Many of us have Irish roots, and these fun facts about Ireland and the Irish people will tell you all you need to know about the Emerald Isle. From the Irish language to the world’s oldest yacht club, these Ireland facts will fascinate and delight you!
Fun Facts About Ireland
Irish culture is some of the most fascinating in the world! Irish folklore, Irish ancestry, and the Irish flag, this amazing country has so much to talk about that it’s hard to know where to start!
1. Ireland’s official name is the Republic of Ireland, or Poblacht na hÉireann in the native language of the country. It was called this officially after the separation from Great Britain and a civil war within the island nation between Republicans and British loyalists, eventually splitting the country in two when Ireland won independence. Ireland did not want to be part of the British Empire.
2. Ireland’s nickname is the Emerald Isle. This is for two reasons – the Republic of Ireland is a very green country due to its grass and trees, and the national symbol of Ireland is the shamrock, a green lucky clover.
3. Since modern Ireland formed in 1938, there have been nine presidents in the Irish government, including two female presidents. Their names are Douglas Hyde (1938 – 1945), Seán T. O’Kelly (1945 – 1959), Éamon de Valera (1959 – 1973), Erskine Hamilton Childers (1973 – 1974), Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh (1974 – 1976), Patrick Hillery (1976 – 1990), Mary Robinson (1990 – 1997), Mary McAleese (1997 – 2011), and Michael D. Higgins (2011 – present).
4. Ireland is a member of the European Union since 1973. It joined the Euro in 2002, before which Irish people used the Irish punt (pound). It has strong economic ties with mainland Europe.
5. Ireland is the only country in the EU that still guarantees open access to British citizens since Brexit. This is because of the Common Travel Area. Those with Irish passports can also freely travel to Great Britain.
6. Ireland legalised same sex marriage in 2015.
7. The River Shannon is an important national symbol of Irish culture and is the longest river in the British Isles. It was named after a Celtic goddess, Sionna.
8. Irish history goes back thousands of years. The Celtic people interacted with Ancient Greeks and Romans!
9. Ireland’s population is over five million people. About the same number of people visit Ireland every year!
10. The official languages of Ireland are English and Irish Gaelic. However, after English, most people speak Polish due to immigration, with Irish in third place.
Funny Irish Facts
Some facts about Ireland are pretty funny! Each fact about Ireland below is true, from the beer founded by Arthur Guinness to the Celtic festival that rivalled the Olympics!
11. The Irish chat show The Late Late Show is the world’s second-longest-running late-night show! The host, Ryan Tubridy, believes that the internet steals people’s personalities!
12. The Celtic harp or Gaelic harp (cláirseach) is an important national symbol of Ireland and Scotland – and yet the musical instrument is best known for appearing on the Guinness can!
13. One of the places where Harry Potter was filmed in Ireland is called Lemon Rock!
14. The Tailteann Games, Ireland’s own Olympics, were an Irish festival that included “sports” like storytelling! They were only for Irish citizens and their descendants.
15. The founder of the Guinness World Records was named Sir Hugh Beaver – and he wasn’t even Irish!
Dublin Facts & The National Symbol of Ireland
Dublin is the capital city of the Republic of Ireland and definitely its most well-known. Located in its own county, it’s the largest city in the Republic of Ireland and has plenty of interesting facts about the Irish city!
16. Phoenix Park is a large urban park that the Irish government is participating to be named a UNESCO world heritage site. Herds of fallow deer have lived there since the 17th century.
17. Dublin’s name means black pool in Irish – the same name as the English town Blackpool.
18. St James Gate Brewery is a famous landmark in Dublin – it’s where Guinness is brewed!
19. There’s a statue of Admiral William Brown in Dublin. He was an Irish-born man who founded the Argentine navy and is called the saviour of the South Atlantic ocean!
20. Trinity College, officially named as The Provost, Fellows, Foundation Scholars and the other members of Board, of the College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Queen Elizabeth near Dublin is the only constituent college of the University of Dublin, founded by Elizabeth I in 1592. It’s the most prestigious and famous university in Ireland and considered an elite college throughout Europe.
21. It’s situated on a bay in the Atlantic Ocean. A fact about Ireland is that international trade has always been common, first through the sea and then also through the sky.
22. Dublin Castle dates back to 1204. Right up until 1922, the British government had their seat there. Most of the modern building is from renovations made in the 18th century. Nowadays, the castle is a tourist attraction, an arts centre, a concert hall, a library, a café, and more!
23. Whitefriar Street Church is a Carmelite Catholic institution which hosts the relics of St. Valentine.
24. Apart from Irish nationals, the top five birthplaces of people living in Dublin are, in order: Poland, UK, Romania, Lithuania, and Brazil.
