Ireland is a beautiful country to visit with dozens of historical and cultural attractions, parks and protected lands, and traditional activities to experience. Even a two-week visit isn’t enough time to see all the sites in the centuries-old nation. As you prepare for your journey to the Emerald Isle, here are some fun facts about Ireland to get you in the mood.
Interesting Facts About Ireland – The Stats
1. Ireland’s Nickname is the Emerald Isle
The luscious rolling green hills that dot the island in the North Atlantic Ocean gave birth to its found nickname—the Emerald Isle. Despite its central location to nations with chillier climates, the dense green landscape rarely sees more than a dusting of snow covering its green hillsides and jagged cliffs.
The small country bordering Great Britain enjoys a mild climate with comfortable and cool summers with moderate winters, making it an ideal place to visit year-round. You will find it relatively humid and overcast 50% of the time with regular rain showers.
Ireland is located on the island of Ireland which consists of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. For more about Northern Ireland read: 27 Best Things to Do in Northern Ireland
2. Thank Ireland for Halloween
Another fun fact about Ireland—Did you know that Halloween originated in Ireland? The basis for the fun holiday date back over 2,000 years to the Celtic festival of Samhain. The ancient people of Ireland celebrated the day the dead would return to walk the Earth once yearly before the new calendar year began.
Travelers that visit Ireland in late October get a chance to experience the country’s largest all hallow’s eve festival. The top destination in the world for celebrating the spooky holiday isn’t Salam, and it’s Derry. The Londonderry Banks of the Foyle Halloween Carnival offers a spooktacular four-day celebration during the last week of October every year. It features parades, bonfires, and of course, people of all ages dressed as their favorite ghosts, ghouls, and monsters.
3. Ireland is One of the Most Religious Nations in the Western World
Despite waning church attendance worldwide, Ireland is one of the most Christian countries around the globe. Four out of every five people in the Emerald Isles identify as Christian. About 34 percent of Irish citizens attend church regularly.
Don’t skip a visit to one of the country’s most famous religious sites, St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. The people of Ireland have been celebrating mass in the impressive house of worship for over 1,500 years.
Enjoying these interesting facts about Ireland? See more fun facts from around the world
4. Ireland is Home to Three Famous Breweries
The island nation is known for premium beer and liquor and with good reason. The country’s brewing history goes back over 5,000 years. Today it’s home to three famous producers, Guinness, Smithwicks, and Harp Lager.
Another interesting Ireland fact involves the famous Irish beer. The Guinness brewery has a 9,000-year land lease. Founder Arthur Guinness signed the last at St. Jame’s Gate in 1759. The company exported its famed lager to England for the first time in 1769. Read more at: Guinness Storehouse in Dublin – The Ultimate Tasting Tour
Today the country’s home to around 75 independent breweries that bring unique craft beers to the nation’s thousands of pubs.
5. Guinness Beer
Guinness is very popular with 10 million pints of the delicious treat produced each day in Dublin. Pouring the perfect pint of Guinness is important and takes time. In fact, it takes 119.5 seconds of pouring at a 45 degree angle. Watch our video when we poured a perfect pint of Guinness.
And fun fact, yes, the Guinness Book of World Records was created by Sir Hugh Beaver in the 1950s. He was the managing director of Guinness at the time. After an argument about the fastest game bird in Europe, he realized there was no place to find the answer. There were debates like this all the time in Irish pubs, so to fill the need for information and compiled a book of facts and figures. Hence, the Guinness Book of World Records was born.
6. Famous Author Bram Stoker Was Irish
Another fun fact about Ireland that you may not know about involves Bram Stoker. The Irish author that is famous for his creation story of Count Dracula based the character on a friend and actor, Sir Henry Irving.
Although the story is written in England and the main character’s journey begins in Transylvania, Stoker’s story of the blood-draining creature of the night came from 20 years of Irish folklore. Despite his wish to tell a tale of caution and not one of fiction, Count Dracula is one of the world’s most iconic fictional characters in the world to this date.
7. Ireland Facts: The Island’s Snake-Free
One of the more interesting facts about Ireland is that it is snake free. Ireland is the perfect destination for people with a snake phobia or that aren’t fond of the slithering creatures. You won’t find any native snakes in the country’s luscious rolling hills. Although the story of St. Patrick is exciting and a story school children like to read about to this day, it’s one of fiction. Read more: Facts About St. Patrick’s Day
The tall tale explains the Emerald Isle’s lack of snakes from the 5th-century missionary who banished all snakes from the island. However, the real story about the snakeless destination is based on science.
