How the Irish Really Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

Parades and Guinness, yes, but the Irish celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with much less green beer

With St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, one of the common questions people outside of Ireland ask is how we Irish really celebrate Paddy’s Day.  When I was a student at university in New York, I couldn’t believe the massive celebrations and festivities surrounding the day — there was green beer, corned beef and cabbage, and parades — it was crazy!

In Ireland — while there are celebrations happening throughout the country — the focus is not so much "drink" inspired, but rather it’s a time for families to get together and celebrate. It’s a national holiday, so everyone is off work. Most villages have local parades filled with children’s sports teams, schools, and floats. It’s a great time for communities and families to pull together for a day of fun and typically end the day around the family dinner table.

In Dublin, the celebrations certainly take on a party atmosphere, as the streets in the city center will be lined by adults and children alike anxiously awaiting the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade (it’s nationally televised and is Ireland’s equivalent to Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade). Pubs are bursting at the seams, traditional Irish music blares, and Guinness is the most popular drink on tap! As the festivities wind down, families will sit down to a traditional Irish Spring Lamb Roast dinner. 

Here are some of my favorite hot spots in Dublin, for those celebrating St. Paddy’s Day across the pond. (Or anyone heading there in the future…)

For restaurants, I love Chapter One, La Maison, and Fallon & Byrne (which is part restaurant, part food hall, and part wine shop). Then, for pubs, I’m partial to O’Donoghue’s (live Irish music every night of the week!), Kehoe’s, and Bruxelles.