an Irish miscellany

The Irish Companion

Did you know?


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There are 118 castles in Co Clare on the west coast of Ireland.


In 2006, some 146 prisoners serving sentences of between one and five years went AWOL from Irish prisons.

Some 152 candidates contested the Seanad general election in 2002; 103 of them were not elected.

In 1698 some 153 priests fled Wicklow ahead of coercive penal laws outlawing their religion.

As of 2006, the 1997 film Titanic had the highest box office take in movie history. It starred Leonard DiCaprio and Kate Winslett and the theme song My Heart Will Go On.

The Belfast-made ship sank in 1912, after hitting an iceberg.

The iceberg was never found.

Kate Winslett was found at the end of the movie, in the water, very cold.

book jacket

The Irish Companion is an arresting collection of mythology and strange facts that will keep you enthralled long past the witching hour when soft noises on the windowpane will persuade you to douse the light and snuggle beneath the bedcovers, for fear of an Irish night.

A copy, signed and dedicated, by contributing editor Brendan Nolan makes an ideal gift and memento for visitors, for those Irish living in the fifth province and for native alike.

signed copies of the hardback @ €14.95 (£9.99) plus P&P will be dispatched forthwith if you tell us to whom and to where.

If Ireland did not exist it could not be invented. It was once the economic success story of the European Union and a place that recalls centuries-old rural events with an everyday familiarity.

dragonman It won Eurovision song contests with ease and in the interval introduced the world to the exotic swirl of Irish dancing and Riverdance.

Ireland has been invaded on numerous occasions and the invaders stayed on to become more fiercely Irish than the vanquished. In fact, Irish fairies may be the remnants of one such invader, defeated by others, who took magical powers with them into underground exile from where they emerge in force at Hallowe’en.

Guinness began in Ireland in the 18th century and is still manufactured at its Dublin brewery for Ireland and the world. Clever and sustained marketing made it the national drink imbibed by local and visitor alike.

kissersLovers visit the bones of St Valentine in a Dublin church every February and have their engagement and marriage rings blessed.

These and other stories are to be found in the Irish Companion, a book that contains more facts and strange reports than a cattle drover could shake a stick at.

Ten Nobel prizes have been awarded to Irish people, four of them in literature. Three went to Irish peacemakers.

The Titanic sailed from Ireland on its doomed voyage.

Europe was first linked to America by an undersea telegraph cable running out from Co Kerry.

Pilots making the first transatlantic flights in the early 20th century made landfall in Ireland and an Irishman invented a spidercatcher in the late 20th century, though these events are not necessarily related, at all.

The Planning Appeals Board has ruled that householders may not store helicopters in garden sheds without planning permission.

Engaging contradictions abound and here begins your exploration with an Irish Companion in hand.


A plaque to a fictitious priest sat in the parapet of Dublin's O’Connell Bridge for two years without being noticed by council officials.
Father Pat Noise was commemorated there as a prank by a pair of anonymous artists.
Tourists have been photographed at the memorial.
Someone else left flowers.
Maybe, it was his housekeeper.
It's still there.
The plaque.


In 1899, Emma Whelan from Cork gave birth to Alfred Hitchcock filmmaker.

Limerick resident Dolores McNamara in July 2005 won 115 million euro in the EuroMillions lottery.

75 years was the life expectancy of the Irish male in 2002 according to the Central Statistics Office Ireland.

80 years was the life expectancy of the Irish female in 2002 said the CSO.

Male deer give up the ghost after 12 years of life in Dublin's Phoenix Park.


Female deer live to the age of 20 years in Phoenix Park.

In 1983 the IRA kidnapped Shergar a horse belonging to the Aga Khan . No ransom was paid and the horse was never seen again.

Tullamore Gaol was the scene of the last hanging of a woman in Ireland. Mary Daly was hanged there in 1903.

In 1047 it snowed all over the island from Christmas until mid-March.
In 1947 snow lay on the ground until April.
Though that was a different year.

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