The 10 Countries Around The World Most Influenced By Ireland

The people of Ireland have had their fair share of ups and downs over the years.

From the Great Famine to the Troubles in the North, the Irish are often acknowledged for their steely determination and a strong sense of ‘fight.’

But despite an innate instinct to defend and protect people and land, the Irish have a soft side, an inner peace deeply connected with the elements.

An appreciation of rugged landscapes and the natural instinct of wildlife often lend a sense of acceptance to the people of Ireland that has been gracefully accepted across the world.

In this article we highlight ten of the most significant countries that have been inspired by the Emerald Isle, leaving Irish traditions, culture and passion trickling far beyond the source.

10. Argentina

Buenos Aires

Millions of Irish immigrants set sail during the 18th century in search of a better life for their families.

From the West of Ireland, they travelled across the Atlantic with many settling on America’s East Coast.

Private settlement schemes at the time also offered opportunities further afield, and more than 50,000 Irish people are believed to have arrived in Buenos Aires to work as farmers and ranchers.

But one man had more than farming skills to offer. Miguel O’Gorman, a doctor from Ennis, Co. Clare arrived on Argentinian soil with hope not only for himself but also for the people of his new home.

He set up the first medical school in Buenos Aires in 1801 and is still referred to as the founder of modern medicine in Argentina.

9. China

After more than 40 years of economic growth, it has been argued that China could rise as the next Superpower country, overtaking the United States of America.

Not only is it one of the world’s top trading countries with most toys wearing the ‘Made in China’ stamp, but it is also one of the fastest growing technological hubs. 

But where did it all start? Well, believe it or not, China’s revolutionary turn happened in Shannon airport, Co. Clare.

In 1959 Brendan O’Regan, locally known as ‘Bash on Regardless’ rescued the small rural town in the West of Ireland from financial collapse by opening a small FreeZone beside Shannon airport.

Providing companies tax breaks on imported goods the initiative literally began to “pull the aeroplanes out of the sky”, giving the country a well-earned boost and putting Shannon firmly back on the map.

In 1980 Jiang Zemin, a Chinese customs official who would later become China’s President took a training course as Shannon’s Industrial Free Zone.

Shenzhen SEZ, China’s first Special Economic Zone, opened the same year, saving the country’s economy and catapulting China into a financial boom. 

8. Mexico

Most of us are familiar with the fictional character Zorro. A Spanish ‘Fox’ with Robin Hood traits, a quick sword and an even quicker horse called Tornado.

Well, guess what? Rumour has it the suave character Zorro was based on a guy called William Lamport from Co. Wexford.

Lamport arrived in Mexico representing the Spanish Court in the 1630s but was soon caught by the Spanish Inquisition. He escaped for a while before being recaptured and burnt at the stake for heresy.

His story inspired not only his Mexican brothers but also millions of Zorro fans for years after.

7. Paraguay

In 1843 Eliza Lynch arrived in Paris at the age of 10 after fleeing the Irish famine with her family.

Eleven years later the pretty girl from Cork caught the eye of General Francisco Solano Lopez, the President of Paraguay’s son.

Despite never marrying, the happy couple returned to Lopez’s homeland, and Lynch became the unofficial Queen of Paraguay.

Eliza Lynch

But times took a turn for the worse, and the couple spent the next few years in the throws of the Paraguayan War during which Lynch was often accused of being the driving force behind her dictatorial partner.

It was more than 100 years later before the feisty Corkonian woman was celebrated as an iconic figure of Paraguay and her body was laid to rest in the country she had shown such loyalty to decades before.   

6. Jamaica

The Irish first began inspiring the Jamaicans more than 400 years ago when the British Empire colonised the Caribbean island, taking it from Spain.

In an attempt to populate Jamaica the English began deporting many petty criminals including women, men and children, a lot of them being Irish.

But the pale-skinned Irish suffered terribly in the hot Jamaican sun, and many died of heat-related illness.

The ruling English were accused of working people too hard in the Caribbean elements, many of them children.

Generations later, Jamaica not only has towns with Irish names, including Sligoville and Dublin Castle, but it also has 25 per cent of its population with claims of Irish ancestry.

And if you listen closely to a Jamaican accent, you are sure to hear tones and words very similar to what you might hear in Dublin city on a busy Saturday afternoon. They even have their own Guinness!

5. South Africa

Ireland and South Africa have maintained a secure bond since the 1800s.

Irish missionaries first travelled to South Africa more than 150 years ago and have been working tirelessly in education and health provisions ever since.

The Irish government strongly opposed apartheid in South Africa and in 1988 Ireland became a source of strength by awarding Nelson Mandela the Freedom of the City of Dublin while he was a political prisoner.

To this day Ireland remains a close friend to South Africa and one of the country’s most important trading partner.

4. Tanzania

Ireland and Tanzania have a very positive connection that has been strengthened over the years through politics, missionary work and trade.

Irish Aid has helped Tanzania, among other countries, with educational development as well as poverty-related problems.

With an area more than 10 times the size of the Emerald Isle, many of the vast rural communities of this East African country experience crippling poverty.

Since 1979 Irish Aid has worked with the people of Tanzania to educate, empower and inspire parents on how to nourish and sustain their young families with a view to boost and maintain health among the next generation.

3. India

Ireland and India have fought a very similar fight against the British Empire, leaving the two countries with mutual respect for each other.

Leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru and Eamon de Valera are said to have drawn inspiration and support from each other during their similar struggles for independence with the Constitution of India strongly resembling the fundamental laws of Ireland.

The Indian flag is also evidence of the alliance between the two countries. The Irish tricolour’s green, white and orange represents the Catholics and Protestants of Ireland and the peace between the two.

While the India flag has the same colours in a different sequence of saffron, white and green representing courage, peace and faith respectively.

It also has a traditional spinning wheel in the middle to represent the Indian people’s skill in making their own clothes.

2. England

There is no denying the English and the Irish have a somewhat murky history and yet, if you look a bit closer, England is generously doused with a good dollop of Irish influence.

From architecture to construction, cities across England boast a wealth of buildings and communities built solely by the Irish.

In September 1945 the Second World War ended, leaving a trail of destruction behind.

London was left in ruins and communities devastated. But hope was not lost and Irish immigrants arrived in their droves to rebuild the city.

Irish communities in areas like Kilburn and Camden emerged stronger than ever and brought London back to life brick by brick.

Generations on and Irish traditions and culture still play an influential role in the U.K.

1. America

C: Gavin Whitner (Flickr)

America is arguably the country most inspired by the Irish. With more than 30 million Irish-Americans living in the U.S., it is easy to find an Irish influence around most corners.

From Irish pubs to celebratory parades on Saint Patrick’s Day, it is clear how ‘Irish’ many Americans are.

And not only are the Americans proud of their Irish ancestry but they are often inspired to explore their heritage for themselves.

Almost 2 million Americans visited the Emerald Isle last year, playing a vital role in the Irish tourist industry.

Visit any traditional Irish shop or lively pub during the summer months in Ireland and you are sure to hear an American accent relaying how they are connected to the area.

And if that isn’t inspiration enough to have a seat and enjoy a pint with our American friends then what is?

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Erika Sanger is a journalist who has written for a range of news hubs across the globe. Born and bred in Dublin there is nothing she enjoys more than writing about her homeland. Her heart lies in the fishing village of Howth on the North side of the capital but she can often be found in the West of Ireland indulging her fascination with the Wild Atlantic Way and her soft spot for Connemara ponies.