Armagh City’s Home of St Patrick Festival returns for nine spectacular days next month, promising a unique programme of history, heritage and place in his chosen home from March 10 – 18.
Featuring the best of music, art, theatre, film and dance across multiple venues, the Home of St Patrick Festival promises visitors from across the world an outstanding opportunity to reflect on his life, legacy and impact in a thrilling showcase of culture, entertainment and hospitality.
The Home of St Patrick Festival’s unique distinction – what sets it apart from every other world-wide celebration – is the relationship between programme and place and the resonance that this important city, its two cathedrals named after him, its landscape and the stunning Georgian backdrop it is famous for.
Firmly established as one of the UK and Ireland’s most authentic events to mark St Patrick’s enduring impact on the island of Ireland and the world, Armagh was Patrick’s chosen place where he began his Christian mission and his legacy lives on in this ancient, unique and beautiful place.
During the Festival, visitors can also explore Armagh County Museum and Armagh Robinson Library which house artefacts, collections, rare books and illuminated manuscripts which reflect the city’s leading role in early Christian Ireland. When he visited Armagh, Saint Patrick called it his ‘sweet hill’, and founded his first large stone church in 445AD.
Welcoming the launch of this year’s festival, Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough, Alderman Margaret Tinsley said: “Celebrating a deep and historic link with St Patrick, Armagh City is home to some of Northern Ireland’s most iconic places, including two stunning Cathedrals both named in his honour, the mystical Navan Fort & Centre and the iconic Armagh Robinson Library, Palace Demesne and Marketplace Theatre which play host to many of this year’s enthralling events.
“In a city that has always looked to the stars at the Armagh Planetarium and Observatory, bringing people together through art, literature, science and a sense that this is a place apart, Armagh City enjoys a creative spirit, drawing visitors every year through its ancient traditions. A home to artists, libraries, poets and scientists, it’s a place of innovation and mindfulness in equal measure and this year’s Home of St Patrick Festival reflects every element of these with plenty of family fun too.
“There are walks, talks, tours, music, song, comedy, dance and unlimited festival fun to entertain everyone, every day.”
Highlights from this year’s festival include:
– St Patrick’s Cathedral Armagh – Sunday 10 March
Renowned, award-winning musician, songwriter and recording artist Phil Coulter will be joined by exceptional guests to launch the start of the Home of St Patrick Festival in the inspiring surroundings of St Patrick’s Cathedral, sharing some of his much-loved repertoire and introducing some of his more recent works.
St Patrick’s Poetry Reading
– Armagh Robinson Library – Thursday 14 March
Armagh City Chapter and the John Hewitt Society presents ‘A Festival Poetry Reading with Moyra Donaldson, Noel Monahan and Kate Newmann’. An opportunity to celebrate and explore contemporary poetry read by acclaimed Irish poets. Moyra Donaldson, from Co Down, has published ten collections of poetry including a Selected Poems. Her work is widely anthologised, and she has read at festivals in Europe, Canada and America.
Sandy Kelly: Leaving it all behind
– The Marketplace Theatre – Thursday 14 March
After the October 2023 release of her new album ‘Leaving it all behind’ and autobiography ‘In my own words’, country music star Sandy Kelly embarks on an island-wide tour of Ireland, celebrating in Armagh City as part of the Home of St Patrick Festival. With a full live band, Sandy will perform songs from her new album and some of her best-loved while recounting some of the stories from her book in an up close and personal setting.
A Musical Celebration of St Patrick
– St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral -15th March
This bespoke musical event will honour our patron Saint through the island’s rich music and literature. The showcase event will feature some of Ireland’s internationally renowned musicians from the classical and traditional worlds.
Song, Storytelling and Stew
– Charlemont Arms Hotel – Friday 15 March
Ireland is synonymous with stories and welcome. The Seancaithe (the Aged) and Scéalaí (the Narrator) were the bearers of Irish traditional stories. Important characters in Ireland’s cultural past, they passed the old stories down through the generations. This special evening recounts some of these stories, told by local award-winning Bard Jimmy Rafferty. Relax and as you listen to these tales, enjoy the experience even more with some great locally made Irish stew on arrival. Followed by Traditional Musicians, the Hughes Family.
