Emerald Heritage | 8 Things Ireland is Famous For
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8 Things Ireland is Famous For

For a small nation Ireland well and truly punches above her weight!

Think about it. The island of Ireland, north and south, has a population ranging approximately between 5 – 6 million people yet it’s one of the most famous countries in the world. 

This, of course, is in large part due to the massive Irish diaspora that exists worldwide nowadays. According to various reports the global Irish diaspora totals approximately 60 – 80 million people! That’s a crazy figure for a small country like the Emerald Isle!

However, on top of that, Ireland is world-renowned because we’ve constantly impacted the globe in all manner of positive ways over the years.

We thought we’d list a few of the things Irish are famous for…as if you weren’t proud enough already! 

Saint Patrick

Saint Patrick, and Saint Patrick’s Day, might be the most famous Irish export…although we have a feeling some might say our next entry, Guinness, pips our patron saint! 

Either way Saint Patrick, and his festive day of celebration, remains one of the biggest and most recognised Irish icons worldwide which makes old Saint Paddy being Welsh or British all the funnier!

Saint Patrick is championed as the man who converted Ireland to Christianity, away from Pagan Gods, and chased away the snakes (even though there weren’t any to begin with)!

Check out our story of Saint Patrick here!

St Patrick


Ahhhh… A good old pint of the black stuff! 

The black stuff, a pint of plain or simply Guinness to most people is probably the most famous thing to ever come out of Ireland.

The stout, ruby red and black with a thick creamy head (when poured properly), has become synonymous with Ireland since it was first brewed for production at St James’ Gate Brewery, Dublin, in 1759.

Incredibly, when starting out, Arthur Guinness signed a 9000 year lease on St James’ Gate Brewery and they’re only just over a quarter of a way through the first 1000 years!

According to some historical reports the recipe might have first been brought to Ireland by a Welshman called Arthur Price. Price was said to have hired Richard Guinness as a servant and the recipe eventually fell into the hands of Richard’s son Arthur.

The rest, as they say, is history...


Ireland is famous for countless rugby exploits including recent Six Nations and Triple Crown victories but, when we say Irish rugby in the modern era, we really mean BOD. 

Brain O’Driscoll, also known as BOD to a legion of Irishmen and women worldwide, is generally considered Ireland’s best ever rugby player with many also viewing him as the best outside centre rugby union has ever seen.

The Dublin native, of Blackrock and UCD schooling, was an Ireland and Leinster stalwart during the 2000s and Ireland’s captain between 2003 and 2012. During his time on the grass O’Driscoll captained the British & Irish Lions in 2005, became the sports 2nd all time most capped player ever, with 141 caps, and became Ireland’s highest ever try scorer.

Despite having countless great moments in a green jersey, one of the most memorable came in Paris in 2000. A young BOD scored and hat-trick of tries to give Ireland their first Six Nations win in France since 1972!

On top of all of that he’s as sound as a pound. A true modern Irish legend if ever there was one.  



Horse racing has been a huge part of Irish culture for centuries but the country has also produced arguably the greatest ever jockey to live and compete in the sport. 

AP McCoy, or Anthony Peter McCoy to you and I, hails from a small village called Moneyglass in County Antrim and over the course of a 23 year career won a record 4358 races!

Let’s just repeat that… The man won over 4000 professional races!

During his career, spanning three decades from 1992 to 2015, McCoy won almost every major race possible, including the Grand National and Cheltenham Gold Cup, and was a Champion Jockey for 20 consecutive seasons!

This incredible record has lead to McCoy receiving basically every personal honour under the sun including a British knighthood.

Tony McCoy, we salute you!  


The Emerald Isle has a long and fruitful relationship with literature and has consistently produced some of the best writers, novelists, poets and playwrights the world has had.

From the stream of consciousness, magnum opus style, Ulysses and Finnegans Wake of James Joyce to the quick one-liners and aestheticism of Oscar Wilde in The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being Earnest, and much more, Ireland has made an indelible mark on the world of literature.

