Guest Post: Ireland: The People, The Places, The Stories by Rachel Pierce

On my Blog today, I am delighted to bring you a guest post from the author of this gorgeous book, Rachel Pierce, who has shared some fascinating facts which I hope you enjoy reading as much as I did. I was born in County Donegal and didn’t know that I was brought up so close to a ‘hellmouth’!

Top 10 facts about Ireland by Rachel Pierce, author of


It’s easy to think that you know your own country very well, but when you really pay attention, you quickly realise that you often only know half of the story. Writing Ireland: The People, The Places, The Stories brought me on a journey across the whole island and right through its long history. It’s a truly fascinating place and I hope readers relish learning about Ireland as much as I did.

  • About 350 million years ago, Ireland was covered by a tropical sea – that’s why so many interesting marine fossils are found in the Burren, County Clare.
  • A 2,000-year-old lump of bog butter was unearthed in Emlagh bog, County Meath – taste- test anyone?
  • The oubliette, or ‘forgotten place’, in Leap Castle, County Offaly, has wooden spikes sticking up out of the ground – a truly gruesome punishment!
  • Cursing stones, like those at Feaghna, County Kerry, and at Inishmurray, allow you to place a curse on the head of anyone who’s annoying you.
  • Folklore tells us there are ‘hellmouths’, or ‘gateways to hell’ in Ireland – the most famous being at Oweynagat (‘the cave of the cats’) in County Roscommon and at St Patrick’s Purgatory in County Donegal.
  • You can go moonbow hunting in the Dark Sky Reserves in counties Mayo and Kerry.
  • The dry stone walls in the Ceide Fields in north County Mayo are c. 5,800 years old.
  • Marauding Vikings massacred about 1,000 hiding people in Dunmore cave, County Kilkenny.
  • If you live in Muckanaghederdauhaulia, in County Galway, you live in pig-shaped hill between two saltwater lakes (although that’s open to interpretation!).
  • The Gresham Vault at Mount Jerome cemetery in Dublin has a pedestal on top that once held a bell with a chain attached. The lady buried inside the vault insisted on a spring lock on her coffin, as well as the bell and chain, so that if she was buried alive, she could pop the lock, ring the bell and be rescued!

Ireland: The People, The Places, The Stories is published by Scholastic on 2nd September. It features a foreword by Dara Ó Briain and illustrations by ten leading Irish illustrators: Linda Fahrlin, Diarmuid Ó Catháin, Alan Dunne, Lydia Hughes, Brian Fitzgerald, Ashling Lindsay, Graham Corcoran, Jennifer Farley, Conor Nolan, Donough O’Malley

You can purchase a copy at:


Amazon (UK)

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