What are 10 fun facts about Ireland? Ireland is one of the most-visited countries in Europe. Ireland is an island nation located in the North Atlantic. It is separated from neighboring Great Britain by the Irish Sea, the St George’s Channel, and the North Channel.
Ireland, known as Éire in Irish, is the third-biggest islands in Europe. Politically, Ireland is divided between the Republic of Ireland (capital Dublin), and Northern Ireland (capital Belfast) which is part of the United Kingdom (together with England, Scotland, and Wales in Great Britain).
Ireland has a population of 6.6 million (4.8 million of which live in the Republic of Ireland and the reminding 1.8 million live in Northern Ireland).
“We may have bad weather in Ireland, but the sun shines in the hearts of the people and that keeps us all warm.” — Marianne Williamson
If you would like to know more about Ireland, here are 10 fun facts about it:
1 St Patrick
Most people associate St. Patrick with Ireland. St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in many countries outside of Ireland, most noticeably in the United States.
As a largely Catholic country, St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. But what many people do not realize that St. Patrick was not, in fact, Irish.
St. Patrick was born over in Britain, although it is not clear whether he was born in England, Wales, or Scotland. But one thing is clear, he was not born in Ireland.
He is said to have been kidnapped age 16 by raiders from Ireland, where he was enslaved and spent about 6 years as a sheepherder. He then is said to have gone back to Britain where he eventually became a priest. He did his missionary work in Ireland.
He is supposed to have died on March 17th, when we know celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
2 The Irish National Symbol
Did you know that Ireland’s national symbol is the harp? Ireland is, in fact, the only nation in the world with a musical instrument as its national symbol.
The harp became Ireland’s national emblem in the 19th century but the tradition of using harps is a lot older.
The Society of United Irishmen adopted this musical instrument as a national symbol during the 1798 rebellion.
“Ireland is where strange tales begin and happy endings are possible.” — Charles Haughey
3 Postal Codes
Most countries around the world use some kind of postal codes (zip codes in the United States) on their addresses. But, did you know that the Republic of Ireland was the only state in the European Union that did not have postcodes until very recently?
The city of Dublin was the only exception to this. And, also, of course, Northern Ireland that uses the same postal code system as the rest of the United Kingdom.
4 What’s Up With All That Green?
Most people associate the color green with Ireland because of St. Patrick. But, did you know that, according to historians, the color of St. Patrick was actually light blue.
The tradition of wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day started during the 1798 rebellion. Why green? Because one of the national symbols that was adopted then was the clover.
The Eurovision Song Contest is an annual singing competition organized by the European Broadcasting Union, in which each of the member public broadcasters submit an original song to compete.
The Republic of Ireland’s public broadcaster RTE (Raidió Teilifís Éireann or Radio-Television of Ireland).
Ireland has participated 52 times since 1965 and with 7 wins, it is the country that has won the most in the history of the contest.
Here are the songs with which Ireland has won Eurovision:
- “All Kinds of Everything”, sung by Dana in 1970
- “What’s Another Year”, sung by Johnny Logan in 1980
- “Hold Me Now”, sung by Johnny Logan in 1987
- “Why Me”, sung by Linda Martin in 1992
- “In Your Eyes”, sung by Niamh Kavanagh in 1993
- “Rock ‘n’ Roll Kids”, sung by Paul Harrington and Charlie McGettigan in 1994
- “The Voice”, sung by Eimear Quinn in 1996
6 Patrick’s Day Parades? Not That Big In Ireland!
This next fun fact may surprise many people. Did you know that the first St. Patrick’s Day parade was not held in Ireland but in America?
The tradition of marching through the streets on St. Patrick’s Day actually began in New York City in 1762 (part of the British Empire still at that point), where it has grown to be a huge tradition to this day.
7 The Irish Language
“Ireland is a land of poets and legends, of dreamers and rebels.” — Nora Roberts
Although most people in Ireland now speak English, the Irish have their own language. Known as Irish, Gaelic, or the Irish language, Irish is a Celtic language.
Nowadays, Irish is only spoken as a first language by a minority of people (although a larger number speak it as a second language). Throughout most of its history, Irish was spoken by most people in Ireland.
Irish is the first official language in the Republic of Ireland (that is why all official institutions have Irish names), and as a minority language in Northern Ireland.
8 What About Snakes?
Although part of the legend of St. Patrick is that he chased snakes out of Ireland, scientists have proved that there were never snakes in Ireland.
Muckanaghederdauhaulia is the name of a tiny village in Connemara in County Galway. With 22 letters, this is the longest place name anywhere in the English-speaking world.
10 The Origins of Halloween
Did you know that Halloween has its origins in the Celtic harvest festival of Samhain, that took place in Ireland at the end of the summer?