Curious about Ireland? Don’t worry, I’ve got something that will satisfy your curiousity. I might be a little bit biased but for me, Ireland is one of the greatest countries in the world. It is steeped in heritage and history, music and culture, nature and social scenes.
It’s a great country if you like the outdoors and hiking. But these are all things that most people associate with Ireland; so how about these crazy facts that you probably didn’t know! Let’s get into it!
1. St. Patrick Wasn’t Irish
St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland was actually born in Wales in the late 4th century. While many people think he grew up in Ireland, he was actually kidnapped at the age of 16 and taken to Ireland as a slave. He escaped but returned in the year 432 to convert the Irish to Christianity.
2. The Irish Invented the Guillotine
The majority of people attribute the guillotine to the French, but there is evidence of it being used in Ireland almost 500 years before it made its way to France. A man named Murcod Ballagh seemingly used it for an execution near Merton in Co Galway on 1 April 1307.
3. Almost 100 Million Irish People Living Outside of Ireland
It’s often joked that no matter where you are in the world, you’re bound to still find an Irish bar if you look hard enough and that’s because, with our long history of emigration from the island itself, Irish people have travelled far and wide to every end of the globe. There’s an estimated 70-80 million people with Irish heritage living across the globe. Crazy right?
4. Wild Atlantic Way is the Longest Coastal Driving Route in the World
The Wild Atlantic Way, 1600 miles (2600 km) in length, is the longest defined coastal driving route in the world. It winds its way all along the Irish west coast from the Inishowen Peninsula in the north down to the picturesque town of Kinsale, County Cork, in the south. If you’re undertaking the 1600 mile drive, I would recommend giving yourself the time to take it all in and thus setting aside 3 weeks to complete this coastal vision.
When you’re planning your trip to Wild Atlantic Way, make sure you’ve got motor insurance (if you drive a car) and travel insurance before you go. Travel insurance is a worthy investment for its potential to help reimburse you for thousands of euro in case of hospitalization, flight cancellation or emergency evacuation. You can find and compare cheap travel insurance quotes from The AA Insurance company offers a wide range of insurance policies for holidays and trips of all types.
5. English is not the first language of Ireland
Contrary to popular belief, English is not the first language in Ireland. Irish Gaelic is recognised as the first official language of the Republic of Ireland. While English is more commonly used, around 30% of the population are able to speak Irish, and 5% use it regularly. If you visit Ireland you’ll see the Irish language on all public transport signs and government documents.
6. The Irish flag was Inspired by the French
The Irish flag was inspired by the French flag when it was designed by Thomas Francis Meagher. Its three equal stripes illustrate the Irish political landscape as accurately today as in 1848, the year the flag was first unfurled. Orange — standing for Irish Protestants. Green — signifying Irish Catholics and the republican cause. White — representing the hope for peace between them.
7. Gay Marriage is Legal in Ireland
It has often been said that Ireland, despite its small population, has a large cultural global footprint. This has proven true under the umbrella of same sex marriage. Same-sex marriage in the Republic of Ireland has been legal since 16 November 2015. Ireland was therefore the first country in the world to legalise gay marriage. Here is good post on LGBTQIA travel guide in Ireland for your information.
8. The Shamrock is Not the National Symbol of Ireland
Although things like the shamrock, green fields and even leprechauns are heavily associated with Ireland, the harp is the official emblem of Ireland. It is quite unique to have a musical instrument used as a symbol to represent a country. Dating back to medieval times, the harp was at the epicentre of Irish society until its decline at the end of the 19th century. It is still seen on government documents and has a fond place in the hearts of the Irish people.
9. Wet Summers Are No Myth
I’d advise packing more than shorts and t-shirts for your trip to Ireland. Rainfall is the most common form of precipitation on the island, and is extremely common throughout the country. Particularly along the west coast which can receive over four times as much rain as the east coast. Of all the countries in Europe, we have one of the wettest climates. In the summer of 2007, it even rained consistently for over 40 days. Bring your jacket!
10. Halloween Originated in Ireland
Halloween is a holiday celebrated each year on October 31, and Halloween 2020 occurs on Saturday, October 31. But did you know that the tradition originated in Ireland with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts?
11. Ireland is Home to the Oldest Yacht Club in the World
The Royal Cork Yacht Club is a claimant to the title of the world’s oldest yacht club, founded in 1720. It is presently located in Crosshaven, Co. Cork, Ireland and it is still thriving today. If sailing is your passion, Cork might just be the county for you.
12. The Number of Pubs in Ireland Might Surprise You
The nightlife and pub scene in Ireland is one of its biggest attractions. Dublin, the capital city of Ireland, incredibly has one pub for every 1,000 people living in the city. As a country, Ireland is home to 7,193 pubs in total, as well as 3,161 off-licences, 2,406 restaurants and 983 hotels, according to a new report by the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI). So it’s a fantastic country for tourism!
13. U2 was formed in Dublin, Ireland in 1976
The band was formed after Larry Mullen (then 14 years old) posted a note on his school’s notice board in search of musicians for a new band. 6 people responded and met at his house. Mullen was on drums, Bono was on vocals, David Evans (The Edge) and Dik Evans (his brother) were on guitar, Adam Clayton was on bass and two other friends (Ivan McCormick and Peter Martin) were there too.
14. The Cranberries was formed in Limerick, Ireland in 1989
The band was formed by lead singer Niall Quinn, guitarist Noel Hogan, bassist Mike Hogan, and drummer Fergal Lawler. Quinn was replaced as lead singer by Dolores O’Riordan in 1990.
15. Most Irish people believe that fairies exist
In their culture, fairies have magical powers and bring happiness and great things to families.
16. There are more than 30.000 castles and ruins on the island
Castles are scattered across the island in vast amounts, and numbers point to a total of 30.000 castles and ruin. Some of the castles are open for tourists to stay in, and in some cases, it’s even possible to rent the whole castle!
17. Only about 9% of people in Ireland have natural red hair
Irish people are commonly associated with having red hair, very light skin and freckles, but that’s actually just a stereotype. While the average percentage of people with natural red hair is higher here than in any other place on Earth, it’s still only 9%.
18. The stunning Cliffs of Moher have been featured in 3 movies
The stunning cliffs (which are located at the South Western edge of the Burren region in County Clare) can be seen in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, Princess Bride, and The Mackintosh Man.
19. The oldest working lighthouse in world is in Ireland
Hook Lighthouse is situated on Hook Head at the tip of the Hook Peninsula in County Wexford. it has been in use since 1200 AD.
20. The country has the longest running talk show in the world
The Late Late Show started in 1965 and has only had 3 different presenters since its start.
Well, there you have it, 20 crazy facts that you might not have known about Ireland. If I left anything important out, feel free to comment below and let me know what I left out.
Watch this space for updates in the Facts category on Running Wolf’s Rant.