30 Interesting and Fun Facts about Ireland that will blow your mind!

facts about Ireland and Irish history

There are so many interesting facts about Ireland. This beautiful European country is one of the most amazing places in the world. The Irish are adorable people and they have given to the world way more than you may think!

The capital of the Republic of Ireland is Dublin. Although this is a beautiful city and it should be on your bucket list, this is not the only place in Ireland where you can learn more about history. The natural landmarks are also amazing and the small towns are incredibly pretty!

Whether you are visiting Ireland soon or just want to know more about your own country, we are here to help! We put together an incredible selection of fun facts about Ireland and the Irish culture.

Please note that this post is only about the Republic of Ireland which means it doesn’t include facts about Belfast of Northern Ireland (which is part of the UK).

So, are you ready to discover what makes Ireland amazing? Let’s dive in!

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no extra cost for you!

Interesting Facts about Ireland and Irish Culture

Table of Contents

Fun facts about Ireland

If we had to choose only one word to describe Ireland, that would probably be fun! The stories, the people… everything about it is so cool and entertaining. You are always guaranteed to have a great time there.

In this section, we want to make you smile and selected some fun facts about Ireland.

St Patrick wasn’t from Ireland

St Patrick is the most famous Irish in the world. Yet, he wasn’t actually from Ireland! He was born in Wales and sent to Ireland as a missionary. At the time, Protestants were taking over most countries in Northern Europe. The Catholic church felt the need to “protect” Ireland from protestants and sent St Patrick on a mission.

He quickly became a bishop and the patron saint of Ireland.

His death is celebrated each year on St Patrick’s Day which is on the 17th of March.

There are no snakes in Ireland

Ireland is one of the rare places in the world where you can’t find any snakes. According to the legend, St Patrick chased them into the sea after they started attacking him.

Although this is a beautiful tale, scientists disagree with that.

According to the science community, the reason why there aren’t any snakes in Ireland is geological. The island of Ireland was disconnected from the mainland during the ice age. At this time, there were no cold-blooded reptiles. They only appeared later on.

It’s the same thing for other islands in the world such as Hawaii.

There are no female Leprechauns

Leprechauns in Ireland
Photo credit: Kameleon007 via Canva Pro

This is a bit of a surprising fact about Ireland as the Irish themselves are known to be open-minded people however, there is simply no female Leprechauns. You can check all the books where they appear, they are always male.

Ireland is the most successful Eurovision Song Contest country

The Eurovision is one of the oldest song contests in the world. It started in 1956 and Ireland is the country that won the most times!

The first win was in 1970 with the song ‘All Kinds of Everything’, written by Derry Lindsay and Jackie Smith, and sung by Dana (Rosemary Brown).

Altogether, Ireland won 7 times!

The Irish hold the Guinness World Record of the most cookies baked in 1 hour

Ireland is a funny country and the Irish hold some unexpected Guinness World record. Amongst the funniest ones you will find:

  • Most cookies baked in an hour
  • World’s largest tea towel
  • Most cups of tea made in 1 hour by a team of 12
  • Highest combined age

Ireland has the highest number of red-haired people per capita in the world

Red hair girl in Ireland
Photo credit: Misfire Asia via Canva Pro

Over 10% of the population has red hair in Ireland. This is a lot higher than any other countries although the UK has a high percentage as well.

In reality, there are less red-haired people in Ireland than in the UK because the population is way smaller. There are barely 5 million people in Ireland whereas the UK has a population of 67 million.

Interesting facts about Ireland

Are you into history and want to learn some interesting facts about Ireland? We’ve got you covered! Here are some examples of fascinating things to know!

Ireland is the first country in the world that legalised same-sex marriage by referendum  

In 2017, Ireland became the 20th country in the world to allow same-sex marriage. This itself is not particularly innovative however, the way it happened definitely is. Ireland was the first country in the world to do it over referendum.

More than 2/3 of the population voted in favour of it and the most amazing thing about it is the massive momentum and engagement that vote received. Thousands of Irish nationals living abroad flew back to Ireland just to vote for this referendum. It is important to note that in Ireland, you can only vote if you are in the country therefore if you live abroad, you have to come back home to be able to do so.

An estimated 2,500 Irish people living in Australia flew back home to vote for the same-sex marriage referendum. Over 2,500 people booked a very expensive flight and travelled for more than 21 hours to show their support for the LGBT community. And this alone is a fact that makes Ireland an amazing country!

The concepts of peaceful protests originated in Ireland 

If the term and concept of peaceful protests seem normal to us today, it hasn’t always been the case and it took a lot of effort from many people to make that the norm.

However, did you know that it originated in Ireland? Daniel O’Connell was the first one to conceptualise the idea of peaceful protests. After having observed the violent events in France during the french revolution, he decided he wanted better for his people.

He wanted catholic Irish to be able to get their rights by peaceful protests and by voting instead of getting involved in violent revolutions. Unfortunately for him, at that point, the world was not quite ready for it yet but his concept has been quoted later on by Martin Luther King Jr and Gandhi as being their inspiration.

