21 Things You Might Not Know About Ireland
Sure, you know about Guinness and bagpipes and that you should wear green on March 17. But how much do you really know about the country where you'll see forty shades of green?
- There are about seven times more Americans claiming Irish descent than there are people living in Ireland.
- Irish is the country’s first official language, but there aren’t many native speakers left. It’s now taught in schools in hopes of keeping it from becoming extinct.
- Saint Patrick actually wasn’t even from Ireland! He was born in Roman Britain, and kidnapped and brought to Ireland later by Irish pirates. But he became the patron saint of Ireland, which is why he’s celebrated there today!
- Dublin, the capital of the Republic of Ireland, is home to more than one quarter of the country’s population!
- The world famous beer called Guinness is from a Dublin brewery started by Arthur Guinness – who leased the land the factory sits on for an amazing 9,000 years.
- It was an Irishman named James Hoban who designed the White House.
- The oldest pub in Ireland, Sean’s Bar, was founded in about 900 AD, making it over 1,100 years old.
- One of Ireland’s favorite sports, hurling (think violent field hockey), has been around for about 2,000 years.
- The longest place name in Ireland can be found in County Galway – who wants to visit Sruffaunoughterluggatoora?
- A type of guillotine was being used in Ireland about 500 years before the French “invented” it during their revolution.
- The national symbol of Ireland isn’t the shamrock – it’s the harp! (The harp is also the symbol of Guinness – and they were using it before the country decided to!)
- Like duty free shopping when you travel? You can thank Ireland for that – the tax-free stores started at Ireland’s Shannon Airport in 1947.
- Guinness brewery employees started the almost-as-famous-as-the-beer Guinness Book of World Records. They were inspired after an argument about the fastest game bird in Europe.
- Ireland became independent in the 1920s and is already on its second female President, meaning the U.S. (and a lot of other countries) has a lot to live up to.
- The Titanic was built in Belfast, in Northern Ireland, and its last port of call was Cobh (or Cove), at the southern end of the island.
- The name Dublin comes from Irish Dubh Linn, or “Black Pool.” The pool it refers to has since been filled in, but you can visit the ground where it used to be right next to Dublin Castle.
- It takes 119.5 seconds to pour a perfect Guinness – it’s an art and a science.
- Shockingly, Ireland only comes in 4th in a list of the world’s biggest per capita beer consumers – Czech Republic, Austria, and Germany all have it beat.
- There are no wild snakes in Ireland, and there never have been, contrary to what you may have learned about Saint Patrick driving them out.
- It was an Irish scientist, John Tyndall, who answered the question “Why is the sky blue?”
- The Irish just may have discovered America first. There’s a legend that a monk now known as Saint Brendan sailed to the continent in the sixth century. We may never know for sure.