“The heart of an Irishman is nothing but his imagination.” ―George Bernard Shaw
1. Irish is not the country’s most widely spoken language
Despite its rich history, Irish, or Irish Gaelic, falls short of English as the predominate language. Though Irish was the country’s first official language, English emerged as the island’s leading language in the nineteenth century. There are many efforts to preserve the use of Irish on the island today, the language playing an essential role in the country’s cultural history. Primitive Irish dates back to 5th century AD.
2. The country’s capital, Dublin accounts for 1/4 of Ireland’s population
Dublin is Ireland’s most populous city, with nearly 2 million people living in the Greater Dublin Area. The city, located at the mouth of the River Liffey, was originally founded as a Viking settlement in the 10th century.
3. It’s the homeland of many world-famous novelists
What would the literary world be without classic works like Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray or Bram Stoker’s Dracula? Ireland’s authors have contributed a great deal of literary excellence. Other notable Irish writers include Jonathan Swift, W.B. Yeats, C.S. Lewis, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett and G.B. Shaw. There’s even a museum in Dublin dedicated to Ireland’s literary greats called Dublin Writers Museum.
4. You can check out some cool Karst landscapes
One of Ireland’s six national parks is The Burren, whose rolling hills feature over 250 square miles of limestone pavements. These unique geological formations date back to the Visean stage when the area was undersea 325 million years ago. These Karst pavements include “grikes” or cracks in the limestone as well as rocks called “clints”.
5. If you need new shoes, ask a leprechaun
Of Ireland’s many myths and legends, the most widely exported tales are about the leprechaun fairies. These sprites are believed to be shoemakers. In fact, the word “leprechaun” comes from the Irish words for shoemaker, “leath bhrogan”. Since each fairy has their own specific noise associated with them, in Irish folklore leprechauns are recognized by the tapping sound of a hammer driving nails into shoes.
6. There are graves that predate the pyramids
Ireland is home to three impressive World Heritage Sites: the Brú na Bóinne, the Skellig Michael and the Giant’s Causeway. What’s fascinating about the Brú na Bóinne is that these structures date back 5,000 years to the Neolithic period. The area’s Megalithic passage graves and other structures predate the Egyptian pyramids.
7. Need somewhere to stay? Try a castle!
Of Ireland’s hundreds of castles, many have been converted into hotels where you can book a night’s stay. Notable castle hotels include the beautiful Ashford Castle, the Cabra Castle, the Springfield Castle and the Ballybur Castle.
8. Peat for heat
Something strangely fascinating about Ireland is its energy industry – or ancient energy industry, which relied on “turf” or peat (decayed organic matter), to burn for home energy. In rural Ireland this biomass energy source continues to be used, despite the move to phase out the use of peat. The EU is pushing to protect peatlands as they are ecologically significant.
9. The two congressional bodies are called Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann
The Dáil Éireann or “Assembly of Ireland” was established back in 1919. It’s the Oireachtas (Irish legislature) lower house. The legislature also includes the President of Ireland and the upper house, or Seanad Éireann.
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Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_Ireland, http://www.irishcentral.com/culture/craic/20-interesting-facts-about-the-irish-and-ireland-photos, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dublin, http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/countries/ireland-facts/, http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/sciencefacts/countries/ireland.html, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ireland, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_national_parks_of_the_Republic_of_Ireland, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_literature, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Burren, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_literature, http://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/travel/ireland-s-top-10-castles-to-stay-in-1.2393251, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%C3%A1il_%C3%89ireann, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Br%C3%BA_na_B%C3%B3inne, http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/ireland, http://www.irishcentral.com/culture/entertainment/top-ten-facts-about-leprechauns-and-where-the-legends-really-came-from-212728761-237598771, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ireland