From its rich culture to the breath-taking beauty of its varied landscapes, Ireland is a travel destination that lives up to its reputation. Also, known as the “Emerald Isle” because of its lush greenery, you will love its friendly people; laid-back attitude; often tragic yet fascinating history; and its rugged, romantic landscapes.
Did you know Saint Patrick wasn’t Irish? And the oldest bar in the world? What about the origins of Halloween? Who built the Titanic? Find the answer to all these questions and more with these 20 interesting facts about Ireland!
1. Did you know there are more Irish people are living abroad than there are in Ireland? There are 80 million Irish people outside of Ireland and only around 6 million in Ireland. 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.
2. The longest place name in Ireland is Muckanaghederdauhaulia. Try saying that 5 times fast…or really just once is hard enough.
3. There are more than 30.000 castles and ruins on the island. Some of the castles are open for tourists to stay in, and in some cases, it’s even possible to rent the whole castle! So, who wants to live like a king/queen for a night?
4. Ireland was the first country in the world to legalise gay marriage by public referendum. An overwhelming majority (68%) of the population voted in favour of the new legislation in May 2015, an event that made headlines around the world. For a country that only legalised the sale of condoms in 1978 and divorce in 1997, it is incredible to see such positive and forward-thinking movements.
5. 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. It was so catastrophic that the population still hasn’t recovered.
6. Not to confuse you with too many holidays, but you can thank Ireland for 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 Americans know it.
7. The Titanic was built was built by 15,000 Irishmen in Belfast, Northern Ireland. While the Titanic Experience in Belfast is a well-known visitor attraction in Northern Ireland, few people visit the small coastal town in Cork where you will find statues in memory of those who died and a small Titanic Museum on what was once the old railway station.
8. The Anglo-Irish physicist John Tyndall (1820-1893) was the first to prove the Greenhouse Effect, the first to discover why the sky is blue (Tyndall effect), as well as a number of other discoveries about processes in the atmosphere. He was also the first scientist to be referred specifically as a physicist.
9. Hook Lighthouse in Ireland is believed to be the oldest working lighthouse in Europe and possibly even the world.
10. St. Patrick was not Irish. Contrary to popular belief, and despite being the Patron Saint of Ireland, St. Patrick was not actually from Ireland. Born in Wales around 386 A.D., he was in fact captured by the Irish and sold into slavery, working as a shepherd in the West of Ireland. Later in life, he returned to Ireland as a missionary, helping to spread Christianity in Ireland.
11. Another surprising fact about Ireland? While many old wines will tell the tale of St. Patrick banishing snakes from Ireland, the truth is that there have never been wild snakes on the island of Ireland. Being an island helped greatly with this, since the snakes inhabiting Britain were never able to make it across the water!
12. Ireland houses the oldest pub in the world. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Sean’s Bar in Athlone is the oldest, dating back to 900 A.D.
13. The guillotine was used in Ireland before it was used in France. The earliest use dates back to 1307.
14. 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.
15. The story of the world-famous vampire Count Dracula was written in 1897 by Bram Stoker, from Dublin. Count Dracula was the culmination of 20 years of vampire stories in Victorian literature. Dracula is said to have been inspired by the early Irish legend of Abhartach, an evil chieftain who, after being betrayed by his subjects and slain by the hero Cathrain, rose from his grave every night to drink the blood of his subjects.
16. The country has had a high birth-rate 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.
17. The submarine was invented in Ireland by John Philip Holland.
18. Until the 1920’s, on St. Bridig’s Day (February 1st) couples in Ireland could legally marry in the city of Teltown by just walking towards each other. They could also “divorce” by walking away from each other at the same spot, also on St. Brigid’s day.
19. Ireland 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.
20. There is a town that holds a festival called “Puck Fair” during which a wild goat is caught and crowned king for 3 days. It is hoisted on a 40-foot tall pedestal. After the festivities, the goat is set free back into the wild.
How to reach?
There are four international airports in the Republic of Ireland – Dublin Airport, Shannon Airport, Cork Airport and Knock Airport. Dublin Airport is the eighth largest airport in Europe and is the most connected internationally. There connecting flights to any of the international airports in Ireland from all the major cities in India via Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Major airline operators are Etihad Airways, Jet Airways, Air India, Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines.
Cliffs of Moher: This is one of most visited natural attractions in all of Ireland, the Cliffs of Moher rise up from the swells of the great Atlantic Ocean. They stretch for eight kilometers along the Atlantic and rise some 214 meters at their highest point. Take a walk along the trail to experience the raw power of nature at its most majestic.
Dingle Peninsula: Located in the westernmost trip of Ireland, Dingle Peninsula is bordered by sandy beaches, rolling hills, lofty mountains, and ragged cliffs. Stone huts that scatter its open landscapes were built by monks in the early Middle Ages, and you’ll find more stone monuments that date to the Bronze Age.
Killarney National Park: Located in southwest Ireland in County Kerry, the Killarney National Park was established in 1932. Filled with beautiful scenery, any route you take here will give the majestic views of its lakes and mountains. It also has many man-made structures such as the Castle of Ross.
The Ring of Kerry: The most popular scenic drive in Ireland, the Ring of Kerry is a more than 160 km long highway that runs along the coastline of the isle’s picturesque Iveragh Peninsula. Most visitors start and end their tour in the busy town of Killarney; you can also choose the less-crowded pretty village of Kenmare as a base. En-route there’s a feast of jaw-dropping Atlantic Ocean views, stunning islands to visit, wild sweeping mountains, and many picturesque villages.
Iron Islands in Ballintoy Harbour: Have you seen the famous Iron Islands of Greyjoys in Game of Thrones? Well, Ballintoy Harbour is the home to the Iron Islands! It is a small harbour having space for a few boats. It is a quiet and peaceful place where one can witness boats gently rocking in the billows amidst serene landscapes.
Cork: One of the most beautiful places in Ireland, Cork is a heaven for all the foodies with pubs, cafes, bars, and restaurants cramming its narrow streets. Vibrant art galleries and unusual museums define this laid-back, breezy cosmopolitan city in Ireland. The spires of St Fin Barre’s Cathedral overlook the town in glorious Gothicism, while the Cork City Gaol is a prime attraction on the outskirts