St. Patrick’s Day, Irish Style

12.41 Torsdag, 21 Mars, 2013

This year I had the opportunity to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on the Emerald Isle!  I went to Dublin, Ireland, with some friends from my corridor from March 16 – March 19 to celebrate Ireland’s national holiday with the Irish themselves!  In case you were unaware (a surprising number of people are), St. Patrick’s Day celebrates the saint who introduced Christianity to Ireland in the fifth century by using the three-leaf clover to illustrate the Trinity, bringing an end to the pagan traditions of the Irish.  Anyway, Dublin, the capital of Ireland, is the center of the festivities, which take place during the whole week, but especially on March 17, which is St. Patrick’s Day.

Irish Flag

The Flag of Ireland

Map of Ireland

Map of Ireland

To get to Ireland, we flew on an airline called Ryanair, which is Europe’s discount airline (headquartered in Dublin, incidentally).  Because we were traveling during a holiday, our flight was rather expensive for a Ryanair flight – over $200 (Ryanair flights can be as low as $10).  As this was my first time flying on Ryanair, I found this part of the trip rather interesting.  Since Ryanair is a low-cost airline, there are fewer amenities and more rules than normal airlines.  For example, you are only allowed one carry-on bag, and there are strict size and weight limits on it.  When you are boarding the plane, you have to set your carry-on bag into a metal frame that has the correct dimensions, and if it fits, you can take it on, but if it doesn’t fit, there is a 50€ fine to check it.  There are also pretty large fines for not printing out your boarding pass, for example.  The interior of the plane is bright yellow and covered in advertisements, and during the flight, the flight attendants walk down the aisle advertising everything from food and perfume to bus and lottery tickets.  Also, the airport that Ryanair flies to in Stockholm, Skavsta airport, is not really in Stockholm but an hour and a half away by bus, which means that it is possible for a Ryanair flight to be cheaper than going to the airport!

The Custom House

The General Post Office on O'Connell Street, lit up green

All of the official buildings were lit up green

On Saturday evening, when we got to Dublin, we went into town and found our hotel, which was a few kilometers from the city center.  After we got settled in the hotel, we went to an area in the city center called Temple Bar, which is the popular district with a lot of bars and pubs and clubs.  On the way, we stopped at a gift shop and bought some crazy St. Patrick’s Day hats to celebrate with!  We had dinner at about 11, then went and visited some of the pubs, which were quite packed.

A pub in Temple Bar

A crowded pub in Temple Bar

On Sunday, which was St. Patrick’s Day, we walked into town and I went to church before the parade started.  I was a little surprised when I discovered that the mass was said in Gaelic, so I didn’t understand a word of it!  I was even more surprised when they announced that the president of Ireland, Michael Higgins, was in attendance.  I couldn’t see him, though, because of where I was sitting and the fact that I didn’t know what he looked like!

St. Mary's Pro-Cathedral, with a cardinal standing in front greeting people

St. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral

At noon, we watched the parade on the main boulevard through the city, O’Connell Street.  We were a little disappointed by the parade because we were expecting some traditional Irish music and entertainment, or at least a big inflatable St. Patrick, but instead the parade mostly consisted of random floats and a lot of American high school marching bands, with the Purdue University marching band as the finale.  It was hard to tell that we were even in Ireland at all, because there were so many American flags!  I suppose all of the Irish immigrants in America have made St. Patrick’s Day a bigger deal in the US than in Ireland?  Who knows…

Texans in the People's Parade

Even Texas was represented!

St. Patrick's Day Parade

A float in the parade

The highlight of the day was when we went to the ‘Irish Craft Beer Village,’ which was a pavilion set up on a floating platform in a small harbor that served several different types of Irish beer.  We got some beer and sat down at a table with some Irish people.  There were live bands playing Irish music, and we had a great time just sitting there socializing.  We were surprised by how friendly and entertaining Irish people are!  In Stockholm, for example, people don’t talk to strangers, and they avoid making eye contact with other people on the buses and trains.  In Ireland, though, everyone we met was more than happy to talk to us, and even strangers on the street who we asked directions from seemed happy to talk to us.  So, after hanging out in the beer village for several hours, we went with our new Irish friends to a pub in the south part of the city that was not packed with tourists and we talked there for a while while drinking Guinness (a very famous Irish beer).  Local knowledge is great!  Without the Irish people we met, we probably would have gone back to the overflowing pubs in Temple Bar, which would not have been as fun.

Irish Craft Beer Festival

All decked out for St. Patrick’s Day – red hair and all!

The Temple Bar

The Temple Bar

On Monday, we moved to a different hotel – a hostel in the center of town that was much cheaper than our other hotel (because St. Patrick’s Day was over).  After dropping our luggage off at the hostel, we went sightseeing in the city and saw some of the major landmarks.  We also went to the Guinness Storehouse, where Guinness beer used to be brewed.  Now, the building is mainly a museum, which we walked through.  At the top, there is a bar with a panoramic view of the city where you can get a free beer with your ticket stub from the museum!

A neighborhood in northern Dublin

The street where our first hotel was located, in a nice little neighborhood

Monument on O'Connell Street

A monument on O’Connell Street in central Dublin

View from the top of the Guinness Storehouse

Looking out over Dublin from the top of the Guinness Storehouse

St. Patrick's Cathedral

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

On Tuesday, we had a flight back to Stockholm in the min-afternoon, so we had planned to do a little more sightseeing before heading to the airport, but it was hailing, so we decided to just sit in a restaurant for the morning and have a long breakfast.  We had the ‘full Irish breakfast’ that is advertised everywhere in Dublin… it was delicious… I was so hungry that I could have had another one!

Irish breakfast

Irish Breakfast

For the trip home, we also rode on Ryanair, and after sleeping on the plane and enjoying another hour-and-a-half bus ride from Skavsta, we arrived back at Lappis around 22.30.  As last week was tentaveckan (exam week), Period 3 is now over and I have completely finished one of my courses, which means that it’s time to start the second round of classes for the semester, Period 4!

About Aaron

Hej – I'm Aaron! When I'm not working my regular job, I love to travel, study languages (svenska anyone?), and learn about history and culture. I'm also a "pandemic cook" attempting to learn the secrets of Indian cuisine from my apartment in Texas!
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