i figured if i was going to go to Ireland for the first time, it might as well coincide with St. Patrick’s Day. and if i were going to be in Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day, i should see the St. Patrick’s Day Parade! (by the way, i’ve been warned on multiple occasions that if you want to use a shorter version, it’s ONLY St. Paddy’s Day or Paddy’s Day, NEVER Patty with a T. only Paddy with a D.)
in my mind i was expecting a parade with marching bands and fire engines and Boy Scout troops and Miss St. Patrick’s Day riding on the back of a convertible. well, i was sort of right. there were marching bands, yes, but it felt a lot more like a carnival (as in Mardi Gras carnival, not funfair carnival) parade with quite elaborate “pageants”.
sidebar: practical matters the parade route winds its way from Parnell Square north of the river down O’Connell Street, crossing over the river, passing by Trinity College all the way to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. more details on the route can be found here — it’s dated but i don’t think the route ever changes.
the parade officially starts at 12:00 but don’t expect it to get moving until a bit later. i stood just south of the General Post Office / Spire in the middle of O’Connell Street. people were already lined up at around 11:15 when i got there, so be sure to get there early if you want a spot in front. there are certain sections that are only accessible to those with certain wristbands; i assume you have to pay to get those, but you will be in a less-crowded area.
also, i don’t think anyone will pinch you if you’re not wearing green, but if you’re thinking of being in Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day without wearing green, you might as well stay home!
here are some pictures from the parade; more are of course available on flickr.
there is a three-year theme series of past, present, and future. this was the first year of the arc, so it focused on Ireland’s history. clearly some of the finer points of this were lost on me (see below).