Ireland's feast day, St Patrick's Day, usually sees the country in full-on party mode, but the global challenges of COVID-19 have resulted in the cancellation of its usual celebrations and parades.

A deserted street in Temple Ba
The Temple Bar streets are normally thronged with people © Damian Byrne

Hundreds of thousands of visitors usually celebrate with locals at fun parades and dazzling events in cities and towns across the land, but these have all been cancelled this year.

A deserted street in Dublin
All of the pubs are now closed © Damian Byrne

The Irish and other nations across the world are self-isolating to try to prevent the illness from spreading, which means that gatherings can't go ahead to preserve social distancing.

The wall of Fame in Temple Bar
The Wall of Fame in Temple Bar © Damian Byrne

Temple Bar in Dublin is usually the epicentre of visitor activity, because it has many pubs and music venues that give an authentic Irish experience.

Grogan's pub on South William Street in Dublin
South William Street is normally full of locals and visitors © Damian Byrne

Its streets are now deserted and the venues are all closed for 14 days, which is unprecedented as they usually only close on Christmas Day.

Georges Street in Dublin
A quiet George's Street in Dublin © Norah Casey

The loud chatter and bustling of shoppers has been replaced by quiet chats and calm strollers on empty streets.

Grand Canal in Dublin
Grand Canal in Dublin © Frances Black

The St Patrick's Festival runs for five days every year, and its launch is traditionally viewed as the start of the Irish tourism season.

Lakeland Sligo.jpg
Nature at its finest in Sligo © Aubrey Styles

With safeguarding the health of all being more important than the national week of celebrations, the Irish Government decided to cancel the festivals and shut the pubs and clubs.

The GPO is deserted this year
The GPO is deserted this year © Anthony Remedy

Pictures taken today show the GPO on O'Connell Street deserted, although it is usually at the very centre of the Grand Parade.

Lakeland Sligo 2.jpg
Sligo is very beautiful today © Aubrey Styles

So while the atmosphere in Ireland on St Patrick's Day is different beyond imagination to any other year, the beauty of the country has come to the fore.

Grand Canal in Dublin
A still St Patrick's Day at Grand Canal © Frances Black

As Irish people are advised to self-isolate, many have taken to getting out in the fresh air for walks and hikes, while observing social distancing recommendations.

Lakelands in Terenure with a duck in the water
Wildlife in Terenure soothes the soul © Irene Stokes

The city streets are looking particularly attractive without traffic and crowds, as the fine architecture and colourful facades are getting an airing.

The lake at Lucan Demesne is very soothing
The natural beauty of Lucan Demesne is very soothing © Rosemary Wilson

As we are now in spring, flowers are beginning to bud, lambs are frolicking and birdsong is far more audible without the drone of traffic and noise.

A woman sitting on a rock in the Wicklow Hills
Walking in the Wickow Hills © Siobhan Neilan Diprose

Lonely Planet readers in Ireland have shared images taken today with us that show the country bathed in gorgeous light and a peaceful stillness.

The Blessington Street Basin in Dublin
The Blessington Street Basin in Dublin © Damian Byrne

It is certainly a different national feast day, because the traditional partying has been replaced by walks on beaches and quiet chats in forests and parks.

The daffodils are blooming in Kildare
The daffodils are blooming in Kildare © Aoife Scott

With much commercial activity temporarily suspended around the country, Ireland's natural beauty is playing a blinder at easing cabin fever and stress.

Pink skies in Thomastown in Kilkenny
Pink skies in Thomastown in Kilkenny © Mary Anderson

The country's buildings are doing their best to add a bit of festive cheer, and many castles and landmarks are illuminated in the colours of the national flag, including Belvelly Castle in Cork.

Belvelly Castle.jpg
Belvelly Castle is beautifully illuminated © Jonathan Lee

Locals and visitors are getting time to revel in nature, admire wildlife and explore areas of natural beauty that they may not have visited before.

The Phoenix Pak in Dublin
The Phoenix Park in Dublin © Norah Casey

And even though it's a worrying time, the Irish are maintaining their famous sense of humour and goodwill, and are doing what needs to be done to protect themselves and others.

The Kildare countryside
Kildare is looking lovely © Aoife Scott

The normal St Patrick's Day celebrations will hopefully be restored next year when the world recovers, but in the meantime, we can all enjoy the images of a calm and peaceful country that is steeped in natural loveliness and soul-soothing beauty.

Keep up to date with Lonely Planet's latest travel-related COVID-19 news here.

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