Where in the world would you like to spend St. Valentine’s Day? What is the most romantic city in the world? Paris? Venice? Athens? Maybe for some… but some of us would pick Dublin for a dream date on St. Valentine’s Day. Why? Well, aside from the chance to pick up lots of gorgeous Irish gifts, Dublin has a few spots that would be perfect places to celebrate romance. Or course, the city also offers a massive range of restaurants and pubs.
The weather in February is cold, but happily you’d find plenty shelter. You could start with a pint at the iconic Guinness Brewery at St. James’s Gate in Dublin city center. If you love stout, you’ll love touring Ireland’s most famous brewery and learning a bit about the history of Guinness. After the tour, you can enjoy an epic, panoramic view of the city from the Gravity Bar at the Guinness Storehouse. Sitting there with your beloved, you can’t help but feel on top of the world.
St. James’s Gate isn’t far from Kilmainham Gaol. Generally speaking, jails are not remotely romantic. But Kilmainham Gaol was the setting for a tragic and defiant wedding. After the Easter Rising, Joseph Plunkett was captured and imprisoned awaiting execution for his role in the rebellion. His fiancée, Grace Gifford, was also an ardent nationalist. She was brought to the prison, and the couple were wed at the prison chapel hours before Plunkett was executed. It’s a quintessentially Irish love story – equal parts beauty and tragedy with fierce loyalty at the heart of it. One of our most Irish gifts is the way our stories – true and fictional – combine beauty and tragedy.
Don’t Forget St. Valentine Himself
On St. Valentine’s Day, Dublin has one absolutely must-see spot. What could be more perfect that visiting a relic of St. Valentine himself? Whitefriar Church near St. Stephen’s Green is home to one of the saint’s relics. The Dublin church became home to some of St. Valentine’s relics in 1836, after a well-known Irish priest visited Rome. Carmelite Father John Spratt made such a good impression on Pope Gregory XVI that he sent the relic as a gift. After Father Spratt’s death, the relic was put into storage and largely forgotten.
In the 1950s, work began on a massive renovation project at the Whitefriar Church. The relics were rediscovered, and the church built a special shrine for them. Now, on St. Valentine’s Day, the relics are brought from their shrine to the main alter and venerated at three masses. With the focus on flowers and cards, it’s easy to forget that Valentine was an actual saint and his day is a religious feast day. And in Ireland, we like to make the most of a popular saint’s feast day.
Maybe a quick trip to Dublin for a St. Valentine Day’s date isn’t the most realistic idea, but it is fun to imagine. Wherever you are, you can put an Irish twist on the day. Have a pint of stout instead of a glass of wine and treat your beloved to Irish gifts instead of candy.