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Irish facts

Arguably  the oddest criminal in history was 'Billy in the Bowl', who
terrorised the streets of 18th century Dublin.  Born without legs, Billy
moved around in an iron bowl specially made for him by a sympathetic
blacksmith.  Tiring of begging for a living, Billy turned to robbery and
murder before his arrest and execution in 1786.

The police station in Dungannon, County Tyrone, should overlook the Khyber Pass.  In the 19th century, the plans for this fearsome fortress-type building were sent by mistake to Ireland instead of India.

IN Sligo, you still officially need a licence to buy molasses - a legal
hangover from the days when the county was the poteen capital of Ireland.

During the 1920s, when the electric railway opened between Portrush and Portstewart, crafty farmers were quick to spot an opportunity for profit.  They would leave the carcasses of dead cattle by the line and then claim compensation from the railway company for the electrocution of their animals.

IN 1973, IRA chief of staff Joe Twomey made a spectacular escape by
helicopter from Dublin's Mountjoy Prison.  In the confusion, the guards
made a vain attempt to thwart his plan by shutting the prison gates.

IN 1610, the town council of Youghal, County Cork, became so concerned about 'divers lewd persons' deflowering virgins that they passed a law against them.  Fines ranged from £40 if the girl was the daughter of an alderman, down to £5 if she was only the offspring of a groom.

During the bitter Act of Union debate of 1800, the Irish parliamentarian
Buck Whaley voted twice, once for the motion and once against, and, in the process, picked up a bribe from both camps.

The last survivor of the infamous 1789 mutiny on The Bounty was John Adams from Derry.

In1980, an anonymous Tyrone alcoholic met a dreadful death.  Taking a sip from a lemonade bottle he assumed contained poteen, he found to his horror that the clear liquid was sulphuric acid - he died in agony several hours later.

In 1671 the British Crown Jewels were stolen by an Irish adventurer
Colonel Thomas Blood, who was arrested soon after in a tavern while
stopping for a drink after his adventurous heist.  Charles II was so
impressed that he gave Blood a full pardon, and rewarded him with an
estate in Ireland.

Irishman Michael Barrett holds the dubious distinction of being the last
person to be publicly executed in the British Isles.  He was wrongly
hanged for the Clerkenwell bombing of 1867.

After his execution in 1830, the skin of the Cork-born body-snatcher
William Burke was cut up and made into snuff pouches and wallets.

Dublin's Nelson's Pillar (blown up by the IRA in 1966) was built before
Nelson's Column in London.

The Rotterdam Bar in Belfast's docklands was once a prison for convicts
awaiting transportation to Australia.

Shot dead in 1513, Garrett Mor Fitzgerald, Earl of Kildare, is the first
recorded victim of the gun in Ireland.

In 1992, Fermanagh solicitor Terence Gibson appeared in Enniskillen Crown Court representing the man who had crashed into his car.  His defence was unsuccessful and his client was ordered to pay Mr Gibson £130 in damages.

In 1884, faced with the imminent landing of bailiffs to collect rent
arrears, the people of Tory Island prayed for deliverance at the 'cursing
stones' in their local graveyard.  The gunboat carrying their persecutors
struck a reef and went down with all hands.

The medieval O'Flaherty clan of Galway had a novel method of dealing with tax collectors. Inviting the unsuspecting official to dine with them, they
made sure to sit him at the head of the table in the place of honour.  At
the pull of a hidden lever, the floor would open up beneath their victim
plunging him to his death in a deep well below.

The famous Irish-American boxer 'Gentleman' Jim Corbett had a particularly effective knock-out punch - before a fight he would soak the bandages wrapped round his fist in Plaster of Paris.

The grandmother of the famous revolutionary, Che Guevara, was from Galway.

The notorious 18th century Dublin hell-raiser Buck English once shot a
waiter dead and then had his victim added to the bill for £50.

In ardent Ireland, a man who was not whole could not be leader of a tuath
or kingdom. Losers in succession feuds often had their eyes gouged out by the victor.

The original Abbey Theatre in Dublin was opened in 1904 on the site of a
morgue.

Ivan Beshoff, the former owner of Beshoff's fish and chip shop in Dublin,
was the last survivor of the famous 1905 mutiny on the Battleship
Potemkin.  He died in 1987 aged 104.

Despite the fact that the border has been in place for more than seventy
years, the waters of Carlingford Lough are still in dispute between the
United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.

There is a Donegal woven carpet weighing five tons in the Grand Foyer of Belfast City Hall.

