There are a million-and-one fun facts about Ireland dotted around the web, but we’ve narrowed our guide to the most interesting and unusual Irish facts!
Facts like ‘St. Valentine’s remains are in a church in Dublin’ tend to shock both locals and tourists alike.
While Ireland facts like ‘St. Patrick wasn’t actually Irish’ and ‘Halloween originated in Ireland’ are popular nuggets of Irish trivia.
Below, you’ll find a nice mix of interesting facts about Ireland (with several that’ll surprise you!).
Fun facts about Ireland for 2024
Have a glance at our Ireland facts graphic above, first, as it’ll give you a sense of what’s to come.
Then, when you’re ready, scroll to discover a mix of wonderful and weird facts about Ireland. Enjoy!
1. Ireland’s oldest pub is one of the oldest in the world
Dating back to 900 AD, Sean’s Bar in Athlone Town is the oldest pub in Ireland.
It’s also widely believed that it’s the oldest pub in the world. Find out more about it in our guide to Sean’s Bar.
2. Dublin’s Rotunda is the oldest continuously operating maternity hospital in the world
Next up is one of the lesser-known Irish history facts.
The Rotunda Hospital in Dublin is officially the oldest continuously operating maternity hospital on earth.
The hospital opened in 1745 and has been running for 275 years.
3. St. Valentine’s remains are in a church in Dublin
This is one of the weird facts about Ireland! Yes, you read correctly – the remains of St. Valentine can be found in Dublin City.
They’re located in Whitefriar Street Church where they’ve been since the 10th of November, 1836.
Related read: Check out our guide to 32 interesting facts about Dublin
4. St. Patrick wasn’t actually Irish
There are countless facts about St. Patrick, but this is the one that surprises people the most.
Yep, St. Patrick was born in was born in Roman-Britain circa 386 A.D.
5. One of the oldest lighthouses in the world is located in Wexford
Located in County Wexford, Hook Lighthouse is one of the oldest operational lighthouses in the world.
The current lighthouse at Hook has been there for a whopping 848 years.
6. The River Shannon is the longest river in Ireland
At a whopping 370km long, the mighty River Shannon is the longest river in Ireland.
Interestingly enough, it’s also the longest river across in the British Isles.
It also passes through 11 counties, including Cavan, Leitrim, Longford and Roscommon.
7. Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way is the longest coastal driving route in the world
At 2,500 km in length, the Wild Atlantic Way driving route is the longest in Ireland and the longest on earth!
The route passes through nine counties and stretches from the Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal right the way around the coast to Kinsale in Cork.
This is another of the many fun facts about Ireland that tends to come up in quizzes.
8. There were never any snakes in Ireland
It’s believed that the whole snake thing is to do with symbolism. In udeo-Christian tradition, the snake is the symbol of evil.
Many believe that the story of St. Patrick banishing the snakes from Ireland represents his fight to bring the word of God to Ireland.
9. Halloween originated in Ireland
If you read our guide to Irish traditions, you’ll know that the festival of Halloween originated in ancient Ireland.
The story begins with the pagan celebration of Samhain. Find out more here.
10. County Cork was once the largest exporter of butter in the world
This is one of the more random facts about Ireland in this guide. During the Exchange’s peak in the 19th century, County Cork was the worlds biggest butter exporter.
Butter made in Cork was exported to everywhere from the United Kingdom and France to Australia and India.
If that’s not a bit of random Irish trivia, I don’t know what is!
11. The Brazen Head is the oldest pub in Dublin
It’s said that it started its life as a tavern back in 1198 and was later developed into a coaching inn in 1754.
Today, it’s a tourist hotspot and is arguably one of the most unique looking pubs in Ireland.
This is another of the many interesting facts about Ireland that comes up in quizzes.
12. The smallest county in Ireland is Louth
Known as ‘the wee county’, Louth is the smallest of Ireland’s 32 counties.
Interestingly enough, though, it’s the 18th-biggest county in Ireland population-wise.
