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Amusing Irish Facts
Facts About Old Ireland
Odd Irish Facts
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Amusing Irish Facts
Ballygally Castle in County Antrim, currently a hotel owned by a major chain, is allegedly one of the most haunted places in the country. Lady Isobel Shaw, whose husband built the castle in 1625, is said to knock on doors at night and then disappear. While alive, Ms. Shaw was locked in her room by her husband and starved, until she leapt to her death from a window.
Ireland's top star in the sport of hurling is Sean Og O'Hailpin, who was born to an Irish father and Fijian mother on the tiny island of Rotuma, an isolated atoll about 400 miles north of Fiji. O'Hailpin, whose very Pacific appearance is a bit of an anomoly in Irish sports, has been declared "Hurler of the Year" and "Sports Personality of the Year" by RTE. He plays for the Cork County team.
A village known as "Dun Bleisce" recently won the right to change it's name back to an old-time local favorite. The town will now be called "Fort of the Harlot," as it was in the distant past. After a variety of names were used to describe the town over the years, the government christened it "An Dun," which translates simply into "The Fort," in 2003. But a recent petition by townspeople has prompted officials to put "the Harlot" back into the name. The historical harlot involved here may have simply been a powerful woman, and not a harlot in the modern sense of the word.
Late Show host David Letterman once described the uilleann pipes as "a sofa cushion hooked up to a stick."
On April 15th, Mike Morgan of County Donegal was crowned Irish National Surfing Champion after a two-day competition in the brutally cold waters off Easkey, County Sligo.
The longest place name in Ireland is Muckanaghederdauhaulia, in County Galway.
An odd Irish birthday tradition is to lift the birthday child upside down and give his head a few gentle bumps on the floor for good luck. The number of bumps should allegedly correspond to the child’s age plus one.
So long paddy wacker. Wooden truncheons, which have been carried by Irish police since the 1800s, will finally be phased out this year, and replaced by lightweight retractable batons. The truncheons, with notches, fancy carvings and names cut into them, were often passed down generations of gardai.
The original Guinness Brewery in Dublin has a 9,000 year lease on it's property, at a perpetual rate of 45 Irish pounds per year.
IRELAND FACT: A ROUGH HANGOVER CURE...I’ll just take the hangover, thanks: One traditional Irish cure for a hangover was to be buried up to the neck in moist river sand.
The island of Montserrat is sometimes called "The Emerald Isle of the Caribbean," and has a shamrock carved above the door of the governor's home, areas called Cork and Kinsale, and people with names like O'Garra and Riley. This is because the island was originally settled in 1633 by Irish-Catholics, who came from the nearby island of St. Kitts. (After a major volcanic eruption from 1995 - 2003, Montserrat is now partially open to tourism again.)
IRELAND FACTS: HANDMADE GOLF COURSE...County Mayo's Carne Golf Links, which was built between 1987 and 1993, was constructed mainly by farmers using hand spades and rakes. Read "Carne, A Northwestern Gem"
Celtic rock group the Pogues were originally called "Pogue Mahone," which translates into "kiss my a**" in Gaelic.
The "Oscar" statuette handed out at the Academy Awards was designed by Cedric Gibbons, who was born in Dublin in 1823. Gibbons emigrated to the US, and was considered MGM’s top set designer from the twenties right on through the fifties, working on over 1,500 films. Besides designing the coveted prize, Mr. Gibbons managed to win a dozen of them himself.
The Irish Academy of Engineers has recommended that a tunnel be built under the sea linking Ireland and Wales. The IAE has offered a futuristic vision of trains running at speeds of 150 mph between Rosslare and Fishguard, Wales. Currently, there is no financial backer for such a project.
Couples in Ireland could marry legally on St. Brigid's Day (February 1st) in Teltown, County Meath, as recently as the 1920’s by simply walking towards each other. If the marriage failed, they could "divorce'" by walking away from each other at the same spot, on St. Brigid’s day the following year. The custom was a holdover from old Irish Brehon laws, which allowed temporary marriage contracts.
One of the most popular radio shows in rural Ireland is still the weekly broadcast of local obituaries.
An old legend says that, while Christ will judge all nations on judgment day, St. Patrick will be the judge of the Irish.
