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25 Interesting Facts about Ireland

25 Interesting Facts about Ireland

Photo: Shutterstock

Want to know more about Ireland? Here are 25 Interesting Facts about Ireland that you probably didn’t know before reading this!

To make this even more fun, I want to challenge you as well. How many of these Ireland facts did you know before reading this? Share your result in the comment section!

1. Ireland is very successful in the Eurovision song contest

It’s the only nation to have won Eurovision seven times, and the only nation to win 3 times in a row. Niamh Kavanagh – In Your Eyes might be the most famous Irish winner. 

2. The earliest evidence of human presence in Ireland is dated at 12,800 BC

A bear bone was found in a cave and had clear cut marks from stone tools. The bone was radiocarbon dated to 12,800 B.C. The bone was found already in 1903 but wasn’t examined with new technology until 2010. 

This means that Ireland was inhabited already in the Palaeolithic era. Previously, the earliest evidence was dated 8000 years old. 

3. More Irish people live abroad than in Ireland

In fact, some 70-80 million people worldwide claim Irish ancestry, but it’s hard to estimate exact numbers. 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. 

Australia, Canada, Argentina, and South Africa are some of the countries with the highest amount of Irish descendants, and of course the United Kingdom.

Of course, the official number of Irish born citizens abroad is not 80 million people. There are around 1 million Irish born citizens abroad. 

Irish in new york

Photo: Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock.com

4. English was first introduced here in the 12th century

Today, most people speak English, but that was not always the case, and even today, the native language Irish is still being spoken and taught in school.

Irish is a Gaelic language belonging to the Celtic side of the Indo-European language tree, and not much alike English at all. It’s still the first spoken language in Galway, Kerry, Cork, and Donegal, smaller areas of Waterford, Mayo, and Meath.

5. There are more than 30.000 castles and ruins on the island

Castles are scattered across the island in vast amounts, and numbers point to a total of 30.000 castles and ruin. Some of the castles are open for tourists to stay in, and in some cases, it’s even possible to rent the whole castle! 

ashford castle

Photo: Shutterstock

6. Irish people are heavy drinkers

However, it’s not alcohol that people drink the most of, but tea. Only Turks drink more tea per capita and person than the Irish. When it comes to alcohol, they come in short at 4th place. 

The average Irish person consumes 2,19 kilos of tea per year (4.83 lb).

7. Only about 9% of people in Ireland have natural red hair

Irish people are commonly associated with having red hair, very light skin and freckles, but that’s actually just a stereotype. While the average percentage of people with natural red hair is higher here than in any other place on Earth, it’s still only 9%. 

redhead girl

Photo: Shutterstock

8. Ireland is an island divided into two political areas

The Northern part of the island is called Northern Ireland and is part of the United Kingdom. The majority of Ireland’s area belongs to the Republic of Ireland, which is a sovereign state.

9. The oldest pub opened already in 900 A.D. 

Seans Bar in the town of Athlone is considered as the oldest pub in Ireland that is still operational. In 2004, it was also listed by Guinness World Records as the oldest pub in Europe!

Oldest pub in Ireland

Photo: Remizov / Shutterstock.com

10. Polish is the second most spoken language at home

Irish is spoken at home by approximately 2% of the population, while Polish is being spoken at home by more than 119.000 citizens according to the CSO. 

11. Halloween comes from the Celtic harvest festival of Samhain

Do you celebrate Halloween? Then you should say thanks to the Irish, and especially the Celtic harvest festival of Samhain, where Halloween is supposed to have originated from. 

Ireland Facts

Photo: Shutterstock

12. 82% of Irish citizens are nominally Roman Catholic

While a growing number of citizens refer to themselves as atheists with Christian background, Ireland still has one of the highest church attendances in Europe, and about 82% of the total population are nominally Roman Catholics. 

