Whacky Wanderlust : Ireland

By our Guest Blogger, Abhi

Man: From which country?

Tourist: Ireland.

Man: Oh, Irish.

Tourist: Yes, yes. Where is the….

Man: (interrupts) go straight, take the second left, & at the end of the road, is the Pub. Okay?

I’m not kidding, this does happen with Irish people all over the world. First of all, the thing is that there are more Irish people all over the world than in Ireland. It is estimated that over 80 million people of Irish descent live outside Ireland, in countries such as the United States (34 million alone in the US), then there’s the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Argentina, New Zealand, Mexico, South Africa and states of the Caribbean and continental Europe. This is 14 times more than the population of Ireland (including Northern Ireland) itself! 3 million of these emigrants still hold Irish nationality and the rest aren’t that proud to be from the country which is mostly known for its beer and leprechauns. Now I don’t know if it’s a fun fact about Australia or Ireland but about half of the population of Australia can claim Irish ancestry.

guiness

And the few who are there in their own country drink like fishes. The Irish consume in average 131.1 liters of beer per year which makes them the 2nd highest per-capita consumption after the Czech Republic. The most Famous Irish breweries include Guinness, Smithwicks (Kilkenny), and Harp Lager. Not just in Ireland, Guinness is one of the most successful beer brands worldwide, was once the largest brewery in the world and remains the largest brewer of stout in the world.

Drinking has been a part of their lifestyle much before many countries were ever born. Ireland’s oldest pub is Sean’s Bar in Athlon. It was founded some 900 years ago. Today Dublin boasts one pub for every 100 head of population. The country’s oldest licensed pub, though, is Grace Neill’s Bar in Donaghadee, established in 1611.

This probably comes as no surprise that the first written account of Whiskey was in Ireland.

But the country should be recognized for more than just its contribution to the alcohol industry. For examples things like the Brennan torpedo, early color photography and the first U.S. and Royal Navy submarines.

Blarney Stone

Irish Legend has it that those who successfully kiss the Blarney stone (a block of line stone, integrated into a tower a Blarney Castle) are bestowed with a gift of gab and an unimpeded skill of flattery and eloquent speech. No kidding there.

Irish Harp

Ireland is the only country in the world which has a musical instrument – the harp – as their national symbol. The oldest known harp in existence is housed in Trinity College, Dublin. It dates back from at least 1300. Not just that, the three most famous symbols of Ireland are the green Shamrock, the harp, and the Celtic cross.

Thick Glasses

57% of Irish people wear glasses or contact lenses for some reason the world would never know.

Halloween

The Irish invented Halloween. Yes, the festival on which Americans alone spend 2.2 billion in candy. They believed that during Festival of Samhain, (a Gaelic festival that celebrated the end of the harvest season) the doorways to the “other side” were open and the dead were free to roam the earth which helped strengthen the connection.

Snakes don’t exist in the wild in Ireland, they can only be found in private homes as pets and in a zoo. It’s probably because of its isolation to the mainland of Europe, not just snakes, moles, weasels, polecats and even roe deers are also missing from Ireland.

A good percentage of Irish family names start with “Mac” or “O’…”, which means respectively “son of …” and “grandson of …” in Gaelic. Looks like they’re short of both snakes and names.

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