14 Facts on Ireland


Many Irish family names start with “Mac” or “O’…”, which means respectively “son of …” and “grandson of in Gaelic.


The story of the world-famous vampire Count Dracula was written in 1897 by Bram Stoker, from Dublin.


At a height of 688 metres above the Atlantic Ocean, Croaghaun (on Achill Island) are the second highest cliffs in Europe – after Cape Enniberg in the Faroe Islands.


The three most famous symbols of Ireland are the green Shamrock, the harp, and the Celtic cross.


Hook Lighthouse is thought to be the oldest working lighthouses in Europe, or possibly in the world. Located at Hook Head, in County Wexford, the present structure was completed either in 1172 or in 1245, although the first lighthouse on that spot dates back to the 5th century.


The Anglo-Irish physicist John Tyndall (1820-1893) was the first to prove the Greenhouse Effect, the first to discover why the sky is blue (Tyndall effect), as well as a number of other discoveries about processes in the atmosphere.


In 1845, William Parsons (1800-1867), 3rd Earl of Rosse, built the Leviathan of Parsonstown, a reflecting telescope of 72 in (1.8 m) aperture. It was the largest telescope in the world until 1917.


John Philip Holland (1840-1914) invented the first functional self-propelled submarine in 1877 in Liscannor, Co. Clare.


The Boyne coracle, or curragh, is the oldest surviving kind of boat in Europe. It is still built in the same way as it was in the Neolithic, or possibly even Mesolithic.


Erected from 1729, the Irish Houses of Parliament was the world’s first purpose-built two-chamber parliament house. It now houses the headquarters of the Bank of Ireland.


Ireland has had its own Olympics since the Bronze Age. The Tailteann Games (Aonach Tailteann), as they were known, were athletic contests held in honor of the deceased goddess Tailtiu, Lugh’s wife. Although historically attested games were held from the 6th to the 12th century CE, it is claimed that the origins of the Tailteann Games go back to 632 BCE, or even as far as 1600 BCE (against 776 BCE for the ancient Greek Olympic Games). Modern revival of the games have been held since 1924.


Newgrange, a 5000-year-old portal tomb in Co. Meath is older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian Pyramids.


The world’s first suburban commuter railway opened between Dublin and Dun Laoghaire in 1834 (two years before the London and Greenwich Railway).


The world’s first recorded open yacht race was held in Dublin Bay in 1663.