St. James's Gate Brewery is built on the site where, since medieval times,

Dubliners held an annual drinking festival every 25th July to celebrate
the feast day of St. James.

During the early 1900s, the headquarters of Sinn Fein and the Orange Order were next door to each other at numbers 9 and 10 Parnel Square, Dublin.

New York's Central Park was modelled on St. Stephen's Green.

Europe's highest cliffs are on Achill Island, off County Mayo.  Dropping
over 2000 feet into the Atlantic Ocean, they are nearly twice the height
of the world's tallest building.

Balbriffan, County Dublin, was once the hosiery capital of the world.
Around the turn of the century stockings and tights were widely known as
'Balbriggans'.

The sinister sounding Bloody Foreland in County Donegal owes its name to its magnificent sunsets.

Covering some 400 square miles, the midland Bog of Allen is the largest
peat bog in the world.

The largest carillon of bells in the British Isles (128 of them) is housed
in the spire of St. Colman's Cathedral in Cobh, County Cork.

THE eastern profile of the Cave Hill, which dominates the Belfast skyline,
is known as 'Napoleon's Nose' because of its likeness to the profile of
the famous French emperor.

IN 1901 there were 26 Chinese people in Belfast.  Today the city has some 5,000 Chinese - the largest community of its kind in Ireland.

The folio number of the plans of the Titanic, built at the fiercely
Protestant Belfast shipyard of Harland and Wolff, was 3909 04 which, when read backwards, is said to crudely spell 'NO POPE'.

For centuries, an unholy ringing sound coming from a gnarled old oak tree on windy nights terrified the people of the County Down village of
Kilbroney.  In 1885, the tree was blown down and the source of the ghostly noise was discovered - a golden bell hidden in the hollow of the trunk by a monk hundreds of years before.

Until the advent of steamships, it was common practice for Irish sea
captains to carry pebbles from Scattery Island, home of the patron saint
of mariners, St. Cannera, in the belief that they would prevent shipwreck.

Mass has been celebrated every Sunday at Ballintobber Abbey in County
Galway since 1216.

The world's oldest New Testament, dating from the 2nd century, is in the
Chester Beatty Library in Dublin.

St. Patrick is the patron saint of French fishermen.

Altogher there are over 1400 listed Irish saints only six have been
officially canonized.

The reformed Dublin alcoholic and would-be saint, Matt Talbot, who died
in 1925, hung heavy iron chains around his body as a penance.

King Henry V was cursed after letting his troops ransack the shrine of the
Irishman St. Fiacre, the patron saint of haemorrhoid sufferers, at Meaux
in France.  Henry died as a result of his piles turning septic on August
30th 1417, the feast day of St. Fiacre.

The Romans imported Irish wolfhounds, using them to devour Christians in the arena.

Dermot MacMurrough, who was responsible for bringing the Normans into Ireland, rotted to death for his sin in 1172, after contracting morbis
pediculosis.

Ireland's Atlantis, the legendary city of Hy Brasyl, is reputed to lie
beneath the waters of Carlingford Lough.

Thespian suspicion over Macbeth - usually referred to as 'the Scottish
play' - is thought to date from the time of the Irish actor-manager
Spranger Barry (1719-1777), who was famous for his portrayal of the evil
king.  A life dogged by personal problems, law suits and agonising gout
ended in poverty for the unfortunate Corkman.

The largest swimming pool in history was at Glenveagh House in County
Donegal.  In the 1930s, its millionaire Irish-American owner Henry P.
McIlheny had the nearby lake centrally heated by steam pipes for visiting
Hollywood glitterati.

Under the 1801 Copyright Act, Trinity College is entitled to one free copy
of every book published annually in the British Isles.  The university
library now has over two million volumes and needs a quarter of a mile of
new shelving every year.

The first Irish saint wasn't Patrick.  It was St. Abban, who preached in
southern England in the 2nd century.

Fleet Street in London was the site of the city's first Irish community in
the 6th century which was centred on a holy well dedicated to St. Brigid.

Ireland's holiest place is arguably the churchyard of St. Enda on the Aran
island of Inishmore.  Over 120 recognised saints are buried there.

Most of the famous Book of Kells was actually written in a monastery on
the Scottish island of Iona.

The Pope is also bishop of the tiny see of Kilfenora in County Clare.

The sacred fire of St. Brigid, which was kept in an oak grove near
Kildare, was extinguished by English soldiers in 1535, after supposedly
burning continuously for nearly a thousand years.

