In honor of Ireland’s Patron Saint, and for the week that is in it, I am dedicating this post to the little (but awesome) nation of Ireland. People around the world, and Irish people themselves, have many assumptions about Ireland, most of which are (believe it or not) wrong! Here is a list of things you may have thought were Irish but aren’t and things you may not have thought were Irish but are!! Confused yet? You will be!
10. Saint Patrick was neither a Saint nor Irish!
Many people are completely oblivious to why Irish people all over the world celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Why do over 2 MILLION people show up to watch the parade in New york City, why they go as far as dying the river GREEN in Chicago and why 100,000’s of people in Ireland hold a week-long festival around this time every year. Well it is all in the name of Saint Patrick…despite that NOT being his real name and him not been born in Ireland. So now every year we get polluted drunk, dress up like leprechaun with lucky charms dangling for all and sundry to see, dancing around in circles praising some Welsh man who apparently rid Ireland of snakes. Crazy, right?!
9. Potatoes are NOT from Ireland
So turns out St Patrick is no more Irish than potatoes. Which, FYI, originally grew in Chile as far back as 500 BC and only arrived in Ireland as late as the 16th Century. Crazy..I KNOW! On the subject of potatoes, or spuds as we call them back home, people in Uganda have a special name they call mashed potatoes and I didn’t believe it until I visited for myself. In Uganda, if you want some mash with your dinner you must order some “Irish”.
8. U2 isn’t even Irish!
Well not all of them anyway. In fact not only is half the band NOT Irish but they hail from a land Ireland believes to be it’s enemy…they hail from…ENGLAND!! Both The Edge and Adam Clayton were born in London and Oxfordshire to Welsh and English parents respectively. Only Bono and Larry Mullen are Irish true and true!
7. There is a place in Ireland called MUFF
And as ridiculous as it is for a Journalist to start a sentence with “and”, it is also ridiculous that there is, you guessed it, a diving centre located in this lovely little town in North Donegal, the ever popular ‘Muff Diving Centre’. There is also a “Muff Hair Dresser”, should you feel the need for a trim. You could always take a trip town to the quaint little town of Nobber in Co. Meath or Sally’s Gap in Co. Kerry if you get bored.
6. It is illegal to drink on the streets in Ireland!
Everyone imagines Irish people stumbling around the streets of Dublin, pint in hand singing to our hearts content. The reality is a little sobering. Drinking on the street or anywhere outside of a licensed premise is in fact illegal in Ireland. Pubs/ bars / clubs etc are all closed by 2.30am, what could be one of the earliest closing times out of all cities in Europe! Ok it may be one of the most ignored rules in the history of any legal system and if it were to be enforced half the population would be thrown in cells each weekend, would it is technically illegal!
5. Everyone wants to be Irish!
This isn’t some light-hearted joke, “Sure everybody wants to be Irish on St Patrick’s day!” No! This is a fact. How is it that while the population of Ireland, which is a tiny island, is only 5 million (and decreasing every day) yet over 80 MILLION people worldwide claim Irish ancestry and hold Irish passports or dual citizenship?! That is a WHOLE lot of people “claiming” to be Irish!
4. Guinness ISN’T that popular in Ireland!
Granted the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin is the most popular tourist attraction in Ireland and Guinness had been around now for OVER 250 years, but I’m sorry to say the drink itself is far from popular. Old men in small quiet pubs can be seeing drinking it day in day out. Some Younger guys and a sprinkle of girls perhaps but that’s about it. Yes Tourists love it, or at least claim to! But the fact remains that MORE GUINNESS is sold each year in NIGERIA than in all of Ireland! Now THAT is crazy!
3. Saint Valentine’s ashes are in Ireland
We may not have St. Patrick, but we do have Saint Valentine! The remains of St Valentine, the Patron Saint of Love and Lovers, are held in the Whitefriars Street Carmelite Church in Dublin. They were discovered in the early 1800s in Rome and some three decades later were given to a Dublin priest by Pope Gregory XVI. After nearly a century in storage, the relics were rediscovered about 50 years ago and are now housed in a shrine at the church, beneath a statue of the saint holding a crocus flower. I think few people are aware of this one!
2. No one’s as Irish as Barack Obama!
For this one you REALLY need to listen to this song on YouTube.
“O’Leary, O’Reilly, O’Hare and O’Hara There’s no one as Irish as Barack O’Bama. You don’t believe me, I hear you say But Barack’s as Irish, as was JFK. His granddaddy’s daddy came from Moneygall, A small Irish village, well-known to you all!”
On the topic of Irish-American relations, did you know that James Hoban, an Irishman, designed the White House and apparently Irish composer John Stafford Smith wrote the tune to “Star Spangled Banner” back in 1750! BAM!
1. Irish people struggle to speak Irish.
Thanks to the decrease in the Irish language, when foreigners ask their Irish friends to speak Irish they will *most likely* shout random Irish words such as “Ciúnas! Bóthar! Cailín! Bainne!” and nobody has a clue what they’re saying. And all thank’s to a clever advertising genius in Calsberg.
“On the day of Judgement, while Christ judges all other nations, St Patrick will be the judge of the Irish.”