Iraq and Monaghan – Separated at Birth

December 8th, 2006

There I was, preparing to have a beer and a hot bath after getting home from a day at work filled with nothing but meetings, when I decided to check my e-mail first. Yay, cool e-mails from an Irish friend! Go her! Amidst the miscellaneous topics there was this little note that there had been some confusion over County Monaghan and Iraq before the US invasion. Of course there was no explanation what Monaghan was, but Google is a good pal in situations like that.

It seems that County Monaghan is – not very surprising in retrospect – a county in Ireland, which looks very much like Iraq. For some reason I found this ridiculously cool, so I looked up maps of both places and superimposed the Monaghan map over the Iraq one. It looked like crap, so I’ll just show the maps instead:

County Monaghan on top, Iraq on the bottom. I think. Okay, you don’t need to tell me what a humourless sissy I am – I’m already ashamed of the previous sentences.

Pretty similar, yes, and it must have been a real blast for Monaghan people when they realized this. I got more interested and started searching for references to aforementioned confusion. As we say in Swedish: search and ye shall look. Or maybe that’s “shall find.” I found, either way: an article in The Register mentions this business. And then again. This has to be the coolest thing from the first article:

“It came as quite a surprise to us that Monaghan and Iraq had basically the same outline shape. We had been receiving some jeers and comments as we assembled for the parade in New York and we couldn’t understand why. Until someone from the Louth Association pointed out the similarity. So for the sake of being able to walk 5th Avenue in peace, we had to carry a simple blue and white banner instead or our ornate traditional banner.”

Not satisfied with this, I decided to look a bit more. Ah-hah! A blog entry mentions that this whole thing is a hoax! And this in turn led to more evidence. Not proof I guess, but evidence at least. Then I got bored.

I don’t know why this little story fascinated me enough to divert me from my beer, but I love how the Internet enables layman detective work like this. My little search may not be one thousand as cool as the search for the origin of Quake 3′s fast InvSqrt() routine, but it’s still great to be able to do basic research along these lines.