11 Authentic Ways to Celebrate St. Patrick's Day

Instead of playing to the tired, old, and clichéd stereotype of St. Patrick's Day being all about how much green beer one can drink, let's think about some alternative ways in which this uniquely Irish holiday can be celebrated.  Here are 11 genuinely Irish ideas I came up with.  Why 11?  Well, it's one better than 10 ... so why not 11?

I welcome your suggestions in the comments section below.  I fully realise that St. Patrick's Day has evolved into something a bit different in America (among other places), so I'm not trying to be a fuddy-duddy.  But for the sake of our purposes here, let's try to keep these as authentic as possible (i.e. let's stay away from the green-beer-drinking, wearing "Kiss Me I'm Irish" buttons, and blaring Dropkick Murphy's tracks from our car stereos).  :-)

This list is designed to provide ideas for celebrating what truly makes Irish culture unique.  If you can somehow manage to fit all 11 of these into any given 17th day of March, I'd say we would safely be able to crown you the greatest celebrant of St. Patrick's Day of all time.


1.  Go to a traditional Irish music session.


2.  Eat bacon & cabbage.


3.  Sign-up for an Irish language class.


4.  Take a sean nós dancing lesson.


5.  Explore some little-known facets of Irish history.


6.  Watch an authentic Irish film (e.g. "The Field", The Guard”, “The Secret of Roan Inish”, “Waking Ned Devine to name only a few).


7.  Ride a Connemara Pony.


8.  Cozy-up to a turf fire (or the closest thing you can find).


9.  Learn to knit Aran style.


10.  Read a piece of great Irish literature.


11.  Play a game of road bowling (if you can find a safe, deserted road!)

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Tags: Dance, Film, Food, Gaeilge, Irish Language, Literature, Movies, Music, Sport, St. Patrick's Day

Comment by Kelly O'Rourke on March 3, 2014 at 2:47pm

How about hurling?  (No, not the kind after you drink too much stereotypical green beer.)


Comment by Bit Devine on March 3, 2014 at 5:34pm


Green beer? Why on earth would anyone drink that swill? Plenty do, I know...  I'll have a dram or so of uisce beatha...and send the angel's share up for Padraig and the rest of the Angels & saints.

Ya won't find cabbage on my plate...can't stand the taste or smell of it...but there will be a boiled dinner with plenty of potatoes, carrots and beef.

But..I like the Dropkick Murphy's... and it confuses people...to hear Tommy Makem....Wolftones...Chieftains...mixed in with the Dropkick and Gaelic Storm... makes for a very happy Bit...and if Bit's happy... the world is safer, indeed

Hurling...now there's a game for real men... fun to watch, as well

Comment by Bryan Maloney on March 4, 2014 at 1:49pm

How about abstaining from meat and alcohol, attending church, and being sure to confess your sins to a priest? St. Patrick's day almost always falls within Lent. What could be more traditionally Irish than honoring this Saint by adhering to Lent? He was not a party animal. He was a Bishop who was sent to regularize the administration of the Church in Ireland (much of Ireland had already been converted, and the nominally "pagan" parts were mostly quite friendly to Christianity by that period. Thus, the celebration of his Falling Asleep in the Lord is a celebration of Ireland coming further into the fullness of Christian faith, not a "party about being Irish".

Comment by IrishPhotoArchive on March 4, 2014 at 2:12pm

Comment by IrishPhotoArchive on March 4, 2014 at 2:14pm
Comment by IrishPhotoArchive on March 4, 2014 at 2:18pm

West Cork Rally St Patricks Weekend Motor sport is big in Ireland Racing Green! is more than just a coulur. 

All Ireland Club Final in Croke Park is the best of Irish sport form club level where pride and passion reach it's peak!

www.irishphotoarchive.ie wish all our friends around the world a great St Patricks day! 

Comment by Gerry Regan on March 4, 2014 at 2:25pm

Thanks for sharing snaps of those august celebrations, both grand and authentic in their own right.

Comment by Ryan O'Rourke on March 4, 2014 at 3:09pm

Thanks for the comment, Bryan.  Many do observe St. Patrick's Day as a religious / spiritual day, so that's good to mention.  Although I am a Christian, March 17th has no spiritual significance for me -- just speaking personally now.  I know there are plenty of other believers who would feel the same.  For me, St. Patrick's Day is all about celebrating what makes Irish culture unique among world cultures.

Comment by Jean Sullivan Cardinal on March 4, 2014 at 4:20pm

I start the day with Mass and head to the St. Patrick's Day parade in Chicago,  Followed by a lot of dinking of the Jamison's and the boiled dinner.  I think that hits all the bases.

Comment by Bit Devine on March 4, 2014 at 5:50pm

I gave up giving things up for Lent decades ago...instead... I do at least one extra anonymous act of kindness everyday...

Patrick wasn't raised in an environment that was particularily religious in tone...nor was there a great emphasis put on education

March 17, 461... the date of Padraig's death...became a Feast day in Ireland... but not until a long while after...

The St Patrick's day that we are more familiar with was created in America... by Irish-American charitable organizations...and started our as banquets... It was Irish soldiers that introduced the parades

Until the late 1960s ...early 70s... St Patrick's day was a minor religious holiday. A priest would acknowledge the feast day, and families would celebrate with a big meal

Something else to consider...is the legend of Pota Phadraig or Patrick's Pot

As the story goes, St. Patrick was served a measure of whiskey that was considerably less than full. St. Patrick took this as an opportunity to teach a lesson of generosity to the innkeeper. He told the innkeeper that in his cellar resided a monstrous devil who fed on the dishonesty of the innkeeper. In order to banish the devil, the man must change his ways. When St. Patrick returned to the hostelry some time later, he found the owner generously filling the patrons' glasses to overflowing. He returned to the cellar with the innkeeper and found the devil emaciated from the landlord's generosity, and promptly banished the demon, proclaiming thereafter everyone should have a drop of the "hard stuff" on his feast day.

And so a drink is taken...a "drowning of the shamrock"...


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