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:Ireland is an island in
Northwestern Europe Northwestern Europe, or Northwest Europe, is a loosely defined subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted ...
in the north
Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
. The island lies on the European continental shelf, part of the
Eurasian Plate The Eurasian Plate is a tectonic plate This is a list of tectonic plates on Earth's surface Earth is the third planet A planet is an astronomical body orbiting a star or Stellar evolution#Stellar remnants, stellar remnant that is ...
. The island's main
geographical Geography (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10. ...

geographical
features include low central
plain In geography, a plain is a flat expanse of land that generally does not change much in elevation, and is primarily treeless. Plains occur as lowlands along valleys or at the base of mountains, as coastal plains, and as plateaus or Highland, up ...

plain
s surrounded by coastal mountains. The highest peak is
Carrauntoohil Carrauntoohil or Carrauntoohill ( ; ga, Corrán Tuathail , meaning "Tuathal's sickle") is the highest mountain on the island of Ireland at . It is on the Iveragh Peninsula The Iveragh Peninsula () is located in County Kerry in Republic of Ire ...

Carrauntoohil
( ga, Corrán Tuathail), which is above sea level. The western
coast The coast, also known as the coastline or seashore, is defined as the area where land meets the ocean The ocean (also the or the world ocean) is the body of that covers approximately 70.8% of the surface of and contains 97% of . Anot ...

coast
line is rugged, with many islands,
peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from 'almost' and 'island') is a landform A landform is a natural or artificial feature of the solid surface of the Earth or other planetary body A planet is an astronomical body Astronomy (from el ...

peninsula
s, headlands and bays. The island is bisected by the
River Shannon The River Shannon ( ga, Abhainn na Sionainne, ', '), at in length, is the longest river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows i ...
, which at with a
estuary An estuary is a partially enclosed Coast, coastal body of brackish water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea. Estuaries form a transition zone between river environments and maritime envir ...

estuary
is the longest river in Ireland and flows south from
County Cavan County Cavan ( ; gle, Contae an Chabháin) is a county A county is a geographical region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics (physical geography), human impact characteristics (human geo ...
in
Ulster Ulster (; ga, Ulaidh or ''Cúige Uladh'' ; sco, label=Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster Scots, Ulstèr or ''Ulster'') is one of the four traditional Irish provinces of Ireland, provinces, in the north of Ireland. It is made up of nine Counties ...

Ulster
to meet the Atlantic just south of
Limerick Limerick ( ; ga, Luimneach ) is a city in County Limerick County Limerick ( ga, Contae Luimnigh) is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chamber ...

Limerick
. There are a number of sizeable lakes along Ireland's rivers, of which
Lough Neagh Lough Neagh ( ) is a large freshwater Fresh water or freshwater is any naturally occurring liquid or frozen water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an , transparent, tasteless, odorless, and , which is the main constituent of 's ...
is the largest. Politically, the island consists of the
Republic of Ireland Ireland ( ga, Éire ), also known as the Republic of Ireland ('), is a country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective id ...

Republic of Ireland
, with jurisdiction over about five-sixths of the island, and
Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; sco, label=Ulster-ScotsUlster Scots, also known as Scotch-Irish, may refer to: * Ulster Scots people The Ulster Scots (Ulster-Scots The Ulster Scots (Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster- ...

Northern Ireland
, a constituent country of the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

United Kingdom
, with jurisdiction over the remaining sixth. Located west of the island of Great Britain, it is located at approximately . It has a total area of . It is separated from Great Britain by the
Irish Sea The Irish Sea or , gv, Y Keayn Yernagh, sco, Erse Sie, gd, Muir Èireann , Ulster-ScotsUlster Scots, also known as Scotch-Irish, may refer to: * Ulster Scots people The Ulster Scots (Ulster-Scots The Ulster Scots (Ulster ...
and from
mainland Europe Continental Europe or mainland Europe is the contiguous continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', lite ...

mainland Europe
by the
Celtic Sea The Celtic Sea ; cy, Y Môr Celtaidd ; kw, An Mor Keltek ; br, Ar Mor Keltiek ; french: La mer Celtique is the area of the Atlantic Ocean off the south coast of Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ...
. Ireland forms the second largest landmass in the
North-Western European Archipalegeo
North-Western European Archipalegeo
, together with nearby islands including Great Britain and the Isle of Man, known in the United Kingdom as the
British Isles The British Isles are a group of islands in the North Atlantic off the north-western coast of continental Europe Continental Europe or mainland Europe is the contiguous continent A continent is any of several large landmasse ...
.


