We wondered what people around the world wanted to know about Ireland. Below are some of the most common questions about Ireland that are searched by Google everyday.
…have no snakes?
Because St Patrick stood atop of a hill and waved his staff at them, banishing them all into the sea never to return to Ireland. That is the legend but the truth is in fact that Ireland has never had any snakes. As it’s an island, snakes have had no way of migrating there throughout history. When snakes evolved about 50 million years ago, Ireland was completely submerged underwater so no good for a snake. The last time Ireland was connected to another country by land was about 15,000 years ago, but then it was completely frozen, again no good for cold blooded animals like snakes. New Zealand, Iceland and Greenland are also snake-free zones for the same reasons.
The Irish speak English because they were under the British rule for the best part of 800 years, until finally gaining their independence in the early 20th century. In the 17th and 18th centuries, Ireland became anglicised after the invasion of Oliver Cromwell. It was difficult to find work with an Irish sounding name, and almost impossible if you didn’t speak the language. Many Irish people changed their names during this time, with Gaelic names such as Uí Néill and Mac Murchada being changed to the more English sounding O’Neill and Murphy. Along with the names and many traditions, the language also got replaced by English. Thankfully, since Ireland regained its independence, Irish is now taught in schools again.
…have so many castles?
There are numerous beautiful and ancient castles all across Ireland. The reason is because the country has a history of being invaded, a lot. Back in medieval times, Ireland was split into several mini-kingdoms, with family clans claiming rulership over certain areas. Many castles were built as strongholds to defend these territories. Then the Vikings invaded and built castles of their own to defend their newly acquired lands. Then the Normans came and did the same, and finally the British. This chain of invasions and disputes over territories has left the country scattered with historical castles from each generation of rulership.
…have an army?
Ireland has an army for the same reason as America, Australia, India and China have armies, to protect and serve their country. Ireland has strong allies in America, Britain and the European Union, but as with all countries it wants to have its own military force to call upon if needed, and by the same token, to assist its allies if required.
…hate Northern Ireland?
The people of the Republic of Ireland don’t hate those of Northern Ireland, and the same goes the other way. This is a historical and political debate that dates back more than a hundred years. When the Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed by Michael Collins in 1921, it granted Ireland independence but as a dominion of the British Empire. Northern Ireland remained as part of Britain under the terms of the treaty. Some people in Northern Ireland would like to become part of a United Ireland, others would like to stay as part of Britain. Terrible acts of violence have been carried out in the name of this issue. The violence has hopefully ceased for good since the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, in which all major organisations agreed not to use violence to achieve their goals. As for the two countries hating each other, that is complete nonsense. Players from both side of the border line up alongside each other for the All-Irish rugby team, and are cheered on by the fans of both countries.
…have a high quality of life?
According to a 2004 survey across the residents of 111 different countries, Ireland came out as having the happiest people on earth. So it is not just a myth, the quality of life in Ireland is amongst the best in the world. It is difficult to pinpoint or define the actual reasons why. Ireland was amongst the first countries in Europe to enforce a smoking ban in public places so the government cares about the health of the nation. Maybe the warm nature of the people is also a contributory factor. Ireland is a cosmopolitan country with people visiting and settling from all around the world. Perhaps the tolerant nature and mixing of traditions is the reason the Irish are so happy about life. It could just be the craic.
…have bad weather?
Bad weather can be bad in Ireland. Freezing winds and driving rain are not uncommon. The main reason for this is because of the island’s geographical location. It is perched on the edge of mainland Europe, and is the first country to be hit by any Atlantic Ocean storms. It does also enjoy some nicer days throughout the year as well, with temperatures reaching up to 30°C. Generally, the weather in Ireland is not too different to that of Britain, unpredictable being its primary characteristic.
…have a Prime Minister and a President?
The President is the official head of state, but holds a limited amount of actual power. Not dissimilar to the King or Queen of England. The Prime Minister is known as the Taoiseach. He or she is elected as head of their political party, and then if that party is voted into power by the public, then they become Taoiseach.
…hate Oliver Cromwell?
The extent to which Irish people today hate Oliver Cromwell is debatable. He is certainly a figure of hate in Irish history. The reason is that Cromwell led the invasion across Ireland in the 17th century, completely taking control of the country and placing it firmly under British rule. He did this with the force of a ruthless army, often slaughtering thousands of Irish people at a time. There are also suggestions that thousands of Irish people were shipped to the Caribbean to work as slaves during the period of the Cromwellian invasion, although these have never been proven.
…have no trees?
Ireland has huge areas of beautiful countryside and stunning landscapes, most of which is made up of thousands of trees. It seems strange that this question is one of the most popular that Google is asked to search for, when there is no real history or logic behind it. Perhaps it is a common typing error for Iceland? Just for the record, Ireland has plenty of trees.
Did you know?An Irish couple trekked for more than three hours up the highest mountain in Ireland to get this incredibly beautiful wedding photo from the top. Find out more.
Have you heard about…Irish citizen test - Radio presenter Rick O’Shea asked his listeners to suggest amusing and surreal ideas for questions that could appear on such a test. Most of all they had to capture the essence of Irishness. Are you up to the Rick O’Shea Citizenship challenge? Try it here.
What about this…Robert Emmet is one of Ireland’s most romantic and best remembered nationalist leaders. He might have easily been forgotten but he earned lasting fame because of three aspects of his passionate nature. Find out more.