Having worked in Dublin for the past four years, you’d think I would have made it to the iconic Dublin Irish Festival by now. Unfortunately, the dates just never lined up. When I realized I was available this year, I knew I had to go!
As an employee of Dublin Arts Council, I was generously given a pair of complimentary tickets to the 2018 festival. I grabbed Trevor, Kristin, and Shane, Kristin’s significant other (who also happens to be a good friend of mine), and off we went!
We attended the Dublin Irish Festival on August 3, the first day of the three-day event.
The first thing you should know about the Dublin Irish Festival is that it’s huge. There’s a lot of ground to cover, so if you plan to go next year, be sure to bring your walking shoes!
I had two goals for my festival experience: get myself a Claddagh ring (I’ve always wanted one) and see/pet/love the Celtic Canines. Luckily, we spotted the Celtic Canines area right away.
Any time there is a gathering of dogs that you can pet, look at and love, I am THERE. All of the major Irish breeds were represented, including the Glen of Imaal Terrier, Irish Setter, Irish Terrier, Irish Wolfhound, Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, and more.
There were even Irish Terrier puppies!
We met this handsome gentleman, named Faolán (pronounced FWAY-lon, Irish for “little wolf”), who happened to be one of the largest dogs I’ve ever seen.
All of the dogs were beautiful, sweet and so well-behaved, and were a definite highlight of the festival for me! Their respective humans had a wealth of information to share about each breed and about the individual dogs themselves.
After cuddling some canines, we decided to do a bit of shopping. There are so many vendors at the festival, selling everything from handcrafted leather goods to jewelry, clothing, baked goods and more. You could spend days at the festival just shopping!
I was, of course, quite taken with all of the Celtic and Irish jewelry. Necklaces, rings, earrings, bracelets… you name it, it was there! After looking around at nearly every jewelry vendor, I found the perfect Claddagh ring made of sterling silver and with a simulated aquamarine, my birthstone.
The wonderful vendor even took the time to polish it for me!
Trevor and I also found an incredible leather craft booth, where we got matching leather elephant keychains (we’re that couple) and Kristin found a beautiful fox purse.
Trevor also tried on this hat, but didn’t buy it, which I personally think is quite a shame.
The Emerald Arts Isle hosted booths for artists of all kinds, from ceramicists to woodworkers, painters, jewelers and more. Our favorite booth was Sheep Incognito, which featured paintings and prints of sheep in punny situations. Definitely right up our alley.
Irish culture was also on display, with a whole section of the festival dedicated to early Irish living. Blacksmithing demonstrations were taking place, and a tent was set up with what an early Irish house might have looked like.
Genealogy and heritage are also big focuses of the festival. A booth was set up with genealogists available to help you discover your Irish roots, and merchandise with Irish coats of arms was available from multiple vendors.
There are several stages at the festival, each programmed with music, dance and more. Several tents were offering demonstrations and classes – we passed a yarn spinning demonstration that looked incredibly interesting!
A wealth of food options are available at the festival. I opted for a Jameson Burger from the Claddagh Pub, which was delicious, and I also picked up a Magners hard cider. I love cider, and was excited to try some straight from Ireland… it did not disappoint!
We picked a spot near the Trinity Stage, just north of the Coffman Park pavilion, to eat. We had the chance to listen to a lively Irish band called Broderick & Curley.
We were all fairly tired after a long week, so not long after dinner we parted ways and Trevor and I decided to head home. Next year I hope to attend the festival again, much more well-rested… There’s so much to do here, and I know we just scratched the surface this year!