75 Amazing and Interesting Facts about Ireland | Amazing Facts 4U
Land & Geography
- Ireland covers 5/6 th of the island of the same name, the remaining 1/6 th of the island is Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom.
- There are over 4.75 million people living in Ireland. The Irish capital, Dublin is home to over one quarter of the total population. Other important cities are Cork, Limerick and Galway. Louth is the smallest county in Ireland and Cork is the largest.
- At a height of 688 meters above the Atlantic Ocean, Croaghaun (on Achill Island) are the second highest cliffs in Europe.
- The Irish National Stud’s Japanese Gardens, laid between 1906 and 1910 by Japanese master horticulturist Tassa Eida, are considered the finest of their kind in Europe located in Kildare.
- Amazingly Ireland has virtually no coal deposits, even though it’s just 60 miles from Wales, one of the world’s richest coal fields.
- The River Shannon is the longest river in Ireland or Britain.
- There has never been snake in Ireland. Due to its isolation from the European mainland, Ireland lacks several species common elsewhere in Europe.
- All polar bears alive today can trace their ancestry back to one female brown bear who lived in Ireland 50,000 years ago.
Places / Architecture
- Ireland’s oldest pub is Sean’s Bar in Athlone founded 900 years back. However the country’s oldest licensed pub, is Grace Neill’s Bar in Donaghadee, established in 1611.
- The Woodenbridge Hotel, which opened in 1608, is the oldest hotel in Ireland located in the Vale of Avoca, County Wicklow.
- Trim Castle was the first Anglo-Norman castle built (from 1169) in Ireland which was the largest ever built, covering an area of 30,000 m². Kilbrittain Castle, County Cork, is the oldest inhabited castle in Ireland built in 1035.
- Kilkea Castle, in County Kildare, is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Ireland from the early 13th century until the early 1960’s. The castle was subsequently converted into a hotel.
- The scenic “Wicklow Way” is the oldest and most popular hiking route in Ireland stretching from the Dublin suburb of Rathfarnham in a south-westerly direction toward the village of Clonegal, in County Carlow. the 25 year old public walking route is traversed by over 20,000 people each year.
- Ireland’s top visitor attraction is the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. The Canary Islands are the most popular sunshine holiday destination with retired Irish citizens.
- The Neolithic site of Newgrange (3200 BCE), County Meath, is the best-preserved passage grave in Europe. The monument’s central room is the oldest ‘solar observatory’ in the world.
- The passage tomb cemeteries in Carrowmore, County Sligo, are the largest group of megalithic tombs (30 of them) in Ireland or Britain.The Céide Fields in County Mayo are the most extensive Stone Age site in the world containing the oldest known field systems in the world (6,000 years old), as well as Europe’s largest stone enclosure (About 77 km).
- The Hill of Uisneach, in County Westmeath, marked the traditional centre of Ireland. The location of this 182-metre tall hill is unique as 22 counties, two-third of Ireland, can be seen from the top.
- In 1854, three workmen clearing the way for the Ennis railway line stumbled across the remains of the late Bronze Age Mooghaun Hillfort, the largest in Ireland. On the site was a stone box containing 150 objects, most of them made of gold. It was the largest discovery of assorted gold objects in Western Europe, and is known as the Great Clare Gold Find.
- Dublin was founded in 988 by the Vikings.
- Prior to the annexation to England, then the United Kingdom, Ireland was never unified under a single monarchy like other European countries. Instead there were hundreds of minor kings waging war with one another on a nearly permanent basis.
- Ireland was one of the last European nation to abolish slavery of its own people as opposed to slaves imported from abroad.
- The Irish are now some of the most fervently Catholic Europeans along with the Poles. Yet, Ireland was the last Western European country to adopt Catholicism in the 15th century.
- Erected from 1729, the Irish Houses of Parliament was the world’s first purpose-built two-chamber parliament house. It now houses the headquarters of the Bank of Ireland.
- Founded in 1745, the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin is the world’s oldest maternity hospital. More than 300,000 babies have been born there since it opened its doors.
- In the late 18th century, Cork was the largest exporter of butter in the world, mostly to Britain and British Empire.
- The Union Jack was flown for the very first time in Dublin on 1st January 1801 to herald the Union of Great Britain and Ireland.
