If you’re from the States, then you are likely familiar with Saint Patrick’s day. Growing up, all I knew about this day was that everyone was expected to wear green on March 17, or else kids would use it as an excuse to pinch you. My understanding is that the celebrations really took off with Irish Americans celebrating their heritage in the U.S., kind of like how Cinco de Mayo is a bigger deal in the U.S. than in Mexico. One Irishman explained to me that the Dublin parade was really not that large when he was a kid, but the number of spectators has grown over the years. So what is all the celebration about? Well, generally I refrain from giving historical facts on this blog because I’m not authoritative on these subjects, but what I have learned is that Saint Patrick is credited with having played a large part in converting the Irish to Christianity. If you are interested, here is a link to a summary of Saint Patrick’s life.
I always wanted to go to Ireland, so I decided Saint Patrick’s day was a good time to do it. The benefit of studying in London is that there are so many countries so close to me! Aside from Mexico, I could never do this type of weekend trip to another country from San Diego. (Well, it was more like a 4-day trip). It would probably take a whole weekend just to arrive anywhere!! (And for those of you who think it would be cool and different to travel to Mexico, that is not the case for those of us who have lived on the border our whole lives and can walk across it any day.) Sooo…off to Ireland I went!
I took an overnight tour from Galway. We stopped at some interesting sites, including Dunguaire Castle.
And even though this looks like a pile of rocks, it is, in fact, a tomb from about 3,800 B.C. (Okay, maybe about as interesting to you as a pile of rocks.)
The tour bus dropped me off at a small village in the middle of nowhere called Lisdoonvarna – a very cool village nonetheless! I saw the small town version of the Saint Patrick’s Day parade on March 15, and I actually enjoyed it more than the Dublin parade. It was easier to see everything, and it felt very community-oriented with several local community groups participating, like the boxing club with these adorable kids.
They also had a cool band.
There was no wifi in my hostel, so after the parade, I went to the Royal Spa Hotel for internet and tried Bailey’s coffee, which was delicious.
When I returned to my hostel, I met other travelers and we headed to a local pub, called the Roadside, where there were two people playing Irish music. Very cool!!
The next morning I returned to Royal Spa and tried the Irish coffee. I expected it to taste badly, since I’m not a big fan of strong coffee or whiskey, but it was actually pretty wonderful.
Near my hostel I noticed the Lisdoonvarna Public Library, which looked very small and quaint from the outside, but was probably closed. I think I would have loved to hang out there though!
Later that afternoon, I hopped back on the tour bus to Cliffs of Moher, which are one of the most beautiful sights in Ireland.
On our way back, one of the tour guides of about 80-something-years put on some Irish music and sang and danced a little in the aisle, while getting everyone to clap at the appropriate times, which was quite fun to watch.
I made my way to Dublin by the end of the night, and the next day was Saint Patrick’s Day! It was extremely difficult to find a good spot, but in the end I was able to see the parade by standing at the top of some steps.
And of course, my experience could not be complete without going on a pub crawl, so I went on a crawl with a fellow traveler.
Some of the pubs appealed to me more than others (really liked O’Neill’s and Porterhouse). But my favorite part of the night was listening to an Irish girl tell me all about hurling, which is an Irish sport she plays. She was so animated by it and explained to me the skill involved that even I became interested in the sport, and I never watch sports! My night ended in Burger King (not to be too American) with the hurler, the pub crawl leader, and their other friend, before they helped me to the hostel. Very cute people and very memorable experience 🙂