The Great Irish Songbook
– The Market Place Theatre – Friday 15 March
Following last year’s sell-out event, Malachi Cush and Kal McGuckin return with their musical ensemble to present an evening of Ireland’s favourite songs and melodies. Karl and Malachi are two of our best-loved singers, with Malachi’s natural tenor voice and Karl’s booming resonant baritone voice creating a combination that has been described as ‘breathtaking’.
Stained Glass Treasures Walking Tour – 16 March
Join Dr David Caron on a journey learning more about the stained-glass treasures in a range of churches and the Cathedrals in Armagh.
St Patrick’s Stained Glass Workshop – 16 March
If the morning tour has inspired you, why not take part in the workshop and create 2 pieces of stained glass. The workshop will take in St Patrick’s RC Cathedral Synod Hall and inspiration can be gleaned from the beautiful cathedral windows.
St Patrick’s Festival cupcakes for kids
– The Marketplace Theatre – Saturday 16 March
Calling all junior star bakers and sweet treat lovers! This celebration cupcake decorating workshop will introduce you to the skills and techniques for creating amazing cupcakes every time. You’ll get hands-on experience decorating a box of 12 cupcakes to take home.
Granny’s Griddle Bread Making
– Long Meadow Cider- Saturday 16 March
Enjoy the taste of bread, freshly made and hot from the griddle in this demo at Long Meadow. Learn about life in the orchard and enjoy tasty samples.
St Patrick’s Day Session
Navan Fort & Centre – 16 March
Experience the electrifying energy of ‘An Fuaim’, a rising star on the Irish music scene as they take to the stage at the Navan Centre & Fort at 2.30pm for the Saturday Session of music and spoken word. A whirlwind of talented young musicians from Portmór who have been winning competitions and captivating audiences throughout 2023, the band featured at the Lovestock and Lughnasadh festivals and have been featured on BBC Radio Ulster, BBC Newsline and on RTE.
Death Before Dishonour with Pistols at Dawn
– Armagh County Club – 16 March
Armagh County Club, the event setting was used as a meeting house in Patrick’s time to heal arguments within the community. Living history characters will present a historical case. But if there is no successful outcome, there could be a duel! Your help is needed!
Home of St Patrick Vigil Walk
– St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral – Saturday 16 March
This event has become an annual activity in the city’s Home of St Patrick’s Festival. The Vigil walk by torchlight is led by the representatives of the city’s two Cathedrals, both called St Patrick’s. Join them in prayer and conversation as the Vigil starts from the Church of Ireland Cathedral and moves to the Roman Catholic Cathedral, a symbolic reflection of St Patrick’s own journey to unite through Christianity.
Sunrise with Patrick – Ritual & Renewal
– Navan Centre & Fort – Sunday 17 March
Celebrate the first light of St Patrick’s morning with St Patrick himself and the ancient people of Ulster. Through the first rays of the morning sun cast an eye back to what life and faith may have been like before the arrival of St. Patrick and with our patron saint envisage the new future that Christianity had in store for our land. And afterwards, have breakfast with us, to the sound of live
St Patrick’s Festival Walking Tours
– Departing from The Johnston Building, Shambles Yard – Saturday 16 until Monday 18 March
Jump into the history of St Patrick and his connection with both Cathedrals while appreciating the wonderful panoramic views of the city, the ecclesiastical and spiritual capital of Ireland. You will hear why St Patrick chose this as the location to build his first Stone Church in 445 AD and be regaled with myths, legends as well as some unusual and quirky facts surrounding St Patrick.
Ukulele Trad Workshop
– Armagh City Hotel – Monday 18 March
Unleash your inner jig and strum your way to Irish folk mastery with our Ukulele and Traditional Irish Music Workshop!
For more information on the full range of bookable and free events, visit https://bitly.ws/3bbgt