Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated in the Muggle™️ AND the wizarding world and to mark the day we’ve compiled a few facts about the Irish in Harry Potter™️ that you may not know. Turns out the Irish, clever fellows, pop up with a regularity that must surely be put down to luck!
- We’ll start with our favourite bombastic student, Seamus Finnigan. Who can forget Seamus’s attempt at the levitation charm when he set fire to a feather? Or the time he tried to turn water into rum? His talent for unintended fire and explosions lead Professor McGonagall to describe him as having “a particular proclivity for pyrotechnics” (oh how we love Minerva and, might we add, she is an avid wearer of green. Coincidence?)
- In the film Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Hagrid states that he got Fluffy from an “Irish fellah” instead of a “Greek chappie” as claimed in the book. This script change meant the regrettable loss of an important reference to Greek mythology in which a three-headed dog, Cerberus, guards the gates of Hades. The script-writer claims to have written “Greek chappie” and has no idea how or when or by whom it was changed. Irish luck at play again?
- The Irish have an ancient game called Aingingein, wherein a player would take the Dom (a goat’s gallbladder) and fly on a broomstick (duh!) through a series of burning barrels, each set high upon stilts. The Dom would then be thrown into the final barrel. The winner was the player who completed the task in the shortest time without catching on fire. Famed Fingal the Fearless was said to be a champion of the sport (and probably bald!). It all sounds rather dangerous to us, especially if someone has a peculiar proclivity for pyrotechnics.. and, of course, for goats. It seems Aingingein was out-popularised by Quidditch. No idea why…
- Queen Maeve was a famous Irish witch immortalised on a chocolate frog card. In Mediaeval times, before Hogwarts even started, she trained young Irish witches and wizards. Has anyone collected Queen Maeve’s card? Do let us know if you do.
- Riding brand new Firebolts, the Irish National Quidditch team defeated Bulgaria 170-160 in the final of the 422nd Quidditch World Cup in 1994. In a move that confounds us to this very day, Bulgaria’s star seeker, Victor Krum, caught the snitch to end the match when his team was more than 150 points (the value of the snitch) behind.
- The Kenmare Kestrals were an Irish Quidditch team from County Kerry, in the south of Ireland. Founded in 1291, they played in the British and Irish Quidditch League, had leprechauns for mascots and wore emerald green with two yellow ‘K’s back-to-back on the chest. Seamus Finnegan was a fan. There is no mention at all of any of the team members playing Aingingein. We rest our case.
And what about the actors who played some of our favourite characters in the franchise? Surely some of them were Irish. To be sure, to be sure!
- Evanna Lynch, the actress who portrays Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter films, is from County Louth in Ireland.
- Richard Harris and Michael Gambon, who play Albus Dumbledore, are both Irish. Harris is from County Limerick while Gambon was born in Dublin.
- Brendan Gleeson, the actor who portrays Alastor Moody in the Harry Potter films is Irish, as well as his son, Domhnall Gleeson, who portrayed Bill Weasley in both film adaptations of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Both are from the capital city, Dublin.
- Devon Murray, the actor who portrays Seamus Finnigan, is from County Kildare.
- Kenneth Branagh, who portrayed Gilderoy Lockhart. is an actor and director from Northern Ireland.
- Colin Farrell, who portrayed Graves in the film adaptation of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, is from Dublin.
What magical Irish-ness can you add to our list?
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
- Quidditch Through the Ages
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- Quidditch Through the Ages