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St. Patrick’s Day: Visit Ireland

St. Patrick’s Day is a feast day held on March 17th to honour the patron saint of Ireland, St. Patrick. Who Was St. Patrick? Saint Patrick was actually born in Britain, likely in the fourth century.  He was kidnapped and taken to Ireland as a slave at just 16 years old.  In Ireland he spent several years in captivity during which time he became a devout Christian. Escaping captivity and returning to Britain St. Patrick had a vision in which he was called to return to Ireland as a missionary. Saint Patrick then spent several decades preaching the Christian faith and converting many of the Irish people to Christianity.  He is said to have used the three-leafed shamrock as a metaphor for the Holy Trinity.  The shamrock then became the symbol associated with Ireland and an iconic element of the St. Patrick’s day celebrations. As an Amazon Associate, we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.  Some of the links on this post are affiliate links.  This means that if you click on the link and make a purchase we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more here. What Are The Origins Of The St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations? Whilst we now celebrate St. Patrick’s Day across the world, its exact origins are unknown.  That said, it is thought that the first celebrations were held in the 17th Century when the Catholic Church declared March 17th (the date on which Saint Patrick passed away in the 5th Century) as the official feast day in his honour. How Do We Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? St. Patrick’s Day is a day in which to honour both Saint Patrick and all things connected to Ireland.  It’s heritage, culture, food and customs.  As part of their celebrations, people in Ireland often attend Church services. They wear badges (buttons) with an emblem of a shamrock or harp. Attend parades and gather with friends and family at pubs or at home often enjoying Irish music and dancing. The true party atmosphere around the day however originates in the United States.  Here, cities with large numbers of Irish immigrants staged elaborate celebrations. The first St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in Boston in 1737 with New York following suit in 1762.   Though perhaps the most OTT celebrations take place in Chicago. Here even their river is coloured green to mark the occasion! Other countries also celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.  On St. Patrick’s Day, Australia holds a public holiday in some states. Irish communities then come together and celebrate their heritage. Parades, feasts, and music are common ways to celebrate. Many people also wear green clothing and accessories to symbolise spring, hope, and growth. The United Kingdom celebrates the occasion with parades, concerts, and events. London being the hosts one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day parades in Europe.  Cities such as Birmingham, Manchester, and Glasgow also host events. Japan chooses to showcase Irish culture and heritage, whilst in other countries such as Russia, it is also a way for people to come together and celebrate. So, What’s T.O.M.’s Connection With The Emerald Isle? Those of you who have been reading our previous posts will be wondering how we associated with Ireland?  After all, you know we are Gibraltarians. You also know that I have a firm affection for Wales after having studied there for four years.  What you didn’t know yet was that Milly’s husband, and my granny, are both Irish. Milly’s paternal ancestors also originate from Kilarney. Unbelievably however, we have as yet not travelled to Ireland.  I assure you that this is high on our bucket list, especially after our research for this blog post. What Does Ireland Have To Offer? Ireland (both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland) is known for its rolling green hills, rugged coastline and picturesque villages.  They are each countries of bustling cities,  stunning natural scenery and rich history.  Republic of Ireland Apart from its natural wonders which we explore hereunder, the Republic of Ireland has some vibrant cities which are all worth a visit. Dublin Dublin is Ireland’s capital as well as the largest city in Ireland. Visitors to Dublin will enjoy a mix of history and culture with literary greats such as Samuel Beckett and W.B. Yeats having called Dublin home.  Some popular attractions in Dublin include Guinness Storehouse, Trinity College, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the National Museum of Ireland. Of course, no trip to Dublin would be complete without a visit to its famous Temple Bar. This is Dublin’s most famous pub and nightlife district. If you are more into the outdoors scene, Dublin also has plenty to offer on this front. Phoenix Park, is one of the largest enclosed public parks in Europe. The park is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  For stunning trails in nature explore the Dublin Mountain Trails. Cork In the south of the country you will find Cork. The second largest city in Ireland. Famous for its vibrant food and drink scene. Local produce and artisanal products are available in many of the cafes, restaurants and markets.  The English Market is one of the oldest markets in Europe. Trading since 1788 it has a strong emphasis on fresh, local produce . Many stallholders at the market are local and independent food producers or retailers often with several generations having worked in the market. The Cork City Gaol is a highly recommended visitor attraction with guided or self-guided tours available. However, perhaps one of the most famous attractions in County Cork is Blarney Castle.  This is a historic landmark built in the 15th century. The castle has been the site of many important events in Irish history.   Blarney Stone Famous for its Blarney stone which is believed to give those who kiss the gift of eloquence (or commonly referred to as the gift of the gab!)  You will find the stone at the top of the castle’s tower and is said to have been

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