For four days, amidst the various shades of green, boisterous singing commemorating Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland ensues. Hailed as Ireland’s day of pride, many take to the city of Dublin to celebrate the heritage and culture of Ireland by partaking in huge public parades and festivals, céilithe, and the wearing of green attire or shamrocks (the “wearing of the green”). Others may prefer to celebrate its intended meaning: a traditional day for spiritual rebirth and offering prayers for missionaries throughout the world. The first St. Patrick’s Festival was scheduled over one day (and night) on March 17th 1996 and has since grown to a four to five day celebration.
The 2015 St. Patrick’s Day Parade theme aims to explore the “Present” with pageant companies and festive performances from the USA, Ireland, and Germany throughout the heart of Dublin city. Dublin’s parade incorporates a food and crafts market, as well as music, street performers and children’s workshops. Pubs and restaurants flaunt green tinted food and drink (Guinness being the popular choice) to emphasise the partying atmosphere. Highlights to possibly look forward to consist of the return of the Festival’s hugely well-received and distinguished cultural programme, ‘I Love My City’, the Festival Treasure Hunt in association with Ethiopian Airlines, Céilí House Live presented by RTÉ Radio 1, the Festival Big Day Out in Merrion Square, and the Parade which will feature theatrical shows, bands and music from around the world.
According to legend, Saint Patrick used the three-leaved shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to Irish pagans. The Declaration claims that he returned to Ireland and spent forty years evangelising in the Northern half of Ireland and converted “thousands” to Christianity. Tradition holds that he passed away on March 17 and was buried at Downpatrick – this is the reason why many St. Patrick’s festivals take place from March 14 and end on March 17.
The Dublin St. Patrick’s parade, being the most popular in Ireland, starts on Parnell Square and heads on through streets and bridges until it finished just past St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The Cathedral was erected in honour of Ireland’s patron Saint, standing adjacent to the famous Saint Patrick’s Well where tradition has it Saint Patrick baptised converts to the faith on his visit to Dublin.
Surrounded by the legend of St Patrick is the historic site of Rock of Cashel (Carraig Phádraig) in Count Tipperary it is said that St Patrick visited Cashel to meet and baptise the powerful King of Munster, Aonghus in the 5th century. The majority of the buildings on the present site appear to date from the 12th and 13th centuries when the rock was given to the Church as a gift. The buildings have influences from Hiberno-Romanseque and Germanic in their architecture.
County Down Cathedral is a Church of Ireland cathedral built in 1883, standing on the site of a Benedictine Monastery, built in 1183. Saint Patrick’s remains are buried in the graveyard grounds, thought to have died in 461. Artistic stain glass windows, box pews and a detailed organ case magnify this interesting building, along with its historical value. Guided tours are available and some are even complementary on the days celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.
A holiday celebrating all things Irish, past and present, the city of Dublin offers an ideal location to experience St. Patrick’s Day, with all it has to offer visitors. A look back on history may lead to a better understanding of the significance of March 17 by visiting Dublin’s cathedrals and museums. One may wish to go to mass or have a drink at a pub with friends; there are many ways to spend these four “Irish” days.
What is the productive and patriotic aspect of wearing traditional colours on holidays?