Names like W.B. Yeats and Brendan Behan also roll off the tongue and, in more modern times, we’ve seen the likes of Column McCann, Roddy Doyle, Iris Murdoch and Anne Enright join the fold.



Ireland might not be in the same leagues as Brazil or Germany when it comes to football (soccer to our friends around the world) but for such a small island we’ve produced some of the best players in the world in the modern era. 

Roy Keane, a County Cork native, was known during his playing days for his fiercely competitive style that brought him to eventually captain Manchester United FC, one of the worlds biggest clubs.

Johnny Giles and Ray Houghton both made their names by winning Championships with the hugely successful Leeds and Liverpool sides of the 1970s and 1980s and Liam Brady graced the game with his skill most notably for Arsenal and the Old Lady of Italian football, Juventus.

However, one man surpasses all the rest. George Best, hailing from a tiny estate in Belfast, County Antrim, rose through the ranks of Manchester United to become one of the most famous footballers of all time! Best, under the tutelage of Sir Matt Busby, helped Manchester United to become the first English team to ever win the European Cup in 1968 and will forever be remembered for his grace, flair and outlandish skill on the ball.

Much like Brian O’Driscoll and AP McCoy, George Best could rightly be considered one of the best players to ever grace his game.


Ireland has an incredible history and connection to music. From Celtic ballads and Irish traditional music to the all-conquering rock and pop of U2, the Emerald Isle is known for her singers and songwriters. 

U2 are probably the biggest musical export the country has ever produced. Bono, The Edge, Larry Mullen Jr. and Adam Clayton might have started from humble beginnings in the early 1980s but they went on to become all-conquering with hits like With or Without You, One, Where the Streets Have No Name and Beautiful Day. Not bad for a group of Dublin post-punks!

On a slightly different note, Sinead O’Connor, a native of Glenagery in County Dublin and named after Sinead De Valera, is one of Ireland’s most famous singer-songwriters and remains one of the country’s most controversial stars since her rise to prominence in the late 1980s.

The Irish songstress has had a long and successful career but remains best known worldwide for her unique cover of the Prince song Nothing Compares 2 U, released in 1990. The startlingly different take on the song paired with the music video of just her solo profile became a massive success and future releases have never matched the same heights.

Another songstress, Enya, grew up in an extremely musical family in the traditional gaeltacht area of Dore, Gweedore in County Donegal during the sixties and seventies before joining her first musical project, Clannad, in 1980.

Her time with Clannad was short lived and she left in 1982 before experiencing an incredible rise to fame, fortune and critical acclaim over the next two decades. Her style, which combines new age, celtic and folk music, began to take shape in her self-titled debut but it was Watermark, released in 1988, and the subsequent Shepard Moon and Memory of Trees that brought her to the world’s attention.

Since the turn of the century Enya has released four more albums and remains incredibly popular despite being fiercely withdrawn and private outside of her art.

Despite all that Ireland might still be best known for her incredible lineage of Irish traditional music. The Dubliners, The Chieftans and The Pogues are just a few of hundreds of bands and artists that celebrate this special brand of Irish music.

Dirty Old Town, Black Velvet Band, The Auld Triangle and Danny Boy are known throughout the world alongside countless other songs that celebrate Irish culture and history. 


Ireland might not have a food reputation to rival the Italians and French but we’ve still got a few culinary classics enjoyed right throughout the country. 

Ask any Irish man, woman or child, native, emigrant or ancestor, and they’ll probably wax lyrical about the beautiful Irish breads we take for granted here on the Emerald Isle. Soda bread, wheaten bread and potato bread are Irish classics and each brings its own taste, texture and use to the table.

Irish Stew is another well-known classic that combines quint-essential Emerald Isle ingredients like Lamb, Mutton or Beef, with potatoes, fresh vegetables and herbs all cooked and slowly stewed in one pot until the meat is tender and everything is bursting with flavour! Perfect for those long, cold winter nights. 


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