A place that hides the oldest bar in the world, nicknames their neighbours “goatsuckers”, went through mustache prohibition and features Obama as a descendant, can only trigger curiosity. This place is Ireland.
With over 12,000 years of age and a story that showcases Celtic mystical rituals, fairies coming through mysterious gateways, Vikings seafarers and centuries of Kingship; Ireland is not only an interesting country, it is also a very surprising one, and here are 60 reasons why:
#1 – Muckanaghederdauhaulia?
Muckanaghederdauhaulia is the longest location name. It means “pig shaped hill between two seas.” Illaungraffanavrankagh, Corragunnagalliaghdoo Island and Newtownmoneenluggagh are others
#2 – Meaning Behind The “Emerald Isle”
Ireland is known as the Emerald Isle. The lush green hills and valleys are responsible for this appellation. Its name first appeared in “When Erin First Rose,” a poem written by Drennan in 1795. The country is also more formally known as Eire.
#3 – When Moustache was Illegal
Under the English Rule, in 1457, moustaches and beard were illegal in Ireland. It happened again in Galway in 1523. The bill stated a man wasn’t a good citizen ‘unlesse he can speche the Englishe tonge and shave[s] his upper lipe wickly’.
#4 The Essence of the Irish Flag
The Irish flag was first used in 1848 during the Young Irelander Rebellion. The green represents both the Irish Catholics and Republicanism. The Orange colour symbolises the Protestant minority (and is a way to show inclusion). The white illustrates a permanent truce between the two hues.
#5 When Starvation leads to Exodus
2 million Irish people fled the ‘Great Hunger’ (1845-1848) and left for America, and 1 million died from famine. Indeed, an ailment called “Potato Blight” led to several crop failures and the destruction of the edible tuber.
#6 Irish in the World
There are 80 million emigrants with Irish descent together with 34 million in the United States.
Both Northern and Southern Ireland have a total population of 6.6 million people. Urban Dublin encompasses over 1/5th of the island citizens with 1,173,179 inhabitants.
#7 7000 year-old citizens
Due to its climate, Ireland was inhabited for over 7000 years. The first hunter-gatherers arrived around 7,000 to 8,000 BC.
#8 Dublin’s makers
The Vikings founded the city of Dublin in 988.
#9 Main Religion
Over 80% of the national residents are Roman Catholics.
#10 A Goidelic Language
Irish Gaelic is the official language in Ireland alongside with English. It is spoken on a day-to-day basis by 73,803 locals (excluding the academic system), and 1.2 million are also confident of their ability to express it.
#11 National Symbols
The harp is Ireland’s national symbol and is also engraved on the Eire euro coin. The Shamrock and the Celtic cross are the two other essential emblems. The government was not the first to use the instrument as a symbolism; Guinness did.
#12 Guinness’ Figures
The Guinness Brewery signed a 9,000-year lease of 45 old Irish Pound for St. James’s Gate and produces 3 million pints every day. It is the worldwide stout leader with Nigeria being their 2nd most significant market.
#13 Who was Saint Patrick?
Saint Patrick is not only Ireland’s Patron Saint, but it is also Nigeria’s. He was not Irish but British and was kidnapped by pirates and brought to Ireland where he first served as a shepherd.
#14 A Dreamland for Ophidiophobics
Ireland is a snake-free isle. St. Patrick is claimed to be the one chasing them out. Science reveals that there has never been a single trace of the reptile in the country.
#15 More than a Last Name
Many Irish family surnames start with “Mac” which signifies “son (of)” or “O'”, “grandson (of)” in Gaelic. O’Sullivan is the 3rd most common last name and means “dark-eyed.”
#16 Red Hair Never Grow Old
9% of the Irish natives are Natural redheads. The nation is ranked 2nd after Scotland (13%). Did you know that a red hair never shifts to grey?
#17 More than 30,000 Pieces of History
There are over 30,000 castles and ruins. Trim, a 12-century castle, is the oldest one. The structure was built on an area of 30,000m². Its construction took thirty years.
#18 The Earliest Active Lighthouse Worldwide
The Hook Lighthouse was built in the 13th century. It is the oldest one still running internationally. The structure was constructed by William Marshall, to assure protection and growth to the shipping trade.
