People flock to the streets to dance, sing, enjoy live music and drink Guinness, all in celebration of Ireland. The city of Chicago even dyes its rivers green. I had seen pictures and heard stories and had now made the annual pilgrimage to Dublin to experience it all myself.
However, standing in the sleet and wind outside of a house somewhere near Harold’s Cross in the south of the city, all the excitement en route to the Emerald Isle had been lost. The taxi dropped Dale and I off over an hour ago and it was now close to 11pm. Shane and Mike, two old schoolmates who now call this city home, were nowhere to be seen. In search of the ‘craic’, they had forgotten our arrival. We eventually heard them from afar, singing a late night version of The Dubliner’s Whiskey in the jar. I begin to ask the same question that so many pilgrims to Dublin have asked themselves time and again, what is the craic and where do I find it…
St Patrick’s Day
Kitted out in green Springbok jerseys, four South Africans set off to Dublin central in search of the craic, stopping on the way to admire some of the amazing architecture for which Dublin is so famously known. The O’Connell St Bridge, the Ha’penney Bridge, Trinity College and St. Patrick’s Cathedral are landmarks that lend to the legend of the city. A self-guided walking tour of Dublin is relatively simple, provided you have good shoes, one of the many tourist maps (or locals) available and a good sense of adventure. A trip to Ireland would also definitely not be complete without a tour of the Guinness factory and is highly recommended.
The St Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin may not be the biggest or the longest in the world, but it certainly is the most unique. Irish music and costumed paraders march through the streets while onlookers, mostly dressed as leprechauns, wave Irish flags in the sea of green.
Eventually we arrive at the mecca of St Patrick’s Day – The Temple Bar area. Situated in central Dublin on the south bank of the Liffey River, this part of the city has retained its medieval architecture and cobbled streets and is regarded as the (un)cultural centre. With a history dating back to the Temple family of the 16th century, the area now boasts over ten of the cities most popular bars.
Our first stop is the Oliver St. John Gogarty Pub, which proudly flies a Saffa flag on its façade. Stepping inside the multi-level establishment, there is no difference from the festivities in the street. A live band plays Irish folk rock, complete with a bearded fiddle player. Party people sing and dance everywhere you look. I order my first ever Irish Guinness, complete with shamrock head. The rest of the evening blurs into mixture of Guinness, diddley-eye and Irish music, good conversations, new friends and leprechaun mischief. Tonight I am Irish, and I make the most of it!
So what is the craic?
People say it is entertainment, or a word locals use to describe fun, or a good conversation. Its none of these and all of these at the same time, and the only way you will ever understand the craic is to get out to Dublin on St Patrick’s Day and search for it yourself.
Places of interest in Dublin
As Ireland’s oldest college, this iconic, must-see landmark dates back to 1592.
St Patrick Cathedral
Religious home of Ireland’s favourite festival, this picturesque building is the largest church in Ireland.
For an escape form the concrete jungle, take a walk in one of the world’s largest urban parks. A sunny day spent cloud watching next to deer certainly is memorable.
Step inside this creepy piece of living history, which dates to the late eighteenth century to experience some of Ireland’s evil past.
For the best view of Dublin, Dalkey Castle is the perfect attraction and is located inside the Medieval Goat Castle.
A Dublin institution and certainly a must see. The tour of the grounds takes you back to the late 1750’s with a combination of stories, history, vats, copper pipes and free stout.
No less than twelve unique and historically important statues line the streets of Dublin. A walking tour of the statues will take you through the better part of the city and give you a reason to explore. My favourite statues were Molly Malone, Mister Screen and Oscar Wilde.