Located in the extreme west of Europe, Ireland is a beautiful island with a really small population but a rich history, culture, and traditions.
Let’s get to learn more about this lovely verdant island that is a must-visit country on every traveler’s bucket list.
Here Are the Most Surprising Ireland Facts You Didn’t Know
1. It Is Known as the Emerald Isle
Ireland is popularly known as the Emerald Isle, thanks to its expansive lush green fields. But there are also a lot of rugged and rocky landscapes in Ireland. Also, this country was not always this lush green. In fact, Ireland was completely covered in thick sheets of ice about 15,000 years ago. As these ice sheets broke and floated away, a huge land mass of limestone ground was left behind.
2. Ireland’s National Symbol Is a Musical Instrument
Ireland’s national symbol is the musical instrument Harp. In fact, it is the only country that has a musical instrument as its national symbol. The Trinity College in the capital of Ireland, Dublin, has the oldest harps in the world.
3. Newgrange Is a Prehistoric Monument in Ireland Which is 5,000 Years Old
Newgrange is a popular prehistoric site in Ireland, located in County Meath. It is about 5,000 years old today, which makes it even older than the Stonehenge and the Giza pyramid.
This prehistoric site is actually a huge circular mound with chambers and an inner stone passageway. Inside these chambers, human bones, grave goods, and votive offerings have been found.
The front wall of this mound is made of white quartz cobblestones encircled by engraved curbstones. Whereas most of the bigger stones of this mound feature megalithic art, which was carved onto in the prehistoric times.
4. The Color Green aas Not Always Tied to St. Patrick in Ireland
Wearing green has not always been about St. Patrick. St. Patrick’s color was actually light blue, according to many historians. The color green became synonymous with Ireland during the 1798 Irish Rebellion after which the green clover became a part of Ireland’s identity.
5. Ireland Has NEVER Had Snakes
Despite what you may have heard about St. Patrick chasing all the snakes away from Ireland, there were never any snakes on this island to begin with. So the story about St. Patrick chasing away all the snakes is just a legend.
6. Ireland has a Small Village with the Longest Name
There is a small village located in Connemara in Galway Country, known as Muckanaghederdauhaulia. It is the longest name of any place in the English language, with 22 letters. Try saying the name 50 times and you will get used to it.
7. Halloween Is Actually an Irish Holiday
Not many people know this, but Halloween is actually an Irish holiday. You can thank this country for a lot of holidays. Over hundreds of years, the Celtic festival of Samhain and the All-Saint’s Day was joined together to become Halloween.
8. Ireland has Won the Eurovision Song Contest More than Any Other Country
Ireland has won the contest seven times so far, which is more than any country has ever won until now.
9. Ireland’s Cliffs Are a Popular Film Location
The surprisingly stellar Cliffs of Moher have been featured in various movies including Princess Bride, The Mackintosh Man, and Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.
10. Ireland has the Oldest Pubs
Ireland has the oldest pubs in the world. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the Sean’s Bar pub in Athlone dates back 900 years ago and is the oldest pub.
The Brazen Head pub in Dublin is also believed to be the oldest pub, having been established in 1178. It has remained a regular hanging spot for various historical figures, including Jonathan Swift, James Joyce, and Michael Collins.
11. St. Patrick was Not Actually Irish
Despite him being associated with the Emerald Isle since forever, St. Patrick was actually not Irish. In fact, St. Patrick was a Romano-British man who was kidnapped by the Irish raiders and sold to become a slave when he was 16. During his slavery, he escaped at some point and came back as a missionary and converted the Celtic. His life is surrounded by a lot of mysteries, but he sure was not Irish.
12. Most of the Irish People Don’t Even Live in Ireland
This is the craziest fact about Ireland. Most of the Irish people live away from Ireland. The current number of Irish people in the world today is 86 million, out of which only 6 million live in Ireland today.
People started emigrating from Ireland in the 1700s. There is even a dedicated ministry for the Irish emigrants, known as the Ministry for the Diaspora and International Development.
13. Irish Pubs have Specific Etiquette
If you are in an Irish pub and someone buys you a drink, it is common etiquette to buy them a drink as well. And if you are in a group of friends, you will have to purchase the drinks in a round and one of you will have to pay for everyone’s drinks. So whenever it is your turn to buy the round, don’t forget to adhere to the etiquette as it is considered sacred.
14. Stay Away from the Bell at Trinity College
The famous bell of Trinity College is called Campanile and is an architectural beauty.
However, if you are studying at Trinity College, you should steer clear of this bell and never pass from beneath it until you have graduated.
Because according to a superstition, you will fail! According to another legend associated with this bell, they ring automatically whenever there is a virgin standing under this bell.
15. Ireland Is Named after a Goddess
Ireland was named after a goddess known as Eriu, in Old Irish.
It is called Eire in modern Gaelic and is exactly what Ireland is called in its mother tongue. Eriu with her two sisters was said to look out for the overall well-being of the ancient island civilizations.
16. The Northern Lights Can Be Seen in Ireland
If you have always wanted to watch the Northern Lights but can’t afford to visit the expensive nations of Norway and Iceland, you will be glad to know that Northern Lights are visible from Ireland.
17. Ireland aas Officially Neutral during World War II
Although the country did offer secret help through their weather report from County Mayo that gave the go-ahead for the D-Day Landings, Ireland did officially stay neutral.
It was also a victim of missed bombing targets by both Axis and Allies bombers. Ireland is still neutral and is not even a member of NATO.
18. Ireland Hosts its Own Olympics
Not many people know this, but Ireland has its own Olympics that date older than the actual Olympics.
Their Olympics are called Tailteann Games and are said to have originated in 1600 BC. It is basically a popular edition of funeral games – which are held in honor of a person who has recently passed away.
19. The Shamrock Is Not an Irish Symbol
Often commonly associated with Ireland, the Shamrock is not actually an Irish symbol. In fact, it is linked with St. Patrick, who used to preach while holding a shamrock in his hand.
20. The Guinness World Records Originated from a Pub in Ireland
Sir Hugh Beaver, the managing director of Guinness in 1955 came up with the idea of recording world records in an Irish pub. Apparently, the guy went out with his friends on a shooting trip and missed a shot. During a debate with his friends about the fastest game bird in Europe, he decided to find the answer in reference books.
However, he soon realized that there was no record of it and that having a Record Book could really come in handy to settle these debates. As a result, the Guinness World Records was created in 1955, thanks to Sir Hugh Beaver.
101 Facts about Ireland
Welcome to this St Patrick’s Day episode of 101 Facts! In this video, Sam is off to the land of his ancestors – it’s famous for its beer, it’s potatoes and most importantly, it’s boy bands (shoutout to Jedward).
We hope these Ireland facts were equal parts amusing and surprising for you!
Our most favorite fact about Ireland definitely has to be how the Guinness World Records originated in Ireland. The story of how the events took place is actually quite interesting.
We also can’t help but love the fact that this country has everything from green moors to castles and the Northern Lights. It is definitely a country worth visiting, at least once in your lifetime.
Hi I’m Jay. I grew up in Seattle, Washington and live in Los Angeles, California. I have travelled to 23 countries so far and planning to go explore more countries soon! My Favorite trips so far have been to Israel, Japan, Rome, Iceland and Australia. I started this site to share my love of travel with everyone and build a community of like-minded, free thinking, free exploring people.