Five interesting facts you might not know about Ireland

As Ireland recorded a record year in tourism in 2013 due to the outstanding promotion of “The Gathering”. The highest proportion of visitors originated from the United States, and following on from The Gathering, 2014 is still expected to see high numbers of American tourists to the Emerald Isle. 

Ireland is a top tourist destination for people all over the world but seems to be a favourite of our American cousins. Due to the large Irish community present in the United States it is not surprising that they take advantage of the many flight routes across the Atlantic to enjoy a vacation in Ireland and to sample the Irish culture.

Irish People are renowned worldwide for the friendly and social nature and always up for the ‘craic’. So before visiting the Land of Blarney here are a few tips and interesting facts that might help you while you soak up the full Irish experience and mingling with the locals in one of Ireland’s many cozy traditional bars.

An Irish man founded the Argentinian Navy

Irishman William Brown (known in Spanish as “Guillermo Brown”) is one of Argentina’s national heroes. He is commonly known as the “father of the Argentine navy” and was an important leader in the Argentinian struggle for independence from Spain.

Brown’s family left Foxford in Co. Mayo for Philadelphia in 1786 when he was nine years old. He led an adventurous early life: he fought in the Napoleonic wars, was taken as a prisoner-of-war, escaped to Germany before somehow ending up in Uruguay, where he became a sea trader. He then founded the Argentinian navy, when it was at war with Spain.

Guillermo Brown pictured in 1865 (courtesy of the Biblioteca Nacional de la República Argentina)

Today there is a statute of Brown in his home town of Foxford, Co. Mayo, which was unveiled in 2007 on the 150th anniversary of his death. In Argentina, there are 1,200 streets, 500 statues, two towns, one city and a few football clubs named after him.

Only two members of U2 were born in Ireland

David Howell Evans, more commonly known as The Edge, was born in London, to Welsh parents. Garvin and Gwenda Evans moved to Malahide in Dublin when The Edge was aged just one. Adam Clayton, U2’s bassist, was born in Oxfordshire, England. His family moved to Malahide in Dublin when he was fve, and he soon became friends with The Edge.
Only Bono and Larry Mullen Jr. were actually born in Ireland.

A Belfast hospital is a world leader in kneecap reconstruction

The Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast had one of the top trauma units in Europe. At one point as many as 100 victims of “limb executions” were being treated by the hospital every year, whose advances included external “limb scaffolding” that enables partial healing for bone damage too severe for reconstruction.

Ireland has the fourth largest stadium in Europe

Dublin’s Croke Park, the headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association, is the fourth largest stadium in Europe. The 82,300-capacity stadium was redeveloped in 2005 and is now the fourth largest: only Camp Nou in Barcelona, Wembley in England, and Olimpiysky in the Ukraine, are bigger.

Croke Park in Dublin

Rugby and soccer were banned from the stadium up until 2007 because of a long-standing rule banning “foreign” games. The rule was relaxed when the country’s main soccer and rugby stadium, Lansdowne Road, was closed for redevelopment.

In the summer of 2007, it rained in Ireland for 40 days straight

Even by Irish standards, 2007 was a wet summer. By August 24th, it had rained in Ireland for 40 days – fulfilling an old Irish proverb that says it will rain for 40 days if it rains on St. Swithin’s day (July 15th). The rain usually takes a break in the summer for a couple of weeks and the rare sunshine sends the country pure mad!

Bringing up these facts with fellow Irish men will see you soon drawn into the whole experience of Ireland and you will enter into a sacred bond of talking away into the early hours. Beware for spontaneous breakouts of bellowing Irish singing of traditional Irish folk songs around an open fire while sipping a pint of the most traditional drink of all the Black Stuff… Guinness.

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