The next time you get in to a trivia contest with a friend of yours, the following list could be the secret weapon in your trivia arsenal.
Sure, it doesn’t have any astounding facts about your favorite washed up 1980s star, but it does contain some pretty interesting oddities about Ireland – oddities that are guaranteed to impress everyone at your next dinner party.
1. Muckanaghederdauhaulia, all 22 letters of it, is the longest place name in Ireland. It’s a small village in the Connemara Gaeltacht between Camus and Carraroe, in County Galway. In Irish, this is Muiceanach idir Dhá Sháile – which literally means “pig-shaped hill between two seas”. It is also thought to be the longest name for a port in the world. The second longest place name in Ireland is Newtownmountkennedy in County Wicklow, at 19 letters.
2. In the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916, a truce was called twice in St. Stephen’s Green, a park in the city center, to allow the park warden to feed the ducks.
3. Colonel Thomas Blood, from County Meath, was the only man ever to dare steal the Crown Jewels, one the most valuable jewelry collections ever to have been assembled. He was caught on May 9, 1671, in broad daylight. However, the English king, Charles II, was impressed with his daring, and spared him from execution. Blood was pardoned him and awarded with a large annuity instead.
4. The only country in the world to have a musical instrument as its national symbol is Ireland. It’s the harp, which is the formal symbol. Other well-known Irish symbols include the Celtic cross and the Irish wolfhound.
5. The Knipe Brothers (born 1761) from Magherafelt in County Derry are the tallest Irish twins ever recorded. They were 7ft 2in.
6. In 1885 W R Jacob invented the cream cracker at his premises on Bridge Street in Waterford.
7. In 1798, Elizabeth Wesley, a 70-year-old from Macroom, County Cork, grew something resembling a nine-inch ram’s horn from the side of her head.
8. In August 1931 90-year-old Anne Clarke from Raphoe, Co. Donegal, single-handedly mowed, tied and stacked an acre of six-foot high oats – over the space of a week.
(As featured in Foster’s Irish Oddities. New Island Books. 2006)