A Guide to Visiting Ireland in March


March is one of the most common times for a person to pay a visit to the Emerald Isle. On the seventeenth day of March Saint Patrick celebrations take place. Overall their are many excellent places to go to during one of Ireland’s most fun filled months. They include:

● Saint Patrick’s Day in Dublin

● Saint Patrick’s Day in Galway City

● Climbing Croghan Hill

● Visiting Limerick City

● Visiting Ennis

Celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day in Dublin

Usually the biggest Saint Patrick Day celebrations take place in Dublin. A huge parade goes through the city and is televised on our national television station. It starts in the afternoon, so if you’re around the city during the day make sure to give it a visit. It draws huge crowds and really is a site to behold.

If you feel like celebrating with a few pints later after the parade, then I have a word of advice… Consider avoiding Temple Bar. This area is always is packed to the rafters. If you want to take part in the celebrations with the local populace that’s a little less of tourist trap in feel, then go to any pub that is away from the Temple Bar area. A great spot only about a five-minute walk from Temple Bar includes Flannery’s Bar on Lower Camdem Street. This place will be crazy on Saint Patrick’s Day and you’ll be celebrating among many Irish locals.

The bar is strategically located so you can easily hop to another nearby bar if it doesn’t tickle your fancy. Cassidy’s Pub isa stone throw away from Flannery’s andis another excellent spot. This is a traditional Irish pub, so if you want that authentic Irish feel then come here. Also, if you’re a lover of gin ask for some Gunpowder Gin from County Leitrim that they often stock. You couldn’t make a better choice.

Additionally there are some other notable pubs in the vicinity like Cassidy’s or Flannery’s that will feel less touristy.

The Bleeding Horse is a great spot. It is a large pub towards Portobello that will surely draw a lively crowd on the day. Devitt’s Pub is another excellent choice to get a creamy pint of Guinness. It’s also practically opposite Flannery’s Bar.

Parallel to Camden Street where all the mentioned above pubs are on, is Harcourt street. Harcourt street contains several nightclubs you might consider going to if you wish to really celebrate the day. This place will be busy, so be prepared for huge crowds inside. The most notable one you should think of going to would include the infamous Coppers Face Jacks. This is one of the most popular nightclubs in Dublin and it draws in huge crowds. Many Irish will defiantly be heading there to celebrate into the wee hours of the next day. And the craic (that means fun in Ireland) will be completely off the charts.

Coppers, as it is known, usually closes quite late for Dublin. So, if you want to party to say about 4am or even 5am then go here. The club might baffle some attendees however as it does tend to play a lot of 1990’s pop hits. Who doesn’t love a couple of Spice Girls songs, however?

Celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day in Galway City

If I had a choice to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day in either Dublin or Galway city it would be Galway city all the way. Dublin is a great spot to spend the day still, however Galway really is a spectacular town to witness on our national holiday.

The parade usually kicks off at about 11:30 am and goes right through the city centre. The city is often called the most Gaelic of all Irish cities. The Irish language is more common here then in other cities in Ireland. Additionally, the windy, cobbled, pedestrian roads that meander through the city make it feel like you’re in an 19th century Irish fishing village.

Shop Street, the main street of Galway, will be packed with people throughout Saint Patrick’s Day. The street hosts an array of pubs that will be non-stop busy throughout the day. Tig Coili is a lovely little pub just off Shop Street that will surly have live music on throughout the day.

Another pub to consider paying a visit to is The Crane Bar. This pub is about a five-minute walk or so from Shop Street. So, if you want to escape the crowded streets in the centre of the city than this may be a good bet. The pub is famous for is traditional music and if you happen to have guitar or fiddle with you on your journey you will more than likely be welcomed to play alongside a group of traditional Irish music players. It really is a pub you don’t want to miss seeing.

Like Dublin, it is probably wise to book accommodation as far in advance as you can, if you want to stay near the centre of the city. Any hotel is good towards the centre of the city with the Skeffington Arms Hotel and the Hotel Meyrick being both particularly convenient. Both hotels are on Eyre Square, right next to the train and bus station.

If you’re on a slightly tighter budget then Sleepzone Hostel is a good choice. The hostel is just off Eyre Square, so it is only a couple of minutes’ walk from the train and bus station. It’s also a very short distance from Shop Street so you won’t be far from all the action on the day.

Climbing Croghan Hill on Saint Patrick’s Day

If you are not that fond of pubs and like the fresh air, then climbing Croghan Hill in County Offaly could be a good alternative to your Saint Patrick’s Day. This religious pilgrimage takes place every year on the hill to celebrate Saint Patrick, with thousands of people making the journey. 

