Are you visiting Ireland soon and want to take part in some local culture? You may want to time your visit on a national holiday. This way, you get to experience some local traditions and celebrations.
Things you'll find in this article
- National Holiday In Ireland
- 1 st January (Lá Caille or Lá Bliana Nua) New Year’s Day
- 17th March (Lá Fhéile Pádraig) Saint Patrick’s Day
- Movable Monday (Luan Cásca) Easter Monday
- Movable Monday (Lá Bealtaine) May Day
- Movable Monday (Lá Saoire i mí an Mheithimh) June Holiday
- Movable Monday (Lá Saoire i mí Lúnasa) August Holiday
- Movable Monday (Lá Saoire i mí Dheireadh Fómhair) October Holiday
- 25th of December (Lá Nollag Most) Christmas Day
- 26th of December (also known as Lá Fhéile Stiofáin or Lá a Dreoiln) St. Stephen’s Day
National Holiday In Ireland
Here are the national holidays in Ireland, with some trivia and all the activities you may expect each day.
1 st January (Lá Caille or Lá Bliana Nua) New Year’s Day
Since most people are fatigued from weeks of celebrating Christmas and St. Stephen’s Day, New Year’s Day in Ireland is a more modest affair than in the United States or elsewhere.
A typical New Year’s Day celebration begins on New Year’s Eve with a simple gathering of family and friends. Rather than a full-fledged, all-night street party, as in London, they exchange little gifts and whiskey.
Nonetheless, both Dublin and Shannon put on spectacular New Year’s Eve parties, complete with gigantic fireworks displays, an endless supply of beer, and outstanding live music.
17th March (Lá Fhéile Pádraig) Saint Patrick’s Day
In 1903, Ireland declared Saint Patrick’s Day to be a national holiday. This is also the feast day of St. Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint.
Saint Patrick was born in late fourth-century Roman Britain. He was kidnapped at the age of 16 and taken to Ireland as a slave.
He managed to flee but returned in 432 CE to convert the Irish. He had established monasteries, churches, and schools by his death on March 17, 461.
There are various legends associated with St. Patrick, such as that he expelled the snakes from Ireland and explained the Trinity using the shamrock.
Religious services, feasts, parades, and festivities are held in his honor across Ireland. This day is also observed in other countries with sizable Irish populations.
Movable Monday (Luan Cásca) Easter Monday
The remembrance of the Easter Rising of 1916 occurs following Easter Sunday (Domhnach Cásca). Easter Monday is a day when the majority of people spend time with family or close friends. The Irish attend special church services, community fairs, and sporting activities.
Since they are not required to work on Good Friday or Easter Monday, the long Easter weekend is a popular period for brief vacations in Ireland and overseas.
Parades and other events are held to honor the 1916 Easter Rising. These frequently begin or pass through Dublin‘s Garden of Remembrance, General Post Office, or the ancient Arbour Hill jail yard.
Memorials to individuals who died in the rebellion can be found at these places. Due to certain parades being politically charged, participants are advised to do their research before participating.
Movable Monday (Lá Bealtaine) May Day
This holiday was established in 1994 and is observed on the first Monday of May.
May Day, or Bealtaine in Gaelic, is an Irish holiday with ancient Gaelic roots that falls on April 30th.
Bealtaine was widely observed throughout Ireland until the 1950s and is linked to the Irish creation myth and early mythology. It is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature ever discovered.
Bealtaie signaled the start of summer when cattle were herded out to summer pastures, special bonfires were lit, and their properties were thought to have protective capabilities. Bealtaine has been resurrected as a cultural festival in modern times.
However, the massive bonfires are only found in Limerick and Wicklow counties.
Despite being a national holiday, Bealtaine’s cultural festivities in Ireland’s cities are rarely as extensive as they are in counties like Limerick and Wicklow; instead, many families use the occasion to visit relatives and eat a large feast.
