Top ten things you didn't know about Ireland
Surprising facts and misperceptions about U2, drinking and heroic Irishmen
But Ireland's alcohol consumption per population was moderate for much of the 20th century. There was a high level of alcohol abstinence in the country – something usually more associated with Protestantism – which was promoted by the Catholic Church.
As the Church's moral authority declined, however, and as the country became wealthier, the Irish started to drink a lot more - finally earning themselves that old heavy-drinking stereotype.
6. A Belfast hospital is a world leader in kneecap reconstruction
During the Troubles, the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast had one of the top trauma units in Europe. At one point as many as 100 victims of "limb executions" were being treated by the hospital every year, whose advances included external “limb scaffolding" that enables partial healing for bone damage too severe for reconstruction.
7. Ireland has the fourth largest stadium in Europe
Dublin's Croke Park, the headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association, is the fourth largest stadium in Europe. The 82,300-capacity stadium was redeveloped in 2005 and is now the fourth largest: only Camp Nou in Barcelona, Wembley in England, and Olimpiysky in the Ukraine, are bigger.
Rugby and soccer were banned from the stadium up until 2007 because of a long-standing rule banning “foreign” games. The rule was relaxed when the country’s main soccer and rugby stadium, Lansdowne Road, was closed for redevelopment.
8. In the summer of 2007, it rained in Ireland for 40 days straight
Even by Irish standards, 2007 was a wet summer. By August 24, it had rained in Ireland for 40 days - fulfilling an old Irish proverb that says it will rain for 40 days if it rains on St. Swithin's day (July 15). The rain usually takes a break in the summer for a couple of weeks and the rare sunshine sends the country pure mad!
9. Playboy was banned in Ireland until 1995
In 1995 you could get Playboy TV but you couldn't get the magazine, which was banned under the censorship laws.
10. More Guinness is sold in Nigeria than in Ireland
That's right: Ireland is the third largest market for Guinness. Nigeria is at second, and Britain is first.