Ireland's Holidays, Special Days etc.

For forthcoming holidays / festive dates, festivals, fairs and suchlike events see http://www.discoverireland.ie/Whats-On/ 

Dublin’s Customs House, St Patrick’s Day 2004; fireworks were rare and strictly controlled in C20th Ireland due to fears of terrorist abuse.

Official / Public  Holidays (& Popular Festive Dates / Observances etc.)

Official public holidays include  some festive dates which have been celebrated by custom and tradition since time immemorial, sometimes called “Common Law holidays” (often ostensibly of a Christian nature but probably of much more ancient origin) and others added by legislation over the last 150 years.

Bank / Public Holidays

The term bank holiday refers to a secular public holiday in the UK and is used colloquially for any public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, where it is widely (albeit incorrectly) applied to e.g.Good Friday and Christmas Day.

The United Kingdom Bank Holidays Act 1871 established the first Bank holidays in Ireland: Easter Monday; Whit Monday; St. Stephen’s Day and the first Monday in AugustSt Patrick’s Day was added by the Bank Holiday (Ireland) Act 1903.

In 1939, the Oireachtas passed the Holidays (Employees) Act, which designated the public holidays as Christmas Day; St. Stephen’s Day; St. Patrick’s Day; Easter Monday; Whit Monday and the first Monday in August. The Holidays (Employees) Act 1973 replaced the Whit Monday holiday with the first Monday in June. New Year’s Day was added by Statutory Instrument in 1974. The October Holiday was added in 1977. The first Monday in May was added in 1993.

In 1997 the Oireachtas passed the Organisation of Working Time Act which, among other things, transposed European Union directives on working times into Irish law. Schedule 2 of the Act specifies the nine public holidays to which employees in Ireland are entitled to receive time off work, time in-lieu or holiday pay depending on their terms of employment.

In the UK. statutory holidays are specifically listed in the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971, Schedule 1; since 1971, Royal Proclamations have been used to create annual bank holidays, to move a bank holiday in a given year, and to create extra one-off bank holidays for special occasions, e.g. Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, for which the late May bank holiday was moved to Monday 4th June and an additional Jubilee bank holiday was held on Tuesday 5th June 2012.

Since most Public Holidays and Special Days are inextricably linked with the principal Feast Days of the Christian tradition, the list below opens in December to coincide roughly with the start of the Liturgical Calendar as established by the Western Church, i.e. the lead-up to Christmas, and continues with pages for January – June and July – November.

Additional pages cover specific holiday periods (schools etc.), Pre-Christian Festivities and Minority Holy Days.

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