Ireland is one of the most awe-inspiring places, with many interesting things to learn and see.
Ireland has so much to offer, from its rich history and world records to sights for sore eyes. Today, we look at 17 interesting facts to know about Ireland.
These are things that uniquely define the Irish and add flavour to the rest of the world.
17. St. Patrick’s Day and Halloween originated in Ireland – a rich cultural history
One of the most interesting facts to know about Ireland concerns our rich cultural history and influence on the rest of the world.
Although an essential part of American culture today, both Halloween and St Patrick’s Day come from Ireland. Irish immigrants brought these ideas to the United States and other parts of the world during the great famine when millions left Ireland.
Traditionally, the Irish community celebrated St Patrick’s Day to commemorate the patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick. It was a Roman Catholic tradition involving a day of prayers in the church.
As for Halloween, it can be traced back 2,000 years to the Celts. It featured bonfires and costumes meant to scare ghosts.
16. Saint Patrick wasn’t from Ireland – a shocking fact
Despite being widely associated with Ireland, Saint Patrick was actually of Welsh origin. He arrived in Ireland as a captured slave. He later returned to the country as a missionary to help spread Christianity.
15. There are more Irishmen outside Ireland than within the borders – the impact of Irish emigration
The Irish believe in going away from home to seek greener pastures.
Although the Irish population in the country is only about five million, it is estimated that there are 70 million people with Irish roots around the world. About 10% of Australia (two million people) and over 35 million Americans have Irish ancestry.
14. 18% of the Irish population are not native Irish – people love the Emerald Isle
Since Ireland joined the EU and Dublin became a technological hub, Ireland’s foreign population has risen from 2% to 18% in two decades. Approximately one out of every five people in the cosmopolitan city of Dublin are not native Irish.
13. The oldest yacht club in the world is in Ireland – sailing the Irish seas
Founded in 1720, the Royal Cork Yacht Club is believed to be the oldest in the world. It organizes Cork Week, the largest sailing event in Ireland.
Sailors and boats from around the globe meet in Ireland every two years to attend Cork Week.
12. 22 American presidents had Irish roots – the Irish American influence
Almost half of the 45 United States presidents are of Irish origin. The list includes JFK, Reagan, and Nixon.
11. The Titanic’s last port of call was Cobh, Ireland – home to its very own Titanic museum
Constructed in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by 15,000 workers, the Titanic was a magnificent ship that set sail for America from Southampton, England. However, it stopped by Cobh in County Cork, Ireland, before its fate-ill journey came to an end.
Most tourists go to Belfast to commemorate the Titanic, but the small town in Cork has the ship’s memorabilia – like The Titanic Museum and statues in honour of the dead.
10. Casinos are prohibited in Ireland – a law with many loopholes
According to Ireland’s Gambling and Lotteries Act of 1956, casinos as such are not permitted. However, a loophole in the legislation allows for members-only gambling clubs.
A loophole also exists in the case of online gambling – anyone with an internet connection can play. A few sites are registered in the country, and there are many online casinos for Irish players, including those with offshore licenses.
9. The official Irish symbol is a harp – the only country whose national symbol is a musical instrument
One of the most interesting facts to know about Ireland is about the country’s national symbol.
The three most recognized Irish symbols are the Celtic Cross, the green Shamrock, and the harp. However, the harp is the country’s official symbol. Ireland is the only country that uses a musical instrument for its national symbol.
Trinity College in Dublin, which dates back to the 1400s, is home to the oldest harps, including the original one used for the symbol.
8. Ireland has the most Eurovision song contest wins – Eurovision champions
Eurovision started in 1956, making it one of the oldest music contests in the world.
Ireland has won an astonishing seven times (1970, 1980, 1987, 1992, 1993, 1994, and 1996).
7. Ireland has no snakes – a fascinating myth
A few rare places in the world have no snakes, most notably Hawaii and Ireland. Legend has it that St Patrick banished them to the sea, but scientists have a different opinion.
They believe that Ireland was cut off from the mainland during the Ice Age when there were no cold-blooded reptiles.
6. Newgrange is older than Stonehenge and the Pyramid of Giza – an ancient monument
Classified as an ancient temple or a passage tomb, the 5,000year-old Newgrange in County Meath, Ireland, is older than most ancient sites we know, including the Pyramid of Giza and Stonehenge.
5. Muckanaghederdauhaulia is the longest English place name – can you pronounce it?
A small Irish village in Connemara, County Galway, boasts the longest place name in English. The 22-letter name resembles a tongue twister!
Translated, it means “ridge shaped like a pig’s back”.
4. The Wild Atlantic Way is the longest of its kind – the world’s longest coastal drive
At 2,500 km, the Wild Atlantic Way is the world’s longest drive along a coast. The stunning road begins in the cliffs at County Donegal in the far north, passes through three provinces and nine counties, and ends in the beaches of County Cork.
3. The famous Cliffs of Moher appear in several popular movies – a Hollywood set
The stunning Cliffs of Moher feature in many movies, including The Mackintosh Man and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
2. Ireland gets wet summers – not ideal for sunbathing
Ever heard of the saying “it’s always raining in Ireland”? Well, it is not far-fetched.
Ireland has one of the wettest climates in the EU. Sometimes even the summers are a bit rainy. For instance, in 2007, it rained in Ireland for 40 days during summer.
1. Ireland is also known as Emerald Isle – a beautiful nickname
One of the most interesting facts to know about Ireland concerns its beautiful nickname.
Ireland’s gets this nickname due to its unique landscapes and climate that result in rocky shores and green, hilly terrains. Many liken its beauty to a jewel, hence the Emerald Isle.
The list of interesting facts about Ireland and the Irishmen could go on for hundreds of pages. The country makes for an excellent destination for anyone into sightseeing, learning history, having a good time or “craic”, as they call it on the ground.