Ever since visiting Ireland as a child, I've been fascinated by the history, culture and folklore of this island known as the Emerald Isle.
Ireland Facts for Kids
Ireland can be a truly magical place for children to learn more about and there’s no better time to start this discovery than in the months and weeks leading up to the widely celebrated St. Patrick’s Day. There are loads of Irish facts for kids to discover about this wonderful location.
This little island, which is located just off to the west of Great Britain, is well known for its castles, knights, leprechauns, pots of gold and also the famous Irish jig which is fun to watch. The history and culture of the Irish people are rich, and they often like to stay true to their traditions, passing them on to the newer generations.
Ireland has a history that has been around for many thousands of years. Enjoy all these wonderful snippets of information that children, and even adults too, can discover about this tiny place that has captured the hearts of so many people.
Why Is Ireland Called the Emerald Isle?
Ireland is called the Emerald Isle really because of its lush greenery. This island is so beautiful and green with lots of rolling hills, trees and green grass. Green is a color that is really in abundance across this European island that sits just off the west coast of Great Britain. The climate and also the fair amount of rain that falls in this location help to keep the grass growing nice and tall.
This island is also well known for its tall, rocky cliffs which reach high above the ocean waters. Because of its green and splendid nature, Ireland is often compared with the dazzling green jewel called the Emerald. It is a real gem of a place surrounded by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and also the Irish Sea.
One Country, Divided Into Two Rules
This is a county that is quite literally divided. There is Northern Ireland, which is under the rule of the United Kingdom. There is also the Republic of Ireland, which has its own governing nation that won independence from the British back in 1922. These divisions mean that the people who live in this country have not always got along particularly well with each other. However, this is thankfully improving over time.
One interesting fact about these two separate areas is that the Northern region, which is still under British rule, has red post boxes to match Great Britain. The Southern area of Ireland has green post boxes which reflect the Irish independence by using their own national color instead.
Why Does Ireland Have Castles?
Castles are located throughout this country. When castles were built, they were made specifically for protection. At that time, there were often wars going on. Ireland had many invaders moving through the country.
The Irish people made large and strong castles so that they could protect themselves. This helped them to defeat the invaders who kept on trying to force their way into their cherished country. Around the ninth century, Ireland was invaded by the Vikings. However, Ireland proved to be strong and kept the country from being taken over by the Viking people.
The Famous Blarney Castle
The larger castles were often used to house local people and possessions during wartime periods. The smaller castles were owned by large noble and rich families. This image shows the Blarney Castle in Ireland which is about 600 years old.
This castle is very famous, mostly because of people coming to visit and kiss the Blarney Stone. The sacred Blarney Stone is meant to give people the gift of the gab. This funny saying means to make people particularly good at being charming and being able to flatter other people with their words. Maybe that is why the people who live in Ireland are often said to be so good and easy to talk to.
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What Language Do Irish People Speak?
The people in Ireland mostly speak English as their first and primary language. They are also taught Irish in schools and this is called the Gaelic language or Gaeilge. Gaelic is mostly spoken on the west side of this country. It is also used throughout the country with some very small regional differences. If you are ever lucky enough to travel to this wonderful country, you should be fine if you can speak English well.
Fairies and Leprechaun Facts
The fairies are female creatures. Many people in this area do actually believe in magic and fairies. Fairies are tiny creatures that have magical powers. Some of them are good and bring nice and happy things along while others are not so good and make bad things come to pass. Not all the Irish people claim to have ever seen a fairy. However, these creatures are recorded in many written and verbal legends and also stories that have been passed down through the years.
Leprechauns are a really big part of Irish fairy folklore. These are tiny male creatures, similar to fairies but without wings. It is said that leprechauns are small enough to sit upon your shoulder. While they are thought to be mostly harmless to the Irish people, leprechauns have been known to play many tricks and silly games. Mostly they seem to enjoy playing tricks on land owners and especially farmers.
It is told that leprechauns have pots of gold buried throughout the land. Of course, these pots of gold have been buried and hidden very well. They are especially hard for humans to find because leprechauns do not like to ever lose their treasure.
A Very Lucky Birthday Tradition and an Irish Blessing
The Irish are also famous for all their traditions and legends. One birthday tradition involves young children. The kids are turned upside down and have their heads tapped against the top of their birthday cake. They get one birthday bump like this for each year of age that they now are.
This old and very strange tradition is meant to bring lots of good luck and also fortune to the birthday child. I hope that they don’t get a sticky head from the cake icing though.
Anyone who is born on the date of St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th, is considered to be extra lucky. This is because St. Patrick's Day is one of the largest Irish celebrations and occasions. Children born on this day are literally born lucky because of the date. You can learn more about St. Patrick himself further down this page.
May you live a long life
Full of gladness and health
With a pocket full of gold
As the least of your wealth
May the dreams you hold dearest
Be those which come true
May the kindness you spread
Keep returning to you
About Irish Music and Dancing
For many people in this country, traditional music is a must. Instruments such as the harp, concertina, tin whistle, guitar, fiddle, and the bodhrán (a traditional frame drum) are played to keep this type of music alive. The knowledge of playing these instruments is passed on to the younger generations.
Traditional dances in Ireland include set dancing which is very similar to the style of square dancing. This dance is just full of music and movement. The Irish jig is a dance with a very quick pace and a type of hop and skip dance. You can see an example of dancing and traditional music in the video shown here below. I hope you enjoy it.
What Kinds of Food Do Irish People Eat?
Potatoes are the main ingredients that you will find in many Irish recipes such as a traditional stew, shepherd’s pie and also Boxty. Boxty is a type of potato pancake. Soda bread is a very popular type of Irish bread that is normally eaten along with a main meal. Traditional meals are very hearty foods that are designed to fill you up. Foods like this are very necessary after a hard day’s work and also during cold and tough weather conditions too.
About Saint Patrick and the Shamrock
The people of this country are mostly Catholic, if they have any religious beliefs at all. There are also Protestants which follow another branch of Christianity. Saint Patrick became a missionary to the Catholic religion after being taken as a slave to Ireland while he was a young boy.
This Saint was said to have made use of a three leaf clover as a teaching aid. This clover is called a shamrock and it is a special type of clover that only has 3 leaves. Saint Patrick used it because he could then easily explain about the Holy Trinity: The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit.
It's Fun to Go Green for St. Patrick's Day
St. Patrick’s Day is a celebrated holiday which happens on March 17th each year. This day was made to remember the Saint who did so many great things for the people of Ireland in the fifth century. Saint Patrick is widely associated with Irish history as well as the Shamrock plant which is now a very famous 3 leaf plant and symbol.
More Ways Children Can Learn About Ireland
This Is Ireland by Miroslav Sasek: This is a beautifully illustrated book designed for kids. Children big and small will be captivated by the charming pictures inside. This book is filled to the brim with artful and playful illustrations that my daughter and I love to look at. Children can also discover a lot about this beautiful and charming country by investigating the imaginative scenes and short narratives included on each page. This is a classic book and one not to be missed.
Little Irish Girl Paper Doll by Tom Tierney: We also love this sweet paper doll book. The little book comes with 8 traditional Irish costumes for the paper doll to wear. My little girl and her play friend both love dressing up paper dolls. This little book is a perfect introduction to the traditional costumes of this country for children and should make a great little gift for St. Patrick’s Day.
The Leprechaun’s Gold by Pamela Duncan Edwards: This is a great picture book on Leprechauns. Kids can enjoy hunting for the hidden 4-leaf clovers too.
© 2016 Marie
Your Comments on Ireland are Welcome
Patricia on March 02, 2020:
I was born in Dublin. Never heard of the birthday tradition