Friday, March 17, 2006

Happy St. Patrick's Day

In honor of the feast of St. Patrick - the patron saint of Ireland, I thought I'd supply you all with a bunch of useless yet interesting facts about Ireland. Enjoy, and slainte!

Medieval laws in Ireland allowed a man to divorce his wife if she damaged his honor through infidelity, thieving or “making a mess of everything.”

I’ll just take the hangover, thanks: One traditional Irish cure for a hangover was to be buried up to the neck in moist river sand.

IRELAND FACTS: WHERE TO DRINK IN PRIVATE..."The Snug" is a small private room in older, traditional Irish pubs, often favored by ladies.

The term "Emerald Isle" first appeared in a poem called "Erin," written in 1795 by William Drennan.

IRELAND FACT: DEADLY CASTLES...Irish castles and town houses often have a lobby inside the front door called a “murder hole,” with an opening in the ceiling that defenders could use to shoot at or pour hot liquids onto unwanted guests.

Couples in Ireland could marry legally on St. Brigid's Day (February 1st) in Teltown, County Meath, as recently as the 1920’s by simply walking towards each other. If the marriage failed, they could "divorce'" by walking away from each other at the same spot, on St. Brigid’s day the following year. The custom was a holdover from old Irish Brehon laws, which allowed temporary marriage contracts.

During World War II, Hitler seriously considered invading Ireland, to use it as a platform for an assault on Britain. At the same time, the British repeatedly pressured Irish Taoiseach Eamon De Valera to give them use of the ports of Cobh, Berehaven and Lough Swilly for ships involved in their anti-submarine campaign in the Atlantic. De Valera refused, citing Ireland's neutrality in the war.

The last witch in Ireland was supposedly Dame Alice Kytler, born in Kilkenny in 1280. All four of her husbands died, and she was accused of poisioning them. Today you can dine at Kytler's Inn in Kilkenny, which operates in her old home.

"Black Irish" people, who have black hair and swarthy skin, are thought to descend from sailors of the Spanish Armada, who came ashore when two of their ships were wrecked off Spanish Point (County Clare) in 1588.

IRELAND FACT: A FORCE IN AMERICA...Between 40 and 44 million Americans claim some Irish ancestry, making them the second largest ethnic group in the US. People of German descent are the largest group.


Blogger Colm said...

Not true about the swarthy people in West Clare being the result of some Spanish influence. The Spanish seamen were all hung when they came ashore as far as I know.

6:13 PM  

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