Fun facts about Ireland for kids! A fun list of facts and legends to help your kids get excited about their trip to Ireland and make their geography studies more fun.
Fun facts are a great way to make a country come to life.
We usually look at facts and tidbits about a country before we go on a trip there however, this time, we have turned our attention to our own home and have studies the wonderful country of Ireland!
This is a collection about our favorite fun facts about Ireland, perfect if you are learning about Ireland at home or you are planning a trip!
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Fun facts about Ireland: language and geography
The full name of the country of Ireland is Ireland, Republic of Ireland or Eire.
The head of government is the Prime Minister which, in Irish, is called ‘Taoiseach’ (pronounced Tea-shack)
In 2020, Ireland has a population os about 5 Millions. Of these, over 1 Million live in Dublin, the capital of the Republic of Ireland.
Its flag of Ireland is the Irish tricolour and has green and orange vertical bands joined by a white band in the middle. While these colors are not unique to the Irish flag, their meaning is, each color having a precise symbolic significance: you can read all about the meaning of the Irish flag here, it is now worth knowing!
The country has 2 official languages: these languages are Gaelic (aka Irish) and English.
English is the most common language in the country and the one you will hear most often if you come on vacation here.
However, the first language of the country is Irish and all street signs are in double language as well as the law and official documents.
Forms are usually in double language and if you help your parents withdrawing money from the bank while here, you will see the first question the machine will ask is: want to speak in English or Gaelic? Make sure you pick carefully as the languages are very different and you won’t be able to understand one just because you know the other!
Irish children learn both Irish and English in school and, in some areas of the country Irish is still widely spoke: these areas are called Gaeltacht.
Gaelic is very different from English. Have a look at this word: Muckanaghederdauhaulia. Can you say it? It’s a place in Connemara, a wonderful region in the West of Ireland.
Ireland is an island. Its West Coast is on the Atlantic Ocean while its Easter Coast looks over the Irish Sea.
The Republic of Ireland is one of two States on the island: the other one is Northern Ireland, and it is currently part of the United Kingdom.
Ireland capital city is Dublin, on the East coast of the country while the main city in Northern Ireland is Belfast.
The biggest cities in the Republic of Ireland by population are Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford.
Ireland is part of the European Union. It joined it in 1973.
Ireland became a free state in 1922 and a Republic in 1948.
Ireland is very green and, because of this, it got the nickname ‘The Emerald Isle’ however, green is not the national color of Ireland!
The national color of Ireland is azure blue however, Irish people themselves associate Ireland with the color green and would wear it on special occasions such as St Patrick’s Day or during sports events – green is the color of the Irish sports jersey too.
The longest river in the country is the River Shannon, which you can navigate by river cruise.
The highest mountains in Ireland are the MacGillycuddy reeks and the Wicklow Mountains, respectively in the West and the East of the island.
Ireland has the tallest accessible sea cliffs in Europe, called Sleave League, in Donegal, in the North West of the island.
Despite their height, Slieve Leagues are not the most famous cliffs in the country.
The most famous are called the Cliffs of Moher and you may have seen them in Harry Potter and the half-blood prince!
The west of the country borders with the Atlantic ocean. You can drive along the coast following the so-called Wild Atlantic Way: this is the longest coastal drive in the world!
Animals Native to Ireland
Animals that are native to Ireland and that you can meet on hikes and animal sanctuaries are:
Seals – very common in the west of Ireland but easy to spot even in Howth (Dublin) and Wicklow, on the east coast.
Red deer – easy to spot on hikes and even in Phoenix Park, in Dublin City center
Sheep – very easy to spot anywhere in the Irish countryside and the unofficial animal symbol of the country!
Pigmy shrew – the smallest mammal on the island of Ireland
Long eared owl – very common in Ireland
Fun facts about Ireland: history and legends
Ireland was already inhabited in 6000 BC. You can visit remains from that time at Newgrange, where you can enter a tomb from the Neolithic era!
Ireland was home to several peoples: the Celts, the Vikings and the Normans.
The Vikings invaded Ireland and founded several cities, including Dublin.
You can still see their settlements and learn about them in the Viking Museum in the city, where you can walk inside a reconstruction of Dublin as it used to be! The museum is called Dublinia and it is a great place to see Dublin as it would have been in the past and learn about the main battles and moments that defined its history.
Other great places to learn the history of Ireland are:
Dublin Castle, which was the center of English power before Ireland became independent
Cobh Migration Museum, which teaches about Irish Emigration in Cobh, one of the most important port of departures to the USA, one of the areas many Irish chose as new home, when forced to leave the country for better life conditions
The Epic museum in Dublin, where you can learn even more about the irish diaspora and even check if you have Irish ancestors!
Ireland has thousands of castles
Ireland is said to have thousands of castles, vestiges of a time when the country had many differnt lords, dominating on different parts f the country.
Some of these castes are in ruins, some still standing, some are open to visitors and some are said to be haunted!
Ireland’s most famous castle is Blarney Castle in Cork. Here, you have the legendary Blarney stone: if you kiss it, it is said to give you the gift of eloquence (it is not as easy as it sounds though: read how to visit Blarney Castle and the Blarney stone here)
Other important castles in Ireland are the already mentioned Dublin castle, Trim Castle, the Rock of Cashel, Ross Castle in Killarney and the imposing Kilkenny Castle, one of the biggest in Ireland.
