Little known facts about Ireland

1. Ireland is the third largest island in Europe and the twentieth largest in the world.
2. Ireland is the only country in the world that has a musical instrument – the harp – as its national symbol. The oldest known harp in existence is housed in Trinity College, Dublin. It dates back to at least 1300.
3. Until 1973, women employed in the public service faced mandatory retirement once they got married.
4. The first Irish Constitution was signed at Dublin’s Shelbourne Hotel.
5. The River Shannon is the longest river in Ireland or Britain.
6. The longest place name in Ireland is Muckanaghederdauhaulia, in County Galway.
7. James Joyce once described Guinness stout as "the wine of Ireland."
8. Shannon became the world’s first duty-free airport in 1947.
9. One of the most popular radio shows in rural Ireland is still the daily broadcast of local obituaries.
10. The Newgrange passage tomb in County Meath was constructed around 3200 BC, making it more than 600 years older than the Giza Pyramids in Egypt, and 1,000 years older than Stonehenge.
11. The guillotine was used by the Irish 500 years before the French adopted it. An old print of a gentleman named Murcod Ballagh shows him using a guillotine in County Galway on April 1, 1307.
12. The average height of Irish men is 5' 8" and women is 5'5".
13. 9% of Irish are redheads
14. ~80% of Irish nationals are Catholic, but only 18% attend mass (2011). In 1984, nearly 90% were Catholic and 90% of them attended mass weekly.
15.  In 2010, Dublin was named UNESCO City of Literature, one of only 4 in the world. The island of Ireland has three UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
16. The word "boycott" originated in Ireland, after the town of Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo started a campaign of isolation against Charles Cunningham Boycott, a land agent who worked for the 3rd Lord Erne. In 1880, all local shops refused to serve him, and some were threatened. The story made newspaper headlines in the UK and caused military to be sent in to harvest the crops on the estate at huge cost. No one does a good silent treatment like the Irish.
17. Ireland has one of only 11 certified International Dark Sky Reserves -- the Kerry Dark Sky Reserve
18. Ireland has the world's longest defined coastal driving route -- the Wild Atlantic Way.
19. More of Irish territory lies beneath the sea than above it.
20. Ireland is the first and only country to legalize same sex marriage via a referendum that dictated an amendment to the constitution. .
21. The Irish consume in average 131.1 liters of beer per year - the 2nd highest per-capita consumption after the Czech Republic.
22. The three most famous symbols of Ireland are the green Shamrock, the harp, and the Celtic cross.
23. Ireland has won the Eurovision Song Contest seven times (in 1970, 1980, 1987, 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1996), more than any other country.
24. Hook Lighthouse is thought to be the oldest working lighthouse in Europe, possibly in the world. Located at Hook Head, in County Wexford, the present structure was completed either in 1172 or in 1245, although the first lighthouse on that spot dates back to the 5th century.
25. Ireland's oldest pub is Sean's Bar in Athlone. It is thought that Sean’s Bar dates back as far as 900 and even the Guinness Book of Records has decreed that it is the oldest pub in Europe. During renovations in 1970, the walls of the bar were found to be made of wattle and wicker dating back to the ninth century. Old coins were also found and dated to this period and are now on display in the National Museum. The oldest pub in Dublin, the Brazen Head, dates back to 1198. The country's oldest licensed pub is Grace Neill's Bar in Donaghadee, established in 1611. 
26. On 9th July 1939, the Pan Am Clipper III left Botwood, Newfoundland, and landed the next day at Foynes, County Limerick. It was the first direct commercial passenger flight from America to Europe.
27. The world's first suburban commuter railway opened between Dublin and Dun Laoghaire in 1834 (two years before the London and Greenwich Railway).
28. Founded in 1745, the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin is the world's oldest continuously operating maternity hospital. Soon to be replaced.
29. The Boyne coracle, or curragh, is the oldest surviving kind of boat in Europe. It is still built in the same way as it was in the Neolithic, or possibly even Mesolithic.
30. The Céide Fields in County Mayo are the most extensive Stone Age site in the world. It contains the oldest known field systems in the world (6,000 years old), as well as Europe's largest stone enclosure (77 km).
31. According to the Irish Independent Newspaper, the Republic of Ireland (excluding Northern Ireland) has around 7,500 pubs. The figure used to be around 8,500 but over one thousand pubs have disappeared since the height of the Celtic Tiger financial boom. So with a population of 4.7 million that means there's a pub for every 630 people!
32. The more than 7,000 Irish pubs located outside of Ireland (almost equaling the number of pubs in Ireland itself), where many people get their first taste of the Irish experience, play an important ambassadorial role. Everyone loves the Irish pub.
33. Ireland is the big island off the coast of Achill.
34. Reports of the length of Ireland's coastline vary depending on how it is measured. Wikipedia reports it as 6,347 km.
35. The Wild Atlantic Way winding from Cork to Donegal is a more than 2,500 km long driving route along the coast, with 156 discovery points. It is reputedly the longest defined coastal route in the world.
36. By 2020, there will be approximately 1,200 km of motorway in Ireland: Ireland will have a ratio of 1 km of motorway to every 4,277.56 people (assuming a population of 4.5 million) by 2015. This compares to a current ratio of 1 km of motorway to every 6,017.32 people in Belgium.
