Fascinating Facts!

Not a lot of people know that....

William Hill, the founder of Britain's biggest bookmakers, served as a Black and Tan in Ireland.

In 1986, a 900 year old cheese was found perfectly preserved, in a Tipperary bog.

Irish immigrant J.P. O'Malley died form electrocution after urinating onto the the live rail of the New York subway soon after it opened in 1904.

The Popularity of Patrick as a Christian name in Ireland is due to the great 17th century general Patrick Sarsfield, not the national saint.

The largest farm ever covered over four million acres (bigger than the whole of Northern Ireland) of Australia's Northern Territory, and was owned by Ulsterman Samuel McCaughey until his death in 1909.

One traditional Irish cure for a hangover was to be buried up to the neck in moist river sand.

Lady Castlereagh, wife of famous 19th century Ulster diplomat Lord Castlereagh, retutedly had two snakes tattooed on the insides of her thighs.

There has been horse-racing at the Curragh since about the 1st century B.C.

Ireland's premier peerage is the Earldom of Kinsale. The present incumbent is a Somerset plumber.

During his 1984 visit, President Ronald Regan stopped off in a traditional Dublin pub. After taking one sip out of a pint of Guinness he left. His glass was then smashed by U.S. secret service agents.

The Turkish Delight chocolate was first made in Cobh, County Cork, by the Hadji Bey company in the 1890s.

Claddagh rings originally signified that the marriage had been the result of an elopement.

The Lough Erne Cot is the only boat in the world to be annually sunk. It is traditionally scuttled during the winter months in order to preserve the wood.

Ann Boleyn was born in Ireland.

Good news for Belfastmen, they enjoy the best sex ratio in Ireland with some twelve women for every ten men. However the boot is on the other foot in Counties Leitrim and Rosscommon, where there are some ten women for every twelve men.

The phrase "he digs with the other foot" to describe religious affiliation in Ulster dates from the 18th century when each district had its own spademaker. In Catholic areas, spades were generally designed to used by the left foot, in Protestant areas to be used with the right.

More than 8,000,000 pints of Guinness are drunk every day in Ireland.

Andrew Jackson is the only U.S. president not to have been born in America. He was born in the middle of the Atlantic 1767 on an emmigrant ship taking his parents from Carrigfergus.

The Irish alphabet has only 18 letters: J, K, Q, V, W, X, Y and Z are all missing.

Belfast's bedevilment may stem from the fact that it is first mentioned by chroniclers in 666 A.D.

The Burke family of Connacht claim direct descent from Charlemagne.

Cahirciveen in Kerry was once so inaccessible form the rest of Ireland that it was quicker to send newspapers and mail from Dublin via New York.

Cement was invented by Bryan Higgens of Sligo in 1779.

Downing Street in London is named after the 17th century Dublin-born politician, Sir Charles Downing.

One of the world's first women drivers was Miss Jennie Richardson, who took controls of the Bessbrook to Newry tram in 1884.

Dublin is the only city in the world to have produced three Nobel prizewinners for literature: W.B. Yeats (1923), George Bernard Shaw (1925) and Sameul Beckett (1969).

The Legend of the Blarney Stone originated when Cormac McCarthy found his stronghold at Blarney, Co. Cork, surrounded by a hostile English army. By deft use of flattery McCarthy peruaded the English to lift their siege.

Magilligan Strand in County Derry was the site of an unusual annual horse race in the 18th cenury. Church of Ireland clergymen would race against their Presbyterian counterparts with the winning side getting that year's parish tithes.

The ancestors of the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong, were from County Fermanagh.

Fostering was common in early medieval Ireland.

The only woman to become a Freemason was Mary St. Ledger of Mallow, County Cork. She was enroled into the order in 1725 after secretly spying on a lodge meeting.

Richard Martin, philantthropist and founder of the RSPCA, had a 30 mile long avenue leading up to his mansion on his 200,000 acre Galway estate.

The world's oddest royal family is that of the Caribbean island of Redonda. This crank dysasty was founded by an Irish sailor when his ship stopped off at this desolate rock in 1865. He passed the 'title' King of Redonda onto his decendants. The reigning monarch is a whousewife in Manchester.

The phrase "The Emerald Isle" was first coined by the Belfast doctor and poet, William Drennar, in 1795.

One of the great gaffes in social history too place at Stormont in the 1920s. During an important function, Northern Ireland minister Dawson Bates - who was in attendance with his wife and son - entered the main hall. As the party made their way towards the gathered dignitaries, a flunky grandly announced "the honourable Dawson Bates, his wife, Lady Bates, and their son Master Bates."

Tom Gallagher of Derry invented the modern cigarette in 1888.

Glasgow Celtic Football club took both its name and distinctive green and white hooped kit from Belfast Celtic, which folded in 1949.

The last ever Great Auk was killed on the Saltee Islands of County Wexford by local fishermen in 1845.

General de Gaulle's maternal ancestors were McCartans from County Down.

The original 'hole in the wall' bar was in 16th cnetury Kilkenny.

Frederick Hervey, the eccentric 18th century Earl Bishop of Derry, used to sprinkle flour on the floor of his palace when he had guests staying. By following the footprints the following morning, he could find out who was sleeping with who.

Ireland is the world's twentieth largest island.

The first winner of the the Victoria Cross, in 1854, was Charles Lucas of Clontibret, County Monaghan.

Guiness boss, the Earl of Iveagh (1847-1927), gave each of his three sons £5,000,000 in cash (Over £100,000,000 in today's money) as a wedding present.