Ireland had the biggest telescope in the world
For a long time, ireland was a famous destinations for astronomers who used to come here to admire and use the biggest telescope in the world!
You can still see it in Birr Castle, in County Offaly: the telescope is in the castle estate and you can also visit a small astronomy museum, full of instruments to observe and learn about the stars.
In Ireland, you can visit a real Norman Castle (which you may recognize from the movies too!)
The biggest Normal castle in Ireland is Trim Castle, in County Offaly: you can visit the castle and climb to the top of the tower!
Trim Castle has been used to film the movie Braveheart, which was set in Scotland but filmed in Ireland!
In Ireland, you can sleep in a castle
Some Irish castles are now hotels and you can spend the night in them feeling like royalty! You can find the Irish castle hotels for families here.
Ireland is said to be inhabited by many magical creatures, some friendly, some not so much!
Among the most famous you may find:
Irish fairies, who are not depicted as pretty creatures living behind fairy doors but used to be feared as known to make people, and kids especially, disappear!
Leprichauns, magical creatures often represented with a red-is beard and top green hat and said to play tricks on you.
Banshees, female spirits that wail to announce the imminent death of a family member
Very many ghosts, that Irish people say you can still spot! Some of the most famous are the Ghost of the Marsh Library in Dublin, the ghost at Three Castle head ruins (one you do not want to meet!) and the ghost of Ross Castle in Killarney!
Interesting facts about Ireland’s patron Saint St Patrick
St Patrick is the Patron Saint of Ireland but is not Irish: he is actually from Britain!
He came to Ireland in the Vth century: he is famous for having established the first church in Ireland and to have brought Christianity to the island, through his extensive travels.
There are many locations in Ireland associated with his work: one of the most impressive is the Rock of Cashel, in Co Tipperary, which is one of the most impressive castles in the whole of Ireland.
To explain the concept of the Trinity, St Patrick’s used a 3 leave shamrock, each of the leaves representing the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
This is why the shamrock is still often associated with the Irish people (and even appears on planes as the logo of the Irish National airline!)
Despite the shamrock popularity, the shamrock is not the official symbol of Ireland. The real official symbol of the country is the harp.
You can see the harp in Trinity College, in Dublin city center: it is kept in a historical library which is said to have been the inspiration for the Jedi archive in Star Wars!
Trinity College Library also holds the very famous Book of Kells, which is a manuscript dating back to medieval times, important for the incredible calligraphy and decorations of each page.
St Patrick died on the 17th of March of 461.
The 17th of March is still celebrated in Ireland and worldwide as St Patricks’ day and is National Holiday. This festivity is marked by parades all over the country and beyond!
Despite the importance of St Patrick’s day in Ireland, the first St Patrick’s day parade wasn’t held here but rather in Boston, USA, in 1737!
Many countries around the world mark St Patrick’s Day turning some of their most important landmarks in green, usually with lights. For instance in Rome, the colosseum got green once and in Chicago, the river did!
Funnily enough, green wasn’t always St Patrick’s color: his original, until the 19th century, color was blue!
Green is an important color for Ireland and not just for St Patrick’s day. The country gets a lot of rain and it is so green it has the nickname of Emerald Isle.
Legends tell us that St Patrick banished snakes out of Ireland and drove them into the sea.
However, scientists now believe there were no snaked in Ireland at that time anyway! What is indeed true is that there are no snakes in Ireland now.
More fun facts about Ireland kids for kids
Ireland gave birth to many important writers
Ireland gave birth to very many very famous writers such as Johnatan Swift (Gulliver’s Travels), Oscar Wilde (the portrait of Dorian Gray), James Joyce (Ulysses) and Bram Stoker (Dracula).
Dracula was born in Ireland
Count Dracula, while usually associated with Transilvania, is a character that is said to have been inspired by the old Irish legend of Abhartach.
Ireland has the oldest lighthouse in Europe
Ireland has a wild coastline and many lighthouses. Hook Lighthouse in Wexford is believed to be the oldest working lighthouse in Europe.
If you want, you can sleep in a lighthouse! Some of them now offer rooms to tourists, so you can feel like the lighthouse guardian for a night!
Ireland’s most popular sports are Gaelic football and hurling
Ireland has two very special, much loved sports: GAA (Gaelic Football and Hurling).
Hurling is the oldest and it is believed to come from warrior fights and it is one of the fastest if not the fastest game played on grass!
You can visit the GAA football stadium in Dublin, Croke Park: is it so big, it is one of the biggest stadiums in the whole of Europe.
Halloween was born in Ireland
It originated as a very ancient festival marking the end of Summer, a festival going by the name Samhain.
The name Halloween comes from the words Halloween” comes from “All Hallows Eve’, the evening before the day of all saints (hollowes= saints).
On Halloween, it is traditional in Ireland to eat two Irish foods: colcannon, with is a potato and cabbage mash, and barmbrack, which is a sweet Halloween bread.
Both these food are made with charms inside, hidden by the cook: the charms are usually a ring, a coin and a thimble. If you find the ring, you will get married too, if you find the coin, you will get rich while if you find the thimble, you will stay single for at leat one more year!
Irish kids love Halloween and go trick or treating – do you?
Slan (That’s bye bye in Irish!)