Fun Facts About Ireland: Volume IX
Read our last ten fun facts here.
1. The seventh lion used in the famed MGM opening title sequence was born in the Dublin Zoo, located in the city’s beautiful Phoenix Park. His reign as a movie star began in 1957, and he’s the one we still see today! While they called every single one of the lions used “Leo,” this Dubliner was the only lion where it was actually his name!
2. Ireland is one of the only countries in the world whose population has been decreasing over the last two centuries. Before the Great Famine in the 1800s, the population was estimated to be 8 million people. Just afterward—6.5 million. And today? Only 5 million!
3. In the 19th century, County Cork was the world’s biggest exporter of butter (there was even a large market deemed the “Cork Butter Exchange”.) The butter made its way to not only the UK and France, but all the way to India and Australia! (If you ever visit Cork, you can even explore the Cork Butter Museum!)
4. Ireland loves an unusual holiday. Take the “Puck Fair” in Killorglin, a small village located in the Kerry Mountains. Every year, locals wrangle a goat from the surrounding wilderness and crown the animal king for three days with much fanfare. After, the goat is safely re-released into the wild.
5. Speaking of Australia, there’s a privately owned island near Dublin that’s home to a population of wallabies. It’s not some quirk of natural selection, but a not-so-surprising culprit: man. The owners of Lambay Island imported a family of wallabies in the 50s, and they’ve been there ever since!
6. Dublin houses the oldest continuously operating maternity hospital in the world--Rotunda Hospital in Dublin. Opening in 1745, it’s been around for 275 years!
7. You can see the Northern Lights from Ireland! While we usually associate the beautiful natural display with Iceland or Norway, the most northerly point in Ireland (Malin Head in Inishowen) is also a great place to watch. Just make sure to find a day with clear skies and no bright moonlight for the best show!
8. Ireland, on the stage of world politics, is neutral (something we generally associate with Switzerland.) This started during WWII, where Ireland officially stayed out of things (though there are many a story of them helping the Allied forces, including supplying the weather report that allowed for the D-Day landing, and they were bombed multiple times, though it’s thought that was accidental. The UK is an island too, after all.) Ireland technically isn’t even a part of NATO!
9. Despite being neutral, Ireland’s always been a politically progressive place. Take Leo Varadkar, who served not only as the country’s youngest prime minister starting in 2017, but also as the first of Indian heritage (as well as being the first openly gay party leader.) Talk about a lot of firsts!
10. Ireland holds some of the most unexpected (and funniest) Guinness World Records, including: world’s largest tea towel, most cups of tea made in an hour by a team of 12, the highest combined age, and the most cookies baked in an hour (yum!)
This post is part of a series. Read our last ten fun facts here. Check out the blog every Monday and Thursday for more posts about Irish history, dance culture, community news, and spotlights on our dancers, staff, and families—among other fun projects! And don’t forget to dance along with us on both Facebook and Instagram.
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