The August Bank Holiday in Ireland falls on the first Monday of August and is intended to provide a three-day weekend break for students and workers so they can enjoy the summer weather before the onset of autumn.
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Nearby Scotland also celebrates the August Bank Holiday at the same time as Ireland. In Ireland, the August Bank Holiday is often referred to as simply “August Holiday.”
The first Monday in August became a bank holiday in Ireland while the whole island was still under British rule. It was instituted by the 1871 United Kingdom Bank Holidays Act, which also designated Easter Monday, Whit Monday, and St. Stephen’s Day as bank holidays. Good Friday and Christmas were not added until 1939 because it was not at first considered necessary, given their already-established status. St. Patrick’s Day was added to the list of Irish bank holidays in 1903.
Many Irish take the opportunity that the August Bank Holiday provides to go on short in-Ireland vacations or to travel abroad. There are also many sports events going on this day, particularly horse races, and many get out to walk, bicycle, or otherwise get some fresh air and good exercise. Attending cultural events are a second major activity on August Holiday. Expect there to be art displays, music festivals, small local fairs, and agricultural exhibits.
You will find that not only banks, but also post offices, and many other businesses and public institutions shut down for the long weekend. However, there are usually plenty of shops still open, and pubs are open on all occasions in Ireland. Even what is open, however, will generally be open for fewer hours, and public transportation schedules will be affected.
Should you travel the Republic of Ireland during the August Holiday, some ideas on what to do include:
- Get out and go shop Dublin. You can expect there will be plenty of sales on, and you can walk the city’s gardens and parks on your way between shopping stops. Downtown, there is a plethora of shops, many of them the same as you would find in the UK. Some “uniquely Irish“ shops in the city center include: Avoca, Kilkenny Design, and House of Ireland. Also consider hitting the malls and relaxing during “breaks“ in an authentic Irish restaurant or pub.
- Take the whole family to the Dunmore East Adventure Centre, a summer camp institution in the cove-front village of Dunmore East. Activities run on a weekly schedule, so visiting for a full week gives you the most complete experience. There will be kayaking, sailing, canoeing, archery, orienteering, rock climbing, and more.
- Get away for a while to any of Ireland’s many beautiful beaches. Some of the best of them include: Cahore Beach in Wexford, Carrowmore Beach in Mayo, Rosses Point in Sligo, and Narin and Portnoo Beaches in the County Donegal. Many beaches are up against tiny coves with mountains hovering in the background, so enjoying the scenery is as important as feeling the sand and water.
- Visit Waterford, the oldest city in Ireland, which was founded by Vikings in A.D. 914. You can tour its three museums: the Viking Museum in a 12th-Century, mural-covered tower; the Medical Museum, with its Medieval choral hall and wine vault; and the Bishop’s Palace Museum, which has artifacts ranging in date from 1743 to the 1970’s.
Be aware that many are traveling to and from Ireland during August Holiday Weekend, so be sure to book your flight and accommodations well in advance.