Dubliners are never short of an excuse for a party – but come March 17 each year the city erupts into an all-out celebration of St Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint.
His feast day marks a must-do on the Irish calendar, and it’s an excellent time to visit the capital.
You’ll be greeted by a happy throng of green-clad revellers in varying degrees of inebriation, descending on the city for its annual festival of culture, céilís and craic.
There’s dancing, fairs, fireworks, comedy and more – culminating in a huge parade on Paddy’s Day itself.
Drink at Temple Bar in Dublin
This warren of cobbled alleys beside the south bank of the Liffey comes alive at nightfall, when the enthusiastic pub crowds spill on to the pavements to mingle with the buskers and street performers.
By day the area pulsates to a different energy, with busy market stalls and browsing shoppers. So what if it’s expensive and full of tourists – you’ve come for the atmosphere, and Temple Bar has it in spades.
Visit the Guinness storehouse
Here in the iconic brand’s original St James’s Gate Brewery you can learn how the black stuff is made, marketed and transported to the masses.
You can even pour your own pint, or kick back in the seventh-floor Gravity Bar for panoramic views over the Dublin skyline.
It’s also the perfect place to stock up on Irish memorabilia – and get kitted out for the Paddy’s Day parade.
Be sure to pick up a shamrock or two so you can join in the tradition of the wearing of the green. This tiny three-leafed plant – representing, so Patrick said, the holy trinity – helped convert the Irish to Christianity, and they’ve worn it in celebration ever since.
Explore Dublin’s other attractions
The River Liffey also makes a good focal point from which to explore central Dublin’s other attractions.
North of O’Connell Bridge the wide thoroughfare of O’Connell Street is host to a number of ponderous statues and Dublin institution Clerys department store.
Towering above them is the needle-like Spire of Dublin. Affectionately nicknamed the Stiffey by the Liffey, among other such monikers, this stainless steel monument stabbing skywards is lit to dazzling effect at night.
South of the river the impressive facade of Trinity College – Ireland’s major seat of learning, and alma mater of Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker and Jonathan Swift – looms large above College Green.
It’s worth visiting the library to see the elaborately illuminated Book of Kells, a religious manuscript dating back to AD 800.
» Claire Goodall travelled with Shamrocker. The seven-day All Ireland Rocker tour is £289
Need to Know
When to go: St Patrick’s Day is March 17. This year’s festival runs March 12-17.
Getting there: Fly direct from any London airport.
Getting around: Central Dublin can be explored on foot. There are buses and the Dart for further afield.
Visas: South Africans, New Zealanders and Australians can visit without a visa.
currency Euro. 1 GBP = 1.13 EUR.
Going out: A pint of Guinness costs €5-€7.
Accommodation: Dorm beds are from €25, hotel rooms from €80.