Top Ten Ireland Facts

posted on 2/28/14

Last year, amidst a haze of Smithwick’s and baby Guinness shots, I made and subsequently lost a bet with my best friend at our annual St. Patrick’s Day party. The details are foggy at best and it’s possible that this bet may go down as one of the greatest personal mysteries of my lifetime but one thing is certain: a bet was made and I was not the victor. To settle my debt, at this year’s party I have to provide my buddy with alcohol and I have to dress up like a leprechaun.

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I started planning early for this party and, suffice it to say, I’m well prepared. I have the costume, several tiny bottles of green food coloring, green plastic solo cups, and a recipe for arguably the greatest shepherd’s pie on earth. The party itself will be great. The attendees, my best friends, are the problem.Besides knowing how to pour and drink a beer, they know nothing about the Emerald Isle. So in an effort to have the most epic St. Patrick’s Day party, I have compiled a list of interesting trivia about everyone’s favorite country which I will read aloud in my best brogue after several beers on St. Patrick’s Day. Let us begin:

1. Similar to Americans, the Irish make moonshine as well.

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Potin is produced in rural Irish areas and is made by distilling potatoes, sugar, and yeast. I’m sure Irish moonshine tastes just as bad as American moonshine. But making moonshine against the sweeping backdrop of Ireland is far more favorable than making it in a swamp in Alabama.

2. The harp, not the shamrock, is the official emblem of Ireland.

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And while we’re at it, shamrocks are nothing. They do not exist. Do not anger your favorite botanist by referring to the shamrock when you really are trying to reference clovers.

3. Almost half of American Presidents are descendants of the Irish.

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Some of Barack Obama’s maternal ancestors came from a small village called Moneygall. Obama’s boo, Joe Biden, is the only vice president with Irish roots.

4. Some of the top Irish exports are well-known drinks such as Bailey’s Irish Cream, Guinness Stout, and Jameson Whiskey.

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But if drinking too much of those beverages bring you down, one of Ireland’s other exports will bring you right back up again: Viagra.

5. The Freedom of the City of Dublin award has only been given to 76 people.

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The award is bestowed by the people of Dublin to an individual usually for contributions made to the life of the city. Bono, Ireland’s favorite son, was the last to receive the award in 2000.

6. Leprechauns are not the unemployed, rainbow-loving little trolls that I thought they were.

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In fact, leprechauns are gainfully employed in the shoemaking industry. During their down time, these little cobblers polish their gold coins, study the science of rainbows, and categorize the best wishes they have granted humans.

7. The guillotine is a pretty famous method of execution that tends to be synonymous with French history but guillotine-like machines had been executing people hundreds of years before the French Revolution.

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The picture “The Execution of Murcod Ballagh near to Merton in Ireland 1307”offers and early example of guillotine-like machines in Ireland. But today, Ireland is a death-penalty free nation.

8. What do the RMS Titanic, The White House, and the Oscar statuette have in common?

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All of these iconic treasures were created by an Irishman.

9. Ireland used to be home to the shortest St. Patrick’s Day parade ever.

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Measuring at 23.4 metres, the village of Dripsey’s parade route was from the door of one pub to the door of a neighboring pub. Much to my dismay, the parade ended in 2007.

10. These days, a lot of kids in Brooklyn pride themselves on their wayfarer style, vegan diets, and beer knowledge.

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Sadly, Guinness is not a vegan or vegetarian-friendly brew. The production process uses isinglass which settles out suspended matter in each batch of beer. Isinglass is a fish byproduct.

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