St Patrick’s Day is the one day of the year that everyone suddenly remembers about that distant Irish relation, meaning that they can join in on all of the festivities that come with the holiday.
Of course you don’t actually need to have an ounce of Irish blood running through your veins enjoy a Guinness or three on 17th March, but when you visit the Emerald Isle, you will find yourself welcomes as though you were one of their own.
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This year, festivities in Northern and Republic of Ireland are sure to be something special with St Patrick’s Day falling on a Saturday, meaning that the bank holiday will be observed on Monday (19th March). While Ireland is always a popular tourist destination, its popularity only increases at this time with celebration going on into the wee hours of the morning on the streets of Belfast and Dublin.
Ireland, however, is much more than St Patrick’s Day, Guinness, leprechauns and shamrocks. There is a rich history and culture that the Irish are hugely proud of, and it’s all the more reason to head on over.
We have already touched on leprechauns briefly in the opening of this post, so we will leave that there. In Northern Ireland, the Giant’s Causeway is the setting of many a tale, with the most famous of which centres around Irish giant Finn MacCool and Scottish giant Benandonner.
As the legend goes, Finn MacCool agreed to fight Benandonner and built the causeway so as the two could lock horns. In Gaelic mythology, Finn MacCool hid from the Scottish giant, who was much taller than him and was disguised as a baby. When Benandonner saw the ‘baby’ he immediately ran back towards the Highlands in fear of how big the father must have been!
Game of Thrones
The hit fantasy series is filmed in several locations, including Ireland, and tourists can step foot into the world of George R. R. Martin. Near Belfast, there are a number of Games of Thrones tours that are a must for any fan of the books or television series.
Scenes such as Arya Stark’s road from King’s Landing, the Iron Islands and Robert Baratheon’s camp were all filmed in Northern Ireland. Once you have immersed yourself in the access all areas Game of Thrones experience, why not head back to Belfast and take in the sights of the beautiful city?
For sports fans, Ireland presents a unique experience with Gaelic sports every bit as popular as the likes of football and rugby. Hurling and Gaelic football club seasons come to a head at Croke Park in Dublin on St Patrick’s Day which is sure to make for an incredible atmosphere. Two All-Ireland club finals back-to-back will be hosted at the stadium, which is the third largest in Europe.
If you are yet to experience the rough and tumble of the GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) then you are missing out. Hurling is the fastest field sport in the world and has been played for more than 3,000 years, while Gaelic football is equally as physical and exhilarating.
Lastly, one of the main reasons to visit Ireland is for the locals. Welcoming and friendly, there is great craic to be had with the Irish who possess an infectious sense of humour that in endearing the world over.
If you are looking for a good time, no one quite does it like the Irish!