- The term ‘boycott’ comes from Captain Charles Boycott (1832-1897), the land agent of an absentee landlord from Ulster. In 1880, after refusing to reduce the rents of his employer’s tenants, the Irish community decided to stop dealing with him. The term boycott came to mean organized isolation.
- The world’s first suburban commuter railway opened between Dublin and Dun Laoghaire in 1834.
- On 9th July 1939, the Pan Am Clipper III left Botwood, Newfoundland, and landed the next day at Foynes, County Limerick. It was the first direct commercial passenger flight from America to Europe.There is the Foynes Flying Boat Museum, on the site of the old airport. In 1942, Shannon Airport replaced Foynes as the gateway to America. It is also in Shannon that the world’s first duty free opened in April 1947.
People Customs & Culture
- The Irish consume in average 130 liters of beer per year, the 2nd highest per-capita consumption after the Czech Republic.Dublin boasts one pub for every 100 head of population.
- 88% of Irish citizens are nominally Roman Catholic. The Republic of Ireland has one of the highest rates of church attendance in the Western World (45%).
- The ancestral language of Irish people is Irish Gaelic. Now only 380,000 fluent speakers remain. Gaelic is spoken next to Irish and English.Amazingly there are nearly 8 times more Polish speakers in Ireland than Gaelic speakers.
- Many Irish family names start with “Mac” or “O’…”, which means respectively “son of …” and “grandson of …” in Gaelic.
- Irish marriages last an average of 13 years, although the majority do not end in divorce. Irish couples prefer to separate and live with their new partners rather than go through costly legal proceedings.
- Amazingly couples in Ireland could marry legally on St. Brigid’s Day (February 1st) in Teltown, County Meath, as recently as the 1920’s by simply walking towards each other. If the marriage failed, they could “divorce'” by walking away from each other at the same spot, on St. Brigid’s day the following year.
- Dalkey, a suburb of Dublin, is Ireland’s “Beverly Hills”, home to a number of Irish celebrities including George Bernard Shaw.
- Montgomery Street in Dublin was once the largest red light district in all of Europe, with 1600 prostitutes.
- It is estimated that over 80 million people of Irish descent live outside Ireland, in countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Argentina, New Zealand, Mexico, South Africa and states of the Caribbean and continental Europe. Amazingly this is 14 times more than the population of Ireland (including Northern Ireland)! 3 million of these emigrants still hold Irish nationality.
- In 1800, the population of Ireland was almost twice as large as that of the United States. Amazingly by 2000, America’s population was about 60 times that of Ireland.
- Roughly 34 million Americans reported Irish ancestry in the 2000 US Census, which makes it the second largest ethnic group after the German Americans. The highest concentration of Irish Americans is in the North-East (New York and New England).
- It is estimated that over 40% of all American presidents have had some Irish ancestry including President Obama.
- About 40% of the people in Australia are of Irish descent.
- An odd Irish birthday tradition is to lift the birthday child upside down and give his head a few gentle bumps on the floor for good luck. The number of bumps should correspond to the child’s age plus one.
- Cats now outnumber dogs by two to one as Ireland’s most popular pet.
- RTE’s “The Late Late Show” is the world’s longest running talk show running since 1965.
- Sucking a king’s nipples was a gesture of submission in ancient Ireland.
- Grace O’Malley (Nicknamed Pirate Queen) Was Irish born in the west of Ireland in 1530. She is famed for being a fearsome pirate and controlling a large fleet of ships and property.
- Ireland has had its own version of Olympics Games since the Bronze Age, called the Tailteann Games.
Politics / Legal
- In 1801, the Kingdom of Ireland and the Kingdom of Great Britain merged to create a United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
- The Irish have a long history of suffering under British rule. Ultimately after long freedom struggle Ireland was divided into Northern Ireland (6 counties) and the Irish Free State (26 counties) in 1922.
- Mary Robinson was the first female President of Ireland. She was followed by Mary McAleese. This is the only instance in the world where one female President was replaced by another.
- Ireland is the only EU country where abortion is still illegal except to protect the mother’s life.
- In 2002 Ireland was the first country in the world to have an environmental tax for plastic shopping bags and in 2004 it was the first to introduce a public smoking ban.
