
It’s common for non-natives to take advantage of these and other holidays (Cinco de Mayo, Mardi Gras, even Bastille Day) as an excuse to drink and get rowdy.
While we won’t get into the cultural implications (read: insensitivities) of this practice here, we will urge you to try and understand the real holiday and its origins before you celebrate.
And what better way to do so than by visiting the country that certain holidays stem from (or at least striving for an in-depth understanding of how they celebrate there)?
As St. Patrick’s Day is fast approaching, we thought we’d clue you in to what it’s really like in Ireland. If you’re lucky enough to be in the area for the festivities, hopefully this guide will help. And if you’re elsewhere, perhaps it will change the way you view and celebrate this day.
So… What’s St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland really like?
Well, for starters, it’s not nearly as crazy as it is overseas. Irish descendants living outside of the UK are largely to blame for the holiday’s party reputation. In Ireland, it’s much tamer and traditional – Especially in regional communities, where it’s not uncommon to hear people speaking and singing in Gaeltacht and wearing traditional Irish Garb.
In Dublin, Ireland’s capital and largest city, St. Patrick’s Day is slightly more commercial, but this is only a recent development thanks to ex-pats in Ireland who have contributed to its growth. That being said, don’t expect Irish St. Patrick’s Day to be nearly as gimmicky as it can be overseas. You’ll be hard-pressed to find green beer at any pub or spot an Irish person donning a leprechaun costume. To truly celebrate like a local, wear green and drink Guinness, Ireland’s most iconic beer.
Another point of difference is that in Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day is not just one day. Usually, festivities last about a week with festivals and other events happening the whole time. Dublin hosts their largest St. Patrick’s Day parade on March 17, but other cities have their own traditions.
If you’re going to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland, tip #1 is to book flights, transport and accommodation early, as everything fills up really fast around this time. You will also want to stay for a while if possible because, as we noted, celebrations last more than a day.
Once there, don’t flaunt your Irish heritage or wear culturally insensitive “Irish” paraphernalia or plan to get super wasted. Instead, stay respectful, responsible and receptive to those around you and the customs/traditions they are willing to share.