Ireland's smallest church is at Portbraden in County Antrim.  Only ten
feet long by six feet wide, the structure is dedicated to St. Cobhnan the
patron saint of builders.

The skull of Corkman, Sir Charles McCarthy, killed during a native revolt
in 1824, is the most sacred relic of the Ashanti tribe of Ghana in West
Africa.

Some of the buildings on O'Connell Street in Dublin still bear bullet
holes dating from the 1916 Easter Rising.

The phrase 'by hook or by crook' originated during Cromwell's 1649
campaign in Ireland when he vowed to capture Waterford by advancing by sea round Hook Head or through the village of Crooke.

The first casualty of the Civil War (1922-23) was a Free State sniper
smashed over the head with a teapot by an elderly Dublin woman.

The famous Irish general Owen Roe O'Neill, who never received so much as a scratch during a brilliant military career spanning thirty years, died of
blood poisoning after stepping on a rusty nail in 1649.

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.

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 in 1767 on an emigrant ship taking his parents from Carrickfergus.

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 from the rest of Ireland
that it was quicker to send newspapers and mail by sea via transatlantic
shipping, than by land.

Cement was invented by Bryan Higgins of Sligo in 1779.

The largest carillon of bells in the British Isles (128 of them) is housed
in the spire of St. Colman's Cathedral in Cobh, County Cork.

The Natural History Museum of Ireland (next door to Leinster House) has
the world's largest collection of insects.

The soil on Devenish Island in County Fermanagh is reputed to have been brought from the Colosseum in Rome in the 6th century by St. Molaise, because it was soaked with the blood of the early Christian martyrs.

An obscure Protestant sect, the Dippers, baptize their members in the
waters of Lough Erne which they believe to be the true River Jordan.

Disbode, an Irish saint of the 7th century, is credited with creating the
German wine industry, when wines miraculously sprouted from a staff he had stuck into the soil along the banks of the Rhine.

A 'five o'clock shadow' can clearly be seen on the embalmed head of St.
Oliver Plunkett, which is kept in St. Peter's Church, Drogheda, proving
that he shaved on the morning of his execution in 1681.

Kerryman Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty, 'the Scarlet Pimpernel of the
Vatican', saved more than 14,000 Allied prisoners from the S.S. in
occupied Rome between 1942-44.

Every March 6th, the Tricolour is flown in Sashingen in Bavaria to
celebrate the Irish saint, Fridolin.

After their deaths, the scarlet hats of past Primates of All Ireland are
hung in the rafters of Armagh Cathedral and left to rot as a symbol of
their owners' earthly mortality.

Iceland was settled by Irish monks in the 8th century.

St. Kevin of Glendalough was an extreme misogynist, who is said to have
once hurled a beautiful female admirer to her death after she had ventured into his mountain retreat.

In the 7th century, St. Killian became the only Irishman to be offered the
Papacy.  Amazingly, he refused the honour.

Ireland's first lighthouse was built by monks on Hook Head, County
Wexford, in 810.

Mass has been celebrated every Sunday at Ballintobber Abbey in County
Galway since 1216.

Ireland's first purpose-built mosque is in Westport, County Mayo.

The world's oldest New Testament, dating from the 2nd century, is in the
Chester Beatty Library in Dublin.

The largest swimming pool in history was at Glenveagh House in County
Donegal.  In the 1930s, its millionaire Irish-American owner Henry P.
McIlheny had the nearby lake centrally heated by steam pipes for visiting
Hollywood glitterati.

Under the 1801 Copyright Act, Trinity College is entitled to one free copy
of every book published annually in the British Isles.  The university
library now has over two million volumes and needs a quarter of a mile of
new shelving every year.

The first Irish saint wasn't Patrick.  It was St. Abban, who preached in
southern England in the 2nd century.

Methodism's first martyr was John McBurney, who was stoned to death by a mob in Brookeborough, County Fermanagh, in 1771.

Joshua Jacobs, leader of the weird 19th century White Quakers cult, once led his followers in naked procession through the streets of Dublin.

Despite its association with the national saint, Croagh Patrick in County
Mayo has been a holy mountain since pagan times.

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

The Oscar statuette was designed by a Dublinborn art director, Cedric
Gibbons.  He went on to win twelve.

The first potatoes in Europe were planted by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1596 on his estate near 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.

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.

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

During his 1984 visit, President Ronald Reagan 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 Irish alphabet has only 18 letters: J, K, Q, V, W, X, Y and Z are all
missing.

Armagh Cathedral was burned in 1566 - by its own priests.

