Best Irish FactsFacts on Ireland and the Irish

Random Facts Archive

Sir Robert Peel, twice British Prime Minister and founder of the Metropolitan Police Force was once an MP for Cashel, Co. Tipperary.

“The Peeler and the Goat” is a satirical song written about Peel’s new police force. It was written by Darby Ryan from Bansha, Co. Tipperary, following his wrongful arrest.

The remains of Saint Valentine, patron saint of lovers, were granted to father John Spratt of Whitefriars Street church, Dublin. The casket which contains the remains can be seen below a side chapel altar in the former Whitefriars Street church now the Carmelite church in Aungier Street, Dublin.

On 11 July, 1903, the World’s first powerboat race was organised by the Royal Cork Yacht Club.

Senator David Norris was born in Leopoldville, Belgian Congo.

Shelta is the language of Travellers. It is also known as Caintíotar, Gammen, Pavee, and Sheldru. It is commonly called the Cant. It is spoken by an estimated 80,000 people worldwide.

In 1999 Ireland’s biggest export was Viagra. It was manufactured by Pfizer in Ringaskiddy, Co. Cork and accounted for 1 per of total exports that year.

Henry Ford’s father, William Ford was from Co. Cork.

Keith Duffy, member of the group Boyzone and star of Coronation Street, was born on the same day that the Watergate Trial started, 1 October, 1974.

Shane Lynch, member of Boyzone, was born on the same day that Israel launched the raid on Entebbe, Uganda, 3 July, 1976.

Bono, lead singer with U2 shares his birthday with Jamaican born (but now Slovenian) athlete, Merlene Ottey. Both were born on 10 May, 1960.

The smallest mammal in Ireland is the Eurasian Pygmy Shrew. It has an average weight of just 4 grams.

The first sportsman to be given the Freedom of Dublin was Stephen Roche.

Sinéad O’Connor once worked as a singing telegram.

The original title of James Joyce’s novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man was Stephen Hero.

Michael Flatley’s legs were insured for €30,000,000.

74 people have been awarded the Freedom of Dublin.

Richard Crosbie was the first Irishman to make a manned flight. On 19 January, 1785, he used a hot air balloon to fly from Ranelagh on Dublin’s southside to Clontarf on Dublin’s northside.

Jack Charlton, former Irish International Football manager (and his wife, Pat) were made honorary Irish citizens in 1996.

The Ardagh Chalice is made up of 354 pieces.

The racehorse Arkle won three Cheltenham Gold Cups in a row, 1964-66. In the 1966 race he was carrying three stone more than any other horse and still won by thirty lengths.

The Barber-Surgeon’s Guild of Dublin was established in 1446 under a charter granted by Henry VI. It was dissolved in 1840.

The tallest bridge in Ireland is the River Suir Bridge in Waterford. It was opened in 2009 and rises to a height of 330 feet.

The tallest sculpture in Ireland is the Spire in Dublin’s O’Connell Street. It was completed in 2003 and rises to a height of 394 feet.

The most common surname in the Republic of Ireland is Murphy.

The largest lottery win in Ireland was €115,436,126. It was won by Dolores McNamara of Limerick on 29 July, 2005 in the EuroMillions lottery.

The Irish Mile was once a unit of measurement. It was 2,240 yards long as opposed to the English Mile which was 1,760 yards long.

The old Irish folk song, “The Holy Ground” was played when Pope John Paul II arrived in Ireland in 1979. It was an unfortunate choice as it refers to the old red-light district of Cork city.

Barry Fitzgerald is the only person to have been nominated for both Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor Oscars for the same role, Father Fitzgibbon, in the movie Going My Way.

In the 1980 Harp Lager advert, the part of Sally O’Brien was played by Vicki Michelle who starred as Yvette Carte-Blanche in the sitcom, ‘Allo, ‘Allo!

The Mansion House has been the official residence of the Lord Mayor of Dublin since 1715.

The Moriarty Tribunal was established in Dublin Castle in September 1997 to inquire into payments made to Charles Haughey and Michael Lowry. The tribunal finally published its report in March 2011.

In the absence of a party system in the 18th century Irish Parliament, Irish politics was dominated by Undertakers, people who undertook to get legislation through the Irish House of Commons for the English Crown with bribes and promises of career advancement. William Connolly (1662-1729) was the first Undertaker.

The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution Act (1972) reduced the voting age from 21 years to 18 years. It became law on 5 January, 1973. 85% Yes, 15% No.

The Church of St Nicholas, Carrick-on Suir, Co. Tipperary is based on the church of San Miniato al Monte in Florence, Italy.

William Hill, founder of William Hill Bookmakers, was once a Black and Tan. He was stationed in Mallow, Co. Cork.

Chalk Sunday was the name given to the last Sunday before Lent. As marriages were not contracted during Lent it was customary on that day to make two chalk marks on the clothes of local bachelors to remind them that they had only to days remaining in which to marry. The proper name for Chalk Sunday is Quinquagesima Sunday referring to the fiftieth day before Easter.

