How NYU students celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland

NYU London students share their experiences celebrating the global holiday in its homeland and their recommendations for future travelers.


Olivia Cronin

(Olivia Cronin for WSN)

Cameron Roberts, Staff Writer

When the biggest holiday in Ireland falls during spring break, there is little reason not to make the trip and celebrate, especially for NYU London students who have the luxury of inexpensive travel to the nearby island. 

“It seemed like the perfect time, because when else would traveling there for the holiday be so convenient?” said Steinhardt junior Hailey Mallard, who visited Dublin while studying at NYU London. Many students like Mallard found that this trip was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If you’re planning to study abroad at NYU London, or if you’d like to make the trip yourself, here are some tips to make the most of your experience.

Plan ahead 

St. Patrick’s Day falls on the same day every year, so there’s no excuse to plan the trip at the last minute. The holiday’s popularity in 2023 meant that NYU London students were a part of over half a million people that celebrated the holiday in Dublin’s city center. When booking your trip, bear in mind that hotels, hostels and Airbnbs alike will fill up fast. Any free rooms will likely also be severely overcharged. 

Staying outside of Dublin and traveling into the city for the holiday is a great way to save money and have the opportunity to explore more of Ireland. Once you’re there, make sure to plan around the main event: St Patrick’s Festival. Mallard learned only a few days before her trip that catching a glimpse of the parade would be next to impossible.

“[T]he rumor on the internet is that you have to stand there for like six hours to get a good spot,” Mallard said. 

Starting early in the day may be the only way to get a good view of the parade, but there are other ways to spend the day, like hitting up iconic pubs like O’Connells or taking a tour of the Guinness Storehouse. Whatever you do, make sure to book ahead for the best trip.

Embrace Irish traditions 

St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the United States typically revolve around green clothing, worn to avoid getting pinched by a leprechaun, along with every other Irish stereotype under the sun. For LS first-year Olivia Cronin, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations have always been moderate affairs throughout her life, until she went to Ireland.

“We don’t typically go out to celebrate, but in Ireland, everyone is out on the streets and every bar is full,” she said. 

St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday that offers local Irish communities the opportunity to reconnect with their country’s culture. Celebrations feature traditional Irish attire, music and, most notably, language. 

“Every pub on every street was filled with musicians getting together and just jamming,” Mallard said. “It was pretty impressive to see them all play off of each other with such ease, and when they would play songs in Gaelic, a lot of the crowd would sing along. It was cool to see how deeply the Irish people feel connected to their music.” 

While most NYU London students may not be fluent in Gaelic, this should not hold them back from basking in Irish culture and traditions. This can mean sporting shamrocks — a tradition that dates back to the 17th century — or trying out a traditional Irish dinner consisting of soda bread, boiled cabbage, lamb and mashed potatoes. 

Cronin and Mallard both suggested washing it down with a Guinness, a classic alcoholic beverage from Ireland. Merely being in Ireland for the holiday can ensure you have your very own quintessentially Irish St. Patrick’s Day, but going the extra mile to embrace traditions will make the experience that much better. 

Go before and stay after 

While St. Patrick’s Day is a great reason to visit Ireland, your trip should not be a one-day affair as that won’t allow you to see celebrations throughout the entire country. A complete trip should allow you to arrive before St. Patrick’s festivities kick off, and to stay for extra sightseeing afterward. 

“We got there the day before St. Patrick’s, when all the bars and shops were still putting up their decorations, and you could feel the anticipation in the air,” Mallard said. She stayed in Dublin and was able to see the preparation and aftereffects in the center of the celebrations. 

“I would recommend venturing outside the city and exploring old castles and beaches, and finding scenic views, as they are truly unforgettable,” Cronin said. 

She stayed in Belfast, and found that the extra time in Ireland made her experience more worthwhile. Extensive public transport infrastructure in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland allows for quick day trips via bus or train to destinations like Galway, The Cliffs of Moher and Giant’s Causeway. Ireland’s culture is embedded in its natural landscapes as well as in its extravagant St. Patrick’s Day festivities, so be sure to check out both.

Contact Cameron Roberts at [email protected].