The Synod of Kells divided Ireland up into thirty-six dioceses, each of which had access to either the Shannon or the sea.

Ireland's last hermit was Patrick Beglin, who lived amongst the ruins of Fore Abbey in County Westmeath until his death in 1616.

Captured by his bitter enemy Shane O'Neill in 1561, Calvagh O'Donnell, lord of Tyrconnell, had a collar placed round his neck which was chained to fetters on his ankles in such a way that he could neither sit, stand upright or lie down flat.  When he was released two years later he was both mentally and physically a broken man.

Before the opening of the Four Courts in 1802, the Dublin courts of justice were situated within the precincts of St. Patrick's Cathedral.

In a notably grave breach of hospitality, the Earl of Essex had 300 members of the ruling Clannaboy O'Neill clan put to death after luring them to a feast in Belfast Castle in 1573.

Landmark's amongst the IRA's contributions to urban redevelopment include the destruction of Nelson's Pillar in O'Connell Street in 1966, a statue of William Ill blown off its pedestal outside Trinity College in 1929, and an equestrian statue of George II in Phoenix Park meeting the same fate in 1937.

Baltimore in County Cork was raided by Algerian pirates in 1631.  Two hundred of the townspeople were carried into captivity.  No-one ever returned.

The Irish-borm St. Fiacre is the patron saint of haemorrhoid sufferers.  He
died at Meaux in France, and went on to become the patron saint of the French royal family.  Louis XIV, 'the Sun King', was said to be particularly devoted to the Irishmen's memory.

THE only Irish recipient of the Dicken Medal, the animal VC, was Paddy the carrier pigeon, the first bird to reach London with the news of the D Day landings in 1944.

Cromwell's only defeat in Ireland was at Cloninel, where his forces were
repulsed by two hundred Ulstermen under Hugh Duff O'Neill.  That night
O'Neill's men quietly slipped away, allowing the mayor to surrender the
unbreached town the following morning.  This meant that under the rules of 17th century warfare to which he scrupulously adhered, Cromwell had no choice but to give the inhabitants quarter.

The Byerley Turk, the Arab stallion from which all modern racehorses are
ultimately descended. fought at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

After surrendering Singapore to the Japanese in 1942, the defeated British commander Lt.  General Percival received a gloating telegram from Tom Barry, the IRA commandant whom Percival had so ruthlessly pursued in west Cork during the War of Independence twenty years before.

There has been an army camp at the Curragh since 1646.

Most of the ships which ran the blockade of Confederate ports, bringing
supplies to the beleaguered South during the American Civil War, were built at Harland & Wolff in Belfast, where revolutionary advances in hull design, the so-called 'Belfast bottom', gave them the advantage over pursuing federal warships.

Phoenix Park in Dublin covers 1752 acres.  It is the largest city park in
the world.

Prosperous County Kildare, was founded by one Robert Brooke, who went bankrupt twice, lost his family estate, and died in abject poverty.

The Rotunda in Dublin, founded in 1745, was the first maternity hospital
in the world.

Belfast has over twenty distinctive dialects

Skellic Michael off the coast of County Kerry marks the southernmost limit for arctic, and the northernmost limit for tropical fish.

Four hundred million tons of water rush through the narrows of Strangford
Lough in County Down twice a day.

Meath landowner had such an unshakeable belief that he would be
reincarnated as a fox that he had a luxurious marble den built in the
grounds of his estate in anticipation of his return.

Since it opened in 1832, Dublin's Glasnevin Cemetery has been the last
resting place for more than eleven million people.

Ireland had its own werewolf legend.  These creatures were believed to be the souls of the damned who had rejected the teachings of St. Patrick.


The Dutch Blue Guards, the personal bodyguard of King William Ill, were
devout Catholics to a man.

150,000 Irishmen fought in the American Civil War (1861-1865), accounting for one in sixteen of the combatants.

In 1578, the Irish rebel James Fitzmaurice hired two thousand Italian
mercenaries to help him free his homeland from the English.  However, when the ships docked in Lisbon, his soldiers were commandeered by the King of Portugal.  Every one of the would-be liberators of Ireland died in the trackless wastes of the Sahara.

The commander of Drogheda, Sir Arthur Aston, was beaten to death with his own wooden leg after Cromwell's soldiers captured the town in 1649.

John Barry of Wexford founded the U.S. Navy.

Chieftains in medieval Ulster went out of their way to marry Scotswomen
because their dowries consisted of axe-wielding Galloglass mercenaries.
When Turlough Luineach O'Neill married Lady Agnes MacDonald of Kintyre in 1568, she brought 10,000 troops with her.

