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5 Interesting Facts About Ireland

Ireland is a nation of diverse attractions from bustling cities to beautiful vistas, with endless possibilities constantly at your disposal. Filled with a rich culture, panoramic landscapes and abundant history, there’s always something new to discover. That being said, Ireland still has a few tricks up its metaphorical sleeves. Here are five facts you may not know about Ireland:

1- Castles Galore

Castles and more castles—It’s no secret that castles are abundant in Ireland. But did you know that there are more than 30,000 castles and additional ruins scattered throughout the island?! Travel back in time and experience some of the many castles the country boasts with Collins Day Tours’ half-day tour daily from Dublin’s city centre to Malahide castle, and admire its amazing walls and garden. Experience Kilkenny Castle, one of the most visited castles in Ireland during the Glendalough, Wicklow and Kilkenny Full-Day Tour. Or take in a part of Irish history and popular culture with a visit to Dunluce Castle, the now-ruined castle with a rich history more recently featured as Castle Greyjoy in HBO’s hit series Game of Thrones.

2- Puffin Paradise

Animal lovers rejoice! While Atlantic Puffin populations are currently declining throughout Europe, the number of this vulnerable species at the Cliffs of Moher are increasing. When they’re not living out at sea, over 7,000 puffins call the Cliffs home from April to July during their breeding season. Visit these adorable sea birds and many more during the Wild Atlantic Way and Cliffs of Moher Tour and experience the cliffs famously used in films such as The Princess Bride (1987), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009), and Leap Year (2010). Clearly this UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its breathtaking views and rich history is a great choice for feathered friends and visitors alike!

3- The Truth About Saint Patrick

While Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and the namesake for the festive day, many commonly associated points are actually false! Firstly, Saint Patrick is not, in fact, Irish: multiple sources believe he was born in either Wales or Scotland. While the lore surrounding the holiday states that St.Patrick banned snakes from Ireland, the reality is that there were never any snakes in the country to begin with. This is most likely due to its status as an island meaning the snakes of Great Britain couldn’t cross over. Ireland is one of the few countries in the world with no snakes in addition to Iceland, New Zealand, Antarctica and a select group of island nations. Furthermore, while we’ve come to associate green with both the holiday and nation, Ireland’s national colour was originally blue and later changed to green. Shamrocks aren’t all they seem to be either—while they are a commonly used symbol and the national plant, the harp is actually the national symbol of Ireland.

4- A Tomb As Old As Time

Newgrange’s world-famous passage tomb is not just old— it’s ancient. Dating back to 3,200BC it’s not only the oldest Neolithic burial chamber in Europe but also older than both Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids! Although classified as a passage tomb, Newgrange was more like an ancient temple rather than simply a tomb, where a variety of ceremonial, spiritual, astrological and religious gatherings took place. A significant location in local folklore and wider Irish Mythology, travel back in time with the Newgrange Passage Tomb and Hill of Tara Tour.

5- Now Ewe Know

Did you know sheep are not only an important animal for the Irish economy through wool and meat sales but also an abundant one, with Ireland being one of few nations where sheep outnumber the country’s population? Sheep in Ireland literally come in every colour of the rainbow; it is common practice for farmers to paint their sheep with a particular colour to keep track of any lost or stolen sheep. They do this so multiple farmers can share pastures, as well as monitor sheep breeding patterns. Although sheep may be plentiful, the vast majority of sheep breeds we see today in Ireland actually come from Scotland. Lastly, if you search the term ‘Irish Traffic Jam’ you will encounter the reality that curious groups of sheep crossing and maybe taking a break midway in the middle of the road is a common source of frustration for rural motorists.

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