Geological development

The geology of Ireland is diverse. Different regions contain rocks belonging to different geological periods, dating back almost 2 billion years. The oldest known Irish
rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) In geology, a rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compound, chemical composition and ...
is about 1.7 billion years old and is found on Inishtrahull Island off the north coast of
Inishowen Inishowen () is a peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from 'almost' and 'island') is a landform A landform is a natural or artificial feature of the solid surface of the Earth or other planetary body A planet is an astronomical ...

Inishowen
and on the mainland at Annagh Head on the
Mullet Peninsula The Mullet Peninsula ( ga, Leithinis an Mhuirthead)—also known as the Mullet (''an Mhuirthead'') and sometimes as the Erris Peninsula—is a peninsula in the barony (Ireland), barony of Erris in County Mayo, Republic of Ireland, Ireland. As ...
. The newer formations are the
drumlin A drumlin, from the Irish Irish most commonly refers to: * Someone or something of, from, or related to: ** Ireland, an island situated off the north-western coast of continental Europe ** Northern Ireland, a constituent unit of the United Kin ...
s and glacial valleys as a result of the last ice age, and the sinkholes and cave formations in the limestone regions of Clare. Ireland's geological history covers everything from
volcanism Volcanism (or volcanicity) is the phenomenon of eruption of molten rock (magma Magma () is the molten or semi-molten natural material from which all igneous rock Igneous rock (derived from the Latin word ''ignis'' meaning fire), or magma ...
and tropical seas to the last glacial period. Ireland was formed in two distinct parts and slowly joined together, uniting about 440 million years ago. As a result of tectonics and the effect of ice, the sea level has risen and fallen. In every area of the country the rocks which formed can be seen as a result. Finally, the impact of the glaciers shaped the landscape seen today. The variation between the two areas, along with the differences between volcanic areas and shallow seas, led to a range of soils. There are extensive
bog A bog or bogland is a wetland A wetland is a distinct ecosystem An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which they interact. These biotic and abiotic components are lin ...

bog
s and free-draining brown earths. The mountains are
granite Granite () is a coarse-grained (phanerite, phaneritic) intrusive rock, intrusive igneous rock composed mostly of quartz, alkali feldspar, and plagioclase. It forms from magma with a high content of silica and alkali metal oxides that slowly cool ...

granite
,
sandstone Sandstone is a clastic sedimentary rock of a clast (sand grain), derived from a basalt Basalt (, ) is a fine-grained extrusive igneous rock formed from the rapid cooling of low-viscosity lava rich in magnesium and iron ('' mafic ' ...

sandstone
,
limestone Limestone is a common type of carbonate In chemistry, a carbonate is a salt Salt is a mineral composed primarily of sodium chloride (NaCl), a chemical compound belonging to the larger class of Salt (chemistry), salts; salt in its na ...

limestone
with
karst Karst is a topography Topography is the study of the forms and features of land surfaces. The topography of an area could refer to the surface forms and features themselves, or a description (especially their depiction in maps). Topography ...

karst
areas, and
basalt Basalt (, ) is a fine-grained extrusive A volcanic rock from Italy with a relatively large six-sided phenocryst (diameter about 1 mm) surrounded by a fine-grained groundmass, as seen in thin section under a petrographic microscope Extr ...

basalt
formations. Most of Ireland was probably above sea level during the
last 60 million years
last 60 million years
. As such its landscapes have been shaped by
erosion In earth science Earth science or geoscience includes all fields of natural science Natural science is a branch of science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific ...