#19 The Oldest Bar in the World
Sean’s bar, in Athlone, is the oldest bar in the world. The establishment has been pouring the brew for more than 1100 years.
#20 A Map from the New Stone Age
Knowth hides the oldest lunar map. This Neolithic moon was sculpted over 5 millenaries ago.
#21 Two of the World’s Eldest Educational Institutions
The Medieval University of Dublin was the first that was established in the country. Its construction dates back to 1311 but disappeared years after its abandonment. Trinity College is the oldest university remaining and still operational. It was built by Queen Elizabeth I in 1592.
#22 A 5,000 Year-Old Passage Tomb
Newgrange is the world’s oldest ‘solar observatory’ and is Ireland’s eldest architecture. The site is older than the Giza Pyramids.
#23 First Yacht Club in the Globe
Royal Cork Yacht Club is the earliest yacht club in the planet. It was founded in 1720.
#24 The Biggest Neolithic Spot Ever
Céide Fields is the most extensive Stone Age site in the world.
#25 Ireland Highest Peak
Corrán Tuathail is the island’s highest mountain, with a peak at 1038.6 metres.
#26 And the Oscar Goes to…
Cedric Gibbons, a Dubliner who immigrated to the US, is the Oscar Award’s designer. Besides creating the iconic statuette, he also won the prize 11 times. He is the 2nd biggest winner after Walt Disney.
#27 The White House is Irish
The White House was designed by James Hoban, an Irish architect, in 1792.
#28 USA, an Irish Nation?
Both Muhammad Ali and Barack Obama have some Irish blood. The latter’s ancestor was born in Moneygall, back in 1850. The famous boxer has heritage from Ennis descendant. Historians state that 40% of American president have Irish blood.
#29 A Hospital Caring since 1745
Rotunda Hospital Maternity has been continuously nursing since 1745. It is the world longest uninterrupted running medical institution.
#30 Need an Eyesight Correction? You might be Irish…
Almost 2/3 of the Irish population has an eye problem: 56% of Irish people wear glasses when 8% use contacts.
#31 Mary Ward, a Tragic Leader
The first person ever killed in a road accident is Mary Ward, an Irish woman.
#32 Sheath Bootleg
Contraceptives used to be banned in Ireland, so locals were smuggling condoms. Abortion was also illegitimate until May 2018 referendum. Over 60% voted for a change.
#33 You May Kiss the Bride
Before the 1920s, marriage was official when a man and woman walked towards each other in Teltown, on Saint Brigid’s Day. Paradoxically, to declare a divorce, the couple had to head back to their wedding spot and merely walk away.
#34 A Marriage has No Shortcuts
A wedding tradition is to always drive the longest route on the way back from church to home.
#35 Ireland, A Mind-Opener
The Republic of Ireland is the first country legalising same-sex marriage by public vote with 62% of the elector voting ‘for’.
#36 Showing Grief, a Form of Release
“Keening” is part of Irish funeral culture. Mournful crying and affection are expressed for hours to the departed.
#37 Leprechauns Do Exist
“If a Leprechaun calls at your door, you must give a portion of your dinner” states the Irish Law. The Leprechauns are tiny creatures. They enjoy shoe-making and always carry a golden pot where they stock their gold. 1/3rd of Irish people believe in their existence.
#38 A Drink Worth every Cent
No Happy hours in Ireland. Indeed, the law forbids the few hour discounts.
#39 Grandma’s Hangover Remedy
A famous hangover cure is to be buried up until the neck with wet river sand.
#40 The Mythical Richard Daly
The legend says that the word ‘quiz’ was invented by Richard Daly, a theater owner. He bet that he could create a word and make it famous all over the city in two days.
#41 Tea and Ireland: a 300 Year-Old Love Story
Irish are the biggest tea consumers per capita in Europe, with 3.2 cups/day. They are the third worldwide, after Turkey (7.54 cups/day) and Morocco (4.34 cups/day).
#42 Made in Ireland
25% of computers in Europe are from Ireland. The Country is one of the most prominent leaders in software export with 97% of local manufacture sold internationally.
#43 The Most Extensive Informal Gatherings
The country records 1436 people gathered in a nun attire, and 574 people gathered dressed as The Incredible Hulk. Both are the world highest numbers.
