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17 magical facts about Ireland. Photo: TripSavy

Ireland! Home to Guinness, river dancing, and leprechauns! But did you know Saint Patrick wasn’t Irish? What about the origins of Halloween? Can you try your hand at pronouncing the longest place name in Ireland? It’s 25 characters long!

Find the answer to all these questions and more with these 17 magical facts about Ireland!

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 the 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

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Irish People. Photo: The Journal.ie

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.

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

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Photo: Homestratophere

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!

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%.

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.

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Photo: The Drink Business

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!

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. St. Patrick Wasn't Irish

He was born in Great Britain (historians are unsure if he was born in Wales, Scotland or England) and at the age of 16 was kidnapped by Irish raiders. He was a slave in Ireland for six years working as a sheepherder. After six years, he went home and studied religion to become an ordained priest. He later returned to Ireland as a missionary. We celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on the day of his death: March 17th.

12. Postal Codes

Ireland is one of the few countries in the world, and the only country in the EU, that does not have postal codes (with the exception of Dublin city). However, the country is in the process of designing and implementing a nation-wide postcode system for 2015.

13. The first St. Patrick’s Day Parade

The first St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in the United States, not in Ireland. In 1762 (technically, it was called the colonies at this point), Irish soldiers serving in the English army celebrated the day by marching through New York City streets. Today, the parade is an official city event.

14. Muckanaghederdauhaulia

That is the name of a small village in Connemara in Co. Galway. It is the longest place name in English with 22 letters. Try saying that 5 times fast…or really just once is hard enough.

15. Halloween comes from the Celtic harvest festival of Samhain

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Halloween in Ireland. Photo: Traveling in Heels

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.

16. 82% of Irish citizens are nominally Roman Catholic

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

17. The story of the world-famous vampire Count Dracula was written in 1897 by Bram Stoker, from Dublin.

His real-life inspiration for his character was a friend of his, the actor Sir Henry Irving. Count Dracula was the culmination of 20 years of vampire stories in Victorian literature. Dracula is said to have been inspired by the early Irish legend of Abhartach, an evil chieftain who, after being betrayed by his subjects and slain by the hero Cathrain, rose from his grave every night to drink the blood of his subjects.

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

How many of these facts did you know before reading our article? Share your answer in the comment box! For more interesting news and facts about the world, check out our website!

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