erosion
and
weathering Weathering is the deterioration of Rock (geology), rocks, soils and minerals as well as wood and artificial materials through contact with water, atmospheric gases, and biological organisms. Weathering occurs ''in situ'' (on site, with little o ...
on land. Protracted erosion does also means most of the
Paleogene The Paleogene ( ; also spelled Palaeogene or Palæogene; informally Lower Tertiary or Early Tertiary) is a geologic period and system that spans 43 million years from the end of the Cretaceous The Cretaceous ( ) is a geological period A geolo ...
and
Neogene The Neogene ( ) (informally Upper Tertiary or Late Tertiary) is a geologic period and system that spans 20.45 million years from the end of the Paleogene The Paleogene ( ; also spelled Palaeogene or Palæogene; informally Lower Tertiary or E ...

Neogene
sediments have been eroded away or, as known in a few cases, buried by
Quaternary The Quaternary ( ) is the current and most recent of the three periods of the Cenozoic The Cenozoic ( ; ) is Earth's current geological era An era is a span of time defined for the purposes of chronology or historiography, as in the regnal ...
deposits. Before the
Quaternary glaciation The Quaternary glaciation, also known as the Pleistocene glaciation, is an alternating series of glacial A glacial period (alternatively glacial or glaciation) is an interval of time (thousands of years) within an ice age#REDIRECT Ice age {{ ...
s affected Ireland the landscape had developed thick weathered
regolith Regolith () is a blanket of unconsolidated, loose, heterogeneous Homogeneity and heterogeneity are concepts often used in the sciences Science (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic language ...

regolith
on the uplands and
karst Karst is a topography Topography is the study of the forms and features of land surfaces. The topography of an area could refer to the surface forms and features themselves, or a description (especially their depiction in maps). Topography ...

karst
in the lowlands. There has been some controversy regarding the origin of the
planation surface In geology Geology (from the γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and -λoγία, ''-logia'', ("study of", "discourse")) is a branch of concerned with both the liquid and , the of which it is composed, and the processes by which they change over time ...
s found in Ireland. While some have argued for an origin in marine planation others regard these surfaces as
peneplain In geomorphology incised into shale at the foot of the North Caineville Plateau, Utah, within the pass carved by the Fremont River (Utah), Fremont River and known as the Blue Gate. Grove Karl Gilbert, GK Gilbert studied the landscapes of this a ...

peneplain
s formed by weathering and
fluvial erosion In geography Geography (from Ancient Greek, Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth and Solar System, planets. The ...
. Not only is their origin disputed but also their actual extent and the relative role of
sea-level change Mean sea level (MSL) (often shortened to sea level) is an mean, average level of the surface of one or more of Earth's bodies of water from which heights such as elevation may be measured. The global MSL is a type of vertical datuma standardise ...
and tectonics in their shaping. Most river systems in Ireland formed in the
Cenozoic The Cenozoic ( ; ) is Earth's current geological era An era is a span of time defined for the purposes of chronology or historiography, as in the regnal eras in the history of a given monarchy, a calendar era used for a given calendar, or the ge ...

Cenozoic
before the Quaternary glaciations. Rivers follow for most of their course
structural A structure is an arrangement and organization of interrelated elements in a material object or system, or the object or system so organized. Material structures include man-made objects such as buildings and machines and natural objects such as ...
features of the
geology of Ireland The geology of Ireland consists of the study of the rock formations on the island of Ireland. It includes rocks from every age from Proterozoic to Holocene and a large variety of different rock types is represented. The basalt columns of the Gian ...
. Marine erosion since the
Miocene The Miocene ( ) is the first geological epoch In geochronology, an epoch is a subdivision of the geologic timescale that is longer than an age (geology), age but shorter than a period (geology), period. The current epoch is the Holocene Epoch of ...
may have made Ireland's western coast retreat more than 100 km. Pre-Quaternary relief was more dramatic than today's glacier-smoothened landscapes.