13. St. Patrick Wasn’t Irish

Saint Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland was not Irish as many might believe. He was in fact born somewhere in Great Britan, most likely in a town in modern day Wales. 

St Patrick was kidnapped by Pirates and was brought to Ireland though. He was sold into slavery and was there for 6 years before he heard a voice saying that he was supposed to return home.

So, he did, and when he got back to Gret Britain he became a cleric, and later returned to Ireland as a missionary. St Patrick’s Day is widely celebrated today each year on the 17th of March. 

st patricks day

Photo: Shutterstock

14. You can claim Irish citizenship if one of your grandparents is Irish

Do you have an Irish grandparent? If you can prove it, you can apply for Irish citizenship. This is especially useful if you’re born outside of Europe, and the European Union, since you then can apply for an Irish passport. 

Having an Irish passport means that you can travel without the hassles of getting a visa when traveling in Europe. 

15. Hurling and Gaelic Football are two national sports

In most countries, football, ice hockey or basketball is the national sport, but Ireland have their own sports, and they’re very popular. Hurling and Gaelic football are especially popular, and they’re considered as national sports. 

Hurling

Photo: D. Ribeiro / Shutterstock.com

5 x Fun Facts about Ireland

  • Sucking a king’s nipples as a gesture of submission in ancient Ireland
  • More Guinness beer is drunk in Nigeria than Ireland
  • There’s a national Leprechaun Museum in Dublin
  • In 2007, it was raining for 40 days in a row
  • Irish Kids were given “the Bumps” on their birthday. Meaning that they would be lifted in their arms and legs, and get bounced up and down in the air while their bum is touching the ground as many times as their age

guiness pint

5 x Ireland Facts for Kids

  • Saint Patrick is the Patron Saint
  • The Irish hare is considered as the national animal
  • The Harp is the national symbol
  • Muckanaghederdauhaulia is the longest place name in Ireland, however, Sruffaunoughterluggatoora has been claimed as the longest place name as well with 25 letters
  • The country’s name in Irish is Eire
Irish symbols

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General Facts about Ireland

Below are some general info such as total population, land area, biggest lake, highest mountain and other general facts about Ireland that might be interesting to know.

  • Total Population: 6.6 million whereof 4,784 million (Republic of Ireland) and 1,875 million (Northern Ireland)
  • Capital: Dublin (Republic of Ireland) and Belfast (Northern Ireland)
  • Life expectancy: 81,61 years
  • Highest Mountain: Carrauntoohil (1038 meters)
  • Land area: 84,421 km2 (32,595 sq mi)
  • Largest Lake: Lough Neagh
  • National Day: 17 March
  • Government: Unitary parliamentary republic
  • President: Michael D. Higgins
  • Currency: Euro (€) (EUR)
  • Languages: English, Irish, Ulster Scots
  • Religion: Christianity (Roman Catholicism
  • Official Website: www.gov.ie
  • Member of Nato: No
  • Member of EU: Yes
  • Time zone: Greenwich Mean Time / Western European Time (UTC)
  • Country Number/Prefix: +353
  • Country Code: IE

The Biggest Cities in the Republic of Ireland

If you’re looking for facts about Ireland, it might also be interesting to know which are the biggest cities. Here’s a list of the top 10 biggest Irish cities ranked after population.

Dublin Cork
Limerick Galway
Waterford Drogheda
Swords Dundalk
Bray Navan

The biggest city in Northern Ireland in Belfast.

Flag of the Republic of Ireland

ireland flag

Photo: Shutterstock

Flag of Northern Ireland

Flag of Northern Ireland

Photo: Shutterstock

Map of Ireland

Below you can see the territory of the Republic of Ireland marked in yellow, and Northern Ireland marked in white. 

Ireland map

Photo: Shutterstock

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How many of these Irish Facts did you know beforehand? Share your result in the comment section below!

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Mohamad Alwadi

Tuesday 6th of April 2021

These facts were very interesting and i knew more than 70% of these facts