What can you say about St Patrick’s Day that hasn’t been said already? While all Celtic nations proudly honour their patron saints, nothing quite matches the intensity of Ireland’s celebrations each 17th March
Every year, on the day itself, more than half a million locals and 100,000 overseas visitors pack the streets of Dublin for the annual St Patrick’s Day parade. Marching bands from Ireland, the United States and Europe are joined by traditional musicians, dancers and carnival floats to make their way through the streets of the city. And since this is the country’s biggest annual excuse for a craic, a five-day festival around the day itself has grown up. There’s more music (of course) but also theatre, sport and arts events
St Patrick’s Day might be the biggest annual outpouring of Celtic sentiment but there are many other regional music, dance and language festivals throughout the year. There are two that deserve a particular mention.
The Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, the great national fleadh (festival) of Irish music is held annually in August, with towns and cities competing to host the weeklong event. Attended by thousands of traditional singers, musicians and dancers from all over Ireland and overseas, at heart it’s an Irish music competition with provincial qualifying events held to determine who will perform at the national fleadh. The event is immensely popular with spectators; the 2018 Drogheda Fleadh Cheoil attracted a record half-a-million visitors.
The Pan Celtic Festival, held annually over a week in April in Donegal, is described as ‘a colourful and vibrant celebration of the music, song, dance, pageantry, languages and sports, of the six Celtic nations…and boasts a packed programme of themed concerts, music, song and dance workshops and competitions, talks, storytelling sessions, Celtic language workshops, street pageantry, spectacle and drama.’
Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann http://fleadhcheoil.ie/
Pan Celtic Festival http://www.panceltic.ie/