If you’re planning a trip to Ireland this spring, there’s no better time to visit than at Easter. This year, Easter takes place over the weekend of April 14th to April 17th, so there’s every chance that the traditional Irish Easter celebrations will be accompanied by some lovely Irish spring weather.
So, if you’re planning to visit the Emerald Isle this Easter, let’s have a look at how the Irish celebrate Easter and what you can expect to see on your travels. If you wish to see more than just one city while you are here, many people recommend a private tour of Ireland.
How is Easter Celebrated in Ireland?
Easter is usually observed in Ireland from Holy Thursday through to Easter Monday.
Holy Thursday or Maundy Thursday
While some Christians may celebrate Maundy Thursday by attending the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, generally it’s just another day for most of Ireland.
Good Friday is the day for confessions and asking for forgiveness, but it’s also a day for buying new clothes for Easter Mass and getting a haircut. Therefore, you’ll find that all shops and most businesses are open as usual on this day, although pubs are likely to be closed as it’s illegal to sell alcohol on Good Friday.
Easter Sunday is usually celebrated in Ireland by spending time with family and friends. The majority of Christian families will also attend one of the special Easter Sunday services that celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.
For real traditionalists, Easter isn’t complete without a traditional festive Easter Sunday meal of roast meat with stuffing, potatoes and vegetables together with a rich dessert, which comes as a welcome meal after giving up meat and sweets for Lent.
Children receive Easter Eggs, and usually take part in a traditional Easter egg hunt to find brightly coloured foil wrapped eggs.
As Easter Sunday is a public holiday, you’ll find that banks, post offices and many businesses and shops will be closed. Public transport will run to the normal Sunday timetable, but you’ll find that bars, pubs and restaurants will generally be open.
In Ireland, Easter Monday is not just the day after Easter Sunday; it’s the day that the Republic of Ireland remembers the 1916 Easter Rising. Many people attend sports events or local fairs, or join in in more Easter egg hunts.
As it’s an official bank holiday in Ireland, you’ll find that businesses, banks and post offices are closed on Easter Monday, but shops, bars, pubs and restaurants are open.
If you’re in Dublin, you might want to watch one of the Easter Rising parades, which either start at the Garden of Remembrance, the General Post Office or the old yard of Arbour Hill prison.
Things to do when visiting Ireland at Easter
Pay a visit to Newgrange
Newgrange is a prehistoric monument in County Meath. Older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian Pyramids, its entrance is aligned with the rising sun on the winter solstice. Newgrange was once used to calculate the date of movable feasts such as Easter. If tours of Newgrange are full, book yourself on a guided tour of Knowth, a similar passage tomb mound that’s part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Join in the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party
Held in Deerpark in Dublin, this mad party includes lots of activities for kids and the young at heart. Activities include giant chess, an Easter egg hunt and croquet.
Visit the Galway Spring Festival at the Slieve Aughty Centre
Located in East County Galway, this festival has lots to do for families and couples alike, from spring crafts to visiting the Organic Kitchen.
If you want to attend Mass in Dublin, try St. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral on Marlborough St, St. Theresa’s Church on Clarendon Street, or the small University Church on St. Stephen’s green.
Whatever your preference – whether it’s going to church and enjoying a feast afterwards or joining in on some egg hunts and traditional activities – Ireland is buzzing at Easter time so you’ll have lots to keep you entertained.