Surviving Paddy’s Day with your sanity

St. Patrick’s Day wasn’t always so manic. Believe it or not, at one time, it was quite a reserved holiday when mammies went to church and everyone else stayed in bed. In fact, from the time that the Irish Bank Holiday Act of 1903 made Paddy’s Day an official public holiday up until the 1970s, drinking was outlawed.

Photo: Flickr user LenDog64

Photo: LenDog64

Imagine that. St. Patrick’s Day with no drink.

Anyway, the holiday really properly took off first in America when a bunch of paddies marched through the streets of New York on March 17, 1762. In the 1960s, Chicago started dying the river green. In the 1970s, the St. Patrick’s Day drinking ban was repealed in Ireland, and in the 1990s, the first proper St. Patrick’s Day Festival was held in Dublin.

St. Patrick’s Day may be manic, but we here at IrishJaunt are not. We believe in keeping our sanity while still hopefully enjoying ourselves and we’ve got a few tips on how you can avoid coming home missing a limb (or a liver) but still enjoying St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Ireland this 2012 to the fullest.

St. Patrick’s Day Survival Tips

*Early bird. The parade in Dublin for the official St. Patrick’s Festival is always mobbed. Many start queuing up early in the morning to get a good standing point.

*Plan your route. You need a plan for the whole day, starting from where you’re standing for the parade to which pubs or activities you plan to hit later.

*Pick a prime spot. The beginnings and ends of the parade routes are generally the least crowded. Here’s a handy map of the Dublin parade route.

*Avoid the city centre pubs. Whether you’re celebrating in Dublin or the countryside, you’ll want to avoid pubs in major town centres. These will all be packed. Instead, opt for lesser known pubs, locals and neighbourhood or country pubs. They’ll still be packed, but you might have a hope of getting in the door.

*Don’t overdrink
. I wish this went without saying, but it doesn’t. Don’t start drinking too early. Pace yourself. Order half pints. Do a round of water or fizzy drinks. Hydrate and, for feck’s sake, eat something.
While you’re at it, pack in snacks. I am serious! Bring some fruit, cereal bars or even crisps! Anything to soak up some of that alcohol.

St. Patrick's Festival 2008

Photo: William Murphy

*Getting a seat: Getting a seat in a pub on St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland requires special powers. You probably won’t get one. It is highly unlikely. In fact, if you even get in the door of the pub, I will be surprised. However, there is one golden rule – if you get a seat, keep it. Do not move. Don’t even go to the toilets because you may never see it again.

*Bring a small number of reinforcements
. Keeping your group small means you’ll be able to squeeze into those three-seater pub tables no one wants because they’re there with four hundred of their frat boy friends from Arkansas.

*Respect your barman
. This should probably go at the top of the list. You don’t need to tip him. He’ll probably roll his eyes if you do. But give him respect. Speak to him in human tones. Order gentlemanly drinks – not shots of Irish Car Bomb. Have small bills and change. And don’t order four hundred drinks at once.

*Get cash
. There is not going to be a single ATM in Ireland with money in it on St. Patrick’s Day. Stock up on loads of cash beforehand. Keep it in your shoe or somewhere safe (preferably not one of those bum bags) and avoid using credit and debit cards to pay for drinks at the bar.

*Go to a cultural event.
The St. Patrick’s Festival organisers go out of their way to make Paddy’s Day more than just drinking. This year, the programme of events includes a whole slew of cultural goings-on, including walking tours, céilí (Irish dance parties), orchestral performances, architectural tours, boat races and lots of kids activities.


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