This is one of several fun facts about Ireland that tends to appear in Irish trivia!
13. The highest mountain in Ireland is Carrauntoohil
At a nose-bleed-inducing 1,038.6 metres, Carrauntoohil in County Kerry is the highest mountain on the island of Ireland.
You’ll find it on Kerry’s Iveragh Peninsula near the Magillycuddy’s – Ireland’s highest mountain range.
14. The place with the longest name in Ireland is Muckanaghederdauhaulia in Galway
If you can pronounce ‘Muckanaghederdauhaulia’, let me know in the comments below!
Other long names include Illaungraffanavrankagh in Clare, Glassillaunvealnacurra in Galway, Ballywinterrourkewood in Limerick and Corragunnagalliaghdoo Island in Mayo.
15. The term ‘Luck of the Irish’ was first used in a derogatory manner
People often think the term that the term ‘the Luck of the Irish’ is a positive thing, but it was once used as an offence.
If you read our guide to ‘the Luck of the Irish‘, you’ll discover why.
16. Cork is the biggest county in Ireland
The largest county in Ireland is County Cork, which is a whopping 7,457 km².
The second-largest County is Galway, at 6,148 km².
17. Dublin’s Phoenix Park is the third largest walled city park in Europe
At 1,752 acres, the Phoenix Park is the largest enclosed park in any European capital city. It’s the largest enclosed park in any capital city in Europe.
It’s five times bigger than London’s Hyde Park. It’s also the eighth biggest urban park in Europe overall.
18. Ireland’s first potato was planted in Youghal!
A lad named Sir Walter Raleigh is said to have been responsible for bringing the potato crop from the Americas to Ireland many moons ago.
It was at a farm near his home in Youghal in County Cork that he planted the very first potato in Ireland, around 1588.
19. The national symbol of Ireland isn’t a shamrock
Contrary to popular belief, the official symbol of Ireland isn’t a shamrock.
No, it isn’t a four-leaf clover, either. Ireland’s national symbol is the mighty harp!
20. The earliest evidence of humans in Ireland was in 10,500 BC
Interestingly enough, it’s thanks to a discovery made in 2016 that we now know that humans were present in Ireland in 10,500 BC.
A bear bone that was excavated from a cave in Clare that dates back to the late Palaeolithic Age showed signs that it was butchered.
21. The oldest field systems in the world can be found in Mayo
At over 5,500 years old, the Céide Fields in County Mayo are officially the oldest known field systems on earth.
These are one of the many incredible Irish attractions that don’t receive half as much credit as they deserve.
22. Before the Great Famine, Ireland’s population was estimated to be around 8 million people
It’s believed that the population of Ireland prior to the famine was around 8.2 million.
After the famine, the population was recorded at 6.5 million people.
Many years later, in 2024, the population stands at just under 5 million.
23. Hurling is the fastest field sport in the world
Not only is hurling one of the oldest sports in the world, it’s also the fastest.
The sliothar (the ball used) can travel up to 120km/h. Read more about Ireland’s traditional sports in our guide to Irish culture.
24. There are five cities in Ireland
There are five main cities in Ireland: Dublin, Galway, Limerick, Cork, Kilkenny and Waterford.
However, as Northern Ireland is part of the UK, it has five recognised cities: Armagh, Belfast, Derry, Lisburn and Newry.
If you’re reading this and scratching your head, take a minute to read our guide to the differences between Northern Ireland and Ireland.
25. St. Patrick died in 461 in County Down
It’s thought that St. Patrick died in 461 at the ripe old age of 75.
He was in Saul in County Down when it happened.
26. Ireland has won the Eurovision Song Contest a whopping seven times
In 1965, Ireland entered the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time.
It won the competition 4 times in total and managed to rack up 7 wins over the years.
Related read: Check out our guide to 40 of the best Irish songs
27. The first St. Patrick’s Day parade wasn’t held in Ireland
Yep, the first St. Patrick’s Day parade wasn’t held in the Republic of Ireland.
It was actually held in Boston in 1737.
