Skip to Content

What Is Ireland Known For? Well, Let Me Tell Ya!

What Is Ireland Known For? Well, Let Me Tell Ya!

What is Ireland famous for? The obvious answer is green landscapes, Guinness and St. Patrick – but that’s the tip of a very large iceberg.

…. And that’s not a lazy pun about Ireland being the birthplace of the Titanic!

From the world’s fastest field sport and a rich literary history to famous cultural traditions, like Sahmain (Halloween), Ireland is known for a fair few things, as you’ll discover below!

What is Ireland famous for

Our graphic above will give you a quick, visual answer to what is Ireland known for (see what you can spot without looking at the text in the navy section).

Below, we’ll take you through the various things the Irish are famous for, from weird and wonderful to unique, odd and surprising.

1. Green landscape and landmarks

Cliffs of Moher

Photos via Shutterstock

Ireland is arguable best known for its glorious green landscape, with its towering cliffs, craggy coastline and mesmerising mountains.

Places like the Cliffs of Moher and Newgrange spring to mind when the ‘Emerald Isle’ is mentioned, however, you’ll appreciate Ireland’s green landscape most from the air.

It’s as you fly into Ireland and you get an eagle-eyed view of the patch-work-like green fields below that you appreciate how green Ireland really is. There are also many famous landmarks in Ireland.

Places like the Giants Causeway, Blarney Castle, the Rock of Cashel and the Guinness Storehouse are some of the things Ireland is famous for.

2. Rich history

history of O’Connell Street

Photos in the Public Domain

You can’t answer ‘What is Ireland known for?’ without taking a step back in time, to the island’s rich and often turbulent past.

Ireland’s ancient history can still be seen to this day. Newgrange, a passage tomb in County Meath that’s older than the pyramids, is one of the best examples.

The Celts are another key part of the history of Ireland, with traditions like Samhain (the original Halloween), culture and Celtic symbols dotted around the 32 counties.

Then there’s the arrival of St. Patrick and the spreading of Christianity, the Viking invasions from the 9th century, English rule, the Famine, the 1916 Easter Rising and the Troubles.

3. Sport

the gaa

Photos via Shutterstock

Ireland is known by many as being home to the Gaelic Games – a mix of ancient field sports that are played across Ireland to this day (for context, there are 2,200 Gaelic Football Clubs).

There are three Gaelic Games – Hurling, Football and Camogie. One of the most interesting facts about Ireland is that hurling is one of the fastest field sports in the world. However, it’s also very old.

It’s played with a hurl and sliotar and it’s believed that it predates Christianity and that it arrived to Ireland with the Celts. 

The games have spread across the world as Irish people emigrated, with GAA clubs located everywhere from South Africa and Uganda to Australia, Gibraltar and many more.

4. St. Patrick

st patrick hill of slane

Photos via Shutterstock

You can’t have a guide on what is Ireland know for without mentioning Ireland’s Patron SaintSt. Patrick.

Although many believe him to be Irish, he was actually born in Roman Britain. When he was 16, he was captured by pirates and taken to Ireland.

After working as a shepherd for several years, he received a calling from God and returned to Britian, embarking on Religious training. He returned to Ireland after 15 years to spread the word of God.

St. Patrick is celebrated across the world on March 17th, with some of the St. Patrick’s Day parades in the US attraction 2 million+ attendees.

5. Exports

best irish whiskey in ireland

In many guides to what is Ireland known for, you’ll see ‘Guinness’ and ‘Jameson’ in top spots and yes they, along with Kerrygold Butter, are some of our best known exports.

However, they are just the tip of the iceberg. In 2021, Ireland exported €165 billion of goods€619 million of this was for the export of Irish drinks to the US.

In the same year, Ireland exported over €102 billion of chemicals and related products, €12 billion of food and animals and €41 billion worth of machinery.

So, while Ireland is known for Guinness and its many Irish whiskey brands, our exports are much more than alcohol.

6. Irish music

the best Irish Music

Traditional Irish music plays a big part in Irish culture. To this day, traditional music sessions take place in towns, villages and cities in Ireland.

Featuring Irish instruments, like the bodhrán, Irish music can be traced back to Gaelic Ireland (the period from the late prehistoric era to the 17th century), according to W. H. Grattan Flood’s book A History of Irish Music (1905).

In more recent years, many bands from Ireland have achieved global success, like U2, the Dubliners, the Coors and Thin Lizzy (see our guide to the best Irish bands for a full list).

Traditional Irish music has followed those who have emigrated from Ireland across the world, with Irish music sessions running in everywhere from New York to New Zealand.

7. Literature

great irish novelists

Ireland is famous for its contributions to the world of literature, with many celebrated Irish authors putting pen to paper.

The first known literary works from Ireland are attributed to Saint Patrick, namely his “Confessio” and “Epistola,” both of which were written in Latin.

Several centuries later the likes of storyteller Peig Sayers (1873 – 1958), poet W. B. Yeats (1865–1939) and Dracula creator Bram Stoker (1847 – 1912) were writing up a storm.

Other Irish literary greats include Samuel Beckett (1906–1989), C.S. Lewis (1898 – 1963), Maria Edgeworth (1768 – 1849) and Jonathan Swift (1667 – 1745).

