Monday Holidays: Ireland 6, USA 0

I promised in my first post to write about areas where we Americans might consider doing things ‘the Irish way.’ Given The Economist has now reported that Ireland has the highest quality of life in the world – well ahead of our thirteenth place finish – I should get started!

One area where Ireland beats the USA hands down is on Monday holidays. Other than Memorial and Labor days, all other Monday American holidays (Martin Luther King, Presidents, Patriots, Columbus, Veterans, etc.) are not universally celebrated by government and business. Rather than making for a long weekend with family and friends, American Monday holidays have become juggling acts, where kids are out of school yet many parents are required to work. And for those Americans working in retail there never seems to be a holiday break.

In Ireland, Monday holiday weekends are true long weekends for virtually everyone in the country, including those working in retail. Six times a year Ireland has what is called a ‘Bank Holiday Weekend’ with Monday the holiday. These weekends are better than the ‘long holiday weekend’ in the States because……most everyone gets off the entire weekend, including the Saturday. Outside of retail, everything is closed on all three days. In retail, shops that are usually closed on Sundays but open on Saturdays – car dealerships, hair dressers, dry cleaners, opticians, florists, bicycle shop, sporting goods stores, kitchen stores, etc. – not only close on the Monday holiday but also close on the Saturday of these six weekends, making for a full three day shut down.

There is joy and excitement in the air all weekend long because virtually everyone in the country is enjoying three days off.

In the States, the local retailer in pursuit of the almighty dollar would consider the long weekend an opportunity to do extra business. In Ireland the not-so-mighty Euro plays second fiddle to the almighty holiday.

We Americans would be better off if all businesses – including retail – were closed for a three day weekend six times a year.


Here’s why these holiday’s are called ‘Bank Holidays’ instead of descriptive names like President’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, etc. For centuries, there used to be literally dozens of holidays celebrated by different localities around the UK, of which Ireland was then a part. Most holidays were named after the Saints of choice for that locality. Banks, being good local citizens, closed on all of these many local holidays, making inter-city banking commerce difficult. Some 100 years ago, in order to arrive at a consistent holiday schedule throughout the entire UK, the government established six Monday holidays – and all in months with decent weather! And in one of the earliest demonstration of ‘political correctness’, the holidays were not give Saint names but were simply called ‘Bank Holidays’ so as not to offend the followers of any particular saint.

5 Responses to “Monday Holidays: Ireland 6, USA 0”

  1. David Chastain Says:

    Hi Des,

    So, I should have known that it would be transparent to you whether I’d visited your blog, but I didn’t. It’s one of those things that I save for later, and later never seems to arrive. The Dublin Reports didn’t fall into that category, though. When one arrived, I’d print it and stick it in my briefcase to read at home, aloud to Anne, while she cooked dinner. It was way more fun to do that than stealing five minutes and reading on screen.

    So, I’ll try to find some time to read these as they come. From your note to Anne I infer that there’s some way to set up to get a notice when a new entry appears on your blog, but I’m not seeing how to do that.

    Regarding bank holidays, about the only events that similarly shut down life and commerce in the US are snowstorms and hurricanes. Isn’t that sad? I wonder if in Ireland bank holidays are preceeded by a buying sprees of batteries and bottled water, as storms are here.


  2. Change Agent Says:

    […] holidays there today are still like holidays were here when I was a kid; as noted in an earlier blog, in Ireland holidays are a day off for most […]

  3. Columbus Day Weekend; Another Three-Day Holiday Weekend Wasted By So Many Americans « Change Agent Says:

    […] Day Weekend; Another Three-Day Holiday Weekend Wasted By So Many Americans In an earlier post I related how the Irish enjoy three-day holiday weekends so much better than we Americans. In […]

  4. Steve Says:

    Hi David

    Strangely enough, supermarkets are normally packed before a bank holiday and people seem to behave as if the shops will be closed for a week! Not sure about batteries and bottled water though,


  5. What I Miss About Ireland | Change Agent Says:

    […] Monday Holidays: A perfect example of that better work / family / friends balance is the Irish Bank Holiday Weekend held six times a year, discussed in a January post. […]

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