Welcome to the Emerald Isle-
There are many reasons that this week we are visiting Ireland- first because it's going to be St. Patrick's Day in just a few days and the entire world seems to celebrate Ireland's patron saint. Second, my father's side of the family is part Irish and my maiden name, Parnell, is rather well- known in Ireland. Charles Parnell was a hero in the fight for independence or something like that (I will check). And lastly, because when I asked my daughter what country we should go to next she said, "One that parties a lot!", so Ireland it is :) She was talking about "birthday" parties because her 6th birthday is tomorrow so we will have to do some fun projects this week to celebrate! But first some facts about Ireland:
- People have lived in Ireland since Prehistoric times and there are many prehistoric ruins that can be visited.
- Ireland is know as the Emerald Isle because it is so green and lush. Mostly this is due to the climate - they get plenty of rain.
- The 3 most common symbols of Ireland are the harp, the green shamrock, and the Celtic cross.
- Ireland has no snakes (some say St. Patrick drove them off) but they also don't have any moles, weasels, or polecats either. Most likely because the island is isolated from mainland Europe.
- The town of Birr (also known as Parsonstown) was the first city in the world to be lit by electricity. In 1879, Charles Parsons, the 4th Earl of Ross, built a water wheel with an electric turbine on the River Camcor that provided energy for Birr Castle and the neighboring town.
- Dublin, the capital city of Ireland was founded by Vikings in 988. People had lived in the area for thousands of years before that though. The area was known originally as Dubh Linn, which means "Black Pool" in the Irish language. It's coordinates are 53.20°N/ 6.15°W.
- The national language of Ireland is Irish but only about 1.6 million people say they are competent in the language and about 1/2 million are fluent. English is most widely spoken but Irish is trying to regain popularity.
- Prior to becoming part of the United Kingdom, Ireland had never been under the rule of one king. The country was broken up into many minor kingdoms (clans) that were always waging wars and making peace with each other.
- Because of the many kings, Ireland is the home to many castles. Many of the castles have been turned into hotels where you can sleep like a king or queen for the night!!
- The island of Ireland is divided between the Republic of Ireland (the country we are studying), that covers about 5/6 of the island, and Northern Ireland, which is still part of the United Kingdom. Many battles have been waged over this division and peace has only recently been declared.