- Ireland’s 15 principal railway stations are named after the leaders of the 1916 uprising.
- Ireland Is the only country in the world with a music instrument as its national symbol.
Economy & Corporates
- Famous Irish breweries include Guinness, Smithwicks (Kilkenny), and Harp Lager.
- The Tara Mine near Navan, County Meath, is the largest zinc mine in Europe, and the fifth largest in the world.
- One of the most successful beer brands worldwide, Guinness was once the largest brewery in the world. It originated in the Dublin brewery of Arthur Guinness. Amazingly the brewery has a 9,000 year lease on it’s 16,000m² property, at a perpetual rate of 45 Irish pounds per year.
- 25% of Europe’s computers are now made in Ireland making it world’s largest exporter of software. The European headquarters and/or customer service operations of Google, Microsoft, Apple, IBM, Dell, Intel, Motorola, Oracle, Lotus, and Boeing Computer Services are all located in Ireland.
- 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).
- In 1845, William Parsons built the Leviathan of Parsonstown, a reflecting telescope of 72 inch aperture which was the largest telescope in the world until 1917. His youngest son, Sir Charles Algernon Parsons (1854-1931) invented the steam turbine and built the world’s first turbine powered battleship and passenger ship. In 1879, Charles’s elder brother, installed a water wheel equipped with a turbine on the River Camcor to provide electricity to Birr Castle and the town, making it the first town in the world to be lit by electricity.
- John Philip Holland invented the first functional self-propelled submarine in 1877. He later developed the first submarines used by the U.S. Navy (1900), the Royal Navy (1901), and the Japanese Imperial Navy (1904).
- The astronomer William Edward Wilson (1851–1908) took some of the earliest photographs of the stars, the moon, the sun and a solar eclipse. In 1889, he became the first person to measure the temperature of the sun, reaching an estimation of 6590°C, remarkably close to the modern value of 6075°C.
- Louis Brennan (1852-1932), an Irish mechanical engineer who emigrated to Australia, invented the steerable torpedo in 1874. It was the first weapon in history that could be remotely directed to its target. He later invented the gyroscopic helicopter, which performed the world’s first unmanned helicopter flight.
- In 1844 Doctor Francis Rynd, a Dublin-based doctor, invented the hypodermic syringe and needle. The world’s very first subcutaneous injection was given in Dublin’s Meath hospital.
- 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 possibly in 1245, although the first lighthouse on that spot dates back to the 5th century.
- The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) was founded in 1824 by Richard Martin, an Irish politician and one of the first animal rights activists.
- In 1907, Irish-Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi set up the world’s first permanent transatlantic radio station in Derrigimlagh Bog near Clifden, in County Galway. It operated until 1918.
- RMS Titanic which sunk in it’s maiden voyage was built in Belfast, Northern Ireland. On 11 February 1912, Cobh (called Queenstown) was the last port of call of the Titanic. The ship had left Southampton the day before, stopped at Cherbourg and Cobh. It sank 4 days later. Out of 1,308 passengers and 898 crew on board , there were 706 survivors. Elizabeth Gladys ‘Millvina’ Dean , the last living survivor who was two months old then died on 31 May 2009.
- In 1919 , John Alcock and Arthur Whitten completed the first non-stop flight across the Atlantic landing near Marconi radio station bringing with them the first transatlantic mail. In 1928, Dublin-born pilot Captain James FitzMaurice flew from Dublin to Newfoundland, in what was the first Trans-Atlantic aircraft flight from East to West.
- Kilkenny-born architect James Hoban designed the original White House in Washington after winning a competition sponsored by President George Washington in 1792. When it was burned by the British during the war of 1812, Hoban was called again to oversee 3 yearlong restoration work.
- The iconic oscar statue was designed by Cedric Gibbons, a native of Dublin, in 1928.
- Famous wit Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin in 1854. Irish famous novelists include Jonathan Swift (Gulliver’s Travels) , Bram Stoker (Dracula) and James Joyce (Ulysses). The story of vampire Count Dracula was written in 1897 from Dublin.
- The world’s first recorded open yacht race was held in Dublin Bay in 1663.The Royal Cork Yacht Club was founded in 1720 and remains 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.
By Amazing Facts 4U Team