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St. Patrick’s Day from abroad: What the festive holiday looks like in Ireland

Updated: Jun 30, 2023

Communities gather to partake in St. Patrick's Day festivities at the morning celebrations in Belfast. Braden Simmons/Belmont Vision

St. Patrick’s Day – the luckiest day of the year as Irish culture is celebrated with verdant colors and the partaking in festivities where foods and drinks are served.

Vision staff writer Braden Simmons has spent this spring semester studying abroad in – you guessed it – Northern Ireland. For the holiday, we asked him to document his experience in the Emerald Isle and what it looks like during this festive time.

A rainy morning, with the beautiful mountains of the Irish countryside in the distance, and the seagulls screeching in the sky.

Just outside downtown Belfast, it seems like just another day in Ireland.

But as the swarms of people begin to line the pubs and the bagpipes begin to sound, one thing becomes clear.

This isn't just any other day.

This is St. Patrick’s Day.

This is the day for Ireland. A day when the Irish community goes out to celebrate St. Patrick, who is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland.

Celebrated as an official national holiday, the celebrations feature a parade spanning the entirety of the main street with the Irish national anthem playing on bagpipes.

Braden Simmons/Belmont Vision

Professional dancers perform traditional river dances, side stepping through Donegall Pike. Followed by a marching jazz band playing music with floats following behind them.

The cities transform into streams of green shirts and hats that focus on sharing in the festivities together whether it be in pubs or in local restaurants. 

While the history of the holiday is primarily rooted as a religious event by many in the Catholic population, to commemorate the patron saint of Ireland, it’s also a time for the community to come together and celebrate their history. 

This has shifted especially with the popularity found for the holiday in America. Many travelers come to Ireland exclusively to celebrate the holiday.

Dublin hosts a four-day celebration and most notably they hold one of the largest parades found on the island. 

As many as 500,000 people lined the streets of Dublin in order to join in the festivities and many more to take part all along the island.

The holiday is a chance for many in the community to celebrate a variety of values. Whether it be national pride, religious ceremonies, or just spending time with friends and family.

Given the history of “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland many are still seeking to repair some of that sense of community that is still reforming to this day. 

St. Patrick’s Day can be seen as a day where they continue to recognize their history and work to better the nation for everyone on the island.

Braden Simmons/Belmont Vision

In Northern Ireland, you can find celebrations happening in Belfast, a similar scene plays out as a large parade takes to the streets of the inner city, and “The Emerald Isle” continues to flow and cover the gray of the city center.

The celebration continues for the entirety of the week as it continues to be a display of the true Irish values: merriment, drinking and community.

So, while you’re out in your green outfits and shamrocks celebrating this year, make sure to keep in mind and embody the Irish spirit this March.

This article was written by Braden Simmons

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