Ireland is one of the world’s most popular travel destinations, with good reason. Green rolling hills, flowing Guinness, adorable villages, and lively music keep the tourists coming back again and again. But, here are five things you might not have known about traveling in Ireland:
The national symbol of Ireland is not the shamrock. Though most of us immediately equate Ireland with the shamrock and the shamrock adorns most of the country’s logos, including the official country website, the national symbol of Ireland is the harp. The harp has been used on the coat of arms of Irish kings since the 13th Century. In 1922, when Ireland separated from England, the country registered the harp as the national symbol. You’ll find the harp on Irish passports, the official seals of the President, and . . . on Guinness bottles. It’s true: take a look at a bottle of Guinness and you’ll see a golden harp next to the year 1759, when Guinness was established.
There are more tourists in Ireland each year than Irish locals. 6 million people live in the country of Ireland. An astonishing 7.3 million people visited Ireland in 2014, meaning that there were 1.3 tourists to an Irish resident in the country in 2014. The tourism industry accounts for 5 billion Euros in revenue for the country and 4% of the country’s GNP.
The Guinness Storehouse is the top attraction in Ireland. The Guinness Storehouse gets over 1 million visitors each year, which is surprising since it is essentially a very large advertisement for the famous beer. However, the tour ends at the delightful rooftop bar, where visitors can savor a pint of Guinness with the scenery of Dublin spread before them. And, the Guinness brewery isn’t going anywhere. The original lease was made in 1759 for 45 Irish pounds per year, to last 9,000 years --- meaning that the Guinness lease will expire in 10,759.
If you love faeries and folklore, there’s a Dublin museum for you. The National Leprechaun Museum is a storytelling attraction that invites visitors into the fun and fascinating world of faeries and leprechauns. The museum includes a room where guests can pretend to be leprechaun-sized and search for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. This is a perfect attraction for children and the young at heart who want to experience Ireland’s rich folktales.
Ireland is completely and totally snake-free. Worry not if you’re an ophidiophobe. Ireland has absolutely no snakes. The legend goes that St. Patrick chased all of Ireland’s snakes into the sea when the snakes attacked him while he was converting pagans to Christianity. We celebrate St. Patrick’s Day every year to honor his feat of removing Ireland’s snakes, but scientists claim that St. Patrick had nothing to do with it. Researchers have found from fossil analysis that snakes never existed in Ireland. During the Ice Age, Ireland remained too cold for snakes to inhabit the land and after the seas melted, the snakes could not cross the deep ocean to the island, keeping Ireland entirely snake-free. New Zealand, Greenland, Iceland, and Antarctica similarly have no snakes due to this strange Ice Age phenomena.