Physical geography


Mountain ranges

Ireland consists of a mostly flat low-lying area in the Midlands, ringed by mountain ranges such as (beginning in County Kerry and working counter-clockwise) the
MacGillycuddy's Reeks MacGillycuddy's Reeks () is a sandstone and siltstone mountain range in the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry, Ireland. Stretching , from the Gap of Dunloe in the east, to Glencar in the west, the Reeks is Ireland's highest mountain range, and incl ...
,
Comeragh Mountains The Comeragh Mountains () are a glaciated mountain range situated in southeast Republic of Ireland, Ireland in County Waterford. They are located between the town of Dungarvan and stretch inland to the town of Clonmel on the County Tipperary bor ...

Comeragh Mountains
,
Blackstairs Mountains The Blackstairs Mountains ( ga, Na Staighrí Dubha) run roughly north/south along the border between County Carlow and County Wexford in Republic of Ireland, Ireland. The highest peak is Mount Leinster with a total height of 2612 ft/ 796 metres. ...
,
Wicklow Mountains The Wicklow Mountains (, Archaism, archaic: ''Cualu'') form the largest continuous upland area in the Republic of Ireland. They occupy the whole centre of County Wicklow and stretch outside its borders into the Local government in the Republic ...

Wicklow Mountains
, ,
Glens of Antrim The Glens of Antrim,Logainm.ie
(
Sperrin Mountains The Sperrins or Sperrin Mountains () are a range of mountains in Northern Ireland and one of the largest Upland (geology), upland areas in Northern Ireland. The range stretches from Strabane eastwards to Slieve Gallion in Desertmartin and north ...
,
Bluestack Mountains The Blue Stack Mountains or Bluestack Mountains, also called the Croaghgorms (), are the major mountain range in the south of County Donegal County Donegal ( ; ga, Contae Dhún na nGall) is a county A county is a geographical region of ...
,
Derryveagh Mountains The Derryveagh Mountains () are the major mountain range in County Donegal County Donegal ( ; ga, Contae Dhún na nGall) is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictio ...
,
Ox Mountains The Ox Mountains or Slieve Gamph () are a mountain range in County Sligo on the west coast of Republic of Ireland, Ireland. They are also known as Saint Patrick's Mountains after the saint who built churches on its slopes and left his name to som ...

Ox Mountains
, Nephinbeg Mountains and the Twelve Bens/Maumturks group. Some mountain ranges are further inland in the south of Ireland, such as the Galtee Mountains (the highest inland range), Silvermine Mountains, Silvermine and Slieve Bloom Mountains. The highest peak
Carrauntoohil Carrauntoohil or Carrauntoohill ( ; ga, Corrán Tuathail , meaning "Tuathal's sickle") is the highest mountain on the island of Ireland at . It is on the Iveragh Peninsula The Iveragh Peninsula () is located in County Kerry in Republic of Ire ...

Carrauntoohil
, at 1,038.6 m (3,407 ft) high, is in the MacGillycuddy's Reeks, a range of glacier-carved sandstone mountains. Only three peaks on the island are over 1,000 m (3,281 ft) and another 457 exceed 500 m (1,640 ft). Ireland is sometimes known as the "Emerald Isle" because of its green landscape.


Forests

Ireland, like the neighbouring Great Britain, was once covered in forest. Clearing of forests began in the Neolithic Age and accelerated following the Tudor conquest of Ireland, Tudor Conquest, resulting in forest cover of only 1% by the start of the twentieth century. As of 2017, total tree cover in the Republic of Ireland stood at 11% of land area. The figure for native forest stood at 2% in 2018; the third lowest in Europe behind Iceland and Malta.


Rivers and lakes

The
River Shannon The River Shannon ( ga, Abhainn na Sionainne, ', '), at in length, is the longest river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows i ...
, at in length, is the longest river in Ireland and Britain. With a drainage area of , the Shannon River Basin covers one-fifth of the island. The Shannon crosses 11 counties and divides the west of Ireland from the south and east. The river develops into three large lakes along its course, Lough Allen, Lough Ree, and Lough Derg (Shannon), Lough Derg. The River Shannon enters the Atlantic Ocean at
Limerick Limerick ( ; ga, Luimneach ) is a city in County Limerick County Limerick ( ga, Contae Luimnigh) is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chamber ...

