St. Patrick's Day with a difference.....

Dingle Fife and Drum band march around Dingle town
 "May your troubles be less and your blessings be more, and nothing but happiness come through your door" - An Irish blessing

Hello to you all! It’s been a while – As always, I hope everyone is keeping safe and well. Hard to believe it’s been one full year since our lives changed beyond recognition! The first lockdown in Ireland started this week last year…Not that there’s any need to mark the day, I’m sure everyone remembers well! Anyway, as I’m sure most of you are aware, St. Patrick’s Day is this Wednesday. So, what better topic for the ‘Tales of a Tourism Officer’ blog this week!

St. Patrick’s Day is usually the first event of the year on the Dingle Peninsula, and essentially marks the beginning of the season. There are many things the communities of the Dingle Peninsula do well, however St. Patrick’s Day really is one of the best! The festivities kick off with a parade at 12am on the 17th in Ballydavid, followed by the 6am parade in Dingle town – a longstanding tradition that is one of few around the country. There are then the daytime parades which take place in Dingle town, Castlegregory and Ballyferriter. The day brings with it such a wonderful atmosphere across the entire peninsula, and everyone gets involved in the festivities in some way or another. We’ll miss the celebrations dearly this year. The pubs are usually packed with the sound of laughter and craic, and the streets are filled with green decorations and happy children taking it all in. It’s the second year in a row we’ll have a quiet St. Patrick’s Day on the Dingle Peninsula, but I’m sure that will only make its return all the sweeter – fingers crossed that will be next year! Either way, I’m sure we’ll all be celebrating at home this year in our own way.

St Patrick's Day decorations in Dingle town

So, given the week that’s in it, here’s a little bit about the man himself! Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, and the 17th of March marks the day of his death, which is now observed as his feast day. The day commemorates both Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity to Ireland, and as well as the parades, going to mass is a traditional part of St. Patrick’s Day. Traditionally, it was custom to wear green on the day and that is still heavily apparent in the parades. Many people also wear shamrocks, pinning small bunches of them to their clothing as a homage to St. Patrick. The day is a celebration for Irish people everywhere, and as it usually falls during Lent, it is permitted to break your Lenten restrictions and enjoy the day.

However, it’s not just our small island that celebrates St. Patrick’s Day. The day has evolved to have a global standing, with many countries celebrating in some way or another. Tourism Ireland have an initiative called ‘Global Greening’, where they encourage countries to light up their iconic buildings, statues, etc. in green to mark the day. What started out with a few cities participating has now grown to over 66 countries taking part this year and over 600 sites being lit up green! This particular element of St. Patrick’s Day never ceases to amaze me. It’s incredible that our small little island can have such a global influence for a day every year, with everyone celebrating our patron saint along with us!

This year, it will be particularly special to see countries connect with Ireland through the Global Greening initiative when we are missing all our international visitors so much. It’s the perfect time to send the message that Ireland is here, patiently awaiting the day when we can once again open our doors and welcome each and every one of you back.

On behalf of everyone here on the Dingle Peninsula, I would like to wish you all a very happy St. Patrick’s Day. Wear your green, get your shamrocks out, light a green candle, and celebrate with us in spirit. Until we can welcome you back to our beautiful peninsula, know that we are here, we are waiting for you, and we miss you.

Beannachtaí Lá Fhéile Pádraig daoibh go léir,