Cliffs of Moher - © UTBP

4 unusual things to know about Ireland

Date 17 August 2021
Facts to know to better understand the cultural and tourist identity of the Emerald Isle !

Ireland is an amazing country full of surprises… In spite of its small size, the country shines in the whole world by its culture and its wild beauty! Whether it is for its music, the friendliness of the Irish, or for its emblematic tourist sites, the Emerald Isle has many assets and attracts millions of visitors every year!

Are you looking for more information? If you are interested in discovering the Emerald Isle, here are some unusual facts to know, in order to prepare your trip!

1. The Wild Atlantic Way

The longest coastal road in the world!

The Cliffs of Moher - © aljazvidmar

The Cliffs of Moher – © aljazvidmar

This may surprise you… But it is true. Ireland has an important Atlantic coastline. So much so, that it has the longest coastal road in the world! It is estimated that the “Wild Atlantic Way” (its official name) would measure more than 2500 km (or 1600 miles).

It crosses more than 9 Irish counties, and thus allows to enjoy a great diversity of landscapes. Cliffs, beaches, mountains, incredible bays, deep forests, moors, desert landscapes, ruined castles, dolmens and other megaliths… The circuit allows you to discover Ireland under unexpected and always magnificent facets… where nature imposes itself in all its majesty!

The road is magnificent, punctuated with spots where you must absolutely stop. We advise you to rent a car or to take your car by ferry for more freedom. You will be able to do it at your own pace, and discover a country on a human scale, between small colored villages and impressive landscapes!

2. Ireland produces 10 million pints of Guinness a day!

A beer distributed all over the world!

Guinness pints - Zach Dischner - cc

Guinness pints – Zach Dischner – cc

The pace may seem infernal… But it is as fast as the success of the biggest Irish brewery! The Guinness brewery (which belongs to the Diageo group), produces a mind-boggling quantity of its eponymous dark beer.

It is said that more than a million pints are drunk every day in Ireland!

But contrary to popular belief, Ireland is not the country that consumes the most brown stout… Nigeria would be without question the nation that consumes the most on the planet! Available there since 1827, Irish beer is an institution, and is drunk a little differently than in Ireland… There, Nigerians do not drink it in a pint, but directly from the neck of its glass bottle! A practice rather decried on the green Erin… (where the pint is mandatory!)

3. Halloween, a festival that originated in Ireland

A celebration that originated far from the USA

A Halloween pumpkin - © Sonja Birkelbach

A Halloween pumpkin – © Sonja Birkelbach

You may have thought that Halloween was originally a purely American holiday… But the facts are true: this holiday is basically an Irish tradition, known as “Samain”.

It is in fact an Irish tradition that is over a thousand years old. At the time, the Celts believed that on the eve of Halloween, the spirits of the dead came to visit the mortal world. To ward off the evil spirits, they dressed up and lit bonfires. Known as the festival of Samain, which means “dark half”, this festival also marked the beginning of winter.

Today, the tradition has changed somewhat. Imported to the United States following the large Irish emigration (after the Great Famine), Samain was eventually modernized into the holiday of Halloween.

We still find some markers of the original Samain: bonfires, pumpkins, references to Jack O’Lantern … etc..

The Londonderry Halloween Carnival, located on the banks of the river Foyle, is the oldest Halloween celebration in Ireland, as well as the largest street festival in Ireland.

4. Saint Patrick was not Irish

The Irish patron saint was in fact Scottish… or Welsh

Saint Patrick - jaqian - cc

Saint Patrick – jaqian – cc

In Ireland, we do not joke with Saint Patrick. It must be said that this man is praised by the Irish for having evangelized Ireland during the 5th century. There is no lack of stories and legends about him, and the Irish are still very attached to this part of their history (let’s not forget that the country is still strongly Catholic).

He is said to have chased the snakes out of Ireland, taught the concept of the Holy Trinity to King Aengus by using a three-leaf clover… and thus to have converted the Irish to Christianity!

His history is so important in Ireland, that the Saint is celebrated every March 17th, on the occasion of the “Saint Patrick’s Day”, a great national event, which allows everyone to celebrate the pride of being Irish. All the symbols are used: the shamrock, the leprechaun, the emblems of the Saint… In short: Saint Patrick’s Day is evocative of Ireland, its culture and its folklore…

But did you know that Saint Patrick is not originally Irish? The man would be in truth Scottish… or Welsh according to theories! From his original name, ” Maewyn Succat,” the Saint would indeed be born in Brittany… But theories differ: some say he was born in Wales near Carlisle… while others suggest he was born in the village of Old Kilpatrick in Scotland.

The story goes that he was captured by the Irish and sold into slavery, forced to work as a shepherd in County Antrim (in Northern Ireland). After a few years of hard work, he managed to escape and return home.

On his return, he would have been charged by the Pope with an important mission: that of evangelizing Ireland… That’s why he would have decided to go back to Ireland to start a long process of conversion with the Irish pagan population… Fascinating, isn’t it?


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