Ireland’s first cinema, The Volta, opened at 45 Mary Street, Dublin on 20 December, 1909. It was managed by James Joyce. The films shown were Devilled Crab, a comedy, Bewitched Castle, a fantasy, The First Paris Orphanage, a documentary, and The Tragic Story of Beatrice Ceni, a murder

A Gale was the twice yearly payment of rent. The Gale Day was the day on which the rent fell due. It was an important day for the Irish tenant as non-payment would lead to an increase in debt and eviction. A hanging Gale was an arrear of rent.

In rural Ireland “Pervert” was a contemptuous name given to those who, induced by the offer of food, clothing, or money, changed from the Catholic to the Protestant religion, especially during the Great Famine.

The Steeplechase originated in Ireland. In 1752 it was run between the church at Buttevant, Co. Cork to the spire of the St Leger church in Doneraile. Hence the name, Steeplechase. The distance was about four miles.

In 1853 income tax was introduced in Ireland for the first time.

In 1855 the first post boxes were erected in Dublin, Belfast, and Ballymena.

The Harland and Wolff Shipyard in Belfast, where the Titanic was built, was founded in 1862.

The first Irish Derby was staged at The Curragh in 1866.

Arthur Guinness, 1st Baron Ardilaun was the grandson of the founder of the Guinness Brewery, Arthur Guinness. He bought and landscaped St Stephen’s Green in Dublin. When he was finished he presented it to the City of Dublin.

The Ha’penny Bridge, a pedestrian bridge over the River Liffey in Dublin, was opened in 1816. It was originally called The Wellington Bridge and was cast at Coalbrookdale in Shropshire, UK.

The Gregorian Calendar replaced the Julian Calendar at midnight on 2 September, 1752. When people went to bed on 2 September, 1752, they woke up on 14 September, 1752.

Acquitted by a Limerick jury means a verdict that not necessarily means total innocence on the part of the defendant. It was the characteristic remark of the Limerick county judge, Richard Adams who served on that bench from 1880 to 1890.

The Irish name for the town of Ardee, Co. Louth is Baile Átha Fhirdhia meaning the Town of Ferdia’s Ford. It is taken as the site of Cúchulainn’s last battle where he fought Ferdia to the death.

Mr W.H. Argue and Mr Talbot Phibbs were two solicitors who set up a law practice in 1919 in Teeling St, Sligo. The law firm, Argue and Phibbs continued to operate until 1944.

The Bushmills distillery in Co. Antrim was founded in 1602.

The Ordnance Survey of Ireland began in 1828. It was conducted by Colonel Thomas Colby and Lieutenant Thomas Larcom of the Royal Engineers. The entire country was triangulated starting with a baseline marked on Magilligan Strand, Co. Londonderry.

The first coinage of the Irish Free State was issued in 1928. The coins were designed by Percy Metcalfe, a sculptor from Yorkshire.

Catholic children who died without being baptised were not permitted burial in consecrated ground. Most parishes had a special place, known as a Killeen or Little Graveyard, for their internment. Killeen comes from the Irish word Cillín meaning "Little Church". The unbaptised were also sometimes buried on the north side of a graveyard or on the boundary. The practice ceased in the 1940's.

In 1217 a Royal Charter granted the citizens of Dublin possession of the Liffey Fisheries up to Islandbridge.

The Turbary Right was the ancient right to cut turf in a bog. The right was dependent on landholding but the land to which the Turbary Right was attached did not have to adjoin the bog.

Truck was the payment of wages in kind rather than in money. It was outlawed by various acts of parliament but continued until the Great Famine.

A man who studied for the Catholic priesthood but did not proceed to ordination was known as a "Spoiled Priest". It was considered a social disgrace and the man was sometimes disowned by his family.

A Spalpeen, from the Irish word Spailpín, was a poor labourer traditionally working for one penny a day. Spalpeens presented themselves at a Hiring Fair carrying whatever tool was needed for a particular harvest where they agree terms with an employer. An itinerant Spalpeen was known as a Spailpín Fánach.

Souperism was the term applied to the practice whereby Catholics converted to Protestantism in exchange for food or clothes, especially during the Great Famine. People who converted in this way were known as "Soupers", "Jumpers", or "Perverts".

A Silenced Priest was a priest who had been suspended by his superiors. Such priests were often believed to possess special powers enabling them to cure illness or overcome the Devil or evil spirits. When all else failed, a Silenced Priest was often approached in times of trouble.

A Scullogue, from the Irish Scológ, was a farmer who had saved money and was in a position to give loans. The loans were repaid, with interest, after the harvest or when the debtor returned from a period of work as a migrant labourer.

"Praties and Point" was a fanciful dish among the rural poor of 18th and 19th century Ireland. When only a small portion of salt remained, the potato was pointed at the salt instead of being dipped in it. A variation on this was to keep a piece of meat on the table. The potato was rubbed on the meat to give it flavour.

The British Army operation to round up hundreds of Republicans in Northern Ireland for internment was known as Operation Demetrius. Operation Demetrius was put into action on 9 August, 1971 under section 12 of the Special Powers Act.

Back to Random

 

 

 

 

©2011 Best Irish Facts