#44 A Show Born in 1961
The ‘late late show,’ an Irish talk show, has been screened since 1961. It is the longest-lasting uninterrupted production in the world.
#45 Dave Brown, a Passionate Guitarist
Temple bar was the stage of Dave Brown, known for playing the guitar for over 114 hours. He had a 5-minute break every hour, an intermission of max 30 seconds between songs, and never with twice the same song in 4 hours.
#46 The Keoghs, the Leap Specialists
The Irish Keogh family managed to give birth to one child during a leap for 3 generations in a row!
#47 John Tyndall, an Eminent Physicist
Both Tyndall and Greenhouse effects were discovered by John Tyndall, an Irish physicist.
#48 A Pint Through a Hole
“Hole in the Wall” is the longest pub in Ireland. The building got its name from an ancient centenarian tradition. The hole in the wall was used to serve beer to the British soldiers who were not allowed to leave Phoenix Park.
#49 A Bumpy Birthday Culture
An Irish birthday tradition is to gently “bump” the head of a child on the ground for good luck, by holding him upside down.
#50 Ireland, Halloween Homeland
Halloween is Irish. Its origin derives from the Samhain Festivity; a Celtic celebration of the end of the agrarian period. On the eve night of the observance, it is expected that the dead would be back to haunt the living beings. A massive fire was lit to scare them off, and people would wear costumes as trickery
#51 Dracula is Irish
Dracula was written by Bram Stoker, an Irish author, in 1897. His estate can be visited in the capital city.
#52 Louth’ Particularity
Louth is the smallest county of the country with a size of 820km2.
#53 River Shannon, More than a Waterway
River Shannon is the longest in the country with 259km from County Cavan to the Atlantic Ocean.
#54 Love and Respect for Goatsuckers
Wicklow people were called “goatsuckers” by Dubliners. Each county in Ireland has a nickname. Roscommon is known as the “sheep stealers” when Laois is “poor and proud.” Check out the entire list here.
#55 A Singular Post System
Ireland is the only one out of 34 OECD countries with no postcode system.
#56 We are the Champions
Ireland has won 7 times the Eurovision singing contest. No other countries ever achieved that score.
#57 Who is Enya?
Enya, an Irish singer, has sold over 75 million albums since her start in 1988 but never performed a single concert solo.
#58 Why visit Hollywood when you have Dalkey?
Dalkey is to Ireland what Beverly Hills is to the US. Both Bono and The Edge live in the village alongside with other national and international celebrities. It is known for its great food and enchanting vistas.
#59 A Handcrafted Golf Course
Carne Golf was entirely handmade. The designer, Eddie Hackett, made that decision out of respect for the beauty of this land. He said, “It took nature thousands of years to create this land; we must not let the bulldozer destroy it.”
#60 Irish Phraseology
April 1st, 2nd, and 3rd are called the “Borrowed days” as they are usually abysmal weather. “Pet Day” stands for 24 hours of good weather conditions in a period of bad atmospheric conditions.
- Rugby is one of the sports Ireland is famous for. The country won the Triple Crown and 6 nations’ tournaments.
- Irish music is well-known both nationally and internationally. U2, the Cranberries, Celtic Music, and thousands of bands all around the country performing live.
- Wild Atlantic Way is a 2600km coastal route. It is one of the longest in the world.
- The relics of St. Valentines are located in Dublin, inside the Whitefriar Church. Every 14th of February, a mass is celebrated, and engaged couples usually attend to bless their union.
Interesting and surprising facts in Northern Ireland:
- It is banned go to the theatre to watch a movie on a Sunday in Northern Ireland. The bill is called the “Cinema Order,” and has been set due to Sabbath Observation. You can be fined up to 50 Pounds.
- With 157 rainy days per year, Belfast is sunnier than Scotland.
What are some of the Irish Superstitions?
- If you give a sharp object to someone you love, they must give you a coin. It is believed that the sharpness will divide you. The currency is the way around.
- It is believed that fairies live in “fairy fort,” fort remains. Don’t disturb them, they can be very vindictive.
- The simple view of a magpie can bring hardship and extreme sadness.
- The cross notched on the top of a piece of bread expels the evil out.
- It is bad luck to stir your hot drink counter-clockwise
- Never light more than two cigarettes with the same match.
To learn more about Irish superstitions, click here.