Ireland has no far-right political party

Unlike the vast majority of European countries, Ireland has no far-right party. The first time a far-right party made an appearance in Ireland was at the last European elections in May 2019. Even then, this party only got 1% of votes against 25% on average in the rest of the EU. Several factors explain this amazing fact. Ireland is home to 18% of born-foreign citizens which means that 1 person out of 5 was not born Irish. With this kind of cultural diversity comes an open-minded spirit.

Also, immigrants in Ireland are extremely mixed and from all backgrounds which avoid having one group being the target of racism. Finally, the last but not the least, immigration is a very important part of the Irish culture.

The Irish do not stay in Ireland, it is part of their culture and beliefs to leave. Mostly to countries like the USA or Australia. A couple of centuries ago, over 1 million Irish left to take their chance in America. At the time, it was a quarter of the population. The Irish are everywhere and it’s normal for an Irish to have part of his/her family all over the globe. They know what it is to leave so they know how to welcome. There is a general feeling of love towards foreigners in Dublin and Ireland in general. They love being part of the EU and, they love that other people chose their home to be theirs!

The President of Ireland has little to no power

Unlike countries such as France or the US, Ireland’s power is not in the hands of the president. The role is mainly ceremonial and symbolic. The person who really has the power is the head of government, also referred to as “The Taoiseach”.

Ireland’s nickname is the Emerald Isle

Countryside in Ireland
Photo credit: Dmathies via Canva Pro

You may have heard this already as it’s a very popular nickname for Ireland.

This was chosen because of its landscapes. It rains a lot in Ireland which makes the lands very green. As you discover Ireland, you will realise how green it really is.

On top of that, it is truly beautiful. A true jewel some may say. A green jewel of an island? Here you go! The Emerald Isle!

Facts about Irish People

Ireland is an amazing nation and its people are incredibly kind and funny. There are many things you should know about them which is why we selected these interesting facts about Irish People.

The Irish have an incredible imagination 

Myths and legends have been part of the Irish culture since the very beginning. This comes from the Celtic mythology mixed with some influence from the Vikings. According to the legends, Ireland is populated with many mythical creatures such as fairies and leprechauns.

These legends are a very important part of the Irish culture and are transmitted from generation to generation for thousands of years. Knowing, believing in and inventing stories is something that the Irish cherish and that’s why they developed such an incredible imagination. They love making up and telling stories.

This spirit still exists today, the perfect example of it being the Pat Noise plaque on O’Connell Bridge in Dublin. In 2004, a commemorative plaque to Father Pat Noise appeared on O’Connell bridge, Dublin’s most famous bridge. On the 10th of August, people started bringing flowers to the bridge to commemorate the death of this hero Father Pat Noise was.

It’s only a couple of years later that the city realised that the plaque was installed by two brothers as a joke and that Father Pat Noise never excited. The portrait engraved was of their own father and the name was an anagram. But because Irish people have an amazing sense of humour and most of all, they always love a good story, they actually congratulate the two brothers for pulling off such an amazing prank. The plaque has been on the bridge ever since!

Freud once said that the Irish were one of the kind

This is one of the most famous quotes about Ireland and its people!

Sigmund Freud, the founding father of psychoanalysis, once said: “This [The Irish] is one race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever.”

Although this may sound quite bad, it isn’t really.

What Freud meant with this sentence was that instead of picking apart their own brains, the Irish turn to poetry and storytelling.

The Irish people might very well be the most creative people in the world and that’s something we all love!

Irish people are very open-minded

The Irish are so open-minded and they show it with their political choices all the time! As previously mentioned, they requested a referendum so they could allow same-sex marriage. This is unprecedented!

They have also elected not only one but two female presidents! Twice! The first one was Mary Robinson (1990) and the second one was Mary McAleese (1997).

Irish slang is so funny!

Although the Irish speak English, they also use a lot of slang words that come from the Irish language. The most noticeable one is the word “Craic”.

Pronounced “crack”, craic means fun and a good time. For example, if you see someone laughing, you may ask “What’s the craic”. Or if you want to recommend a place, you may say “Check out this place, you will have a good craic”.

If you are visiting Ireland for the first time, you will probably be surprised by that. Most people are as the word “crack” means a completely different thing anywhere else!

Facts about Ireland Population

18% of people living in Ireland are foreign  

Immigration has always been an important part of the culture in Ireland but historically it was Irish people leaving, not the other way round. 20 years ago, only 2% of the population in Ireland was foreign which means it was very unusual to meet someone of another nationality in Ireland.

Since then, things have changed a lot. Ireland joined the European Union, Dublin became the European Silicon Valley and Ryanair was launched (Ryanair is an Irish low-cost airline headquartered in Dublin, the leader on its market in Europe).  With this opening to Europe, Ireland became a very attractive destination for many people. Now, 18% of the population in Ireland is foreign-born.