The most one-sided battle in Irish history took place at Kinsale in 1601
when more than 2,000 Irishmen lost their lives compared with just one
recorded English fatality.

The British Army base at Bessbrook, County Armagh, is the world's busiest heliport with some 200 flights daily to and from the Ulster border.

Fredrick 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.

Some may think that main square of Buenos Aires, capital of Argentina, is called the Plaza Del Mayo in honour of Mayoman William Brown, founder of the country's navy, but the true explaination is that it is the scene of the scene of the 25th May 1810 revolution that led to the country's independence

Concentration camps were developed not by the Nazis, but by the Kerry-born British general Lord Kitchener during the Boer War (1899-1902).

Kerryman Dan O'Connell held the bizarre distinction of being both a French general and a British colonel at the same time during the Napoleonic Wars.

In 1895 Irishman James Harden-Hickey wrote a best-seller 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 Parliament 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 harpist 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, hence 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 its 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 insistence of Tipperary athlete, Peter O'Connor, who had just won the
Cold medal for the Hop, Skip and Jump as part of the Great Britain team.

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




Irish petty criminal J. P. Hannan escaped from Verne Prison in Dorset,
England, in 1955 just one month into a 21 month sentence.  He is still at
large.

It was a crime in medieval Waterford to refer to someone as 'an Irishman'.

The mob which stormed the Bastille in 1789, thus sparking off the French
Revolution, included Joseph Kavanagh, a cobbler and agent provocateur from County Clare.

Irishwoman Mary Kelly was the last victim of Jack the Ripper in 1888.  It
was her liver that the killer posted to Scotland Yard.

Liz Mc Clelland died in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 1972 at the age of 54 after she was struck on the head by a placard during a pro-IRA march she had got caught up in while out shopping.  Just two years before, she had emigrated from her native Belfast 'to get away from the violence'.

During an outbreak of sectrarian violence in 1820, the highly unpopular
Richard Long, landlord of Longfield in County Tipperary, was shot dead
while sitting on the toilet.

Between 795 and 830 there were 26 Viking attacks on Irish monasteries -
while 87 were sacked by the Irish themselves.

Lynching originated with Galwayman Colonel Charles Lynch, who, during the American War of Independence (1775-1783), hanged without trial any British redcoats unfortunate enough to fall into his hands.

The great Ulster chieftain Shane O'Neill once reportedly cut off the ears
of a servant who was late with his supper.

In 1585, the Bishop of Rossory, Nicholas Walsh, was stabbed to death by a man he had earlier denounced from his pulpit as an adulterer.

Founded in 1814 by Sir Robert Peel, the Royal Irish Constabulary was the
world's first national police force.

In 1792, inspired by the events of the French Revolution, pupils at
Belfast Royal Academy mutinied and seized the school building.  After
unsuccessfully trying to shoot their headmaster, they surrendered quietly
to the militia.

The Shakespearean villain Richard III is said to be based on the 16th
century rebel, Gerald, Earl of Desmond.

During a celebrated murder trial in 18th century Dublin, the powerful
Santry family threatened to cut off the city's water supply (which ran
through their estate) unless their son was cleared of all charges.  The
jury returned a unanimous verdict of 'not guilty'.

Belfast's first sectarian riot took place in 1830.

The centre of Castlebar is owned by the runaway Lord Lucan, who vanished in 1974.

In 1734, students at the then notably lawless Trinity College murdered an
unpopular dean by the name of Edward Forde.

Strongbow, the Norman conqueror of Leinster, is said to have cut his young son in two with one stroke of his broadsword because the frightened child showed cowardice. This appalling story is given credence by, or perhaps originates in the fact that the effigy of the upper half of a small boy lies beside his tomb in half of a small boy lies beside his tomb in Dublin's Christchurch Cathedral.

The wealthy New York resort of Coney Island is named after a small
uninhabited island off the coast of County Sligo.

Ireland's only gold rush took place in 1795 at Croghan in the Wicklow
Mountains.  It made no-one rich.

Ventry, in County Kerry, was founded by an evangelical society as a home
for converts from catholicism.

The parlous state of the Irish economy during the 1980s may perhaps be
explained by the fact that a favourite meeting place of the country's top
economists was then Doheny and Nesbitt's bar in Dublin.

As with Cockneys and the Bow Bells, you can only call yourself a true Dub
if you were born between the North and South Circular Roads.

Every spring, more than twenty million eels swim into the River Bann to
breed.

