Looking for fun facts about Ireland and Irish people?
You’re in the right place!
While many Irish facts are common knowledge, like the fact that St. Patrick wasn’t Irish, others, like the fact that the world’s oldest maternity hospital is in Dublin, aren’t as widely known.
Below, you’ll find a nice mix of interesting facts about Ireland (with several that should surprise you!).
Fun facts about Ireland for kids (to start us off)
I’m going to kick things off with some interesting Ireland facts that are suitable for kids.
Further down in the guide you’ll find some weird facts about Ireland, some of which aren’t so suitable for kids!
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. St. Valentine’s remains are in a church in Dublin
This is one of the weirder facts about Ireland in this section (there’s plenty more in section 2).
Yes, you read correctly – the remains of St. Valentine can be found in Whitefriar Street Church in Dublin City where they’ve been for many years.
Related read: Check out our guide to 32 interesting facts about Dublin
4. 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.
5. The 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.
6. 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!
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. The national symbol of Ireland isn’t a shamrock
Contrary to popular belief, 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!
10. There were never any snakes in Ireland
Now, you’ll find out more facts about St. Patrick later in this guide, but I’ve whacked this one in early on as it tends to surprise people. Yes, it’s true, 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.
11. 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.
12. 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.
13. 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
14. 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.
At 1,752 acres, it’s five times bigger than London’s Hyde Park. It’s also the eighth biggest urban park in Europe overall.
15. 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.
16. 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.
17. 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 2020, the population stands at just under 5 million.
Weird and Interesting Ireland Facts
Section two of our guide to Ireland facts is filled with weird and wonderful Irish facts.
Below, you’ll find everything from old lighthouses and pubs to Count Dracula… yes, Count Dracula.
You’ll be familiar with many of these if you read our guide to the most interesting facts about Dublin. Dive on in!
18. 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.
If you’re familiar with Irish mythology, you may have heard of the Abhartach, also known as ‘the Irish Vampire’.
It’s believed that some of the inspiration for Dracula came from this legend.
19. One of the oldest lighthouses in the world is located in Wexford
If you read our guide to Hook Lighthouse, you’ll know that it is one of the oldest operational lighthouses in the world.
The current lighthouse at Hook has been there for a whopping 848 years.
20. The oldest pub in Ireland is found in County Westmeath
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.
21. 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.
22. There is a festival in Ireland where a wild goat is caught and made king for 3 days
‘Puck Fair‘ is said to be the longest-running of the many festivals in Ireland.
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.
23. 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.
24. The Brazen Head is the oldest pub in Dublin
The Brazen Head on Merchant’s Quay 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.
25. Cork was once the largest exporter of butter in the world
This is one of the more random facts about Ireland in this guide.
Yes, 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!
26. 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.
27. The Rotunda in Dublin 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.
28. 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.
29. 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.
30. 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.
31. 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 wayyy back in 1720.
Interesting facts about Ireland’s Patron Saint
Think you know all there is to know about Ireland’s Patron Saint? Did you know that his name wasn’t ‘Patrick’ and that he wasn’t from Ireland?
Orrrrr did you know that he was abducted by pirates and taken to Ireland against his will when he was just 16? Hopefully, you’ll discover some St. Patrick’s Day facts below that you never heard before!
31. He wasn’t actually Irish
Now, this one tends to rile people up a bit before the no-way-you’re-joking phase kicks in.
Yep, St. Patrick was born in was born in Roman-Britain circa 386 A.D.
32. When he died
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.
33. He was abducted and brought to Ireland at 16
St. Patrick was abducted by pirates when he was 16 and taken to Northern Ireland to work.
He was forced to tend to sheep for 6 years in the mountains.
34. His name wasn’t actually 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.
35. The first parade wasn’t held in the Republic of 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.
36. 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 Saint Patrick.
Interestingly enough, the first colour to be associated with St. Patrick was blue.
Know any fun Irish facts that we should whack in?
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.
If you enjoyed this guide, the chances are you’ll also like:
Ireland facts FAQs
Since publishing this Ireland fun facts guide a few years ago, we’ve had hundreds of emails asking about different bits and bobs.
Below, we’ve popped in the Irish facts questions we get the most, but feel free to ask away in the comments!
What are 5 interesting facts about Ireland?
Halloween originated in Ireland, the Phoenix Park is the 3rd largest walled park in Europe, there were never any snakes in Ireland, Sean’s Bar is Ireland’s oldest pub and one of the lions from the opening clips for MGM movies was born in Dublin Zoo.
What are some weird Irish facts?
The term ‘Luck of the Irish’ was first used in a derogatory manner and the place with the longest name in Ireland is Muckanaghederdauhaulia in Galway are two unique facts about Ireland.
Thursday 17th of March 2022
blue is the original color of saint patrick
Tuesday 15th of March 2022
i love these facts! is very interesting and fun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i love it, and i show it for my students, they loved it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! my best students are bernardo zoz and pedro henrique!
Monday 14th of March 2022
This is great fun. Here in Spain, we firmly believe that the first potatoes in Europe were planted in Tenerife in 1622, by Juan Bautista de Castro. Of course, it´s quite a long way from Ireland, so the two potato planters might not have been aware of each other. Even if you beat us by 34 years, we´ll still be glad to see you for holidays.
Happy St Patrick´s Day!
Friday 4th of March 2022
This was so fun and interesting! Fantastic article!!
Friday 25th of February 2022
this helped with my work at school thx