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What It’s Like To Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day In Ireland (AKA Is It Mental?)

What It’s Like To Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day In Ireland (AKA Is It Mental?)

One of the most frequent emails that hits my inbox during March of each year goes something along the lines of ‘Is St. Patrick’s Day celebrated in Ireland?’

Now, when I first received one of these emails, I was a little baffled. To be honest, I thought the sender was taking the p*ss.

But then the 4th, 10th and 15th email arrived and it was clear that there are a lot of people out there (mainly Americans) that are curious about St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland.

If we celebrate it (and if so, how), what happens on the day and what do we eat and drink. In the guide below, I’ll cover everything you need to know about Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day.

st. patrick's day in ireland

Photo © The Irish Road Trip

St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland

Yes, St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland is a thing – of course it is. We celebrate it in a number of different ways. He’s our Patron Saint, after all! 

Once March 17th chugs along, we (many of us, anyway) get a National Holiday, which means many offices and places of work shut up shop for the day.

A religious holiday

If you’re not familiar with St. Patrick (read out guide to the history of St. Patrick’s Day), he was a Roman-British (yep, he wasn’t Irish – check out more St. Patrick Day Facts) Bishop that helped bring Christianity to Ireland.

March 17th (the day that marks his death) is a religious holiday in Ireland. I’ve fond memories of my Grandad heading to mass on St. Patrick’s Day each year and coming back with a clump of shamrocks hanging out of his breast pocket.

titanic st. paddy's day

Photo by Gerry Sweeney via Tourism Ireland (Copyright Titanic Belfast)

Drink related madness

St. Patrick’s Day gets a bad rap as a day where people overindulged and go mental after drinking too many green-dye-infused drinks.

I’ve mixed feelings on this. St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland, when I was a teenager, was all about alcohol and downing cheap European and Irish drinks.

We’d spend days trying to get someone to buy us cans of Irish beer or whatever was the cheapest drink on offer, and we’d spend the day drinking in fields and having a laugh.

Then you get older

As the years go on, St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland becomes less of a thing. As a working adult, I’ve never paid much attention to the day itself.

St. Patrick’s Day is a bank holiday in Ireland, so if the 17th fell between Monday to Friday, we’d go out to the pub the night before, as we wouldn’t have to worry about being stuck in work with a hangover.

When you have kids

For those with kids, St. Patrick’s Day is often a bit of a bigger deal. Schools generally allow kids to come into school wearing green (facepaint is optional) on the days leading up to March 17th.

Many parents also bring kids to local parades. Some kids also take parts in parades as part of sports teams or clubs.

St patrick's day traditions

Photo by Bernie Brown via Tourism Ireland

Is St. Patrick’s Day celebrated in Ireland? Yea, how? 

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in a number of different ways in Ireland. Note, that how it’s celebrated will vary depending on the person/age.


The most notable way that St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in Ireland is via parades. The largest parade on the island takes place in Dublin, with many parts of the city closed off.

The St. Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin is broadcast on National Television and some people who can’t make the event will sit down to watch it.

There are heaps of smaller parades that take place in Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day, with some including tractors and other novel floats.

The Greening of buildings

Many buildings mark St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland by ‘greening’ their buildings or part of their premises. 

Buildings in Dublin, for example, like the Custom House and Trinity College Dublin are completely lit up in green and look pretty damn cool.

Many other famous landmarks across the world light up in green over the course of St. Patrick’s Day, like the fountain in the White House and Sydney Opera House in Australia.


I’ll be the first to admit that I love a pint (I’m also fond of a fair few other Irish drinks) and there’s no better time to visit a pub than when there’s a buzz about the place.

On St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland (if it’s on the weekend) or on the day before (if the 17th falls mid-week) you’ll find many pubs in Ireland to be packed.

Do people overindulge? Yes. But I’d love to see a stat around whether more people in Ireland overindulge on Paddy’s Day vs any other Friday or Saturday night.

Temple Bar mayhem

Many tourists that come to visit Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day have their sights firmly set on Dublin’s Temple Bar area.

This. Is. A. Bad. Idea. Actually, hold on – this is a grand idea if you don’t mind being wedged into a very small space with thousands of drunk people.

So, yea. If you don’t mind queuing an hour for a drink or for the toilet, you should definitely visit Temple Bar on St. Patrick’s Day.

If you’d like a fine pint, some great atmosphere, and a bit of music, check out our guide to the best pubs in Dublin with live music on Paddy’s Day.

st Patricks day temple bar 2019

Photo via Visit Dublin on Twitter

FAQs about St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland

I’ve thrown in as many of the FAQs that I’ve received about Paddy’s Day as possible below. If you have a question that hasn’t been tackled, let me know in the comments section.

Is St. Patrick’s Day celebrated in Ireland?

It is indeed, my friend. I personally have a lie-in and head for a hike or walk, if the weather permits, while others attend parades or head for a pint with friends.

If you’re visiting Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day, expect to find many towns and villages abuzz with festivities, with just as many more operating away like it’s any other day of the week.

Is St Patrick’s Day a big deal in Ireland?

Yes, it is. It’s a National Holiday which means that many of us have the day off work. There are also massive parades taking place and many people wear green.

Now, for those of you planning a trip to Ireland in March, specifically for Paddy’s Day – keep in mind that some places will be closed as it’s a Bank Holiday.

It’s worth checking in advance if the tours that you’re planning on doing or the man-made attractions that you have on your itinerary are open (the chances are they will be). 

What do the Irish eat on St Patrick’s Day in Ireland?

I’ll be honest, I eat what I’d eat on any other day of the week. However, some people (none that I know of…) have a tradition of eating corned beef and cabbage.

I remember a neighbour of mine when I was a kid used to be given mash potatoes and some green vegetable for dinner on Paddy’s Day. Their parents would wrap coins in grease-proof paper and stick them inside the mashed potato.

This is a bit of a mental tradition that I had completely forgotten about. If you had this as a tradition while growing up, let me know in the comments.

Why does Ireland celebrate St Patrick’s Day?

Traditionally, we celebrate the life of St. Patrick on March 17th. St. Patrick is our Patron Saint and he brought Christianity to Ireland.

Over the years this celebration has morphed into a celebration of Irish culture. Paddy’s Day is now also heavily hijacked by large alcohol brands.

What do the Irish drink on St Patrick’s Day?

Some pubs serve pints and drinks with green dye in them on Paddy’s Day… yea, you’re grand, cheers! There’s no real traditional drink for St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland. Drink whatever tickles your fancy.

Do Northern Irish celebrate St Patrick’s?

So, while St. Patrick’s Day is a public holiday in the north of Ireland, it isn’t a bank holiday. March 17th is celebrated by the Catholic/nationalist community in Northern Ireland.  Belfast now has a yearly St. Patrick’s parade.

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