Interesting facts about Ireland abound, despite the fact it's a relatively small island sitting in the Atlantic Ocean, on the edge of Europe.
In this corner of the internet, we cover many topics about Ireland, from simple to detailed concepts. We've examined the life of Saint Patrick, explored Irish history, toured Ireland's counties, and cooked some traditional Irish dishes.
I thought this week it would be great to go a bit lighter and cover some fun facts about the Emerald Isle!
This post is chock full of lighthearted, exciting facts that are easy to read and fun to know!
If you often find yourself at trivia nights or love to share fun facts about your heritage, this post is for you.
Table of Contents
Invention of the Hypodermic Needle
I bet you didn't know that the hypodermic needle and syringe was created by an Irish scientist! In the late 18th century, a scientist from Ireland made an important advance in infection control.
Francis Rynd, who went to college at Trinity College Dublin, invented the hypodermic needle to help a woman treat her skin condition.
This invention has been a highly significant tool in medicine ever since.
Next time you get a vaccine or other injection, you can thank the Irish for the technology that made your treatment possible!
Whether you've noticed or not, lots of movies, including Harry Potter, the Princess Bride, and Star Wars, have scenes that were filmed in Ireland. And for a good reason!
Ireland is a beautiful country filled with gorgeous green scenery and many stunning beaches. It's so spectacular that it can be hard to believe it's real-- which is why it tends to show up covertly in so much fantasy media!
You'll especially notice that the Cliffs of Moher, facing the Atlantic Ocean, get filmed quite a bit. They were even featured in Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince!
This interesting Ireland fact alone can send you down a deep rabbit trail of information online (ask me how I know). I feel very proud to be from such a beautiful, mystical country!
The oldest pub in Ireland is literally 1000 years old! Sean's Bar in Athlone has a gorgeous, warm fireplace that's been welcoming people in for food and drinks since 900 AD.
It's eye opening to think about the difference in the age of artifacts from Irish history and those from the history of the United States. The oldest American artifacts are primarily from the 1700s, with many Native American items lost to the ages.
I love visiting historical sites in Ireland, just like this pub, where very old memorabilia on display.
I can't help thinking about all the amazing things that have occurred at places like this, throughout the ages. Think about how many people fell in love, built businesses, or enjoyed time with friends and family around the fireplace in Seán's Bar!
If you get the chance to go, I'd highly recommend doing some research about its history and notable stories involving this traditional Irish bar.
Longest Place Name
Sometimes, names can be hard to pronounce. That's certainly the case with Muckanaghederdauhaulia, the place with the longest single-word name in Ireland.
This Irish language place name is Muiceanach idir Dhá Sháile (Muckanaghederdauhaulia)
The name roughly means "pig marsh between two saltwaters."
Try pronouncing the name, and see how much of it you got correct!
Here's how I pronounce it phoetically in English... mwick-on-ock id-ur gaw haw-lah.
Now, you can stash it in your pocket for an Irish trivia night.
Eurovision Song Contest
If you know much about Irish culture, you may have heard about the Eurovision Song Contest. The famous Riverdance Irish Dancing Show debuted at this contest in Ireland in 1995.
But, did you know that the Irish hold the record for the most wins in this famous song contest?
Ireland, despite its relatively small size and population, is the only country in Europe to have won the competition seven times.
There are so many reasons Irish people are fantastic, but showing off their talents on the world stage and taking home many prizes, is definitely a highlight.
Ireland was also the only country to win 3 years in a row! The contest has existed for 55 years, but Ireland is the most frequent winner.
County Cork, in the province of Munster, is Ireland's largest county. It's named after the city of Cork, which comes from the word for marsh or swamp.
As of the 2016 census, over 542,000 people were living there (compared to the roughly 5 million in Ireland as a whole.)
If you don't already know, there are 32 counties on the island of Ireland with 26 counties in the Republic of Ireland. If each Irish county had an equal share of people, there would be less than 200,000 people in each county.
County Cork is home to the port of Cobh. Over three million people left Ireland for other countries from this harbor. It was the last port of call for the ill-fated Titanic.
Trinity College Harp
There is a harp at Trinity College that is one of the oldest harps in Ireland. This musical instrument is integrated into so much Irish music that the oldest one, still intact, is an important cultural artifact.
It became the official symbol of the Irish government after its independence from British Rule. Many people are surprised to learn that the national emblem of Ireland is the harp, and not the shamrock.
This ancient harp was donated to Trinity College in 1782. It is called the Brian Boru harp, named after the Irish High King who defeated the Vikings in 1014.
The Origin of Limericks
One of the most fun things to come from the island of Ireland is the poetry style called limericks.
There are so many silly limericks out there; you can even write your own!
While you've probably already heard of them, you probably don't know that they originated in a small village in County Limerick.
You Can Thank The Irish For Halloween
Halloween is celebrated all over America and its popularity is spreading to many parts of Europe.
The Irish brought Halloween, and many of the customs they associated with the holiday, to America when the emigrated en masse to the United States after the Great Irish Famine of the 1840s.
Ireland is Free of Snakes
Ireland is an island that is actually snake free. Irish children are taught about an old legend at school, that tells how Saint Patrick drove all the snakes from Ireland.
Perhaps Ireland's patron saint did banish these slithery creatures from the Emerald Isle, but it probably has more to do with Ireland's isolation and the last ice age.
Red Haired People
Red hair is closely associated with Irish people. In fact, Irish people are often represented by a stereotype of having red hair. Who hasn't seen a red haired leprechaun featured on postsers around Saint Patrick's Day?
The majority of people in Ireland do not have red hair. However, the incidence of red hair in the Irish population is far higher than in any other country in the world.
It is believed that over 10% of Irish people have red tresses. This compares to only about 1% in most other European countries.
Being on Irish Time
Ireland did not always align its clocks with Big Ben in London.
Between the years 1880 and 1916, Irish time was different to English time or Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Irish clocks ran 25 minutes and 21 seconds behind GMT.
Dublin Mean Time was set at Dunsink Observatory, which is located northwest of the city of Dublin.
A Vast Diaspora
Did you know there are more people of Irish heritage worldwide, than there are people currently living on the island of Ireland?
There are about 5 million people living in the Republic of Ireland, and over 1.5 million in Northern Ireland. However, around 80 million people all over the world claim to be of Irish descent.
In the United States, over 35 million people are proud to have Irish heritage. This little fact came to be because millions of Irish people emigrated all over the world from around the year 1700 onwards.
During and after the Great Irish Famine, the numbers departing Ireland forever accelerated, leaving Ireland with a shrinking population. This trend only reversed in the past few decades.
I hope you loved these fun facts about Irish culture!
If you have any fun Ireland facts you would like to add, comment below to add to the fun.
Thanks for following my recipes and ramblings.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Mairéad -Irish American Mom
Pronunciation - slawn ah-gus ban-ock-th
Mairéad - rhymes with parade
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