Belfast inventor Joseph Black build a crude airship in the 1780s, shortly after the Montgolfier brothers launched the first hot air balloon in Paris.

The greatest moment of Belfastman Steve Morrow's career came in 1993, when he scored the winning goal for Arsenal in the League Cup Final. His jubilant team mates hoisted him aloft then almost immediately dropped him, breaking his arm.

Pope Adrian IV Offered the overlordship of Ireland to the English Crown in the bull Laudabiliter issued in 1155.

Swallowing a live frog was a traditional Irish cure ofr stomach ache.

Some 60 million people outside Ireland claim Irish ancestry, including 44 million in the United States, eight million in Britain, and 3 million in Australia.

During the years immediately after the second world war, Dublin was the only major city in Europe in which meat was freely available.

Dennis Kelly, racehorse owner and gambler extraordinaire, left a clause in his will that his heir should forfeit £400 for every bet he made.

Kilkenny's long association with cats stems from the fearsome, wild felines which once inhabitated the Dunmore caves in the north of the county.

Handel's famous oratorio "The Messiah" received it's world premier in Fishamble Street in Dublin in 1742.

The only Irish motor car manufacturers were Chambers Brothers of Belfast who turned out 500 hand made models from their Newtownards Road factory between 1904 and 1927.

Lord Mayors of Limerick also hold the title "Admirals of the Shannon"

M.G.M.'s roaring lion was bred in Dublin Zoo.

There are no moles in Ireland.

The fabled North West Passage was finally discovered by Wexfordman, Sir Robert McClure in 1850.

Molly Malone actually existed. She died in 1734 and her headstone can be seen in Dublin's St. John's Churchyard.

The world's oldest daily newspaper is the "Belfast News Letter" which was founded in 1737.

The Oscar statuette was designed by a Dublin-born art director, Cedric Gibbons. He went on to win nine.

The first potato in Europe were planted by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1596 on his estate in Youghal, County Cork.

Ireland formerly had five provinces: Connacht, Leinster, Munster, Ulster and Meath.

The Pneumatic tyre was invented in Belfast in 1889 by the chemist, John Boyd Dunlop, for use on his young son's bicycle.

"Sweeney's Gun" is a complex sea of caves on Lough Swilly. Every day, Atlantic rollers rushing into the caverns create a bang so loud that in the days before the motorcar, the noise could clearly be heard on the streets of Derry more than 30 miles away.

The Department of Irish Folklore, University Collage Dublin, has over 100,000 tales, myths and legends on record, the largest collection of it's kind in the world.

Frogs came to Ireland with the Normans.

In 1770, the entire village of Rosapenna on Donegal's Inishowen Peninsula was buried overnight by a freak sandstorm.

Dublin is the oldest of all the Scandivanian-founded capitals, beating Reykjavik in Iceland by more than thirty years.

Until the 9th century, people from Ireland were knows as Scots.

In 1895, Irishman James Harden Hickey wrote a bestseller entitled "The Aesthetics of Suicide", which listed 139 different ways of ending one's life. Three years later he killed himself.

Freshly gathered shamrock was once considered a delicacy in Ireland.

The slate for the roof of the Houses of Parliment in London was taken from a now disused quarry on Kerry's Valentia Island.

The tune of the "Star Spangled Banner" the U.S. national anthem, was composed by the blind harper Carolan who died in 1738.

The first steeplechase took place in County Cork in 1752 and was run between the spires of two churches near Mallow, hense the race's name.

Surnames were introduced to Ireland around the time of Brian Boru.

The writer Jonathan Swift was so popular - or curmudgeonly - that he claimed an allowance of twenty shillings a year to replace hats worn out acknowledging people's greetings.

Ireland once had it's own version of the Olympics, the Tailteann Games, which were held on Lughnasa (August 1st), the feast of the Sun God.

The Tricolour was first officially flown at the 1906 Athens Olympics on the insistance of Tipperary athlete, Peter O'Connor, who had just won the Gold medal on the Hop, Skip and Jump.

In Germany a Turkish bath is knows as an Irish Bath.

The Union Jack was first raised, not in England, but over Dublin Castle on January 1st, 1801.

The phrase "to chance your arm" originated during the medieval feud between the Butler and Fitzgerald families. During one particular fierce clash between the two sides in Dublin, fighting spilled into St. Patrick's Cathedral. With the battle going against him, the Earl of Ormonde, leader of the Butlers, barricaded himself in a room in the South Transept. Although offered terms by the Fitzgerald leader, the Earl of Kildare, the wary Ormonde refused to leave his sanctuary. To prove that his word was indeed his bond, Kildare hacked a hole in the toor and stuck his arm through the opening, offering the hand of friendship to his enemy with no guarantee that it wouldn't be chopped off. The door, with it's rough hewn hole, can still be seen.

"Africa says no!" An annual 12th of July march is held in Ghana, West Africa. The practice was introduced by Ulster missionaries in the 19th century. In canada, a mohawk Indian tribe has it's own Orange Lodge.

Mr. Valentine Valentine of Ballinmallard, County Fermanagh, celebrates his birthday on February 14th.

The tune of Waltzing Matilda, unofficial anthem of Australia, was written by Robert Barton of Fermanagh.

Ireland's last wolf was killed by huntsmen in County Carlow in 1786.

Fermanagh M.P. "silent" Frank Maguire never uttered a word during his six years in the House of Commons, yet he changed the course of British History in 1979, when his casting vote brought down Jim Callaghan's Government, paving the way for Margaret Tatcher's sweep to power.

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