Tuesday, 01 May 2012 11:49 | By Maureen O'Hare

Ten things you never knew about Ireland



Leprechaun flash mob (© Reuters)

1) Until June 2010, a pint of Guinness was available free to blood donors in Ireland. Other famous Irish exports include Bailey's Irish Cream, Jameson Whiskey... and Viagra.

2) The only place outside of Ireland to celebrate St Patrick's Day as a public holiday is the island of Montserrat in the West Indies. Even passport entries come stamped in the shape of a shamrock in the "Emerald Isle of the Caribbean".

3) The tallest identical twins ever recorded were born in Magherafelt, County Derry, in 1761. The Knipe brothers were a whopping 7 ft 2 inches. 2012 Eurovision hopefuls Jedward may well have the tallest hair ever recorded by twins.

4) The longest Irish place name is Bullaunancheathrairaluinn, in County Galway. It's not in the same league as Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch in Wales, but still pretty tricky to say after your third or fourth Guinness.

5) The megalithic passage tomb at Newgrange in County Meath is aligned with the rising sun so that on the Winter Solstice the passageway and central chamber are flooded with light. The tomb is 1000 years older than Stonehenge and 600 years older than the Pyramids.

6) Forget Amsterdam - in the late 19th century Dublin's Montgomery Street was home to Europe's largest red-light district, with up to 1600 sex workers plying their trade. It was immortalised in the folk song Take Her Up to Monto.

7) In April 2012, an Irish eight-year-old girl called Jaimie Donovan became the youngest person ever to reach the North Pole.

8) Grace O'Malley, another Irish female adventurer, was known as the Queen of the Pirates. She was said to have commandeered a crew of 200 men off the west coast of Ireland in the 1500s.

9) Irony dealt a cruel blow to Irishman John Coffee who built the jail in Dundalk, County Louth, in 1853. He went bankrupt in the process and became the jail's first inmate.

10) Irish inventions, discoveries and designs include hot chocolate, the Titanic, the White House, 'The Star-SpangledBanner', the Oscar statuette, the MGM lion, and the explanation of why the sky is blue.

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