Emmet Square in Birr, County Offaly, marks the centre of Ireland.

Fivemiletown in County Tyrone is more than six miles from the nearest
village.  The measures that named it were the longer 'Irish' miles.

The Giant's Causeway contains over 40,000 basalt columns.

Dublin's Ha'Penny Bridge is so called because that was the original toll
required to cross it.

St. Columb's Cathedral in Derry was the first Cathedral to be built after
the Reformation.

The Guinness-owned St. James's Gate Brewery in Dublin covers 60 acres.  It is the biggest in Europe.

Mulgrave Street in Limerick, which contains two hospitals, a prison and a
lunatic asylum, is known as 'Calamity Avenue' by the locals.

The Nephin Beg, a 200 square mile wilderness in County Mayo, is the only
part of the Irish mainland to be completely uninhabited.

The only nudist beach in Ireland is at the Forty Foot Leap, by the
Sandycove Martello tower, in Dun Laoghaire.

Lough Erne is said to have an island for every day of the year - in fact,
it only has 154.

The 3,700 acre neolithic field system at Ceide Fields, in County Mayo, is
the oldest in the world.

The curiously named town of Hospital in County Limerick owes its name to
the Knights Hospitallers (now the Knights of St. John), who founded it
during the Middle Ages.

The Natural History Museum of Ireland (next door to Leinster House) has
the world's largest collection of insects.

The soil on Devenish Island in County Fermanagh is reputed to have been
brought from the Colosseum in Rome in the 6th century by St. Molaise,
because it was soaked with the blood of the early Christian martyrs.

James Byrne, the 7 feet 2 inch 'Irish Giant', died of depression in 1783
after being literally watched to death by the servant of a doctor who
wanted his huge frame for dissection.

The Devil's Bit mountain near Thurles, County Tipperary, is so called
because Satan, furious at finding no wicked souls in Ireland as he flew
over it, supposedly bit a chunk out of the rock in his rage.

Halloween has its origins in Samhain, the Celtic feast of the dead.

A holy tree on the Tyrone shore of Lough Neagh near Ardboe was said to
bring good fortune to those who hammered coins into its trunk. It eventually
died of metal poisoning. There is a similar tree at Donaghanie Graveyerd called the Toothache Tree

In 1991, English prophet and self-styled 'Son of God', David Icke,
proclaimed that the Scottish island of Islay would sink into the sea
because of 'bad vibes' emanating from the troubles in Ulster.

The Bullaun stone, which is kept in St. Matthew's Church on the Woodvale
Road in Belfast, is said to have the power to cure warts, spots and acne.

Aship from Cobh discovered the ghostly wreck of the Marie Celeste in 1872.

The crypt of St. Michan's Church in Dublin contains the almost perfectly
preserved remains of corpses dating from the Middle Ages.  The reason for their incorruption appears to be the limestone walls of their tombs.

On the thirtieth anniversary of the Munich air disaster which wiped out
the famous 'Busby Babes' football team.  Manchester United played
Coventry.  The only goal of the game was scored by United's new Irish
signing Liam O'Brien at 3.04 pm - the exact moment of impact three decades before.

Ireland's first purpose-built mosque is in Westport, County Mayo.

Henry II did penance for ordering the killing of the Archbishop of
Canterbury, Tomas A Becket, in the Selskar church in Wexford in 1172.

St. Patrick is the patron saint of French fishermen.

Altogher there are over 1400 listed Irish saints only six have been
officially canonized.

The reformed Dublin alcoholic and would-be saint, Matt Talbot, who died
in 1925, hung heavy iron chains around his body as a penance.

King Henry V was cursed after letting his troops ransack the shrine of the
Irishman St. Fiacre, the patron saint of haemorrhoid sufferers, at Meaux
in France.  Henry died as a result of his piles turning septic on August
30th 1417, the feast day of St. Fiacre.

The first mummy to be seen publicly outside Egypt was displayed in Belfast
in 1831-  It is still there in the U;ster Museum

Irish immigrant J. P. O'Malley died from electrocution after urinating
onto the live rail of the New York subway system 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.

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 MeClure, in 1 850.

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

Dublin is the oldest of all the Scandinavian-founded capitals, beating
Reykjavik in Iceland by almost thirty years.

Until the 9th century, the people of Ireland were known as Scots.


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

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

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

Claddach 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.

Until the 1920s, on St. Brigid's Day (February 1st) at Teltown, County
Meath, couples could legally marry by simply walking towards each other.
If the union didn't work out, they could 'divorce' by walking away from
each other at the same place exactly a year and a day later.

