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Insider Experience: Ireland – Day Four to Cork

a crowd of people standing in front of a building

The very special day has arrived – it is now Saint Patrick’s Day in Ireland! While in Dingle we marched is the earliest parade in the country, and then once in Cork we attended one of the largest parades in Ireland. Here is the story from Day Four of the Insider Experience: Ireland group trip.

We knew to have the ability to celebrate Lá Fhéile Pádraig (the Day of the Festival of Patrick) in the country of Ireland was going to be amazing. Here, the day is marked with cultural and religious observances marking the day that the patron saint of Ireland is thought to have died. And yes, there is a fair amount of drinking in celebration.

But who was Saint Patrick?

At the age of sixteen, Patrick was kidnapped from his birthplace in Britain by Irish raiders and banished to Gaelic Ireland as a slave. He was working as a shepherd there for six years and during this time he “found God”. In a document that Patrick wrote called the Declaration, God told Patrick to flee to the coast where a ship would be waiting to take him home to Britain. Once back there, Patrick went on to become a priest and is thought to have later returned to Ireland to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity.

The alarms went off early for most of us because in Dingle the parade starts at 6:00 a.m. This tradition of a parade before daybreak dates back to the Land War of the 1880s where it was forbidden to march from sunup to sundown. In order to still celebrate the patron saint, folks in Dingle then and now conduct thier parade in the dark.

The local fife and drum band led the way, and soon our group was swept up to join in the 300 people that marched along a not-so-direct path to the church. A couple of times the entire group stopped and parted to the sides of the road allow the band to reverse course. Then we all filed in again for the walk along the next part of the route.

We were joined by Evan’s mom Deirdre, as well as his sister Lisa. Our driver Seamus – who also happens to live in Dingle – came down from his home to join in the celebration. It was great to share these moments with family and friends.

After arriving at the church, some of our group went in for the mass said in Irish while others retreated back to the hotel for a nap before breakfast.

The bus made its way towards Cork City, and in a village named Milltown we drove down the route just before their parade started. From the bus we waived to the people who had assembled, and then counted our blessings that we were not held up for the celebration.

We made it into the City of Cork around mid-day, and we could feel the energy building in the second largest city in Ireland with the parade starting soon.

The Cork St. Patrick’s Day Parade kicked off with police and fire apparatus leading the way. This parade was multi-generational – and very multi-cultural in composition. Countries and ethnic groups were represented, as were sports, youth, and veterans.

Large amounts of people were lining the two-mile route to watch this parade which went on for over an hour.

One of the highlights for our group of American travelers was near the end. A large band from Mandan High School in North Dakota was very impressive, everyone enjoyed watching and listening to the Marching Braves.

After the parade, our group dispersed in multiple directions in search of food and drink. In different corners of the city, we were shoulder to shoulder with other revelers engrossed in the spirit of the day.

Many people were out late into the night, with a good group assembled at the lively Rising Sons Brewery in the heart of the city.

The day drew to a close, and thoughts turned to our next trip to visit the town of Cobh and an opportunity to learn about the important role of emigration in Irish history and culture. [Read the Day Five report here]

Don Littlefield is the General Manager of Brew Bus Tours. This is his third visit to Ireland. He enjoyed many pints of Franciscan Well and Rising Sons beers around Cork just before dreaming about writing this post. Twitter @BeerinME