In Ireland: The First and Third Pit Stops of a Holiday in Motion


A Dublin memorial for the Irish Potato Famine (

Knowing the history of Father Patrick and his missionary practices throughout Ireland, it is only expected that Saint Patrick’s Day would have been observed primarily as a religious holiday in Ireland. As the primary religion of The Republic of Ireland after the break from Britain was caused by the Counter-Reformation, Catholicism remained prominent despite religious discord.

Because of this retention of practices, the celebration of Catholicism’s introduction to Ireland came also to break the harsh traditions of this rigid religion. Catholics were known for strict adherence to the rules set down for their religious practices—and the 40 days of Lent were no exception. During Lent one would give up vices as penance, and to “pay homage to the sacrifices of Jesus Christ, the “savior” of Catholicism—for more information, see Nick Scala’s Easter Overview.

By using Saint Patrick’s Day as a “break” from these sacrifices before Easter, Saint Patrick’s Day quickly grew into a day of “celebration for celebration’s sake,” with a smattering of religion in between.

As those who used Saint Patrick’s Day for religious purposes set up their traditions in America and other countries like Australia, Ireland’s manner of celebration went through changes that many people would normally attribute to “Americanization” (a commercialization of and distancing from a holiday’s original purpose). 1 In Ireland, Saint Patrick’s Day began to have its own parade: after hearing from family members in America about the New York City parade, they wanted to start their own—except their parade seemed to bypass the religious ritual and went straight to celebratory fervor.

Saint Patrick’s Day in New York City ->

Controversy surrounding NYC’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade ->

Back to Saint Patrick’s Day Homepage ->

  1. Millett, Frederick. “Americanization.” Americanization. N.p., 2000. Web. 18 May 2011. <>.

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