A monkey appears on the Fitzgerald coat of arms in tribute to the family
pet which rescued the infant lst Earl of Kildare from a fire at Kilkea
castle in the 14th century.

According to legend, the hair of anyone who swims in the lake on Slieve
Gullion in County Armagh will turn grey overnight.

On 13th April 1829, the day that the United Kingdom Parliament gave the
vote to Irish Catholics, the statue of George Walker Protestant hero of
the 1689 siege of Derry which had stood quietly on the city's famous walls
for more than a century, inexplicably rambled.

The first British soldier to die in the present troubles was Gunner Robert
Curtis who was shot dead in Belfast in 1971.  The IRA sniper who killed
him was himself killed in a gun battle with the army three months later -
in Curtis Street.

Over 400,000 Irishmen served France in the famous Irish Brigade between
1697 and 1792.

The fabled North West Passage was finally discovered by Wexfordman, Sir Robert MeClure, in 1 850.

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

The first transatlantic telegraph cable was laid between Valentia Island,
County Kerry, and Heart's Content, Newfoundland, in July 1886.

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

The eminent medieval theologian Duns Scottus from County Down was so renowned for his advocacy of traditional Catholic doctrine that the early protestant reformers dubbed anyone who opposed them as a 'Duns', hence the term 'dunce' for a slow learner.

The bones of St. Valentine, who gave his name to Valentine's day, are kept in the Whitefriar Church, Dublin.

Irish nuns made up twenty of the thirty-eight nurses who worked in Florence
Nightingale's hospital during the Crimean War.

While baptising Aengus, King of Cashel, in 445, St. Patrick unwittingly stuck the spike of his crozier through his new convert's foot.  When later asked why he had not cried out, Aengus replied that he thought it was part of the ceremony.

Some fortv years before the Egyptians moved the temples of Abu Simbel clear of the waters of the Aswan Dam, a similar feat of engineering was carried out on an early medieval church on an island in the Shannon, to make way for the Shannon hydro-electric scheme in 1929.

Amongst the 1,400 named Irish saints are 18 Fintans, 11 Bridgets, and 120 Colmans.

Having vowed never again to set foot on Ireland, St. Columcille returned
frequently, but got round his vow by having two sods cut from the soil of Iona made into sandals.

Both the legend of King Arthur and that of the Holy Grail were largely the
creation of the Irish monks who founded Glastonbury in Somerset in the 6th
century.

The most successful temperance crusade in history was that led by the Irish priest Fr. Mathew. It began in Cork in 1838, and by 1844 some five million people had taken the pledge.


Ireland's last hermit was Patrick Beglin, who lived amongst the ruins of Fore Abbey in County Westmeath until his death in 1616.

The priest who accompanied Louis XVI of France to the guillotine on the day of his execution was Henry Edgeworth from Longford.

Two hundred monks were killed in a pitched battle between the rival
monasteries of Clorunacnoise and Durrow in 760.

The bones of St. Valentine, who gave his name to Valentine's day, are kept in the Whitefriar Church, Dublin.

The Canadian Mounties were founded by Roscommon man George French in 1873.

In 1641 Owen O'Connolly received £500 for informing the authorities of a plot by Conor Maguire and Hugh MacMahon to seize Dublin Castle.  In 1644 Maguire and MacMahon escaped from the Tower of London, where they were awaiting trial for treason.  They were recaptured after being spotted wandering along Drury Lane by Owen O'Connolly who by sheer chance happened to be in London.  He picked up a further £200 for his trouble.

St. Stephen's Green in Dublin was formerly the site of the city's public
executions.

Irishman James Quinn acted on the London stage in the early 1700s.
Notoriously highly strung, he killed two fellow thespians in duels, one after
a row over the proper pronunciation of the name of the character Cato in
Shakespeare's Julius Caesar.

"Lawrence of Arabia' was not English.  He was born in Wales, the son of a
dissolute Irishman who fled the country when news of his affair with his
children's governess became public knowledge.

Rules of war aimed at protecting the lives of non-combatants were laid down by the Irish holyman St. Adamnan in 697.

The world's first war correspondent was the Dublin-bom journalist Sir William Howard Russell, who wrote for The Times.  He broke the news of the ill-fated charge of the Light Brigade, and turned Florence Nightingale into a national heroine.

The so-called 'Butter Captains' were officers sent to Hugh O'Neill by
Elizabeth I to train six companies of his men to police Ulster for the crown.
By constantly changing the composition of the companies, the wily rebel got an army several thousand strong trained in the use of the musket and the pike.

