A traveler’s guide to Irish public holidays

St Patrick's Day in Dublin, photo by William Murphy

There are quite a few holidays in Ireland, and not all of them religious. The Irish people simply love their holidays, especially if a holiday means that people get a day off. For travelers, however, public holidays can be a double edged sword. On the one hand, there are some holidays that entail huege parades, celebrations and parties – these are the best when you are visiting Ireland. However, other holidays are just so that the average Irish working person or student can catch their breath and relax. In these cases, from a traveler’s point of view, the Emerald Isles turn into the deserted isles where finding an open store is more difficult than seeing an actual leprechaun. So if you are planning a holiday to Ireland, here’s a traveler’s guide to Irish public holidays that can spare you some inconveniences.

St Patrick’s Day

The most popular holiday in Ireland, celebrated in many parts of the world, St Patrick’s Day is definitely not a nuisance for travelers. Shops will most definitely close early, but then again, few tourists are interested in shops when there are parades to be attended. Luckily, pubs mostly run their usual schedule – after all, after the parades a pint of Guinness is mandatory.

Easter Monday

Like in many predominantly Christian countries, Easter Monday is quite a big deal in Ireland. Since it is a public holiday (as opposed to Good Friday, which isn’t), opening hours in most service and retail sectors will be the same as during a regular weekend. So if you need to shop for groceries you should get it done before Easter, and if you need to travel or move into your accommodation, you should encquire about timetables and reception hours beforehand.

Bank Holidays

Bank holidays are just the nickname for public holidays, and except for the well known holidays like New Year, St Patrick, Easter Monday, Christmas and St Stephen’s Day (on December 26, celebrating the feast of St Stephen), there are four other public holidays which always fall on a Monday, but on a variable date. These long weekends are great for the Irish, but not so much for travelers, as many businesses are closed, as are public institutions. Labor Day falls on the first Monday of May, and it is sometimes called May Day. The first Monday in June is also a holiday, called simply June Holiday, as is the first holiday in August, which is probably originating from Celtic holidays (Lughnasadh in August). The last public holiday before Christmas is October Monday, the last Monday in October.

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