Today is St. Patrick’s Day, and I thought I would share some interesting tidbits about a few things Irish.

Saint Patrick, was actually not Irish, but British Roman. When he was about 16, he was taken as a slave to Ireland, by Celtic pirates, where he lived for six years before escaping and returning to Britain. He joined the catholic church, and eventually returned to Ireland as an ordained bishop, to bring Christianity to the tribes that he had come to know and love. By the seventh century, he had come to be revered as the patron saint of Ireland.

Although Ireland is arguably the birthplace of whiskey, currently there are only 5 operating distilleries in Ireland: Middleton Distillery, Bushmills Distillery, Cooley Distillery, Kilbeggan Distillery, and Clontarf Distillery. Of these 5 distilleries, only Cooley Distillery is Irish owned. These distilleries produce over 70 different brands/varieties of Irish Whiskey.

Corned Beef & Cabbage is not a traditional Irish dish. In fact, while corned beef has been around in Ireland for centuries, it wasn’t until immigrating to North America that the dish became more well known. Even today, it is not a meal that is often consumed in Ireland, except by tourists.

Ireland has only been a self-governed country since 1922 (as the Irish Free State) and more recently as the independent Republic of Ireland, created in 1937. In 1949, Ireland seceded from the British Commonwealth, and was was officially recognised by Britain through the Ireland Act 1949.

Although Ireland’s most famous beer is Guinness, over 60% of the beer sold in the country is actually lager. In a similar fashion to it’s distilleries, at the beginning of the 19th century there were over 200 breweries in the country, 55 of them in Dublin alone. During the latter half of the 19th century the number of breweries fell to about 50, and today there only about 12, although craft brewing is beginning to emerge again. Also of interest is the fact that hops did not come into widespread use in Ireland until late in the 18th century, far after they were being used in most countries in the world.

Hurling is the national sport of Ireland. Similar to lacrosse, this intense field game is considered one of the fastest paced games in the world. And if you thought that Friday night football in Texas was a big deal, you ain’t seen nothing!

So there are your fun facts for the day. Sláinte!