The Guinness Book of World Records is known all over the world as being the definitive authority on world records of all kinds; sports, arts, business, technology, natural wonders, and plenty of more wacky ones too. If you didn’t already catch on from the title, this institution was first created by a managing director at Guinness. In 1951 Sir Hugh Beaver went game shooting with some of his friends near Slaney in county Wexford. When he missed a shot at a golden plover, an argument arose about which species was the fastest game bird in the world. When back at the hotel, Beaver searched as many reference books as he could find for the answer, to no avail. The only reasonable course of action, he thought, was to collect records from various different sources and compile them into one annual book so that similar unsolved arguments could never happen again.
And so, the Guinness Book of World Records was born. There are plenty of random, wonderful and downright weird records included within the annual publication, and lo and behold, plenty of them are held by Irish men and women! We’ve taken a look at some of the best, worst and weirdest.
1. Most Siblings to reach the age of 100
The Clarke family from Loughrea in county Galway hold this record. The five siblings - Joseph, Charles, Patrick, James and Margaret - as well as their mother (also named Margaret) all lived past their 100th birthdays, with the youngest and only girl of the bunch celebrating her milestone on May 30th 2014. Their secret? ‘Live your own life and be happy and content with people, and don’t find fault with them.’
2. Fastest Time to put on a Duvet Cover
This record belongs to Irish TV personality Alan Hughes, who presents the Ireland AM morning show on the national network channel TV3. On 17th September 2008 while live on air, Alan successfully and completely put on a duvet cover in 42.97 seconds, starting with the duvet in no way touching the cover and ending with it entirely fastened and ready to use. Impressive!
3. Fastest Fiddle Player
A fiddle is a musical instrument just like a violin, but used to play much faster paced songs and traditional rather than classical melodies. The fastest fiddle player in the world is Frankie Gavin, member of the Irish traditional music band De Dannan. In a live performance at the National University of Ireland Galway in 2010, he played the well known ‘Foxhunter’s Reel’ at an incredible speed of 150 beats per minute.
4. Most Heads of Hair Dyed in 24 Hours
For the past few years the national Irish radio station Today FM has held the ‘Shave or Dye’ charitable campaign, during which celebrities and members of the public either shave their heads or dye their hair an outrageous colour in aid of the Irish Cancer Society. During the 2012 campaign hairstylist Damien Bennett successfully dyed 62 full heads of hair in 24 hours live on air at the Style Club salon in Dublin.
5. Most People Weaving a Saint Brigid’s Cross
Saint Brigid is one of Ireland’s three patron saints, along with Saint Columba and the arguably more well known Saint Patrick. One of the best known symbols associated with St. Brigid is the cross that was named after her, weaved together from reeds and placed around many Irish homes. An enduring tradition is to weave these crosses on her feast day in February, but in September 2013 the St. Brigid’s Parish Church in Kildare took it upon themselves to gather 357 people to weave crosses simultaneously, creating a world record in the attempt.
6. Most Bras Unhooked in One Minute
Sean Murray, owner of Sean Murray Fashions in Skibbereen, county Cork, holds the title for most bras unhooked in 60 seconds. How many bras exactly did he unhook in his record attempt? 91, which completely smashed the previous record of 69. To prepare for the event Sean practiced unhooking bras on mannequins in his shop for half an hour every day. All funds raised from the event were donated to the Breast Cancer Awareness campaign.
7. Largest Gathering of People dressed as Wally
In 2011 at the Street Performer’s World Championships in Dublin, a total of 3,872 people dressed up as Wally (Waldo) and crowded onto Merrion Square in the centre of the city for the largest ever gathering of its kind (i.e people dressed as Wally). In fact Ireland holds several other similar records including the largest gathering of people dressed as nuns, leprechauns, and Saint Patrick. Clearly we’re fans of fancy dress!
8. Busiest Airline for International Passengers
The popular - if sometimes controversial - airline Ryanair, owned and operated in Ireland by Irishman Michael O’Leary, is officially the world’s busiest airline for international passengers. In 2014 they carried a massive 81.3 million passengers to destinations across mainland Europe and further afield, and they are expecting to increase this to 84.6 million over the next year.
