It’s that time of year again – time to dust off your green leprechaun hat adorned with sequin shamrocks, put on your blinking LED shamrock necklace, and paint Irish flags and shamrocks on your face. It’s Saint Patrick’s Day. The holiday is a feast to Saint Patrick, the patron Saint of Ireland. In America it also celebrates our Irish-American heritage. Erin Go Bragh!
So, whether you’re going to cozy up with your mates at a pub and down green beer, drowning shamrocks at your St. Paddy’s Day party, or enjoying a fun-filled parade, here’s 10 fun facts about Ireland you can share over a pint of Guinness (or shot of Irish whiskey).
1. That lease is for how long?!
The Guinness Brewery in Dublin has a 9,000-year lease at 45 Irish pounds per year.
2. What’s In A Color?
Saint Patrick’s traditional color is blue (rightfully called Saint Patrick’s Blue), not green. It wasn’t until the Irish Independence Movement that green was popularized. Most people wear a green shamrock on their lapel.
3. Until Death Do Us. . .
In 1997, divorce was legalized in Ireland.
4. This Spud’s For You
Contrary to popular belief, the potato was not a vegetable native to Ireland. It was brought to Ireland in 1589 by a British explorer named Sir Walter Raleigh.
5. Spoiler Alert: St. Patrick Wasn’t Irish
Saint Patrick was not Irish. When young, he was kidnapped from his home in Wales by Irish raiders, where he was then brought to Ireland.
6. Paddy Wagon
When drunken Irish were arrested at the pub, they all claimed their names were Paddy. This was the rumored origin of our colloquial phrase, “Paddy Wagon,” for police van. However, the Oxford Dictionary suggests that the phrase Paddy Wagon originated in the 1930s after so many American police officers were of Irish decent.
7. Erin Go Bragh!
The colors of the Irish flag are green, white, and orange. Green symbolizes the Catholics, orange symbolizes the Protestants, and white symbolizes hope – hope that peace will exist between them.
8. Don’t worry – It’s safe!
Every Saint Paddy’s Day, Chicago dyes its Chicago River Kelly green. The dye wears off after 5 hours.
9. No Snakes Here
The so-called snakes that St. Patrick drove out of Ireland were metaphorical, not literal. Fossil records show Ireland has never had snake inhabitants.
10. Little Shoe Makers
According to Irish folklore, leprechauns are only male. And all that gold they guard, they worked hard for (mending shoes) and it was rightfully earned. So, think twice next time you want to go hunting for gold at the end of a rainbow!