Read our last ten fun facts here.
1. Newgrange, an exceptionally large and well-preserved grand passage tomb built by prehistoric farmers, is 5,200 years old (having been built around 3200 BC.) Located in County Meath, near the River Boyne, this monument is older than the Egyptian pyramids and Stonehenge!
2. While there’s a long-standing a negative stereotypes about Irish aggression (due in largely to The Troubles,) Ireland’s real legacy is that of peaceful protest. Daniel O’Connell, an Irish nationalist and revolutionary, didn’t want to repeat the violent upheavals France had suffered and instead advocated for nonviolent measures during his successful Catholic Emancipation movement in the first half of the 19th century (leading the way for Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., among others.)
3. Currently, 17% of people living in Ireland are of foreign birth. 46% of these new inhabitants arrived in just the last 5 years, putting Ireland far ahead of most OCED countries (with a 22% average.) This is a steep increase is likely due to Ireland joining the EU as 20 years ago that number was only 2%!
4. The President of Ireland plays a slightly different role than ours (beyond the fact that while he’s elected by the people, he serves a 7-year term!) While he has certain powers, the actual head of government is the Taoiseach (Ireland’s Prime Minister)—a person appointed by the president!
5. Speaking of presidents, 23 out of the 46 presidents the United States has had since its founding have at least some Irish ancestry. And that includes 6 of the last 7—Reagan, the Bushes, Clinton, Obama, and Biden! (Though JFK’s the president we think of when we think Irish!)
6. On the flip side, Ireland has the highest net emigration level in Europe, with approximately 1 in 6 people over the age of 15 living abroad. That’s about 17.5% of the population!
7. The first potato planted in Ireland (which, despite them being an Irish staple now, didn’t happen until 1589) was planted in Cork by Sir Walter Raleigh (yes, that guy from Disney’s Pocahontas--though that was a pretty skewed version!) The potato isn’t native to Europe, but rather, Peru!
8. Dublin was founded by Vikings—not once, but twice. First, in 841 AD, and then again in 917 (Scandinavian settlers were briefly expelled in 902, but they came back.) It stuck the second time, becoming an extremely wealthy port city that’s remained the hub of Ireland’s political life ever since!
9. But modern Dublin is considered Europe’s answer to the U.S.’s Silicon Valley—in the last 20 years, the city has become the European base to some of the largest tech companies in the world. This largely has to do with the fact it’s considered a tax haven for large companies, leading Google, Etsy, and Facebook, among others, to land there.
10. There’s no direct translation of the words “yes” or “no” in Irish (aka Irish Gaelic or Gaeilge.) While this sounds impossible to English-speakers, it just means the Irish need to use a few extra words in order to reply with the negative or positive. (I.e. If you ask “Would you like…?” in Irish, you could respond: Ba mhaith liom i.e. “I would like…”)
This post is part of a series. Read our last fun facts post 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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