The last witch in Ireland was supposedly Dame Alice Kytler, born in Kilkenny in 1280. All four of her husbands died, and she was accused of poisioning them. Today you can dine at Kytler's Inn in Kilkenny, which operates in her old home.
The word quiz was allegedly invented in the 1830’s by a Dublin theater owner named Richard Daly, who made a bet that he could make a nonsense word known throughout the city in just 48 hours. Legend says that Daly gave his employees cards with the word “quiz” written on them, and told them to write it on walls all over the city. Some historians argue that the word was already in use at this time, but most agree that it did not acquire it’s current definition – "to question or interrogate" – until sometime in the 19th century.
Facts About Old Ireland
Odd Irish Facts
- Achill Island is the largest island off Ireland’s coast. It’s 56 miles square, with dramatic landscape featuring wild cliffs and moors.
- The northern Spanish town of Santiago de Compostela is known as "el Dingle de Santiago" in memory of a journey that Irish religious pilgrims made there in medieval times.
- Killary Bay, on the Mayo-Galway border, is the only true fjord in Ireland. A fjord is a long, narrow inlet from the sea between high slopes.
- Ireland’s 15 principal railway stations are named after the leaders of the 1916 uprising.
- An “An Fáinne” is a lapel pin, worn by some fluent Irish speakers to invite others to speak to them in the traditional language.
- Director John Huston filmed the New Bedford, Massachusetts scenes in his 1956 movie "Moby Dick" in Youghal, County Cork.
- Famed Hollywood movie director John Ford was born Sean O’Feeney in 1894, in Spiddal, County Galway.
- The scenic “Wicklow Way” is the oldest and most popular hiking route in Ireland. Stretching from the Dublin suburb of Rathfarnham in a south-westerly direction toward the village of Clonegal, in County Carlow, the 25 year old public walking route is traversed by over 20,000 people each year.
- James Joyce once called Guinness stout "the wine of Ireland."
- Ireland has virtually no coal deposits, even though it’s just 60 miles from Wales, one of the world’s richest coal fields.
- Muhammad Ali has some Irish heritage. His great grandfather was born in Ennis, County Clare, and emigrated to Kentucky in the 1860s. There, he married an African-American woman. A son born to this couple also married and African-American woman, who gave birth to Ali's mother, Odessa Grady. She married a man named Cassius Clay, and the two moved to Louisville, where the future champ was born.
- Baileys Irish Cream which was launched in Ireland in the early seventies, is now the most popular liqueur in the world.
- Louth is the smallest county in Ireland; Cork is the largest.
- About 30% of the people in Australia are of Irish descent.
- Ireland is the world’s only country with a musical instrument for a national symbol: the harp.
- It’s not the custom in Ireland to wear green ties, hats or other green clothes on St. Patrick's Day. A sprig of shamrock in the coat lapel is the preferred display.
- One old Irish superstition holds that May is an unlucky month to get married in, because of its association with the Virgin Mary. This superstition seems to have lost its power, however, since May is now one of the most popular wedding months for Irish people.
- The Irish tricolor flag, created in 1848, was designed to reflect the country's political realities. Orange stands for Irish Protestants, green for Irish Catholics and the white stripe for the hope that peace might eventually be reached between them.
- The tallest identical twins ever born were the Knipe Brothers from Magherafelt in County Derry who were 7ft 2in. They were born in 1761.
- Actor Kenneth Branagh hails from Belfast.
- The red kite, an almost extinct species, will be reintroduced in County Wicklow Ireland in the fall of 2007. The red kite is a raptor that has been supported by special breeding and release programs in England. It has not been seen in Ireland since the 19th century.
- Ireland’s highest mountain is Carrantouhill, in County Kerry (3,445 feet).
- Trinity College in Dublin, which happens to be Ireland's oldest university, has famous alumni including Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker.
- Pop singer Christina Aguilera’s mother is Irish-American.
- Belleek Pottery will celebrate it’s 150th anniversary by reissuing 15 items from deep within it’s archives, including a 19th century Round Tower centerpiece.
- President Barack Obama’s maternal great, great, great grandfather Fulmuth Kearney came from Moneygall, in County Offaly. Mr. Kearney came to America in 1850.