The land now known as Ireland has been inhabited for thousands and thousands of years by a variety of hardy, pugnacious, romantic and slightly dangerous peoples. Each and every challenger that came their way was dealt with, by whatever means necessary.
Modern Irish people are no less determined. If you look up the word ‘resolute’ in a picture dictionary, it may well be an Irish face looking back at you.
We’ve all read Angela’s Ashes. The Irish embody the idiom ‘What doesn’t kill you….’.
Not that there haven’t been a number of attempts over the centuries.
The most remarkable thing about the Irish is how their public image has changed so significantly over the past 150 years or less.
Once considered a blight of early immigration in countries from America to Australia, these days, a bit of Irish heritage is enough to hang your coat, hat and, potentially, trousers on. It may be Liam Neesom’s doing. Or Pierce Brosnan’s. Or Colin Farrell’s. Or that Flatley chap. Or those chicks from The Corrs.
At some point, the hardy, romantic, pugnacious and slightly dangerous to know Irish spirit went from being mildly terrifying, to outright sexy. Everyone wants a bit of Irish in them…so to speak.
On St. Patricks day, all over the world, people who have never spent a minute in the Emerald Isles, folks who couldn’t even find it on a map, will weep into a pint of green tinged stout and sing maudlin melodies of hardships they have never suffered, and loves they have never lost.
Hugely popular Irish pubs throughout Asia boast Irish Bands with Asian musicians and serve authentic Irish food with a side of rice. But somehow that’s perfect. Being Irish is more of a feeling than a lineage, which is why these facts can only be Irish.
- Saint Patrick was not Irish. His family were Romans, and it is likely that he was born in the 5th century in either Wales or Scotland. He was kidnapped by Irish pirates, which is how he ended up there.
- There have never been snakes in Ireland, so the whole ‘St. Patrick driving the snake out of Ireland’ thing is…not a thing.
3. There are no female Leprechauns in the original stories. None. Leprechauns are nice little men who wear green and mend shoes, keep gold and play with rainbows. Not that there is anything wrong with that. But lady Leprechauns are a very recent construct
4. 70-80 million people worldwide claim Irish heritage. The current population of Irish citizens living in Ireland is between 5-6 million. Ireland also has one of the youngest populations in the world, with the average age currently sitting at 37.4 years.
5. The ‘Mac’ in Irish names means ‘son of’ and the ‘O’ in Irish names means ‘grandson of’.
6. Sir Walter Raleigh brough the potato to Ireland from the Americas in 1588.
7. The national symbol of Ireland is actually the Harp, and it is on the front of their passports.
8. After Turkey, the Irish are the second largest drinkers of tea in the world. They also are not the biggest Guinness drinkers. That award goes to the Nigerians (damn fine sales team there, obviously).
So, there you have it, a handful of fabulously Irish facts just in time for St. Paddy’s day. Spring these on your friends, but be sure and get them to shout you a round for your cleverness, to be sure.
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.