40 Interesting Facts About Ireland

  1. The Republic of Ireland is a country on the island of Ireland in Western Europe. It occupies more than 80% of the island, while the remaining northeastern part is Northern Ireland, a country in the UK.
  2. Ireland has the highest percentage (10%) of people with red hair. Scotland has the second-highest percentage, having 6% redheaded people, while this hair color is present in less than 1% population in most other countries. (Source)
  3. Humans initially inhabited Ireland around 6000 BC. The country united for the first time in 1014 after an agreement between the Vikings and Celts.
  4. Ireland mostly remained an integral part of or a client state of England (and Great Britain) from the second half of the 12th Century until the 19th Century. It gained independence from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in 1922. The northern part of Ireland (6 out of 32 counties) remained part of Great Britain due to its Protestant-majority population.
  5. The proponents of the union of Ireland fought a low-scale guerilla war on the Northern Island for 30 years (1968 to 1998), known as the Troubles. It resulted in nearly 50,000 casualties (including more than 3,500 deaths), and the conflict ended in 1998 after the Good Friday Agreement.
  6. The Irish Potato Famine, or the Great Hunger, was the deadliest in Europe during the 19th Century. The famine happened due to potato blight, a disease caused by a water mold from 1845-49. The famine decreased the population of Ireland considerably due to nearly 1 million deaths and 2 million emigrants in the following years.
  7. Around 10 million people have emigrated from Ireland since the 19th Century, making it the most affected European country by migration. Nearly 50% of people born in Ireland during the 19th Century immigrated, particularly to the New World. Irish were the largest diaspora from Europe between the mid-19th Century and the start of World War 1. (Source)
  8. The Phoenix Park in Dublin is the largest enclosed park in any European capital city. This park, established in 1662, is five times larger than London’s Hyde Park. Its attractions include hundreds of deer, the Dublin Zoo, the Victorian People’s Flower Garden, and the residence of the Irish president. (Source)
    Deer in Phoenix Park, Ireland
    Phoenix Park is the largest enclosed park in any European capital

  9. Ireland is the third least-forested country in the European Union (EU). Only 11% of Ireland has forest cover, surpassing only Malta (1%) and the Netherlands (10%). (Source)
  10. The Ceide Fields and the Northwest Mayo Bogland in Ireland were constructed around 5,700 years ago and spread over 12 km2. It is the oldest enclosed landscape in Europe and the most expansive Stone Age monument. (Source)
  11. Ireland has the 4th highest GNI per capita among sovereign countries. It is only behind Switzerland, Norway, and Luxembourg. (Source)
  12. Ireland remained poor for two centuries until the mid-1990s. However, its economy grew from 1995 to 2007, known as the Celtic Tiger period. The reasons behind this economic boom are low corporate tax, economic openness, foreign investment, a peace agreement with Northern Ireland, an educated and skilled workforce, and good governance.
  13. Ireland banned smoking in all indoor workplaces in 2004, the first country with this prohibition. This ban considerably reduced indoor air contaminants, including fine particulate matter, benzene, CO, and salivary cotinine. (Source)
  14. Ireland officially adopted a neutral military policy since World War 2. Ireland is a member of the European Union (EU) but not a part of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization). However, the Irish military has participated in several peacekeeping missions under the United Nations.
  15. Ireland has the 3rd highest position on the economic freedom index in the world, with a score of 82.0. The two countries on the top of this index are Singapore (84.4) and Switzerland (84.2). (Source)
  16. Ireland-based Ryanair is the largest budget airline in Europe and one of the biggest in the world. It operates around 450 aircraft.
  17. Irish and English are the first and second official languages, respectively. However, most of the population speaks English, while Irish is only predominant on the western coast. Polish also has a sizeable number of speakers due to the language of an ethnic minority group and Polish immigrants.
  18. Irish Gaelic is one of the oldest living languages in the world. This language started in 5 CE and remained the majority language of Ireland before the 19th Century.
  19. Ireland has the 2nd highest percentage of tertiary education in the EU, only behind Luxembourg. More than 60% of Irish citizens between 25 and 34 years had a post-secondary degree in 2021. (Source)
  20. Irishmen are known for their literary work, which earned them several Nobel prizes. These include W.B. Yeats (1923), George Bernard Shaw (1925), and Samuel Beckett (1969). Notable and internationally-recognized Irish literary works include Dracula (Bram Stoker), Gulliver’s Travels (Jonathan Swift), and Brooklyn (Colm Toibin).
  21. Irish literature is the 3rd oldest in Europe after the literature of Greek and Latin. It originated around the 5th Century CE.
  22. Countries around Europe have participated in Eurovision Song Contest annually since its inauguration in 1956. Ireland is the most successful in this event, with seven victories. (Source)
  23. In 2015, Ireland became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage through a popular referendum. Nearly 62% of Irish citizens voted in favor of this law.
  24. The Irish harp is the national emblem of Ireland, the only country with a musical instrument as a national symbol. It became the country’s national emblem in 1922 after independence. (Source)
    A girl playing Irish harp
    Ireland is the only country with a musical instrument as national symbol

  25. More than 80% of Irish follow Christianity (particularly Catholicism), while nearly 10% are non-religious.
  26. Ireland is one of the few islands without snakes. Many Christians believe that St. Patrick banished them during the 5th Century AD. However, Ireland remained free of snakes due to the latest Ice Age that ended 10,000 years ago. The rise in seawater vanished land bridge between Ireland and Britain 2,000 years ago, which saved Ireland from snakes present in Britain. The common lizard is the only native reptile in Ireland. (Source)
  27. Tara mine in Ireland is the largest zinc mine in Europe. It started production in 1977. (Source)
  28. More than 20 US Presidents have Irish ancestry. These also include current president Joe Biden. (Source)
  29. The head office of Guinness World Records is in London. However, the plan for a book of facts originated in Ireland when its founder, Hugh Beaver, failed to settle an argument about the fastest European game bird in a bar in County Wexford. (Source)
  30. River Shannon in Ireland is the longest river in the British Isles. Its length is more than 220 miles.
  31. The Wild Atlantic Way is the world’s longest coastal driving route. It stretches over 1,600 miles on the west coast of Ireland.
  32. Ireland is named after Eriu, a goddess in ancient mythology. The country is known as the “Emerald Isle” due to its greenery and beauty.
  33. The Rotunda is the oldest continuously operating maternity hospital, established in 1745 in Dublin.
  34. Ireland is the world’s biggest exporter of hormones, nucleic acids, nitrogen heterocyclic compounds, sulfonamides, and scented mixtures. On the other hand, it is the biggest importer of unpackaged medicaments. (Source)
  35. Hurling originated in Ireland around 2000 years ago. It combines various features of golf, hockey, and football and is famous for being the fastest and oldest field sport. (Source)
  36. Sean’s Bar in Ireland is the oldest known pub in the world, founded in 900 CE. The Brazen Head (1198 CE) and kyteler’s Inn (1263 CE) in Ireland are the 5th and 7th oldest bars. (Source)
  37. The Royal Cork Yacht Club in Ireland is the oldest in the world. It was founded in 1720 by the great-grandson of King Charles II of England, William O’Brien.
  38. Ireland has the 2nd highest tea consumption per capita after Turkey. Irish citizens consume 2.19 kg of tea annually. The most popular is black tea. (Source)
  39. Irish scientists are behind several inventions that changed the modern world. A few of the most prominent ones include color photography (John Joly), the cure for leprosy(Vincent Barry), the submarine (John Philip Holland), and guided missile (Louis Brennan).
  40. The world’s first duty-free shop opened at Shannon Airport, Ireland. It happened in 1951. (Source)

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