Spending St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland – the Dublin do’s and don’ts

by Dalton Cox

Studying Abroad and looking for spring break plans? Just need an adventure? If you are spending some time in Europe, Dublin is a popular getaway, especially for March 17. Having spent a semester abroad in Ireland’s capital, I have consolidated this list of St. Patty’s do’s and don’ts to remember during your visit to the city known as Baile Átha Cliath.

 On St. Patrick’s Day

Merchant's Bar, Dublin
Merchant’s Bar, Dublin, photo by Dalton Cox

– DO wake up early, probably about 8 a.m., and eat a good breakfast. I recommend a traditional Irish breakfast with all the fixings. You’ll probably need plenty of food in your stomach (for all that walking you’ll be doing, of course).

– DO wear green, but DO NOT overdo it. Even the locals like to be festive when getting dressed on March 17; nevertheless, don’t want to stand out too much as a tourist, so maybe leave that emerald tutu at the hostel. Also in Ireland you traditionally won’t get pinched for noncompliance.

– DO head to the parade near O’Connell Street. The 2015 parade begins at 12 p.m., but you’ll want to get there early. It will be incredible crowded. Once you’ve seen enough dancing leprechauns and baby-kissing electoral candidates, you’ll already be in the city center in walking distance of Dublin’s best attractions and best pubs.

– DO NOT spend too much time in Temple Bar neighborhood. It will be exceptionally crowded, and locals know it as an overpriced tourist trap. Within walking distance, you’ll find plenty of other pubs with more of a local flavor. Two that stand out are The Bleeding Horse and Merchant’s Bar.

Beyond the St. Patrick Festivities

– DO see a show at the Abbey Theatre. It’s the national theater of Ireland and the performances are topnotch. Currently playing on the dates surrounding St. Patrick’s Day 2015 are “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” and “Death of a Comedian.”

– DO see a choral performance at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. If you attend a church service, admission is free and one of the choirs will likely perform.

Howth's seascape
Howth’s seascape, photo by Dalton Cox

– DO take half a day to visit Howth. The costal town has breathtaking cliff walks and freshly caught seafood. The journey only takes about 20 minutes by train.

– DO NOT feel bad if you end up skipping the Guinness Storehouse. This is Ireland’s top tourist attraction; however, the inside it looks like it was designed by the Walt Disney Co. Though it will most likely put a smile on your face and a complementary pint of “the black stuff” in your hand, the Guinness Storehouse lacks authenticity. The Old Jameson Distillery is perhaps a more worthwhile excursion and just as uniquely Irish.

Taken in the Guinness Storehouse
Taken in the Guinness Storehouse, photo by Dalton Cox

– For those of you who enjoy going out to nightclubs in place of pubs, DO visit Flannery’s and Whelan’s. A scene of “P.S. I Love You” was filmed at Whelan’s.

– For those travelers who like to shop, DO visit Arnotts, a nicer department store on Henry Street. Unlike other department stores, Arnotts avoids feeling like a museum for elitists. There are also many other worthwhile shops near Grafton Street.

Now that you know what to do and what to avoid, book that hostel asap, hop a flight on Ryan Air and get to Dublin. Sláinte!

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