Last week on my weekly dose of Irish email I received quite a few responses confirming they would be interested in learning about some Irish facts.
So here we are! I have put together the most extensive article on interesting facts about Ireland.
Many things I didn’t even know!
Some of these will surprise you, and some will shock you.
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Let’s get to 60 Irish facts. 🤯
- Ireland has won the Eurovision Song Contest seven times, more than any other country. Ireland has won in 1970, 1980, 1987, 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1996.
- Irish people consume in average 131.1 litres of beer per year! The 2nd highest per-capita consumption after the Czech Republic.
- Ireland is the only country in the world to have a musical instrument as the national symbol. You can visit some of the oldest harps in the world at Trinity College in Dublin.
- The three most famous Celtic symbols of Ireland are the green Shamrock, the harp, and the Celtic cross.
- Because Ireland is so isolated from European mainland, it lacks several species common elsewhere in Europe, such as moles, weasels, polecats or roe deer.
- At the height of 688 metres above the Atlantic Ocean, Croaghaun (on Achill Island) are the second-highest cliffs in Europe. The highest is in Cape Enniberg in the Faroe Islands.
- The Céide Fields in County Mayo are the most extensive Stone Age site in the world. It contains the oldest known field systems in the world (6,000 years old), as well as Europe’s most massive stone enclosure (77 km).
- Over 70-80 million people worldwide claim Irish ancestry. However, it is hard to estimate exact numbers. The leading cause for such a number is the massive emigrations due to famine and the search for better opportunities abroad, especially America in the 1800s.
- Irish is a Gaelic language belonging to the Celtic side of the Indo-European language tree, and not much like English at all. It’s still the first spoken language in Galway, Kerry, Cork, and Donegal, smaller areas of Waterford, Mayo, and Meath.
- Ireland is one of the best countries in the world for gender equality. We have had two female presidents.
- Hook Lighthouse is thought to be the oldest working lighthouses in Europe, or possibly in the world. Located at Hook Head, in County Wexford, the present structure was completed either in 1172 or in 1245, although the first lighthouse on that spot dates back to the 5th century.
- Did you know that there are no wild snakes in Ireland? The sea has stopped many animals common in mainland Europe from reaching the island. However many believe that St Patrick banished all snakes from Ireland.
- The country has had a high birthrate for the last 50 years, and because of that, Ireland has one of the youngest populations in the world. Approximately 50% of the population is less than 28 years of age.
- During the 1840s, Ireland’s staple crop – the potato – failed, leading to the Great Famine. An estimated million people died of starvation and disease between 1846 and 1851, and two million emigrated between 1845 and 1855.
Surprisingly Ireland the home of Guinness does not sell the most Guinness in the world! Britain is; first, Nigeria is second, and Ireland is third!
- Only about 9% of people in Ireland have natural red hair, contrary to popular belief.
The submarine was invented in Ireland by John Philip Holland.
- Muckanaghederdauhaulia is a small townland in County Galway which translates to “ridge, shaped like a pig’s back, between two expanses of briny water”.
- Irish invented Halloween! Over the centuries the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, a harvest festival that celebrated the end of the summer, and All Saint’s Day merged to later become the Halloween as we know it.
Ireland was one of the first 12 European Union nations that began using the euro currency in 2002.
The White House was designed by Irishman James Hoban who won a competition in 1792, which lead him to create the building.
- Over 40 million Americans are of Irish descent, which is seven times more than the population of Ireland itself.
- In the late 18th century, Cork was the largest exporter of butter in the world. This was mostly to Britain and the British Empire.
- The Royal Cork Yacht Club was founded in 1720 and is the world’s oldest yacht club.
- Cork Harbour claims to be the second-largest natural harbour in the world by navigational area, after Sydney’s Port Jackson.
- Even though Ireland is the birthplace of Guinness beer, Britain is the number one consumer of the beverage, Nigeria is second, and Ireland is third. An estimated 40% of all Guinness beer is sold in Africa.
- One of the most well-known facts about Ireland is that Dublin is home to the world-famous Guinness Brewery. In 1759, Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000-year lease for the land.
