Dubliners are never short of an excuse for a party – but, March 17 each year the city erupts into an all-out celebration of Saint Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint. A Welsh-speaking Scott, Patrick is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland back in the 15th century. Legend has it he also raided the island nation of its snake population. Whatever the truth shrouded in the mouth of the man, his first 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 throne 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.
A Place of worship
Whether you’re in town for the festival or not, Temple Bar is the place to go if you have a thirst for a good time or the black stuff.
This Warren of cobbled alley is beside the south bank of the Liffey comes alive at the nightfall, when the enthusiastic pub crowds spill on to the pavement to mingle with the buskers and street performers.
By day the area pulsates to a different energy, with a 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.
By the Liffey itself, things are more sedate. Take time to meander back and forth across the rivers handsome bridges pausing to admire the picturesque view and drink in the air of contented bustle.
The river also makes a good focal point from which to explore central Dublin’s other attractions. North of O’Connell Bridge the wide through fare off O’Connell Street is closed to a number of ponderous statues and Dublin institution Clarys 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.
A piss-up in a brewery
For more carnal pleasures, a trip to the Guinness storehouse is a must. Here in the iconic brand’s original Saint 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 green. This tiny three leaf plant - representing, so Patrick said, the holy Trinity - helped convert the Irish to Christianity, and they’ve worn it in celebration ever since.