What to Expect on St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin!

 

On March 17th we celebrated our second St. Patrick’s Day as residents of Dublin. It was a festive day where we took in the annual parade and visited Croke Park to attend the hurling and gaelic football finals of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). We ended our evening in touristy Temple Bar, to watch throngs of drunk people adorning green as they spilled in and out of pubs. Here’s more details on St. Patrick’s Day 2014 and the type of day you can expect if you visit Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day in the future!

O'Connell St, Dublin St Paddy
Something to realize is that most Irish people do not dress up for St. Patrick’s Day. Do not expect to be in any Irish neighbourhood and see actual Irish people lining the streets dressed as leprechauns or green fairies. You’ll generally only see this phenomena in mass in Dublin’s city center, with the most enthusiastically dressed people typically being drunk Americans. You should also not expect to see Dublin’s River Liffey dyed green as is the annual custom in American cities like Chicago. While the Irish wear green for international soccer and rugby competitions, the colour that is associated with the real Saint Patrick is actually blue!

While cities and towns all over Ireland hold St. Patrick’s Day parades, don’t expect them to be green themed either. Dublin’s city council decided that 2014 would kick off the beginning of a three year planned theme for the parades entitled ‘Past, Present and Future.’ So the St. Patrick’s Day 2014 parade touched on Ireland’s past, and we saw Viking ship floats and medieval themed floats. As usual, there were many marching bands and some random contraptions that we could not fully decipher their meaning. If you come to Dublin expecting a parade filled with leprechauns, green balloons and flying beads you’ll be disappointed, but it’s still a great day because the Irish love the craic (gaelic for “good times”).

St Paddy's Dublin Parade
 

St Paddy's day parade
The Gaelic Athletic Association preserves Irish national sports at Dublin’s historic Croke Park. With 82,300 seats, Croke Park is the 3rd largest stadium in Europe. For €25 euro ($34 USD) we watched two action packed finals in a doubleheader. If you’ve never seen hurling or gaelic football, check out this YouTube video and there’s a great chance you’ll be inspired to attend. Our group of five was split on our preference for each sport, with Bell and I preferring gaelic football over hurling as the ball is bigger and easier to follow. Hurling is a bit like lacrosse, with goal posts rising above a soccer net.

During half time of each game, there was a promotion for the 2014 Croke Park Classic to be held on August 30th, 2014 between American college football teams Penn State and UCF. As a graduate of the University of Central Florida, I’m very proud that the Knights will be kicking off the upcoming college football season in Dublin and have dedicated a post on what to expect for the game with some advice and recommendations in the area. It’s extremely rare for a non-Gaelic event to be hosted at Croke Park. The Notre Dame vs. Navy game last year was held at the smaller, more modern Aviva Stadium, which holds about 51,700. This game will be a historic honor for both UCF and Penn State.

GAA - Hurling and football, Croke Park, Dublin
After the GAA games we swung into a busy local pub near Croke Park called Hill 16, which is historic in that the building was erected from the rubble of the 1916 Easter Rising, the catalyst for Irish independence from Great Britain. It’s a great pub to visit on game day and was devoid of crazily dressed foreigners before we arrived. While ordering a Guinness and hot whiskey I told the bartender “This is otherwise a great pub, if it weren’t for all the tourists.” While the five of us are all currently living in Dublin, I was the only person in the pub wearing a leprechaun hat and beard. The bartender didn’t have a response except to chuckle, and I was a little disappointed that he didn’t have a typically witty Irish comeback (though perhaps it’s because anything good would have been insulting to us).

Alex at Croke Park
For dinner we were not so festive as we ate Chinese on Parnell Street, at Lee’s Charming Noodles, solely because it was convenient and one of our favorite places in town to have a cheap sit down dinner. And we certainly needed some food in our stomach before drinking more Guinness in Temple Bar. On a side note, we normally don’t drink Guinness at touristy pubs because it honestly doesn’t taste as good as local pubs, but it was St. Paddy’s Day and our staple Temple Bar pubs to drink Irish micro brews, like Farrington’s or the aptly named Temple Bar were far too packed. We were just happy to be able to score a table at Trinity Bar, which had a lively atmosphere, albeit lousy, bitter tasting Guinness.

 

Temple Bar, St Paddy's day

Where to Stay in Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day?

If you plan to visit Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day book your accommodation well in advance. You’ll often find the best hotel deals on booking.com. Book a hotel with free cancellation! Then if you change your mind in time, you can easily cancel your reservation and book another one. Families especially will find the best deals on short term apartment rentals. If you’ve never used Airbnb, sign up here and receive $40 credit off your first stay! Here are hotel, B&B & hostel recommendations for Dublin:

Luxury:

Shelbourne Hotel is Dublin’s most historic luxury hotel, as several US Presidents and many foreign dignitaries have stayed there. They have a wonderful cocktail lounge and fantastic dining options. Even if you’re not a guest, swing in for high tea and enjoy a lovely view of St. Stephen’s Green.

Mid Range:

O’Callaghan is a small chain of centrally located, comfortable hotels with good breakfasts. Trinity College often puts job applicants and guests up in these hotels. We stayed at O’Callaghan St. Stephens Green when Bell interviewed for her post doc position at Trinity College and highly recommend it.

Budget:

ABC House Dublin and Egans House are quintessentially Irish bed and breakfasts a little outside the center of Dublin. They both offer reasonable comfort for those that don’t want to spend a lot to sleep. We spent a week at ABC House Dublin while searching for our apartment when we first moved to Dublin. And we’ve stayed at Egans House on multiple occasions.

Backpacker: 

Generator Hostel is conveniently located right next to the Jameson Distillery (fun!) and is part of a reputable chain of hostels in Europe that are known for being clean and having a fun atmosphere.

If someone knows what this float was about could you please tell us!! A small prize will be issued!
If someone knows what this float was about could you please tell us!? A small prize will be issued!

If you want to read about what we got up to for St. Patrick’s Day 2012 in Dublin check out this post.

Want to travel to Ireland for Free?

Play the credit card points game and use bonus point sign ups for free plane tickets! One of the most popular cards is the Chase Sapphire Reserve. The card also includes complimentary priority pass lounge access with free food, drinks and wifi. The annual fee seems steep at $450, but it includes $300 in travel credits. The 50,000 bonus point sign up is good for $750 in travel credit, often enough for a free plane ticket Ireland!

If you don’t travel very frequently, the Delta Skymiles American Express Gold Card is free the first year and just $95 each year after. They give a 40,000 point bonus after you charge just $1,000, so this is a great card. You’ll typically need around 60,000+ miles for a free flight to Ireland, but you can earn these miles with everyday purchases. There are other perks to having the Delta SkyMiles AMEX Gold Card, like free checked bags on Delta flights.

Need Help Planning Your Trip to Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day?

Email me at alex@wanderlustmarriage.com and I’ll be happy to help you plan the perfect Ireland vacation!

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