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10 Fascinating Facts About Ireland

No snakes? Really?

Whether St. Patrick's Day is around the corner or many months away, it's always a good time to find inspiration from the land and people of the Emerald Isle. Here are ten amazing facts you might not know about the home of the leprechauns.

  1. Potatoes were not originally grown in Ireland, even though this country is famous for them.  They were brought here from South America.
  2. Ireland's population before the potato famine of the 1840s was larger than the country's population is today (it was around eight million back then, and it's around five million now).  
  3. The highest mountain range in Ireland has the coolest name - Macgillycuddy's Reeks!
  4. During the 16th century, a legendary female pirate named Grace O'Malley ran raids off the west coast of Ireland.  
  5. Nearly 70 million people around the world have Irish ancestry.
  6. Due to the economic downturn, over 300,000 Irish people left the country between 2008 and 2013.
  7. Breath, one of the world's shortest plays, was written by the Irish writer Samuel Beckett. A performance of this play lasts around 35 seconds.  
  8. The harp, Ireland's national symbol, stands for the love that Irish people have for music and storytelling.
  9. While it was discouraged when Ireland was under English rule, the Irish language is making a comeback.  Irish children are required to learn Gaelic in school and the popularity of the language is growing.
  10. Yes, it's true.  There are no snakes in Ireland. Legend has it that St. Patrick drove them out of the country.

Finally, here's a bonus fascinating fact about Ireland. It's the birthplace of one of the coolest sports on the planet. Don't believe me? Check out this video of Gaelic football, a blend of soccer, basketball, and rugby. 

Want to take a trip to Ireland? You won't regret it. You'll love the famous Irish welcome, toe-tapping traditional music, historic castles, and stunning views. If you go, chances are you'll be spending some time in Dublin. It's one of the easier major European cities to visit. While you really ought to get out and enjoy the Irish countryside, here's a list of places to see in Ireland's capital city.

Kilmainham Gaol

Fans of Ireland's revolutionary past will get the chills in this notorious prison. Leaders of the famous 1916 Easter Rising were detained and executed here after the failed revolt. Public outrage after the deaths of the rebellion's conspirators paved the way for Irish independence.  

St. Stephen's Green

This peaceful urban park is a great place to take a break from walking along Dublin's streets. It played an important role in James Joyce's Ulysses, one of the most influential books of the 20th century. Be sure to bring something to feed to the ducks who take up residence in this relaxing oasis.

Trinity College

Dating back to the 1500s, Trinity College offers pedestrians a lovely stroll among its stately academic buildings.  

EPIC; The Irish Emigration Museum

Irish emigrants have impacted the cultures of countries around the world. This museum is based in the Dublin Docklands, the point of embarkation for many Irish people over the centuries. You can learn about the reasons why people left Ireland and be inspired by their sacrifice and perseverance.

Croke Park

This stadium is the home to Irish national soccer and rugby teams, and it hosts the championships of Ireland's Gaelic football and hurling tournaments. Visitors can sign up to take a tour of Croke Park. If you go, you can get a glimpse of what it's like to be a VIP or a member of the media during Ireland's defining sports moments.

Mike Ferry is an Irish-American fiddler, history teacher, and an expert on boosting creativity and emotional well-being. He is also the author of Teaching Happiness And Innovation. His website is here.  

Mike Ferry
Mike Ferry

Teacher, author, speaker, coach.  Featured in Washington Post, Huffington Post, Christian Science Monitor, CBS, NBC, Newsmax, and radio shows and podcasts around the world.  Web:  www.happinessandinnovation.com.  Twitter: @MikeFerry7

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