9. Longest Guitar Playing Marathon
Musician David Browne decided to fulfill a life-long dream of playing the guitar for the longest amount of time ever recorded in 2011. He set himself up in the Temple Bar in the heart of Dublin city and played for a whopping 100 hours, until Guinness adjudicators informed him the record was actually 113 hours, not 100, forcing him to keep going for a further 14 hours to break the pre-existing record.
10. Longest Journey with a Fridge
That’s right, for some reason a man by the name of Tony Hawks decided it would be a good idea to travel around Ireland with a fridge in tow in order to gain the title of Guinness World Record holder. He travelled loosely around the coast from Dublin westwards to Cavan, north to Donegal, then south through Sligo, Mayo, Kerry and Cork, before heading north again through Wexford and back to Dublin. His total journey time was 1650km
11. Most Rubik’s Cubes solved on a Unicycle
Another example of possibly one of the oddest Guinness World Records, the record for most Rubik’s cubes solved while riding a unicycle is held by an Irishman by the name of Adrian Leonard. Not content to solve the popular puzzle while remaining stationary, he took it a step further by riding not a standard bike, but a unicycle while doing so. In total, he solved 28 Rubik’s cubes during his attempt.
12. Most Socks Worn on one Foot
Ireland can get cold during winter, so sometimes an extra pair of socks is necessary to keep the chill from your toes. One woman however took things a little bit too far. Fiona Nolan from Shannon, Co. Clare, managed to get a total of 152 socks on one of her feet in 2011. It was all part of a charitable campaign by her employer Enterasys Networks, in aid of the Daffodil Day campaign for cancer research.
13. Fastest Crossing of Ireland on Foot
It may not be quite as crazy as travelling around Ireland with a fridge, but the record for the fasting crossing of ireland on foot is held by UK native Sharon Gayter, who achieved the feat in 4 days, 1 hour and 40 minutes. Between 25th and 29th of March 2012 she ran from the most northerly point to the most southerly point of Ireland, Malin Head in Donegal and Mizen Head in Cork respectively - a distance of approximately 555km.
14. Best Selling Act with no Concert Appearances
Irish singer songwriter Enya has sold an incredible 75 million albums all around the world during her lengthy career, which began in 1988. Despite these staggering numbers, she has never once in this time performed a solo concert and is considered something of a recluse. Her distinctive sound includes multiple voice layers, folk melodies and synthesised backgrounds, and her songs include several different languages and she cites traditional Irish music, church music and classical music as her biggest influences.
15. Largest Bowl of Porridge
As well as large gatherings of people dressed as certain figures, Irish people also appear to be fans of making exceptionally big versions of certain foods and drinks. One such record held by Irish milling company Flahavan’s (who produce oat, cereal and flour products), is that of the world’s largest bowl of porridge. They cooked it up in 2012 at the Waterford Harvest Festival, with a final weight of 1,380kg.
16. Most International Appearances in Rugby Union
The record for the most international appearances in Rugby Union goes to the person who many consider to be one of the greatest Irish sportsmen in history, Brian O’Driscoll. He racked up 140 international caps for Ireland during his career, which saw him captain the Irish team, score a total of 47 tries, and win 81 of the matches he played in. He retired at the end of the 2014 Six Nations championship, and it was during his final match that he achieved this commendable record. He also won the tournament during this farewell game with a 46-7 victory over Italy. Talk about ending on a high!
17. Fastest 2000m Race (Female)
Set in 1994 and still unbroken, the world record for the fastest 2000m race by a female is held by our own Sonia O’Sullivan. Although retired since 2007, she was Ireland’s sporting heroine for all of the 1990s and much of the 2000s, winning silver in the 5000m race of the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and a host of other high profile achievements. She set this particular record in Edinburgh with a time of 5:25:36.
18. Fastest Motorcycle Handlebar Wheelie
Daredevil motorcycle driver Enda Wright reached the dizzying speed of 174 kilometres per hour (or 108 miles per hour) while executing a handlebar wheelie on his bike in Elvington, UK, in 2008. Not something for the faint-hearted, which is probably why it has remained unbroken since then.
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