Movable Monday (Lá Saoire i mí an Mheithimh) June Holiday
In Ireland, the first Monday in June is the June Holiday (Lá Saoire i mí an Mheithimh), replacing Whit Monday, observed until 1973.
On this day, people enjoy the spring weather by attending cultural and sporting events in their communities. It is a day off for the general public, with most schools and businesses closed.
At the beginning of June, Ireland’s weather is usually mild and pleasant.
As a result, many people spend their June holiday weekend outside. Picnics and barbeques, open-air performances of traditional and contemporary music, family camping, walking, and sailing are all popular activities and events.
There are other festivals dedicated to the arts, culture, music, and marathons, and other sporting events held throughout the country.
Movable Monday (Lá Saoire i mí Lúnasa) August Holiday
The August Holiday (Lá Saoire I m Lnasa) is a public holiday in Ireland. Many tourists visit Ireland for a vacation or to attend cultural events.
Over the August Holiday Weekend, various cultural and sporting events are held.
These include art exhibitions exhibiting the work of Irish artists or illustrating historical events in Ireland, as well as traditional Irish music or music influenced by Ireland’s past performances.
Horse races, sporting activities, community fairs, and agricultural displays are also held.
Since the August Holiday falls in the middle of the summer season and school vacations, many people take a short or more extended break in Ireland or abroad during this time.
Movable Monday (Lá Saoire i mí Dheireadh Fómhair) October Holiday
This holiday is observed on the last Monday of October. It began in 1977 as Lá Saoire Oche Shamhna. The Halloween Holiday (Saoire i mi Dheireadh Fómhair), meanwhile, is a season of cultural festivals.
During this October holiday weekend, there are several cultural and sporting events such as the Dublin marathon, music performances by Irish performers, or influenced by Irish history, theater, arts, and fashion festivals.
There are celebrations of traditional and modern Irish food and drink, as well as events themed around Halloween.
People often take a brief getaway or a more extended fall vacation in Ireland or abroad during the October holiday weekend.
25th of December (Lá Nollag Most) Christmas Day
Christmas is an essential part of Irish culture, both secular and religious. Ireland enthusiastically celebrates Christmas in the same way that Americans, Canadians, and the British do.
It is the most important holiday of the year and traditionally begins on December 8th. Nollaig Shona Duit, which means “Happy Christmas to you,” is the Irish greeting meaning “Christmas.”
In Ireland, as in the United Kingdom, many people prefer to say “Happy Christmas.” However, saying “Merry Christmas” will immediately identify you as a foreigner.
Christmas decorations adorn practically every public building, church, and home from December 8th until far beyond December 25th.
The Irish also have the Christmas Early Morning Swim, where thousands of residents and tourists leap into the cold sea. It is undoubtedly the most traditional way to immerse yourself in an Irish Christmas!
26th of December (also known as Lá Fhéile Stiofáin or Lá a Dreoiln) St. Stephen’s Day
On December 26th, Ireland commemorates Saint Stephen, the first Christian martyr, with a national holiday.
In Ireland, St. Stephen’s Day is referred to as Wren’s Day, a nod to popular traditions that link periods in Jesus’ life to the little bird.
Boys and men dress up in raggedy old clothes, don straw hats that practically cover their entire bodies, and go door to door with fake wrens, singing and playing music on St. Stephen’s Day.
Mummer’s Festivals are held in various villages and towns to honor the mummers who spend the day singing and dancing.
Hi, I’m Christine – a full-time traveler and career woman. Although I’m from the Philippines, my location independent career took me to over 40 countries for the past 8 years. I also lived in 3 continents – from the Caribbean, South East Asia to Africa. But despite living in several countries, my love for Ireland remains the same. A country that had been a part of my life since I was 14 because of my love for Irish music and bands. Ireland Travel Guides was born because of this passion and hopefully, in some little ways, this website will be able to help you on your next trip to Ireland.
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