Bank holidays in Northern Ireland typically follow those in England and Wales with an additional two thrown in for good measure. There are ten public holidays in Northern Ireland, eight in England and Wales, and nine in Scotland.
The two additional days are St. Patrick’s Day on 17 March and the Battle of the Boyne, or The Twelfth or Orangemen’s Day, on 12 July.
Strictly speaking a bank holiday is different from a public holiday but the term is used interchangeably. For more on the history of bank holidays in the UK click here.
The lists below show bank holiday dates for 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. Please note that days marked with an * are holidays taken in lieu of the actual day should it fall on a weekend.
Bank Holidays in Northern Ireland 2020
|1 Jan||Wed||New Year’s Day|
|17 Mar||Tue||St. Patrick’s Day|
|10 Apr||Fri||Good Friday|
|13 Apr||Mon||Easter Monday|
|4 May||Mon||Early May Bank Holiday|
|25 May||Mon||Spring Bank Holiday|
|13 Jul||Mon||Battle of the Boyne|
|31 Aug||Mon||Late Summer Bank Holiday|
|25 Dec||Fri||Christmas Day|
|28 Dec||Mon||Boxing Day|
Bank Holidays in Northern Ireland 2021
|1 Jan||Fri||New Year’s Day|
|17 Mar||Wed||St. Patrick’s day|
|2 Apr||Fri||Good Friday|
|5 Apr||Mon||Easter Monday|
|3 May||Mon||Early May Bank Holiday, May Day|
|31 May||Mon||Spring Bank Holiday|
|12 Jul||Mon||Battle of the Boyne|
|30 Aug||Mon||Late Summer August Bank Holiday|
|27 Dec*||Mon||Christmas Day|
|28 Dec*||Tue||Boxing Day|
Bank Holidays in Northern Ireland 2022
|3 Jan*||Mon||New Year’s Day|
|17 Mar||Thu||St. Patrick’s Day|
|15 Apr||Fri||Good Friday|
|18 Apr||Mon||Easter Monday|
|2 May||Mon||Early May Bank Holiday|
|30 May||Mon||Spring Bank Holiday|
|12 Jul||Tue||Battle of the Boyne|
|29 Aug||Mon||Late Summer August Bank Holiday|
|26 Dec*||Mon||Christmas Day|
|27 Dec*||Tue||Boxing Day|
Bank Holidays in Northern Ireland 2023
|2 Jan*||Mon||New Year’s Day|
|17 Mar||Fri||St. Patrick’s Day|
|7 Apr||Fri||Good Friday|
|10 Apr||Mon||Easter Monday|
|1 May||Mon||Early May Bank Holiday|
|29 May||Mon||Spring Bank Holiday|
|12 Jul||Wed||Battle of the Boyne|
|28 Aug||Mon||Late Summer August Bank Holiday|
|25 Dec||Mon||Christmas Day|
|26 Dec||Tues||Boxing Day|
St. Patrick’s Day Bank Holiday
Bank holidays in the UK only came into existence in 1871 with the passing of the Bank Holidays Act of 1871 when four days were designated as ‘days off’. For a definitive guide on bank holidays in the UK click here.
In 1903 the Bank Holiday (Ireland) Act added 17 March, St. Patrick’s Day, to the calendar.
In 1971 the Banking and Financial Dealings Act became law and gave us the full calendar of bank holidays that we enjoy today. St. Patrick’s Day remained a bank holiday after Irish independence.
The Battle of the Boyne Bank Holiday
The Battle of the Boyne was a significant battle in Irish history that took place on the banks of the Boyne river in Drogheda on the east coast of Ireland, north of Dublin, between the recently deposed King James II of England and newly appointed King William III (William of Orange of Holland) on 1 July 1690.
King James of England, Scotland and Ireland was a Catholic and had been deposed of the throne in 1688. Upon being exiled to France he returned to Catholic Ireland as a backdoor route to regaining the kingdom and was backed by King Louis XIV of France, the most powerful nation in Europe at the time.
Protestant William on the other hand had to defend his new crown and at the same time needed to stop Louis’ drive through Europe.
In an odd twist Pope Alexander VII (clearly a Catholic) backed William as part of the ‘Grand Alliance’ against the warring, rampant (Catholic) French.
William won the battle and to this day the holiday is still celebrated, but only in Northern Ireland which is part of the UK and has a large Protestant community. It is not celebrated in Eire, or the Republic of Ireland, which is predominantly Catholic.
Change of Dates
Although the battle was fought on 1 July it changed to 12 July with the change from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar in 1752.
According to the BBC: “There is some dispute over whether celebrating on 12 July is simply the result of a slight historical miscalculation, or a case of the Battle of the Boyne replacing the Battle of Aughrim (another important battle in the Williamite War which took place on 12 July in the Julian calendar) as the focus of commemoration. Either way, William’s victory at the Battle of the Boyne has been celebrated on 12 July for over 200 years.”
The Orangemen’s Day bank holiday is proclaimed by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. If July 12 falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the holiday moves to Monday July 13 or 14.
St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations
The victory is still marked today in Northern Ireland with Orange Order (Protestant) marches which have on many occasions been controversial.