- Irish Castles are scattered across the island in vast amounts, and numbers point to a total of 30000 castles and ruin. Some of the castles are open for tourists to stay in.
- Ireland has one of the highest church attendances in Europe, and about 80% of the total population are nominally Roman Catholics.
- Rotunda Hospital in Dublin opened its doors in 1745. It is the longest-running maternity hospital in the world.
The guillotine was used in Ireland before it was used in France. The earliest use dates back to 1307.
- Ireland is the only country in the world where our windmills turn in a clockwise direction. All though having checked this fact about Ireland it seems untrue. And they just turn depending on the motor.
- The Late Late Show is an Irish chat show. It is the world’s second-longest-running late-night talk show, after the American The Tonight Show.
- Montgomery Street in Dublin was once the largest red-light district in all of Europe.
- .The most popular sport in Ireland is Gaelic football, followed by Hurling. Both sports are native to Ireland.
- According to the most recent census, there are now more Polish people in Ireland than there are native speakers of the original Irish language Gaelic.
- The largest town in Ireland is Drogheda, with a population of 40,956 (up 6.2% since April 2011).
More Irish people are cycling! In April 2016, 56,837 people cycled to work, an increase of 43% since 2011.
- Until 1985, you needed a prescription to buy condoms in Ireland.
- A motorway in Ireland was delayed by ten years and then rerouted to protect a tree that was thought to belong to fairies.
- The ball that drops in Times Square on New Year’s Eve is made by Waterford Crystal.
- In the 18th century, Cork was the largest exporter of butter in the world.
- Puck Fair is one of Ireland’s oldest fairs. It takes place annually for three days on the 10th, 11th and 12th of August in Killorglin, County Kerry. A goat is crowned king for three days and hoisted on a 40-foot pedestal.
- There is a village in Limerick, Ireland called Hospital. It does not have a hospital.
The Irish report the lowest annual number of UFO sightings in Europe.
- May is generally the driest month of the year in Ireland.
- Google, Microsoft, Facebook, PayPal, Twitter, Intel, Apple and many more large corporate US companies all have their European Headquarters in Ireland.
- In 2004 Ireland was the first country in the world to introduce a countrywide ban on smoking in the workplace and pubs/restaurants.
- The Royal Cork Yacht Club was founded in 1720 and is the world’s oldest yacht club.
- The largest Irish Lottery jackpot won was worth €18,963,441, and was won by a syndicate of 16 players who all worked at a concrete plant in County Carlow.
- Ireland is responsible for a lot of inventions such as Colour photography, Whiskey Distilling, Ejector Seat, Guided Missile, Guinness, Hypodermic Syringe, Modern Tractor, Tank, TransAtlantic Calls, Flavoured Crisps, Portable defibrillator, Rubber-soled shoes.
- Founded in 1745, the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin is the world’s oldest continuously operating maternity hospital.
- Blarney is celebrated the world over for a stone on the parapet that is said to endow whoever kisses it with the eternal gift of eloquence – the ‘Gift of the Gab.’
- Irish Wolfhounds are the tallest dog breed in the world.
- The official World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade route is only the 98 feet long. It is in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
- Until the 1970s, Irish law prohibited pubs opening on March 17 as a mark of respect for this religious day.
- Gay marriage has been legal in Ireland since 2015.
- During the Great Famine, or the Irish Potato Famine, over 1 million Irish died, and nearly 2 million emigrated, dropping the population by about 25%.
- Abortion has been legal in Ireland since 2018.
- Buenos Aires is home to the largest St Patrick’s Day celebration in South America.
- 300+ stadiums, statues, museums and towers went green to celebrate our St Patrick’s day in 2018 – see last years here.
Okay! That is a LOT of Irish facts.
I hope you enjoyed this list. I have linked to sources where this information was found above.
If any are incorrect be sure to let me know in the comments and please share this article where you can.
What is your favourite fact about Ireland?
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And if you enjoyed this post, why not read some St Patrick’s day facts next.
Thanks for reading these facts about Ireland!