Percival had so ruthlessly pursued in west Cork during the War of Independence twenty years before.

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 Samuel Beckett (1969).

The legend of the Blarney Stone originated when Cormac McCarthy found his stronghold at Blarney, County Cork, surrounded by a hostile English army.  By deft use of flattery McCarthy persuaded the English to raise their
siege.

Magilligan Strand in County Derry was the site of an unusual annual horse
race in the 18th century.  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. Leger of Mallow, Country Cork.  She was enroled into the order in 1725 after secretly spying on a lodge meeting.

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

One of the great gaffes in social history took 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 Callagher of Derry invented the modern cigarette in 1888.

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

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

GeneralL de Caulle's maternal ancestors were McCartans from County Down.

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

The River Farset, a tributary of the River Lagan, runs under High Street,
Belfast, in a tunnel that is big enough to accommodate a single decker
bus.

West Belfast's grim 'Peace Line' is three times the height of the former
Berlin Wall.

Carrigan Moss, which is gathered on beaches in Connemara, is valued in the far east as an aphrodisiac.  Locals use it to cure sore throats.

Tumbling 1800 feet off the Cock of Shruhill mountain in County Donegal,
the Scardan Waterfall is the highest in Europe.

The Ballymun flats on Dublin's northside were built in 1965 with money
paid by the West German government as compensation for the 1941 air raid on Clontarf, which killed thirty-one people.

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

Guinness boss, the Earl of Iveagh (18471927), 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 was flying balloons in 1767, sixteen years
before 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.

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

KIilkenny's long association with cats has it origin in the legend of a
wild, man-eating feline which supposedly inhabited the Dunmore caves in
the north of the county.

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

One of the earliest Irish motor car manufacturers was 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'.

The Bloody Oak, a tree standing near Armagh, contains fragments of bullets fired during the Battle of the Yellow Ford (a rare Irish victory), fought
on the site in 1598.

Louis Brennan of Castlebar, County Mayo, invented the torpedo.

Dublin housewife Kit Welsh disguised herself as a man and served twenty
years in the army of the Duke of Marlborough from 1692.
She was wounded four times without doctors discovering her secret and
survived to be personally decorated for bravery by Queen Anne.

The infamous Charge of the Light Brigade in 1854 was a direct result of
the ineptitude of Mayoman Lord Bingham.  Bingham was later promoted to the rank of field marshal.

Brussels was liberated by the Irish Brigade of the British Army in 1944.

The tough Mayo pirate queen Grace O'Malley once attacked a Turkish
merchantman whilst heavily pregnant.  Retiring below decks at the height
of the ensuing sea battle, she is said to have given birth to a son before
returning to sink the enemy ship and slaughter its crew.

The Nazi broadcaster William Joyce, alias Lord Haw Haw, grew up in
Salthill, County Galway.

The seaplane which spotted the German battleship Bismark in May 1941 was stationed at Castle Archdale on Lower Lough Erne, in County Fermanagh.

Eamonn de Valera shocked the world in 1945 when he called at the German embassy in Dublin to express his condolences on the death of Adolf Hitler.

The infamous phrase 'The only good Indian is a dead Indian' is attributed
to the Cavan-born American general, Phil Sheridan.

One of the oddest escapades in military history took place in 1866 when
Irish Fenians, veterans of the U.S. Civil War, invaded Canada with the
intention of capturing its capital, Ottowa, and returning it in exchange
for the freedom of Ireland.

There is a German military cemetery in Clencree, County Wicklow.  It
contains the remains of servicemen who crash-landed or whose bodies were washed up on the coast of Ireland during World War Two.

Medieval Irish soldiers decked and matted their hair as an effective
protection against sword blows.

Those on the receiving end of 'the shots that echoed round the world' at
Lexington in 1775 were soldiers of the Royal Irish Regiment.

The modem submarine was invented by a Clare schoolteacher, John P.
Holland.  He was financed by the Fenian Brotherhood who intended to use it to sink Royal Navy ships.

As a tribute to the city's role in the Battle of the Atlantic, the entire
German U-boat fleet was surrendered to Derry before it was scuttled in
1945.

More than half of George Washington's army was of Ulster-Scots extraction.

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

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 Thatcher

The phrase 'to chance your arm' originated during the medieval feud
between the Butler and Fitzgerald families.  During one particularly
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 door 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 its rough hewn hole can still be seen.

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.

In Germany, a Turkish Bath is known as an Irish Bath.









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