Read our last ten fun facts here!
1. The first documented immigrant that passed through Ellis Island hailed from Cork! The 17-year-old girl was named Annie Moore and she was traveling with her two younger brothers to reunite with the rest of their family in New York City on New Year’s Day 1892.
2. There’s a reason Ireland’s so green--County Dublin is home to over 130 named rivers and streams, not to mention innumerable unnamed tributaries! Some of the best names? Bloody Stream, Cemetery Drain, Cuckoo Stream, Kill o’ the Grange Stream, Little Dargle River, River Poddle, Robinhood Stream, Scribblestown Stream, and Sruh Croppa River are some of the most notable!
3. Limerick was briefly a Soviet City. During the War for Independence, the British government declared the area a Special Military Area—but the locals weren’t having it. The Limerick Trade and Labour Council went on strike in protest and declared the city “Irish Soviet.” They went so far as to print their own money and organize food supplies, despite the fact this only lasted for 12 days—April 15th-27th, 1919!
4. One of the most experienced early Antarctic explorers, Tom Crean, was from County Kerry. He was born in Annascaul and went on to join both the Discovery and Terra Nova expeditions (led by the even more famous Captain Robert Falcon Scott,) as well as Ernest Shackleton’s mission aboard the Endurance. He survived it all and went on to open a pub back in Ireland called The South Pole Inn. It’s still in operation today!
5. The first motorboat race in the world (and an international competition, to boot) was held in Cork in 1903! It’s was called the Harmsworth Cup (though it’s now more popularly referred to as the Harmsworth Trophy,) was held in the town of Cobh, and was held through 2011!
6. Little known fact: famed boxer Muhammed Ali has an Irish ancestor—with ties to County Clare in particular. Abe Grady, Ali’s great-grandfather, was born in Ennis before he immigrated to America in 1860. He later married an emancipated slave who became Ali’s great-grandmother.
7. Galway has the largest Gaeltacht (aka “Irish-speaking community” that typically holds fast to Irish traditions and culture) in Europe (and thus, in the world.) Unfortunately, a recent study showed that up to 70% of people in Gaeltacht areas don’t speak Irish (aka Gaeilge) daily (meaning only roughly 27,000 people use it every day,) though there are many movements that hope to preserve the language.
8. While the words “Ireland” and “surfing” don’t seem to have much in common, people have been surfing in Ireland since a man named Joe Roddy cobbled together Ireland’s first surfboard together from spare pieces of furniture in 1949. The sport is currently having a surge of popularity in Ireland—especially as one of the world’s biggest, surfable waves breaks regularly in Mullaghmore, County Donegal.
9. Valentina Island in County Cork is home to the world’s oldest known footprints! Discovered in 1993 by an undergraduate geology student, these tetrapod tracks are thought to be 385 million years old.
10. Dublin is a UNESCO “City of Literature.” This honor was bestowed as acknowledgement for having produced so many literary giants including, but not limited to: Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, and Bram Stoker, as well as Nobel laureates W.B. Yeats, Samuel Beckett, George Bernard Shaw, and Seamus Heaney. (The other recognized cities are: Norwich in England, Iowa City in the USA, Edinburgh in Scotland, Melbourne in Australia, and Reykjavik in Iceland.)
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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