Limerick
city along the Shannon Estuary. Other major rivers include the River Liffey, River Lee (Ireland), River Lee, Munster Blackwater, River Blackwater, River Nore, River Suir, River Barrow, River Bann, River Foyle, River Erne, and River Boyne.
Lough Neagh Lough Neagh ( ) is a large freshwater Fresh water or freshwater is any naturally occurring liquid or frozen water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an , transparent, tasteless, odorless, and , which is the main constituent of 's ...
, in Ulster, is the largest lake in Ireland and Britain with an area of . The largest lake in the
Republic of Ireland Ireland ( ga, Éire ), also known as the Republic of Ireland ('), is a country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective id ...

Republic of Ireland
is Lough Corrib . Other large lakes include Lough Erne, Lough Mask and Lough Conn.


Inlets

In County Donegal, Lough Swilly separates the western side of the Inishowen peninsula. Lough Foyle on the other side, is one of Ireland's larger inlets, situated between County Donegal and County Londonderry. Clockwise round the coast is Belfast Lough, between County Antrim and County Down. Also in County Down is Strangford Lough, actually an inlet partially separating the Ards peninsula from the mainland. Further south, Carlingford Lough is situated between Down and County Louth. Dublin Bay is the next sizeable inlet. The east coast of Ireland has no major inlets until Wexford Harbour at the mouth of the River Slaney. On the south coast, Waterford Harbour is situated at the mouth of the River Suir (into which the other two of the The Three Sisters (Ireland), Three Sisters (River Nore and River Barrow) flow). The next major inlet is Cork Harbour, at the mouth of the River Lee, in which Great Island is situated. Dunmanus Bay, Kenmare River, Kenmare estuary and Dingle Bay are all inlets between the peninsulas of County Kerry. North of these is the Shannon Estuary. Between north County Clare and County Galway is Galway Bay. Clew Bay is located on the coast of County Mayo, south of Achill Island, while Broadhaven Bay, Blacksod Bay and Sruth Fada Conn bays are situated in northwest Connacht, in North Mayo. Killala Bay is on the northeast coast of Mayo. Donegal Bay is a major inlet between County Donegal and County Sligo. A recent global remote sensing analysis suggested that there were 565km² of tidal flats in Ireland, making it the 43rd ranked country in terms of tidal flat area.


Headlands

Malin Head is the most northerly point in Ireland, while Mizen Head is one of the Extreme points of Ireland, most southern points, hence the term "from Malin to Mizen" (or the reverse) is used for anything applying to the island of Ireland as a whole. Carnsore Point is another extreme points of Ireland, extreme point of Ireland, being the southeasternmost point of Ireland. Hook Head and the Old Head of Kinsale are two of many headlands along the south coast. Loop Head is the headland at which County Clare comes to a point on the west coast of Ireland, with the Atlantic on the north, and the Shannon estuary to the south. Hag's Head is another headland further up Clare's north/western coastline, with the Cliffs of Moher along the coastline north of the point. Erris Head is the northwesternmost point of Connacht.


Islands and peninsulas

Apart from Ireland itself, Achill Island to its northwest is now considered the largest island in the group. The island is inhabited, and is connected to the mainland by a bridge. Some of the next largest islands are the Aran Islands, off the coast of southern Connacht, host to an Irish-speaking community, or Gaeltacht. Valentia Island off the Iveragh peninsula is also one of Ireland's larger islands, and is relatively settled, as well as being connected by a bridge at its southeastern end. Omey Island, off the coast of Connemara is a tidal island. Some of the best-known peninsulas in Ireland are in County Kerry; the Dingle peninsula, the Iveragh peninsula and the Beara peninsula. The Ards peninsula is one of the larger peninsulas outside Kerry. The
Inishowen Inishowen () is a peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from 'almost' and 'island') is a landform A landform is a natural or artificial feature of the solid surface of the Earth or other planetary body A planet is an astronomical ...

