Almost everyone knows that the Dublin, Ireland’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade is one of the biggest and best on the planet, but that also means contending with hordes of people and major traffic jams. If that isn’t your cup of tea, or pint of Guinness in this case, there are plenty of other wonderful festivities to attend throughout the Emerald Isle that may be a lot more enjoyable.
Here is a look at the top three towns to consider visiting outside of Dublin for some true Irish reveling.
Dingle in County Kerry
Dingle is set on the west coast of Ireland and is the only town on the spectacular Dingle Peninsula. Known for its lush, green hills dotted with sheep, white-washed cottages and breathtaking cliffs that touch down to the turquoise waters of the Atlantic, this is picture-postcard Ireland at its best.
Here you’ll find more of an authentic Irish experience as well as lots of great local pubs in which to sit near the fire and listen to live traditional Irish tunes.
For St. Patrick’s Day this year, the parade will start at 12:45 p.m. led by the popular Fife and Drum band, following the traditional route that winds through brightly colored buildings filled with unique shops that are so quintessentially Ireland.
Kilkenny City in County Kilkenny is Ireland’s most beautiful historic city and another of my favorites to visit. Just an hour and a half’s drive south of the Dublin, it’s the hub of art and culture in Ireland with fascinating narrow winding streets paved with limestone flagstones. On rainy days these roads actually glisten. Magnificent Kilkenny Castle set along the River Nore is the city’s landmark and centerpiece for over 800 years.
Over March 16-17, 2013 there will be a number of events taking place in Kilkenny Castle Park and inside the castle itself, with many local pubs and fantastic eateries getting into the spirit of the holiday. Some of the best live traditional music will be found here too including world renowned fiddle player Martin Hayes.
The St. Patrick’s Day parade will take place on Sunday, March 17, commencing at St. John’s Church at 2 p.m. and is said to rival even Dublin’s exciting festivities.
Clifden in County Galway
Clifden is a charming County Galway coast town directly west of Dublin in the Connemara region known for its wild and rugged scenic landscape. Filled with towering mountains, white sandy beaches and even the famed Connemara ponies, this is a wonderful area to spend your entire holiday.
A stay at Abbeyglen Castle brings views of the village and Galway bay as well as the Irish mountain range known as the Twelve Bens. While the town is fairly small, you’ll find plenty to do with museums, theaters, art galleries, antique shops, and much more. Connemara National Park is just a short 20 minute drive offering the chance to spot wild Connemara ponies.
Clifden’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade is on Sunday, March 17, 2013 beginning at 1 p.m.
K.C. Dermody is a freelance writer and a Featured Contributor for Travel. She has traveled to nearly all 50 states and many countries worldwide and has a passion for imparting what she has learned from her experiences to others.
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