8. St. Patrick Wasn’t Irish
St. Patrick is a famous 5th-century missionary that helped bring Christianity to Ireland. However, he wasn’t born in the religious nation. Instead, he was a Roman that arrived in Ireland as a slave when he was a young boy.
After six years, he escaped his captors, thanking his faith in God for helping him survive and gain freedom.
9. Irish Names Have Meaning
You probably know a few people with names that begin with “Mac” and “O”. Well, these have meanings. Mac means “son of” and O means “descendant of.”
10. You’ll Never Visit All of Ireland’s Castles
Here’s an Ireland fact that might irk you. With at least 20,000 castles dotting the grassy green knolls, it could take a decade or more to see every castle in the Emerald Isle. However, you don’t have to see them all on your trip. Read more: 23 of The Very Best Things to do in Ireland
But there are some you can’t miss, such as the famous Blarney Castle in County Cork, where you’ll find the Blarney Stone and the Ashford Castle with a history dating back to 1228. Additionally, many of these destinations allow for overnight accommodations. Who doesn’t want to spend at least one night in a few-thousand-year-old castle? Enjoy: Kiss the Blarney Stone for the Gift of the Gab
11. The Northern Lights are Visible in Ireland
If you visit Ireland during the right time of year, which isn’t much earlier than the country’s Halloween celebrations in October, you can see the Northern Lights. On a clear night, they’re visible from dusk to dawn. To get the best view, choose the Northern coast with artificial lights that can block the view.
12. The Tara Mine is the Largest Zinc Mine in Europe
Ireland’s also known for its zinc mines in Meath. There are three in operation, with the Tara going down 3,300-feet. The size and depth of the mine make it the largest in Europe that’s still in process.
The other two in operation include Tipperary and Drummond. Ireland is the largest supplier of zinc concentrate in the European Union. These massive mines have been operating for over 30 years.
13. There are Over 900 Pubs in County Cork Ireland
Despite what you may think, Dublin isn’t home to the country’s most pubs. Instead, that award goes to County Cork with over 900! You know, one fun fact about Ireland is its 5,000-year history of brewing or its nearly 400 independent breweries on top of the three largest. Where does all the alcohol go? There are thousands of establishments in the tiny island nation that serve alcohol. Read more at our Ireland Travel Guide
14. Ireland Has It’s Own Olympics
Yes, Ireland participates in the World Olympics. However, it also has its own that dates back to the Bronze Age. The Tailteann Games and were held to honor a goddess from the country’s pagan days. They were named for the Goddess Tailtiu, who was the daughter of the King of Spain who later married the High King of Ireland.
She was the foster mother of the Gaelic god, Lugh of the Long Hand, who ordered the games after her death as a celebration of Irish Culture and Strength. These were held from the 6th century to the 12 century, before the Ancient Greek Olympics.
The games were held in August at the start of the Harvest Festival of Lughnasa which ended with a feast and the athletic games. Its tournaments included running, long jumps, and high jumps. Other challenges included spear throwing and sword fighting. Similar to Rome, they had chariot and horse racing, archery, and swimming.
These festivals also featured nighttime bonfires with dancing and throughout the day, people could purchase from the crafters. Common options included goldsmiths, armorers, weavers, and jewelers. Although they’re not in celebration still today, in modern Irish times, the Tailteann Games were held from 1924 to 1932.
Ireland’s most popular sport is Gaelic football and a close second is Hurling. We have held the Hurling Cup! Read more: 33 of the Best Things to do in Dublin – 2021
15. Hook Lighthouse is the Oldest in Europe
One Ireland fact you may not know about is the Hook Lighthouse. It’s one of the oldest lighthouses in Europe that’s still working. It dates back to 1172. Experts believe it’s possibly the oldest working lighthouse in the world.
The lighthouse sits along the coast in Hook Head. No one can be certain it’s the oldest because records show it was completed in either 1172 or 1245.
16. National Symbol of Ireland
While many might think the shamrock is the national symbol of Ireland, it is in fact the Gaelic harp. In fact, Ireland is the only country in the world with a musical instrument as its national symbol. When you visit The Book of Kells at Trinity College in Dublin, you’ll have the chance to see the Brian Boru harp which is the oldest harp in Ireland dating back to 1014. This harp had quite the history living for a time in the Vatican until the reign of Henry VIII.
These fun facts about Ireland should have you ready to explore the ancient country and experience these unique places. Make sure to dress for the weather. Although the sun shines beautifully on Ireland, the nation gets a fair amount of rain. Of course, all the moisture is responsible for the lush rolling green hills that make it the Emerald Isle. Learn more planning and travel tips for your Ireland vacation on our resources page.