28. Count Dracula was written in 1897 by a Dubliner
The now-iconic Count Dracula is the main character in the Dracula novel. The book was written by Bram Stoker who was born in Clontarf in County Dublin.
It’s believed that some of the inspiration for Dracula came from this legend.
29. There is a festival in Ireland where a wild goat is caught and made king for 3 days
In August every year, a goat is caught from the Kerry mountains and placed in a cage in the village of Killorglin.
It’s crowned king and for three days a number of festivities are held throughout the town.
When the festival ends, the goat is brought safely back up into the mountains.
30. The oldest hotel in Ireland can be found in Wicklow
The Woodenbridge Hotel in Wicklow is the oldest hotel in Ireland, dating back to 1608.
The premises was first licensed as a Coaching Inn on what was then the old Dublin-Wexford road.
31. St. Patrick’s name wasn’t Patrick – it was Maewyn Succat
I’m not even going to attempt to pronounce that. Yep, St. Patrick’s name wasn’t actually ‘Patrick’. Mad stuff.
Apparently he picked it up at one point or another. It’s now one of the most popular Irish boys names.
32. One of the lions used in the opening clips for MGM movies was born in the Phoenix Park
This is arguably one of the more interesting Ireland facts.
The seventh lion used by MGM in the opening clip for many of its movies was born in Dublin Zoo in the Phoenix Park.
He started to appear at the beginning of movies from 1957.
33. The second longest-running talk show in the world hails from Ireland
The Late Late Show (an Irish chat show) first aired in 1962. It’s been taking place every Friday evening ever since.
The only other show that’s been running longer than it is the Tonight Show from America.
34. Green isn’t the original colour of St. Patrick
Although the world is (literally, in some places) lit up green come March 17th each year, the colour green wasn’t the first colour to be associated with St. Patrick.
Interestingly enough, the first colour to be associated with St. Patrick was blue.
35. There’s an island near Dublin that’s home to a population of wallabies
Yes, randomly enough, there is a colony of wallabies that live on the private Lambay Island off the coast of Dublin.
The wallabies were brought to Lambay in the 50s and 60s by the family that owned the island.
36. The oldest yacht club in the world is located in Cork
This is another of the more interesting Ireland facts. The Royal Cork Yacht Club proudly wears the crown of the world’s oldest yacht club.
The club, which is located in Crosshaven in Cork, was founded way back in 1720.
Know any fun Irish facts that we should include?
I’ve left the comments section below open. If you have any other fun facts about Ireland that you think we should add, let me know and we’ll pop them in.
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FAQs about what is Ireland known for
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘What is Ireland famous for?’ to ‘What are some funny Irish facts?’.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
5 fun facts about Ireland
- St. Patrick’s name wasn’t actually Patrick – it was actually Maewyn Succat
- At 370km in length, the River Shannon is the longest river in Ireland
- At 1,038.6 metres in height, Carrauntoohil in County Kerry is the highest mountain in Ireland
- Before the Famine, Ireland’s population was around 8 million people
- The earliest evidence of humans in Ireland was in 10,500 BC
What is Ireland known for?
Ireland is famous for it’s green, scenic landscape, Guinness and St. Patrick. However, it’s also know for its rich culture, its unique sports, its many famous authors, actors and comedians and it’s many landmarks.
What are some fun facts about Ireland?
‘Hurling is the fastest field sport in the world’, ‘Count Dracula was written in 1897 by a Dubliner’ and ‘There is a festival in Ireland where a wild goat is caught and made king for 3 days’ are some fun Irish facts.
Keith O’Hara has lived in Ireland for 34 years and has spent most of the last 10 years creating what is now The Irish Road Trip guide. Over the years, the website has published thousands of meticulously researched Ireland travel guides, welcoming 30 million+ visitors along the way. In 2022, the Irish Road Trip team published the world’s largest collection of Irish Road Trip itineraries. Keith lives in Dublin with his dog Toby and finds writing in the 3rd person minus craic altogether.