By Michele E. Buttelman
Signal Staff Writer
When we think of Ireland, we often conjure up images of shamrocks, St. Patrick’s Day and leprechauns. However, there’s more to Ireland than corned beef and cabbage.
Fact: While that’s a commonly served St. Patrick’s Day meal in American celebration, in Ireland, it’s pretty hard to find. That’s because it was an American creation, mistakenly dubbed the national dish of Ireland. Irish stew would be a more authentic choice.
Facts about The Republic of Ireland
There are a lot of fun ways to educate kids about Ireland, regardless of whether you plan to go there.
Find Ireland on a globe, show your children where you live and how far away Ireland is.
Ireland is the 20th largest island in the world. Ireland is about six times smaller than California. It is 32,595 square miles. California is 163,696 square miles.
The population of Ireland is 4.8 million, compared to the population of 10.16 million in Los Angeles County.
The Irish flag is a horizontal flag with green, white and orange vertical stripes.
Many Irish family names start with “Mac” or “O’…”, which means respectively “son of …” and “grandson of …” in Gaelic. Celtic languages like Gaelic are spoken in both Ireland and Scotland.
The oldest working lighthouse in the world is located in Ireland. Hook Lighthouse at Hook Head, in County Wexford was completed around 1172 to 1245. The first lighthouse on that spot dates back to the 5th century.
Puffins are one of Ireland’s most incredible seabirds.
If your family’s DNA test shows you have Irish roots it is likely the Irish Potato Famine, also known as the Great Hunger, is a factor.
The famine began in 1845 when a fungus-like organism spread rapidly throughout Ireland. The infestation ruined up to one-half of the potato crop that year, and about three-quarters of the crop over the next seven years. The tenant farmers of Ireland, ruled as a colony of Great Britain, relied heavily on the potato as a source of food. Before the disaster ended in 1852, the Potato Famine resulted in the death of roughly one million from starvation and many were forced to leave their homeland as refugees. More than 1.5 million Irish immigrated to America during the famine.
Ireland has been the scene of many conquests throughout history. The Vikings and then the British have controlled Britain at various times throughout history.
Irish nationalists fought for a free and independent Ireland for many years.
In 1948 the Republic of Ireland was born and all ties to Britain were cut.
St. Patrick was born in 385 in what is now Scotland. He was captured by barbarian Irish pirates when he was 16 and worked as a shepherd and farm labor. He escaped back to Britain after six years in Ireland.
However, he soon began his quest to convert pagan Ireland to Christianity.
Irish soda bread is a local favorite made from soft wheat.
The Galley Head Lighthouse is located on the south coast of Ireland. It is an active 19th century lighthouse.
Saint Patrick’s Day is observed on March 17, the supposed date of his death. In 1903, St. Patrick’s Day became an official public holiday in Ireland.
Historically St. Patrick’s Day was celebrated as a religious holiday and “feast day” in Ireland. Modern festivities now include parades, festivals and a celebration of Irish culture.
St. Patrick is credited with “driving all the snakes from Ireland” and chasing them into the sea after they attacked him during a 40-day fast he was undertaking on top of a hill. He’s also credited with giving the shamrock an important place in Irish culture.
Ireland is famous for its myths and legends that have been passed on from generation to generation. From goddesses to high kings, giants to leprechauns, Ireland is overflowing with stories that have very much become a part of the history and culture of Ireland.
The leprechaun is the most famous of all Irish mythological creatures. He is a cobbler who collects gold and hides it at the end of a rainbow.
Fairies are believed to be the Tuatha de Danann, one of the first tribes to arrive in Ireland, they were a magical and secretive people. They are blamed by the local Irish for much of the unexplained. As a result, the fairies like to be left alone, and it’s considered bad luck to disturb a fairy bower.
Traditionally, many people would