The month of March is upon us and that means it's almost time to celebrate Ireland's Patron Saint!
Taking place from March 13th-17th, the now annual Saint Patrick's Festival is estimated to bring €70-75m of revenue into the country as over 100,000 tourists visit the Emerald Isle.
It’s the day the world turns green as around the world famous international landmarks turns green. The likes of The London Eye, Empire State Building in New York, the famous giant Ferris Wheel in Vienna, The Coliseum in Rome and Sydney's Town Hall building will all 'Go Green' on March 17th as Ireland becomes the centre of attention around the world.
The boy who became Saint Patrick grew up in Wales and at the age of 16 that he was kidnapped by Irish raiders who brought him across the Irish Sea and enlsaved him in the role of sheep herder. It was during these times he kept his spirits up by praying to god, when one day he heard god calling him to flee, whereupon he spotted a boat by the shore which he stowed his way back to Wales on. He later had a dream in which God told him to go back to Ireland and convert the natives to Christianity, so he travelled back.
Here are some of the great places around Ireland to visit to follow in St Patricks footsteps:
Rock of Cashel
It is said that in the years 445AD that Saint Patrick made his way to Cashel, where King Aengus, who had heard about Christianity and was curious to find out more, let it be known that he wanted to see this missionary. He ended up being baptised in a grand ceremony in the Rock of Cashel - seat of the High King of Munster - and called on his subjects to convert as well.
Much of the building still stands today and visitors can partake in the 'Round Tower, Gothic Cathedral and the refurbished Hall of the Vicars Choral'.
Just as by-the-by if you make it as far as the rock you should hop across to Cahir, and see the castle that has come to be called the Swiss Cottage a beautiful structure with a distinctive thatched roof and external fittings which resembled trees. Inside visitors are wowed by the ornate staircase and rooms that contain some of the earliest examples of wallpaper produced by the famous Dufour factory in Paris,
The Catholic Cathedral of Armagh
While the original church built by Saint Patrick was on the site of what is now the Church of Ireland Cathedral in Armagh, Sandy Hill has connections with him too, as this is a spot where Patrick released a deer and her baby after he saved it from being killed by locals.
This city is also the home of the world renowned Armagh Planetarium, where you can sit back in the large domed screen theatre which makes you feel like you are actually in space as you take an audiovisual tour of the galaxy, and mere five minute walk away is the Armagh County Museum which is free to visit.
Just outside Armagh City is the Navan Centre and fort where people can visit recreations of structures in use during the time of the Celts such as Crannogs and Wattles. It is also the start of the 82 Mile "Saint Patrick's Pilgrim Walk" which ends at the supposed burial place of the saint at Down Cathedral.
Saint Patrick is said to have passed away in the year 461 and was then buried on the hill of Down, where Down Cathedral now stands.
The church was first built in the 12th Century, but during the time of the Penal Laws it began to fall into ruin. In the 1800's a few wealthy families provided the funds to restore the Cathedral.
Last but not least we are going to take a look at the place most synonymous with the Patron Saint of Ireland - Croagh Patrick.
This is the spot where Saint Patrick partook in a 40 day Lenten Fast, and also where he is said to have begun his banishment of Snakes from Ireland.
On the last Sunday in July (weather permitting) thousands of people make the annual Pilgrimage to a small stone chapel on top of the mountain on a day known as "Reek Sunday", real devotees will do the walk in their bare feet, though this is not advised.
Croagh Patrick is a mere 15 minute drive from the picturesque town of Westport, which contains many hotels and the famous Matt Molloy's Bar, where the talented member of The Chieftains holds court as many a great evening of Irish music and song took place.
also in the vicinity is Westport House where people can take a walk around the lovely gardens and do guided tours of the impressive stately home situated on the grounds. For those with a sense of adventure and a love of the outdoors there is also the 42km Greenway from Westport to Achill where you can cycle (be it your own bike or a hired one) across breathtaking scenery along the way.
Of course this is just a snippet of the wonderful places you can visit around Ireland, be they linked to Saint Patrick or not.
So to ensure you arrive safely in Downpatrick or Croagh Patrick, or to find a place offering tasty locally produced food for lunch, the Award-Winning GeoFindIT App will get you there.