10 fun facts about Ireland

August 12, 2021 by
POSTED BY August 12, 2021

Learn everything you didn’t know about Europe’s third largest island in these fun facts about Ireland. When did the Irish language originate? Why do people in Ireland like to watch the Eurovision Song Contest? Where is the world’s oldest working lighthouse? Here are our 10 fun facts about Ireland!

1. Halloween originated in Ireland

The spooky autumn festival Halloween is originally an Irish celebration. The holiday comes from a Celtic tradition: Samhain. Originally, large bonfires were lit during this festival to chase away evil spirits.

2. Ireland’s national symbol is a harp

Ireland is the only country in the world with a musical instrument as its national symbol: the Irish harp. Many know this symbol as the logo of the popular Irish beer brand Guinness. Funnily enough, the harp was used by Guinness before it became Ireland’s national symbol.

The Irish government had to ask the Guinness family for a favor to take over the trademark. That wasn’t a problem, Guinness decided, as long as the national harp was depicted identically to their own – this is still the case today.

Did you know that Lough Tay on the Wicklow Way, once owned by the Guinness Family, is also know as the Guinness Lake due to it’s resemblance to a pint of the black stuff?

Lough Tay, Wicklow Way

3. The Irish language is one of the oldest living languages

Two official languages ​​are spoken in Ireland: English and Irish. The Irish language is also called Gaelic and is a completely different language from English. Word order is reversed and characters are used that do not appear in the English alphabet.

So one of our fun facts about Ireland has to be about the Irish language, of course! Gaelic is one of the oldest living languages ​​in the world. Although scientists disagree on the exact dates, the Irish language probably originated some 3,000 to 4,000 years ago. That would mean that the Irish language is about as old as Chinese, Ancient Greek and Hebrew.

4. Dracula’s writer was Irish

Although the setting of Dracula is Romanian Transylvania, the writer of the story was an Irishman: Bram Stoker. Stoker studied at Trinity College, Dublin, as did famous writers Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett and Jonathan Swift. Every year Dublin hosts the Bram Stoker festival in honor of the literary hero.

Want to visit a Gaelic speaking area of Ireland, known as a Gaeltacht? Check out our Dingle Way or Connemara tours.

Hiking Dingle Way Hillwalk Tours Ltd.
Slea Head, Dingle Way, Ireland

5. Dublin was founded by Vikings

The Irish capital was not built by Irish, but by marauding Normans. Dublin was founded in the ninth century as a strategic settlement by the Vikings. They plundered the coastal towns in the area and then returned with their longships to their camp, which was probably exactly where Dublin Castle now stands.

6. The average Irishman drinks around 100 liters of beer a year

This information about Ireland confirms all stereotypes: every year Ireland drinks an average of 100 liters of beer per person. This puts the country in the top 10 of the world’s largest beer drinkers. In Dublin, there is even a pub for every hundred inhabitants.

Temple Bar pub in Dublin
Temple Bar pub in Dublin

7. Ireland has won 7 times in the Eurovision Song Contest

The Irish do like a night on the couch with the Eurovision Song Contest. They have won the European talent show no fewer than seven times (in 1970, 1980, 1987, 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1996). That’s more than any other country that has ever entered the competition!

8. More ‘Irish’ live outside of Ireland than in there

This is one of the tidbits about Ireland that not everyone agrees on. After all, there are tons of ways to tell if someone is Irish. This can only apply to people born in Ireland or also to the children of one or two Irish parents. Anyone who goes far enough down the family tree will always end up with a desired ancestry – as it turns out, Barack Obama’s great-great-grandfather was an Irishman who left for America in 1850.

In this way, there are over 35 million Americans of Irish ancestry – more than seven times the population of Ireland. About a third of Australians are also Irish descendants. Sometimes these family ties are many generations old, but the numbers don’t lie: the Irish have spread widely across the globe!

If you surname is O’Sullivan, O’Connor, Shea, Murphy, McCarthy, Fitzgerald, O’Connell or Donoghue, you likely have a connection to Co. Kerry. Investigate more on a Kerry Way walking tour.

Hiking The Kerry Way Hillwalk Tours Ltd.
Hiking The Kerry Way

9. The world’s oldest working lighthouse is in Ireland

The black and white striped building of this lighthouse has been around for about 800 years, but light beacons were already used on this site in the fifth century. Hook Lighthouse is located on the south coast of Ireland in County Wexford. It is one of the area’s most popular attractions. The lighthouse is still in use, but has not been manned since the tower switched to automatic control in 1996.

10. There are no wild snakes in Ireland

According to a famous legend, Saint St. Patrick chased all the snakes from the island of Ireland after the animals attacked him. Indeed, anyone who has ever been to Ireland will not have encountered a snake. However, this has little to do with St. Patrick, scientists say. There have been no snakes in Ireland at all since the last Ice Age. Well, except at the zoo.

Legend has it that St. Patrick banished snakes from Ireland from the top of Croagh Patrick. You will pass Croagh Patrick on a walking tour of Connemara.

View of Clew Bay from Croagh Patrick

We hope that you enjoyed these 10 fun facts about Ireland. If you are interested in an Ireland hiking tour, just get in touch.