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Ireland is filled with many weird and wonderful facts that you may have not known about this island off the coast of England and Wales.

Known as the third-largest island in Europe, the birthplace of Oscar Wilde and home of Guinness, Ireland is filled with facts that us mainland folk already knew. But what you may have not known is that this picturesque country comes with a plethora of weird and wonderful facts that are waiting to be discovered.

Read on to discover seven weird and wonderful facts about Ireland…


1. Halloween Originates in Ireland

Halloween

It is said that Halloween originates from the Gaelic festival of Samhain.

Samhain which comes from old Irish, meaning “end of summer”, is the celebration to mark the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter.

Samhain has been celebrated since ancient times, when the Celts believed that dead spirits would visit the mortal world, so would light bonfires to keep the evil spirits away.

Although today the Halloween that we celebrate is more about family fun, there are a number of traditions from Ireland that have stuck throughout the years.

Such traditions include lighting a bonfire, jack-o’-lanterns and the classic spooky costumes, which were originally used as a disguise in case you were to bump into an evil spirit wandering the streets of Ireland!


2. St. Valentine’s remains are buried in Ireland

Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church

From all over the world, tourists, couples and love-seekers flock to Whitefriar Street Church in Dublin to pray to the patron saint of love, St. Valentine.

During the 3rd century, the Roman saint, St. Valentine, was executed in Rome and was buried there, where his flower-adorned skull is on display in the Basilica of Santa Maria.

However, in the 16th century, remains of the St. Valentine were gifted to Irish Carmelite priest, Father Spratt, by Pope Gregory XVI. to take back to Ireland.

Today, you and your loved ones are able to visit the Dublin church where the remains rest in a box that has never been opened.


3. St. Patrick was not Irish

St Patrick's Day

It is fair to say that every year that St. Paddy’s Day comes around we all claim to be a bit Irish, but even St. Patrick himself was not Irish.

The patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick is said to have been born in Wales or Scotland and was originally named Maewyn Succat. At the age of 16 he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and sold into slavery.

After escaping from slavery, Saint Patrick helped teach the Christian religion to the Druids and become a well-respected priest in Ireland.


4. More Guinness is sold in Nigeria than in Ireland

Pint of Guinness

Nigeria has taken over Ireland as the second-largest market for Guinness, with sales dropping in Ireland by 7%.

With three out of five breweries located in Africa and one in Nigeria, it is no surprise that Africa has become the world’s second largest market for Guinness consumption. Incidentally, the UK takes the top spot for Guinness consumption.


5. Ireland has won the Eurovision Song Contest 7 times

eurovision

Ireland made its Eurovision Song Contest debut in 1965 and quickly become famous for winning four out of five contests in the 1990s.

Continuing to impress, Ireland become the first country to win the contest three times in a row, and has the record amount of wins of any nation.


6. Ireland is the only country to have a musical instrument as it’s national symbol

Harp

Since medieval times, Ireland has been the only country in the world to have a musical instrument as its symbol.

The music of the harp encompasses the spirit of the Irish community and during the 16th century, it was seen as such a threat to the British Crown that an order was made for all harps to be burnt.

It wasn’t until 200 years later that the music was freely enjoyed again in Ireland.

The design of the symbol is based on the ‘Brian Boru harp’ of the 14th Century, which can be found in the Trinity Colleges in the city of Dublin.


7. The colours on the Irish flag have specific meaning

Irish flag

The National Flag of the Republic of Ireland has three equal stripes to represented the political landscape of Ireland.

The green stripe represents Irish Protestants, the green represents Irish Catholics and the white signifies the hope for peace between them.

It was 1916, during Easter Rising that the flag became accepted as the flag of a free Ireland.


If you fancy discovering your own weird and wonderful facts about Ireland, why not book one of our Ireland Holiday Cottages? For things to do whilst in Ireland, take a look at our Ireland travel guide and share your Irish holiday photos with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!


Image Credits: Diliff(CC BY-SA 3.0); Charlotte Marillet(CC BY-SA 2.0)

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