Tomorrow I head off to the motherland and I am really looking forward to 10 days of exploring and relaxing. Perhaps even a bit of jigging as well. Now that I know how to use an iPad without wanting to throw it out the window, it looks like I'll be doing a bit of blogging too.
As a way to prepare for the trip, I have found some little-known facts about Ireland that may surprise you. And some just make you laugh.
10. The longest place name in Ireland is Muckanaghederdauhaulia, in County Galway. I will be in Galway for a few days so I'll let you know if I run into this place. I am sure it will be hard to miss.
9. An odd Irish birthday tradition is to lift the birthday child upside down and give his head a few gentle bumps on the floor for good luck. The number of bumps should allegedly correspond to the child’s age plus one. I am not sure what to say about this.
8. Bram Stoker was working as a civil servant in Dublin when he wrote “Dracula” in 1897. Creepy.
7. Historians believe St. Patrick’s real name was "Maewyn Succat." Try marketing that, Hallmark.
6. Here is an itty bitty fact: Catherine Kelly, who died in 1785, was allegedly the smallest Irish woman ever. With a total height of just 34 inches and a weight of 8 pounds, she was known as “The Irish Fairy.”
5. One of the most popular radio shows in rural Ireland is still the weekly broadcast of local obituaries.
4. One traditional Irish cure for a hangover was to be buried up to the neck in moist river sand. That would take forever to wash off.
3. 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 poisoning them. Today you can dine at Kytler's Inn in Kilkenny, which operates in her old home. I kind of want to do this.
2. According to some historians, over 40% of all American presidents have had some Irish ancestry. I think this is because they all want to be cool. Irish = cool.
1. Flaherty (originally O'Flaherty) is my mom's maiden name. However, the O'Flaherty crest is somewhat of a surprise to many. While the clan is known as the "ferocious O'Flahertys," their crest features the most nonthreatening of creatures: the lizard. The clan honored the small creature because of an ancient story whereby a young warrior of the Ua Briuin Seola tribe (ancestors of O'Flaherty) was alerted to the approach of enemies by a lizard. The small reptile ran across his face as he slept and he made it back home unharmed.
So there you go. I'll see you on the road! And watch out for us ferocious Flahertys and our pet lizards.