Ireland, the land of a thousand welcomes, is steeped in rich history, unparalleled culture, and intriguing peculiarities that make it unique. Here are five fascinating facts that might surprise you about the Emerald Isle.
Firstly, Ireland boasts a rather peculiar absence of one specific creature: snakes. Despite the well-known Saint Patrick’s tale of driving them away, the truth is, Ireland’s chilly climes and its history of glaciation during the Ice Age have always rendered the island inhospitable to these cold-blooded reptiles. Simply put, snakes never made Ireland their home because they couldn’t survive the frozen ground of the country’s past.
Secondly, Ireland champions cultural and artistic pursuits like no other country. As a tribute to the invaluable contributions of its creatives, Ireland has a distinct policy limiting taxation on its writers, artists, composers, and painters. This pro-culture tax policy showcases the nation’s commitment to nurturing creativity and preserving its rich cultural heritage.
Thirdly, some hiking trails in Ireland share a deep geological connection with their North American counterparts. As remnants from the supercontinent Pangea, certain Irish trails are recognized as an extension of the International Appalachian Trail. This fascinating fact underscores Ireland’s place in the Earth’s ancient geological history.
Fourthly, Ireland’s neutral stance during World War II adds an intriguing chapter to its historical narrative. While the world was embroiled in conflict, Ireland braced itself for potential invasions, both from the Allied and Axis powers. In a move that underscored this neutrality, many Irish soldiers who chose to desert and join the British forces against the Nazis were penalized back home. These deserters were stripped of pensions, denied unemployment benefits, and barred from public sector jobs for seven years. Maintaining this neutral stance until war’s end, Ireland’s then-president even went as far as signing a book of condolences for Adolf Hitler’s death.
Finally, the story of Ireland’s population is one of both endurance and migration. Remarkably, the descendants of Irish emigrants now residing in the United States number more than 40 million, a figure that outnumbers the population of Ireland itself by a factor of eight. Ireland’s present population, approximately 5 million, is still striving to rebound from the catastrophic effects of the Great Famine from 1845 to 1852. The famine tragically reduced the population from an earlier total of 8 million. This period in history has etched a deep and lasting imprint on Ireland, significantly affecting its demographics and cultural identity.