The Irish are known for their wit and sense of humor but also for their love of practical jokes. Who better to turn to than the Irish when April Fool's Day is upon us!
Over the years the Irish have pulled off some pretty famous and hilarious gags. Some of the stories have been passed down from generation to generation and some have gone viral.
Traditionally in Ireland, all pranks must end at midday on April Fools Day. In Ireland, there's a comeback rhyme to use if you're pranked after noon: "April fools is dead and gone. You're the fool for carrying on."
However, if you're from the United States or elsewhere, feel free to prank all day!
Here are a couple of brilliant Irish practical jokes pulled off with panache:
The Independent and Caravaggio
In July 2003, the Irish Independent newspaper reported that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi had slammed the Irish Government and demanded the return of Caravaggio's painting "The Taking of Christ" which is housed in the National Gallery, Dublin.
However, this wasn't true. It seems that The Independent hadn't taken into account the fact that it was April 1 when they picked the story up from a popular website P45.net. While the story made the front page of the newspaper, four weeks later they apologized for their mistake.
The Irish Times, Euro Disney, and Lenin
Back in 1995, The Irish Times reported that the Disney Corporation was in negotiation with the Russian government to purchase the body of communist leader Vladimir Ilyich Lenin for the Euro Disney theme park where it would be given the "full Disney treatment."
The report said Disney planned to display the embalmed leader's body "under stroboscopic lights which will tone up the pallid face while excerpts from President Reagan's 'evil empire' speech will be played in quadraphonic sound."
Lenin t-shirts would be sold and Disney anticipated that it would attract a great number of visitors.
The Train to Drogheda
In the last week of March 1844, placards appeared around Dublin which advertised free train rides to Drogheda, Co Louth on April 1 for anybody who wanted them,
The placards said that the free ride would include a return ticket. On April 1, a large crowd gathered in the station. As the train approached they surged forward. The people were attempting to get on the train to nab their free seats when the conductors and staff told them there were no free rides.
A riot broke out. The next day newspapers reported, "The laborers on the road supported the overseers—the victims fought for their places, and the melee was tremendous."
On April 2, a number of people went to the police station to lodge complaints but their complaints were dismissed "in honor of the day."
“One could say my life itself has been one long soundtrack. Music was my life, music brought me to life, and music is how I will be remembered long after I leave this life. When I die there will be a final waltz playing in my head and that only I can hear…”
These were the words of French composer Maurice Jarre, which were published and republished in various obituaries in newspapers and blogs around the world when he died in March 2009.
However, shortly afterward, it emerged that Jarre had never said these words. They were, in fact, the work of Dublin student Shane Fitzgerald who had posted the quote on his Wikipedia page as an experiment.
What are some of your favorite April Fools Day pranks? Let us know in the comments!
* Originally published in 2011, updated in March 2020.