9. Pub culture


© Tourism Ireland

You’ll see pub culture top many guides on what is Ireland known for, to the annoyance of many from Ireland.

However, the reality is that Ireland is famous for drinking, and not always in a good way (remember that infamous Simpsons episode…).

On the negative side, overindulgence is never a good thing for those and those around them. We don’t want Ireland seen to be a place full of p***heads.

On the positive side, many (not all) pubs in Ireland are steeped in history (like the Brazen Head) and are great place to sit and chat with friends.

10. Food

You could argue that the Irish aren’t famous enough for their food. The reality is that Ireland produces some outstanding produce that’s used both here and across the globe.

In fact, in 2022 alone we exported €16.7 billion of food and drink! Exports aside, there are some wonderful Irish foods that we should be better known for.

The likes of coddle (boiled sausages, bacon and veg), boxty (potato pancake) and stew (traditionally made with lamb and veg) are some of the best known.

However, Ireland is also known for colcannon (mashed potato and cabbage), soda bread and black and white pudding.

11. Whiskey

what is Irish whiskey

Another thing Ireland is famous for is Irish whiskey – this highly potent drink can be traced back to 1405 when it was mentioned in the Annals of Clonmacnoise.

Two of the most famous Irish whiskey brands are Bushmills, distilled in the Old Bushmills Distillery and Jameson, produced in the Old Midleton Distillery.

Although the Bushmills Distillery is one of Ireland’s oldest, having been founded in 1784, there are plenty of whiskey distilleries in Ireland, new and old.

12. Redheads

Although I can’t for the life of me find where the association between Ireland and redheads began, it’s possible that it started when the Irish emigrated en masse (1 million people) during the Famine.

Regardless of where the association started, images or men, women and kids with bright ginger locks are often seen on and offline when someone is trying to depict Ireland.

The reality is that there are plenty of redheads in Ireland. In fact, Ireland is home to the most red-headed people per capita on earth, with around 10% of the Irish population rocking red hair.

13. Leprechauns

The Leprechaun

Another of the things Ireland is famous for are Leprechauns… and no, they definitely don’t exist

One of the more popular Celtic mythological creatures, Leprechauns are most frequently depicted as fat little fellas wearing green with orange hair.

They play a key part in Irish folklore and the name ‘Leprechaun’ comes from the Irish ‘Luchorpán’, which means small body.

In most stories, the Leprechaun can be found at the end of a rainbow, sat beside a big pot of gold.

14. Famous figures

famous Irish people

There’s a never-ending list of famous Irish people, with the likes of Bono, Conor McGregor and James Joyce at the tip of most tongues.

If we’re talking about Irish films, the likes of Colin Farrell, Brenda Fricker, Brendan Gleeson, Pierce Brosnan and Sorcha Ronan are up there as some of the best known Irish actors.

Then there are Irish comedians, like Graham Northon and Dara O’Brien. On the sports side, boxer Katie Taylor, footballer Roy Keane and rugby player Brian O’Driscoll are some of the best know.

15. Myths

morrigan celtic goddess

Photo left: The Irish Road Trip. Others: Shutterstock

Irish folklore and Irish mythology played a big part in many bedtime stories for those that grew up in Ireland, with fairies and ghosts (the Pooka) lighting up our imaginations.

Storytelling has played a major part in Irish culture. In days past, the seanchaí (a traditional Gaelic storyteller) would tell tales of Fionn McCumhaill and Cú Chulainn – two larger-than-life warriors that fought many battles.

When I was growing up, we generally heard tales of Celtic gods and goddesses, like the Morrigan or scary stories, like the ones about the Abhartach (Irish vampire) and the Banshee!

16. Titanic

Titanic Experience

Photos by Chris Hill via Tourism Ireland

And last but by no means least in our guide to what is Ireland famous for is the Titanic. It was that was built in Belfast at the Harland and Wolff shipyard.

At the time, the shipyard was one of the most technologically advanced in the world. The Titanic left Belfast for Southhampton on April 10th, 1912 and made its way to Cherbourg in France.

Its final destination before New York was the lovely little town of Cobh in Cork (previously known as Queenstown).

It anchored at Cobh on April 11th, 1912, to let the last passengers climb aboard. The Titanic sunk on April 15th, 1912 in the North Atlantic Ocean.

As a nod to the tragic ship, there are two Titanic experiences in IrelandTitanic Belfast and the Titanic Experience in Cobh.

What is Ireland known for: Tell us what we missed

famous things about ireland

There are many famous things about Ireland and, while we’ve tried to include the ‘main’ things that Ireland is famous for, I’m sure we’ve missed some.

If there are any that you’d like to recommend, take 20 seconds to tell us in the comments below. Cheers!

FAQs about what are the Irish known for

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘What are some weird famous things about Ireland?’ to ‘What are some unknown 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.

What is Ireland famous for?

Ireland is famous for its diverse, green landscape that earned it the nickname the ‘Emerald Isle’, it’s many famous exports, like Guinness and Kerrygold and its Patron Saint, St. Patrick.

What is Ireland known for internationally?

internationally, Ireland is known for its major exports, which include everything from pharmaceuticals and racehorses to whiskey and butter. It’s also known for its music, its sport and its pub culture

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.