March 5, 2013
Mar 14-18: St. Patrick’s Festival, Dublin, plus towns and cities nationwide (worldwide too).
This is the big one you won’t want to miss, the mother and father of all festivals when Ireland honours its patron saint. The fact he was a Romano-Englishman is neither here nor there — he banished all the serpents from Ireland, so no one has had to suck venom from snakebite in the past 1,500 years.
There will, however, be a lot of people sucking Guinness and whatever you’re having yourself when every village, town and city takes to the streets on the 17th to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
But one day isn’t nearly enough for the fun-loving Irish. That’s why the singing and supping in Dublin begins on the 14th and runs until the 18th, with parades, parties and pints galore.
St. Patrick (390-460AD) is reputedly buried in Downpatrick, County Down, under a big heavy boulder, and that’s the only reason he won’t be springing from his grave to join in the celebrations. But while he might not be there in body, he’ll most certainly be there in spirit. Slan!
BEST OF THE REST
Mar 9: Ireland v France, Six Nations Rugby, Aviva Stadium, Dublin (Lansdowne Road Dart station, or maximum 30 minutes walk from centre).
The reverse fixture in Paris last year was a washout — heavy rain flooded Parc des Princes and the match was called off at the last minute. The replay ended 17-17, and this afternoon’s game is expected to be just as close. An exciting encounter is on the cards.
Mar 15-18: Dingle International Film Festival, Dingle, Co Kerry.
Four days of screenings, seminars and workshops, plus the annual Gregory Peck Award make this an annual must for film buffs.
However, you don’t have to be movie-mad to enjoy wild and wonderful Dingle, where you’ll find some of the most spectacular scenery in Ireland, plus Fungi the fun-loving dolphin who’s been delighting tourists for 30 years in the bay.
Mar 28-April 1: Galway Food Festival, Galway city.
Forget the diet and dive head-first into this five-day celebration of the best of locally sourced and produced food, plus dozens of free family-friendly events over the Easter weekend.
Eighty restaurants and artisan food producers are itching to show visitors exactly why Galway was named ‘Gourmet Capital of Ireland’ last year by the respected Bridgestone Guides.
Mar 29 (Good Friday): This is one of only two days in the year when it is illegal for pubs to open in Ireland (Christmas Day is the other). Hotel guests may drink in the residents’ bar, but otherwise it’s a booze-free day, so you have been warned.
Mar 30-Apr 3: Easter Racing, Fairyhouse, Co Meath.
Three days of top-class racing at Fairyhouse (March 31-April 2) include the country’s richest handicap chase, the Ladbrokes Irish Grand National, on Easter Monday, which is also Ladies Day. The National was won last year by locally trained 33/1 shot Lion na Bearnai, proving that Fairy(house)tales do come true.