Saint Patrick is widely known as the patron saint of Ireland. Although the exact dates are unknown (circa the second half of the fifth century), Saint Patrick at the age of 15 or 16 was kidnapped from his homeland of Great Britain and taken to Ireland where he was enslaved as a shepherd. Approximately 6 years later he escaped back to family where he took up studies as a cleric. He returned to then pagan Ireland to preach, and was subsequently ordained the first Romano Catholic Bishop of Armagh. Saint Patrick used the shamrock to explain the holy trinity, hence the link between the two Irish icons.
St. Patrick’s Day – a cultural event
Saint Patrick’s Day is commemorated on March 17th, which is noted as the day of his death circa 461A.D.
What was originally a religious day, a Holy Day of Obligation for Roman Catholics, is now as much a cultural event. In Ireland it is an official bank holiday, so most businesses close for the day and the Irish get a day off work to celebrate!
1903 saw the first St. Patrick’s Day parade in Ireland, while the first in Dublin took place in 1931. It has now become global. There is a shared heritage of communities, with parades held around the world, from Boston to Croatia, and Norway to Sydney.
Over half a million people will gather here in Dublin for this year’s parade, while the rest will probably watch the event live on Radio Telefis Eireann (RTE) the national television channel. This year the parade will see its youngest ever Grand Marshall, 19-year-old Joanne O’Riordan. Starting on Parnell Square in the city centre the parade will meander its way through the city streets to finish at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
It is traditional to wear something green on the day, to show your ‘Irishness’. While the more mature of us will be pinning sprigs of shamrock to our lapels, the next generation will be painting their faces with tri-coloured flag, harps and anything green! You can check out our selection of traditional green Irish sweaters and accessories for St. Patrick’s Day here to show off your Irish heritage with pride this March 17th!
Authentic Irish St. Patrick’s Day
After the parade, many will take to the pubs for a well-deserved pint of Guinness, over 13 million pints of Guinness will be consumed around the world on St. Patrick’s Day!
The festivities are not limited to March 17th. Dublin, along with many other counties throughout Ireland, holds a range of events, on the run up to, and post the day itself – treasure hunts, historical walking tours, the Trinity College versus University College Dublin boat race, many traditional Céilí dances and funfairs.
Merrion Square hosts the wonderful family ‘St. Patrick’s Festival Big Day Out’, with street carnival, theatrics, music, aerial shows and more.
If that’s not enough to get you to visit Ireland or if you simply can’t be here this year, watch our video, a celebration of our Irish heritage and have a very happy St. Patrick’s Day, however you decide to celebrate! After all with 5 million people living here, almost 70 million of you call it home!