The hill is only about 234 meters high, however it is surrounded by the flat plains of the midland’s countryside. Once you reach the top, you’ll be able to see for miles around. The hill itself is in a very rural part of the country so you’ll be walking through some gorgeous countryside.

Some nearby places you can visit after the hike includes the pretty village of Daingean, Co. Offaly which has a canal running through it. The village has its origins in the English plantations that took place hundreds of years ago. It was once the county town of Offaly and use to be called Philipstown after Queen Mary’s husband King Philip.

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay the night close to Croghan Hill then the Bloomfield House hotel in County Westmeath is a good choice. It’s less than a 25-minute drive away and rests beside the beautiful lake Ennell. The Westmeath countryside in fact is peppered with beautiful lakes so it is worth checking them out.

Check out the Ballyshannon Drama Festival in Co. Donegal

An event that usually takes places around Saint Patrick’s day and throughout a lot of March is the Ballyshannon Drama festival. The festival has been running for almost 70 years and takes the Donegal town of Ballyshannon near the border with Northern Ireland.

There are an array of plays and theatre pieces that you can see at the event. Some previous plays include the brilliant ‘Same Old Moon’ by Geraldine Aron and ‘The 39 Steps’ by Patrick Barlow. Usually you can buy a season ticket for the festival that will let you view all the plays, alternatively you can buy nightly tickets for whatever night you happen to be in Ballyshannon for.

Ballyshannon is towards the south of County Donegal, acting as a gate way to the rest of the county. While at the drama festival you can enjoy the splendours of the area. Donegal has a beautiful coastline and the town itself has a rich history. A Neolithic tomb of a former High King of Ireland is believed to exist in the area. There is a Ballyshannon & District Museum in the town itself, so you’ll be able to stroll over there to learn more about the local history if you’re early for a play.

Visit Limerick City

A good time to visit Ireland’s Mid-Western city of Limerick is around March. The city is less expensive then Dublin and Galway around Saint Patrick’s Day and would also be less crowded than them also. You can fly into Shannon airport which is a thirty-minute drive to the city. The airport also has regular buses running to Limerick.  

The Locke Bar is a great pub to visit any day including Saint Patrick’s Day. It is full of charm and has an authentic decor to the interior. The bar also rests beside where Abbey river meets the Shannon river. Limerick’s biggest beer garden belongs to the Locke Bar. It is beautifully placed outside, next to amazing views of the Shannon.

You can also get food in the Locke Bar and there is often traditional music and dancing that takes place inside. I randomly walked into the pub before on a Thursday and was greeted by amazing live Irish dancing. I can only imagine how great this pub would be around Saint Patrick’s Day. It is without a doubt the place to go if your here for our national holiday or even If you decide to pay a visit Limerick at some other time of year.

A minute walk away from the Locke Bar (or maybe even less) is King John’s Castle. I used to work opposite from the castle and was able to appreciate its waterside views every day I was there. The castle is beautiful and can’t be missed.

It is a 13th century castle and before its creation, a Viking settlement. In the last number of years, the castle went under huge redevelopment. It is now a must for all visitors to Limerick. At the castle visitors are greeted with extremely interactive ways, including digital, to learn about the history of this mighty structure. Some of the digital methods include computer generated animations and projections of characters who claim to be former residents of the castle. As you can imagine this is a lot of fun and a great way to learn about medieval life.

Another town close to Limerick that is worth checking out is Ennis in county Clare. It is a forty-five-minute drive and is connected by bus, with the Dublin Coach bus service being one of the handiest and regular ways to get to town.  It is smaller than Limerick, however the town still has a range of things you can do and see either inside the town’s boundaries or not too far away.

The Ennis Friary was a Franciscan friary in the town. The friary has a long history, being originally Catholic and then falling into the hands of the Church of Ireland.  It is also home to the burial places of the powerful Kings of the O’Brien and McMahon families of Clare. The site is open to the public and is a fitting place to visit around the Saint Patrick festivities.

Visit the Ennis Book Club Festival

For the last number of years Ennis has had its own book club festival. The festival usually takes place at the start of March and includes a range of events.

Expect everything from workshops, interviews and a breakdown of books from some of Ireland’s most interesting authors. Some of the events even take place with lunch, so you’ll get to fill your stomachs while listening to discussions on literature. Several of the events are free and there is also usually some live music that you might be able to go to as well.

Ireland is home to great literary legends from George Bernard Shaw to Oscar Wilde. Still to this day their remains a deep literary culture in Ireland. This festival displays some of the contemporary talent that is present today, so it is worth visiting.

 

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