W H E R E B I A B E G A N . . .
SOME FUN FACTS ABOUT IRELAND
English is widely spoken in Ireland, and many locals claim it as their first language, but, in fact, Irish is the official language. It is used on all official government documents as well public transport navigation, signs and public buildings. Give a try: Dia dhuit (dee-ah ghwitch) is “hello;” slán leat (slawn lat) is “goodbye;” and
conas atá tú (kun-ass-a-taw-too) is “how are you?”
Newgrange, a prehistoric monument in the north east of Ireland,(you had northern Ireland – please note this is a different country!) is 5,000 years old—which makes it older than the ancient pyramid of Giza and Stonehenge! Each winter solstice, the sun shines into the tomb and illuminates the entire chamber. People flock to witness this sight—so much so that the government runs a lottery every year, and only 60 people are selected to enter the tomb as this is the maximum amount of people the chamber can hold.
The first St. Patrick’s Day parade was actually held in the US—not Ireland! In 1762, Irish soldiers serving in the English army celebrated the day by marching through the streets of New York City.
And on that topic, St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was not actually Irish. He was born as Maewyn Succat, in Wales around 386AD, captured by British pirates and sold into slavery in Ireland. Later in his life, he returned to Ireland to help spread Christianity.
There are more Irish people living outside Ireland than inside it! Our current population is around 4.83 million. Before the Great Famine of 1845, the population was 8 million, but the famine caused mass immigration. Today, almost 80 million people around the world have Irish passports.
The longest name of a place in Ireland is Muckanaghederdauhaulia or, in Irish Muiceanach idir Dhá Sháile, which translates to “a pig-shaped hill between two seas.”
For a small country Ireland boasts the longest defined coastal driving route in the world. The Wild Atlantic Way is an exceptionally beautiful course that stretches from the cliffs of Donegal to the beaches of Cork, a 2,500-kilometer distance that passes through nine counties.
Ireland was the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage by public referendum. An overwhelming majority—68%—of the population voted this into law in May 2015.
The upgrading of a national motorway in Ireland was delayed and eventually re-rerouted because of a fairy tree—a type of tree considered sacred in Irish folklore. According to the well-respected local folklorist Eddie Lenihan, this specific fairy tree marked a spot where fairies once battled. Damaging the tree, Lenihan warned, would unleash the wrath of the fairies to the construction workers and motorists. A decision was made to fence off the tree and protect it!
Yes, it really does rain a lot in Ireland. In the summer of 2007, it rained for 49 consecutive days, from June 11th to July 29th, setting a new record.