Ireland is the third-largest island in Europe and the second largest of the British Isles. There are two countries on Ireland island: the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. The Republic of Ireland covers five-sixth of the island and has a population of about 4.9 million as of 2020. If you plan a stopover in the country, here are some fun and exciting facts about Ireland.
General Facts About Ireland
1. Ireland is known as the Emerald isle
The Emerald Isle is a widespread nickname use to refer to Ireland. The country's beautiful green landscapes and the continuous rain are the reasons for Ireland to have such a nickname.
The name originated in the 18th century when an Irish poet William Drennan referred to his country as the "the emerald of Europe." The combination of rainfall and mild temperatures of the country creates the ideal conditions for green landscapes.
2. Ireland and Northern Ireland are two separate countries
Many often consider Ireland to be one country and it's probably one of the confusing facts about Ireland. This statement is partially correct as there was only a single country in history.
The separation occurred in 1921 when the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland divided Ireland as Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland. Southern Ireland later left the UK and became the Republic of Ireland, while Northern Ireland remains under the UK.
3. The Celts are the first inhabitants of Ireland
Celts migrated from the European continent and inhabited Ireland in around 300bc. Celtic civilization flourished in Ireland, and as a result, some of the culture and traditions still prevail in modern Ireland.
Later Christianity made its way to the country, aided mainly by the bishop saint Patrick. In 1604, Ireland became under English rule until the separation in 1921.
4. Ireland flag featured a golden harp in the past
The modern Irish flag features three colours of Green, White, and Orange. However, it was different in the past. Ireland used a flag featuring a golden harp in a green background in the 1640s.
Even though there isn't any evidence, many historians believe the harp was a standard instrument in Celtic culture and therefore used to represent it. When Ireland became independent in 1922, the current flag became the official flag of the country.
5. Saint Patrick’s Day is a public holiday in Ireland
Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. The day honours Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity of Ireland and the culture and heritage of the Irish people in general.
Saint Patrick's Day falls on the 17th of March every year, which also happens to be the death date of Saint Patrick. The celebration involves public parades and wearing green attire.
Interesting Facts About Ireland
6. Halloween is originated in Ireland
One of the most interesting facts about Ireland is that it is the birthplace of Halloween. It all began with the Celts, who were the early inhabitants of Ireland, celebrated October 31st as the end of the harvest season in the Samhain festival.
They considered the night of October 31st to be a magical time when the ghosts of the dead walked the earth. So people wore scary costumes and lit bonfires to ward off these spirits.
7. There are no female Leprechauns
There are several symbols the Irish use to represent the country and culture. The golden harp, Shamrock leaf, and Leprechaun are some of the most popular.
The Leprechaun is a creature that appears in Irish mythology and folklore as a little bearded man, wearing a coat and a hat. According to legend, they have a hidden pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, and there are no female Leprechauns.
8. Ireland went through a Potato famine
One of the most interesting and daunting facts about Ireland is the Potato Famine.
Ireland faced a famine from 1845 to 1852 when potato crops were failing and turning black and rotten due to potato blight or fungus Phytophthora Infestans.
Potatoes were the most critical crop of the country during this time, and it was the primary source of food for the rural poor. About 20% - 25% of the population either died or fled the country due to this famine.
9. Cliffs of Moher are the most popular tourist attraction of Ireland
The cliffs of Moher are a sea cliff located at the southwestern edge of the Burren region in County Clare.
The cliffs reach a maximum height of 214 meters and stretching over 8km. The place attracts around 1.5 million visitors annually for its sheer size and breath-taking views of the landscape.
10. Ireland has the highest number of red-haired people per capita in the world
Even though the UK, in general, has a higher population of red-haired people, Ireland has the highest number of red-haired people per capita.
Over 10% of Ireland's population has red hair and it's probably one of the most interesting Ireland facts. The Celtic influence on the country's history is the main reason for having such a higher figure.