Radio: St. Patrick's Day
It used to be that St. Patrick's Day was a day to honor Ireland's patron saint -- you know, the one who drove the snakes out -- with a mass and, in some countries, a day off work. But now rivers run green in Chicago. The Sydney Opera House and San Francisco City Hall are lit up with bright green lights. Parades happen from New York to Toronto to Tokyo to Dubai, while festivals celebrating Irish heritage go down worldwide. Yes, nowadays, the holiday is an excuse to party like a rock star. Below are a few tidbits about Ireland to mull over while you're drinking on St. Patrick's Day. Should you be sober enough to remember, you can drop some serious knowledge on your drinking buddies. If not, simply rock out to this expertly curated radio station, filled with plenty of whirling jigs and punked-up sass.
1) The Vikings founded Dublin in 988.
2) St. Patrick wasn't Irish: He was kidnapped and brought from Great Britain to Ireland at age 16 as a slave.
3) St. Patrick used the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagan-practicing Irish. It stuck, too: The 2011 Census indicates that 4.5 million of Ireland's 6.4 million inhabitants identified themselves as Catholic.
4) Your odds of finding a four-leaf clover are about 1 in 10,000.
5) Bands from Ireland include Snow Patrol, Thin Lizzy, Van Morrison, U2, The Cranberries, The Undertones, The Boomtown Rats and more -- way more.
6) President Obama's great, great maternal grandmother came from County Offaly in Ireland.
7) James Joyce once submitted a slogan for his beloved Guinness: "The free, the flow, the frothy freshener." But it was rejected in favor of "It's good for you."
8) The original Guinness Brewery in Dublin has a 9,000-year lease on its property, at a perpetual rate of 45 Irish pounds per year, or roughly 57 euros.
9) Director John Ford was born Sean O'Feeney in 1894, in Spiddal, County Galway.
10) Ireland is the world's only country with a musical instrument for a national symbol: the Celtic harp.