This rate is even higher in Dublin. This means that 1 person out of 5 is foreign! Ireland became such a cosmopolitan place where various communities live and mix together to perfection. The Irish love foreigners, they love Europe and they love to share and spread that love!

There are more Irish people abroad than in Ireland

This is definitely one of the most fascinating facts about Ireland population. Although it’s becoming more and more common for people to live abroad, Ireland’s statistics in that regards are off the charts! And they have been for a long time!

It is thought that there are 80 million people with Irish roots living outside of Ireland. Ireland’s population itself is barely 5 million!

Ireland has the highest proportion of adults living abroad

Out of all OECD countries, Ireland has the highest proportion of emigrates. According to recent studies, 17.5% of Irish people live abroad! That’s more than 1 in 6 people over the age of 15!

There are 33 million Irish Americans in the USA

The USA were the main place where Irish emigrated, especially during the first half of the 20th century. This is one of the reasons why the Irish culture is so important in the states. JFK himself was a descendant of Irish immigrants.

It is believed that 33 million Americans have Irish roots. This is 10% of the American population!

22 American presidents had Irish blood

Out of the 45 presidents of the USA, 22 of them have confirmed having Irish ancestry! This is quite impressive as it means that almost half of them were descendants of Irish immigrants! This includes JFK but also Nixon and Reagan.

Facts about Irish Culture

If you want to learn some culture facts about Ireland, this section is for you!

St Patrick’s day and Halloween come from Ireland

St Patrick’s Day and Halloween are now entirely part of the American culture but did you know they are originally Irish celebrations?

They were both imported by Irish immigrants in America. As previously said, the Irish always had this tendency to leave Ireland and during the great famine, a massive wave of immigration started in the direction of the United States of America.

Once they got there, they still wanted to celebrate their traditional holidays and because the Irish community was so big, it encountered a huge success. Traditionally, these celebrations were very different though. St Patrick’s day was to commemorate and honour the patron saint of Ireland, St Patrick. It was a very Catholic tradition.

Everyone was going to church and praying for most of the day. The Irish community in the USA got access to way more freedom as they were in a protestant country and decided to revisit this celebration to make it more like how we know it today. 

Halloween is also a very old tradition created by the Celts over 2,000 years ago. On that day, people would light bonfires and wear costumes to scare the ghosts.

There are 2 official languages in Ireland

Ireland is an English speaking country but English is not the only official language. Irish is also one of the official languages.

Although only 2% of the population speaks it every day, it is still taught at school and has influenced Irish English a lot.

For example, you may notice that Irish people have a very hard time saying “no”. This can be confusing as it always feels like they don’t give you a straight answer. This is because the word “no” does not exist in Irish. Although most Irish people only speak English now, they still struggle to stay no because, back in the days, nobody could properly translate this word. It’s a concept that simply didn’t exist!

Ireland facts for kids

Although we started with interesting and historical elements, sometimes it’s also good to go back to basics which is why we’ve added this section with some Ireland facts for kids.

The capital of Ireland is Dublin

Located on the East coast, Dublin is the capital city of the Republic of Ireland.

Ireland used to be part of the United-Kingdom. In 1922, Dublin became the capital of the free state of Ireland. In 1949, Ireland became a republic and Dublin was named as the official capital city of the country.

The official name is Republic of Ireland

People often misused the word “Ireland”. Ireland refers to the entire island which also includes Northern Ireland. However, Northern Ireland is part of the United-Kingdom which is not the case of the Republic of Ireland.

It’s important to refer to this country as Republic of Ireland. The Irish fought very hard for their independence. In Irish, it is called Poblacht na hÉireann (often nicknamed Eire).

The symbol of Ireland is the Shamrock

A shamrock is a young sprig that became Ireland’s symbol because of its connection with Saint Patrick.

According to the legend, St Patrick used the shamrock as a metaphor for the Christian Holy Trinity. Since then, it became not only the nation’s symbol but also a lucky charm!

The currency used in Ireland is the Euro

Ireland is part of the European Union and the Euro zone. Whereas Northern Ireland uses the British Pound, Republic of Ireland uses the Euro.

Ireland’s population is 4.9 million

Unlike what you may think, Ireland is actually a fairly small country with less than 5 million inhabitants. Dublin is also one of the least populated capital cities in the world with 544,000 inhabitants.

Ireland has only one land border

The island of Ireland is home to two countries: Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (which is part of the United-Kingdom). For this reason, the only land border Ireland has is with the UK.

The longest river in Ireland is the River Shannon

The River Shannon is the longest river in Ireland. It’s 360km long (224 miles). It finds its estuary in the Irish city of Limerick.

The highest mountain in Ireland is Carrauntoohil

Carrauntoohil is a mountain located in the south of Republic of Ireland. It’s 1,308 metres high.

 

You may also be interested in:

18 Incredible facts about Dublin that will blow your mind

28 interesting facts about Belfast

83 Fascinating, Fun and Interesting facts about Australia

37 interesting facts about Liverpool you never knew

20 Amazing Facts about Edinburgh that will blow your mind

 

Pin it for later!

Best Fun facts about Ireland