37. It is rumoured that Ireland has the highest per capita network of roads in the world.
38. Longevity is a common trait among the Irish.  Records indicate that a laboring man who lived in County Cork in the early 19th century died at the age of 127. The piece described him as healthy, “He walked four months before he died without the help of a stick or crutch, could see without spectacles, retained his senses and appetite to the last, and was followed to the grave by his descendants of the seventh generation."
39. The oldest known manuscript of the New Testament of the Holy Bible is housed in the Chester Beatty Library, next to Dublin Castle, in Dublin City Center.
40. When in 1976 the Irish Government was cited for failing to comply with the European Economic Community guidelines by implementing the agreed sex equality legislation, they advertised to fill the position of an equal pay enforcement officer quoting different salaries for men and women.
41. Ireland is the first country in the world to legalize same sex marriage via referendum. On Friday May 22nd Ireland voted to approve changing the Constitution to extend civil marriage rights to same-sex couples and thus became the first country to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote: Yes vote confirmed at 62% against 38% for No side with a turnout of more than 60%.
42. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is the fourth openly gay head of government in modern European history.
43.  In the Irish language, there is no word for ‘yes’ or ‘no’. If you want to confirm or deny something, you must say ‘I did’ or ‘I didn’t’. For example, if someone asks ‘will you have cup of tea?’, you would answer ‘I will, thanks’.
44. To reach the top of the Irish music charts, an album only needs to sell 5,000 copies, while a book only has to sell 3,000 copies to make it to the top of the bestsellers list.
45. The longest running television show, not just in Ireland but in the world, is The Late Late Show, running since 1961 (the same year television was introduced to Ireland).  It has had only four hosts  – Gay Byrne for 37 years, Frank Hall for a brief period in 1964, Pat Kenny for ten years, and most recently, Ryan Tubridy since 2009.
46. All polar bears are descended from brown bears that lived in Ireland more than 10,000 years ago.
47. THE REAL FIRST SAINT OF EIRE...Ireland's first saint was not Saint Patrick. He was Saint Abban, who went to preach in England during the 2nd century.
48. In the days when sailing ships were the primary mode of transport, Irish sea captains often carried pebbles from Scattery Island, the home of the Saint Cannera, the patron saint of sailors.
49. Saint Brendan is said to have discovered America 1,000 years before Columbus.
50. The Newgrange passage tomb in County Meath was constructed around 3200 BC, making it more than 600 years older than the Giza Pyramids in Egypt, and 1,000 years older than Stonehenge.
51. Bram Stoker was working as a civil servant in Dublin when he wrote Dracula in 1897.
52. Gulliver’s Travels author Jonathan Swift is buried in St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin.
53. The pilgrim mariners' route from the British Isles to Spain went from Dingle to Noia. Santiago de Compostela is known locally as "el Dingle de Santiago" in memory of a journey that Irish religious pilgrims made there in medieval times.
54. Ireland’s highest mountain is Carrantouhill, in County Kerry (3,445 feet).
55. Former President Barack Obama’s maternal great, great, great grandfather Fulmuth Kearney came from Moneygall, in County Offaly. Mr. Kearney came to America in 1850.According to some historians, more than 40% of all American presidents have had some Irish ancestry.
56. In 1859, Irish scientist John Tyndall was the first to correctly explain why the sky is blue.
57. The Vikings founded Dublin in 988. Dublin was originally called Dubh Linn, which means "Black Pool"in Irish. The name refers to an ancient treacle lake in the city, which is now part of a penguin enclosure at the Dublin City Zoo. Dyflin was the Viking name for Dublin.
58. Kilkenny-born architect James Hoban designed the original White House in Washington after winning a competition sponsored by President George Washington and Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson in 1792. 
59. The tune of the "Star Spangled Banner" was composed by the great blind harpist, Turlough O’Carolan, who died about 35 years before the American revolution.
60. The first American general to die in The Revolution was Richard Montgomery, who was born in Donegal.
61. Aran Island jumpers (sweaters) have a variety of family weaves. When a fisherman drowned, his jumper  would often be the only thing recognizable to wash up on shore. The distinctive weave would identify which family's loved one had been lost.
62. There are seven huge stone forts on the Aran Islands: Dun Aonghasa, Dun Ducathair, Dun Eoghanachta and Dun Eochla on Inishmore; Dun Chonchuir and Dun Fearbhai on Inishmaan, and Dun Formna on Inisheer. The preface "Dun" means "fort of a chieftain."
63. There are seven prehistoric stone forts on the Aran Islands: Dun Aonghasa, Dun Ducathair, Dun Eoghanachta and Dun Eochla on Inishmore; Dun Chonchuir and Dun Fearbhai on Inishmaan, and Dun Formna on Inisheer. The preface "Dun" means fort of a chieftain. Perched on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic ocean, Dún Aonghasa is the largest of the forts. It consists of three massive dry-stone walls and a chevaux-de-frise, a dense band of jagged, upright stones, surrounding the fort from cliff to cliff, designed to impede attackers. Originally constructed c.1100 BC, it was re-fortified around 700-800 AD.
64. Same sex marriage was performed in Ireland in the 12th and 13th centuries. Gerlad of Wales or Giraldus Cambrensis journeyed extensively through Ireland and Wales. In his Topographica Hibernica (Topography of Ireland, 1187) he describes the practice of same-sex marriages amongst the Irish. Same sex marriage was performed in the Catholic church.
65. In 2018, the people of Ireland voted to remove abortion from the Constitution. With 64.1% turnout, the referendum was passed by a clear majority (66% yes vs 34% no). The Yes side won the referendum on whether to repeal the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits abortion. 


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