In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we’ve collected 12 fun facts about Ireland and St. Patrick that will make you yearn for the rocky shores and rolling green hills of the Emerald Isle!
1. St. Patrick Wasn't Irish
He was born in Great Britain (historians are unsure if he was born in Wales, Scotland or England) and at the age of 16 was kidnapped by Irish raiders. He was a slave in Ireland for six years working as a sheepherder. After six years, he went home and studied religion to become an ordained priest. He later returned to Ireland as a missionary. We celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on the day of his death: March 17th.
2. The Harp
Ireland is the only country in the world to have a musical instrument as it’s national symbol. You can visit some of the oldest harps in the world at Trinity College in Dublin.
Newgrange, which is classified as passage tomb or possibly an ancient temple, is 5,000 years old making it older than the ancient pyramid of Giza and Stonehenge
4. Postal Codes
Ireland is one of the few countries in the world, and the only country in the EU, that does not have postal codes (with the exception of Dublin city). However, the country is in the process of designing and implementing a nation-wide postcode system for 2015.
5. Wearing Green
Green wasn’t always associated with St. Patrick. In fact, historians say that St. Patrick’s color was light blue. According to this Time post, wearing green came about after during the 1798 Irish Rebellion when the clover became a symbol of Irish nationalism.
St. Patrick didn’t really chase all the snakes out of Ireland as legend suggests. Scientists say Ireland has never had any snakes on it's green shores. So, what did he chase out? Pagans.
7. The first St. Patrick’s Day Parade
The first St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in the United States, not in Ireland. In 1762 (technically, it was called the colonies at this point), Irish soldiers serving in the English army celebrated the day by marching through New York City streets. Today, the parade is an official city event.
That is the name of a small village in Connemara in Co. Galway. It is the longest place name in English with 22 letters. Try saying that 5 times fast…or really just once is hard enough.
9. Eurovision Champs
Ireland has won the Eurovision Song Contest seven times, more than any other country.
Not to confuse you with too many holidays, but you can thank Ireland for Halloween. Over the centuries the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, a harvest festival that celebrated the end of the summer, and All Saint’s Day merged to later become the Halloween as Americans know it.
11. Famous Cliffs
The stunning Cliffs of Moher can be seen in the movie Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, Princess Bride, and The Mackintosh Man.
12. Oldest Pub in Ireland
There is a debate over the which pub is the oldest, but according to the Guinness Book of World Records, Sean’s Bar in Athlone is the oldest, dating back 900 years. The Brazen Head in Dublin also claims to be the oldest pub in Ireland established in 1178 and has been frequented by historical figures like Michael Collins, James Joyce, and Jonathan Swift.
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Happy St. Patrick's Day!