25. Many famous artists and literary figures come from Dublin, including Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, and George Bernard Shaw.
These fun facts about Ireland focus on Cork and Cork county. The facts about Ireland are mostly about the second largest city in Ireland, and contain Irish facts about its origins, Viking history, and interesting facts about modern Cork!
26. One of the most interesting facts about Ireland is that people from Cork often call it “the real capital city” because it opposed the treaty during the civil war. It’s also called the rebel city.
27. It’s home to one of the largest natural harbours in the world.
28. It was originally a monastic settlement, though the facts about Ireland that fascinate most people are about the Vikings who expanded the city!
29. The Cork accent (a suburban dialect of Hiberno-English) is very different from other Irish accents – one of the curious English and Irish facts about language!
30. The Irish Examiner, one of Ireland’s biggest papers, is based in Cork.
31. Cork has one of the biggest rail networks in Ireland.
32. The National Maritime College of Ireland in Cork is the only Irish college to offer Nautical Studies and Marine Engineering.
33. Both football and the native Gaelic hurling are the most popularly watched sports in Cork. One of the most interesting facts about Ireland is that they are very fond of native games that aren’t Anglo-based.
34. Cork is twinned with Cologne (Germany), Coventry (England), Rennes (France), San Francisco (USA), Swansea (Wales), and Shanghai (China).
35. More than 75% of Cork residents are Catholic.
Facts About Waterford
Waterford is the oldest city in Ireland and the fifth most populated today. These facts about Ireland cover Waterford and its Viking history.
36. The Irish name of Waterford is Port Láirge, meaning “Lárag’s port”.
37. It used to be known for glassmaking, and many museums are dedicated to this past.
38. Though the first settlements were founded by Viking raiders, the native Irish drove them out for ten years before they came back and established the city.
39. The first flight of a huge European airline, Ryanair, was between Waterford and London Gatwick.
40. The city hosts the Waterford Winterval every Christmas, one of its many festivals.
Facts About Longford
The biggest town in Ireland, located in County Longford, is home to a third of the country’s population! These Irish facts are dedicated to the town.
41. It’s one of the only ports that wasn’t founded by Vikings or Normans!
42. You can sail from Dublin to Longford via the Shannon!
43. St. Mel’s College, a boy’s school only, was founded 150 years ago. There’s also a girl’s school, Scoil Mhuire. Both of these are run by the Catholic church.
44. The name “Longford” is an Anglicised corruption of Longphort, meaning “ship port”
45. Longford is surrounded by many portal dolmens. These are megalithic tombs, made of a single chamber by piling one huge horizontal stone on top of two vertical stones. They are anywhere up to 4,000 years old! These used to be covered in earth and stones, but this has mostly worn away.
Ireland Culture & Irish Flag Facts
46. The Irish flag is a tricolour of green, white, and orange. The green represents Catholics, the orange Protestants, and the white peace between them.
47. The Irish Royal Yacht Club is the world’s oldest yacht club. It’s also known as the Royal Cork Yacht Club and is in County Cork.
48. John Philip Holland was an Irish engineer who was the first submarine in the US Navy, one of many Irish ex-pats in the US.
49. The harvest festival is celebrated all over Ireland.
50. The Wild Atlantic Way is a famous coastal route around Ireland. The Wild Atlantic Way is one of the longest defined coastal routes in the world.
51. Ireland’s most famous counties are County Cork, County Meath, County Kerry, and County Mayo. County Mayo has nothing to do with mayonnaise!
52. Tara Mine is Europe’s largest zinc mine.
Facts About St Patrick and St Patricks Day
Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and St Patrick’s Day is one of the most celebrated holidays worldwide for those of Irish descent – as well as those that aren’t! These Ireland facts talk about the saint and the holiday!
53. St Patrick is said to have driven all the wild snakes out of the country. There are no wild snakes there now!
54. St. Patrick’s day is held on the 17th of March.
55. St Patrick is Ireland’s patron saint
56. St Patrick is a saint in both Catholicism and the Eastern Orthodox church.
57. He was never formally canonised, unlike other saints
58. Irish people use St Patrick’s day as a tourist attraction!
59. St Patrick lived in the 5th century
60. Legend tells how he converted the polytheistic Irish people to Christianity
More Facts About Europe
Sylvie Simpson is the founder of European Cities with Kids. For the past 6 years, she has been travelling all over Europe whenever she has the chance, both solo, for work and with her daughter. Sylvie is on a mission to help people make the most of city breaks in Europe with kids and helps over 50,000 readers per month plan and make the most of their trips in Europe with kids.