The Government of Ireland introduced the St. Patrick’s Festival for the first time in November 1995. The main purpose of starting this festival was to prominently showcase the multifaceted talents and achievements of the Irish people on national and world stages. The festival, which is a national holiday, has grown ever since and evolved as a major international festival celebrated annually.
The St. Patrick’s Festival was first held on 17th March 1996 for over one day and night. Over the years it has grown to a 4-5 day festivities showcasing the very best of Irish creativity, innovation, marketing activity and grassroots involvement. The festival presents the true picture of Ireland and the Irish people internationally with the celebrations spanning in the United States and other European countries where there is a substantial population of Irish immigrants.
The nearly week-long festival is packed up with several events and activities such as Festival Treasure Hunt, Funfairs, In the Footsteps of St. Patrick-Walking Tour, Waterworks Children’s Workshops, I Love My City program at various locations in Dublin, Street Theatre on the city’s streets, Irish Beer & Whiskey Festival, Music In The City, Irish Boat Races, Greening the City of Dublin and Best of Irish Comedies. All these events/activities form the part of St. Patrick’s Festival and are quite thrilling indeed.
If you are planning to visit Dublin to take part in the festival, then you must also consider visiting some of the historic sacred sites linked to St. Patrick, the Apostle of Ireland. These historic sites are a must-visit on every tourist’s itinerary.
Sanctuary of St Patrick, Lough Derg
St Patrick’s Purgatory | Lough Derg vividly testifies the living Irish Christian Heritage. This unique island was abode to St. Patrick himself. This iconic sacred site on Station Island in County Donegal has been attracting pilgrims and religious tourists for centuries. Set in calm lake waters, the small island offers perfect bliss, free from worldly interruptions or distractions. It’s undoubtedly the place you want to be at for meditation and discovering your real self.
Saint Patrick’s Cathedral
Saint Patrick’s Cathedral is Dublin’s famous place of worship. It was specially built to honor St. Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint. The cathedral is located adjacent to the historic well which according to the traditions was used by Saint Patrick to baptize the converts to the Christian faith during their visit to Dublin.
The County Down Cathedral is located on the site of a Benedictine Monastery constructed in 1183. The stone in the graveyard here commemorates the burial place of Saint Patrick on the hill. The cathedral ground is visited by religious tourists and pilgrims in large numbers. The cathedral grounds also have crosses from the 9th, 10th and 12th centuries preserved here. The Church of Ireland at Saul, situated 2 miles away from Down Cathedral is also visited by the pilgrims. The church was built in 1932 to commemorate the 1500th anniversary of St. Patrick’s arrival in the country.
Croagh Patrick or Patrick’s Mountain
The 2,000 feet Croagh Patrick or Patrick’s Mountain located in County Mayo is an important pilgrimage site. It is being visited by the pilgrims for centuries and is quite difficult to climb. This magnificent mountain has also been a site of summer solstice gatherings and early Pagan pilgrimages as well. The mountain is revered as Saint Patrick is believed to have fasted on the summit for 40 days in the 5th century A.D. The mountain provides the backdrop of an incredible setting for a spiritual pilgrimage with its harbors, forests, dramatic valleys and magical unspoilt scenery. You can also undertake other pursuits such as hill walking, mountain biking and the Gaelforce adventure race.
Whenever you visit Ireland to take part and enjoy St. Patrick’s Festival, don’t forget to visit some of these historic places associated with Saint Patrick, the patron saint and Apostle of Ireland.