OK, I will have to confess my bias here as I don't particulary enjoy the post-parade part of the day where you see people throwing up, urinating, throwing rubbish, fighting, or staggering around on the streets. It really shows Ireland in a bad light. I certainly don't think tourists come here to see things like that!
St. Patrick's Day (DON'T EVER CALL IT ST. PAT OR PATTY'S, people will automatically think you're some kind of dumb clichéd American tourist, we never call it that here) just means a day off work for us. There is nothing more to March 17th than that any more, I think the religious aspect is more or less gone from the day now. When I was a kid, St. Patrick's day meant going to Mass, a day off Lent & school, wearing a shamrock, speaking a few words of Gaelic. The St. Patrick's Festival only started in 1995 to capitalise on tourism, so don't be under any illusions that it is some great Irish tradition - it certainly is not. The parade is NOT a genuine Irish tradition, the first St Patrick's parade actually took place in the USA.
We don't send St. Patrick's Day cards in Ireland, that's probably a Hallmark thing ;) The parade itself is an American import, you'll find the Irish are outnumbered by the tourists at the parade.
If you want to see the parade in Dublin, do this. Book your accomodation a couple of months in advance, be prepared to take accomodation in the suburbs if necessary, it will be cheaper. On the day, GET TO THE TOWN CENTRE EARLY!!!!!!!!! The crowds will be at least 6 lines deep at certain parts of the route so unless you're tall or happen to be staying in a hotel along the route where you can look down on the parade, you're just not going to see anything. Wrap up well, it can be bloody cold.
I think the parade is better on TV anyway so you can admire some of the floats properly. I'm only 5'2", so there is no point in freezing my a$$ off for nothing at the parade ;-)
Dublin honors its saint patron every 17th of March with a huge parade that take place along almost all the city center, in both sides of the River Liffey. The tradition dictates the consumption of local beer (mostly Guinness) in generous quantities, apart from the display of spectacular fireworks the night after and a horrible and wet weather during all the celebrations.
Luckily, all the traditions were religiously observer during my visit, except for the weather part ;-)
Please, check out my Paddy's Day travelogue for more pictures of this colorful parade.
St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, and St. Patrick´s Day on March 17th is a National Holiday in Ireland. Most towns will have a St. Patrick´s Day Parade, the largest one being in Dublin. The city centre will be jam-packed that day, and people arrive early to find themselves a good spot along the way. Expect to queue up if you want to get into a pub in Templebar that night. You might be better off having your drink in another area of town.