Friday, 9 March 2012

St Patrick's Day - events + a little bit of history

The countdown has started! In exactly eight days (17th March) it'll be St Patrick, the BIG day in Dublin/Ireland.

Even if it's your first year as expat in Dublin, I'm sure you've heard about St Patrick's Day, as it's well known and celebrated worldwide...

but maybe you don't know that St Patrick was NOT Irish (woooow!),  he was born in Wales (big WOOOOOW!). When he was about 16 years of age, some pirates captured him and sold him as a slave in Ireland, where he remained for the folowing six years - during these six years of slavery  his faith grew and he prayed daily.

After this time, he escaped and, after some adventures, he returned home in Wales. He was in his early twenties. He decided then to dedicate his life to God. Studied religion in different monasteries and other institutions mainly in France and then he went back to Ireland with the idea of converting the Irish to Christianity...

Well, the rest of the story is well known: he did convert the Irish to Christianity, although he went through serious difficulties at times. He died in AD 461 on March 17. He is said to be buried in Downpatrick (Co. Down in Northern Ireland).

If you will be in Dublin during St Patrick's Day/weekend, maybe so should check the website including a calendar with all the events that will take place during those days from 16th to 19th March.

What's new for 2012??: St Patrick's Festival in Dublin will have a SCIENCE THEME this year, coinciding with the city's designation as European City of Science. With an audience of over 1 million, Irish leading pageant companies will animate a selection of science questions posed by children such as "how is a rainbow formed?" or "what makes the weather change?" (very frequently asked question in this country, I have to say) and each will present their imaginative, colourful, remarkable and thought provoking creations on the streets of the capital during the Festival Parade which, by the way, will start on Parnell Square on Sat 17th at noon and will finish just past St Patrick's Cathedral.

Also new this year: a SCIENTIFICALLY THEMED TREASURE HUNT which will involve a free trail through a collection of Dublin's landmark buildings. It will take place on Monday 19th March at 10:00am. I would say this will be a fantastic city discovering adventure for the whole family! and the participants can dress up in a science theme costume (uhmmmmmm, let's see: an H2O molecule? a microscope? the Milky Way???, just thinking out loud...)

Other new initiatives have been added to this year's Festival, such as the special programme of free Irish cultural events I LOVE MY CITY, a distinct celebration of Irish culture during the Festival. 

I LOVE MY CITY headline events will take place in The National Gallery, The National Museum, the RHA, The National Concert Hall, The National Library and Leinster House while city-wide, cultural institutions and venues will also be offering a variety of activities and interesting events that are a must see at Festival time. I would highly recommend you to check the web for more detailed information about the whole range of events (addressed to people of all ages and interests).

I have to say that this year the Festival events look fantastic, really attractive! Being a looong bank holiday for the kids (off school from 16th to 19th both days included), we may try to visit another part of Ireland and learn a different way of celebrating St Patrick's Day - if we do, I'll let you know our experience!

Before I go, I'd like to mention the sources of information I've used to write this post: The Irish Times newspaper, the Science Foundation Ireland website, the St Patrick's Festival website and the Dublin city of science 2012 website.

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