Inishowen
peninsula in County Donegal includes Ireland's most northerly point, Malin Head and several important towns including Buncrana on Lough Swilly, Carndonagh and Moville on Lough Foyle. Ireland's most northerly land feature is Inishtrahull island, off Malin Head. Rockall Island may deserve this honour but its status is disputed, being claimed by the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Denmark (for the Faroe Islands) and Iceland. The most southerly point is the Fastnet Rock. The Hebrides off Geography of Scotland, Scotland and Anglesey off Geography of Wales, Wales were grouped with Ireland ("Hibernia") by the Greek people, Greco-Ancient Romans, Roman Ancient Greek geography, geographer Claudius Ptolemy, Ptolemy, but this is no longer common.


Climate

The climate of Ireland is mild, humid and changeable with abundant rainfall and a lack of temperature extremes. Ireland's climate is defined as a temperate oceanic climate, or ''Cfb'' on the Köppen climate classification system, a classification it shares with most of northwest Europe. The country receives generally warm summers and mild winters. It is considerably warmer than other areas at the same latitude on the other side of the Atlantic, such as in Newfoundland, because it lies downwind of the Atlantic Ocean. It is also warmer than maritime climates near the same latitude, such as the Pacific Northwest as a result of heat released by the Atlantic overturning circulation that includes the North Atlantic Current and Gulf Stream. For comparison, Dublin is 9 °C warmer than St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, St. John's in Newfoundland in winter and 4 °C warmer than Seattle in the Pacific Northwest in winter. The influence of the North Atlantic Current also ensures the coastline of Ireland remains ice-free throughout the winter. The climate in Ireland does not experience extreme weather, with tornadoes and similar weather features being rare. However, Ireland is prone to eastward moving cyclones which come in from the North Atlantic. The prevailing wind comes from the southwest, breaking on the high mountains of the west coast. Rainfall is therefore a particularly prominent part of western Irish life, with Valentia Island, off the west coast of County Kerry, getting over twice as much annual rainfall as Dublin on the east ( vs. ). January and February are the coldest months of the year, and mean daily air temperatures fall between during these months. July and August are the warmest, with mean daily temperatures of , whilst mean daily maximums in July and August vary from near the coast, to inland. The sunniest months are May and June, with an average of five to seven hours sunshine per day. Though extreme weather events in Ireland are comparatively rare when compared with other countries in the European Continent, they do occur. Atlantic depressions, occurring mainly in the months of December, January and February, can occasionally bring winds of up to to Western coastal counties; while the summer months, and particularly around late July/early August, thunderstorms can develop. The tables below show mean 30-year climate averages for Ireland's two largest cities, taken from the weather stations at Dublin Airport and Belfast International Airport respectively. The state metrological service for the Republic of Ireland is Met Éireann, while the Met Office monitors climate data for Northern Ireland.


Political and human geography

Ireland is divided into four Provinces of Ireland, provinces, Connacht, Leinster, Munster and
Ulster Ulster (; ga, Ulaidh or ''Cúige Uladh'' ; sco, label=Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster Scots, Ulstèr or ''Ulster'') is one of the four traditional Irish provinces of Ireland, provinces, in the north of Ireland. It is made up of nine Counties ...

Ulster
, and 32 Counties of Ireland, counties. Six of the nine Ulster counties form Northern Ireland and the other 26 form the state, Ireland. The map shows the county boundaries for all 32 counties. From an administrative viewpoint, 21 of the counties in the Republic are units of local government. The other six have more than one local council area, resulting in a total of 31 county-level authorities. County Tipperary had two Riding (country subdivision)#Ireland, ridings, North Tipperary and South Tipperary, originally established in 1838, renamed in 2001 and amalgamated in 2014. The cities of Dublin, Cork (city), Cork and Galway have city councils and are administered separately from the counties bearing those names. The cities of
Limerick Limerick ( ; ga, Luimneach ) is a city in County Limerick County Limerick ( ga, Contae Luimnigh) is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chamber ...

Limerick
and Waterford were merged with their respective county councils in 2014 to form new city and county councils. The remaining part of County Dublin is divided into Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown, Fingal, Ireland, Fingal, and South Dublin. Electoral areas in Ireland (the state) are called constituencies in accordance with law of the Republic of Ireland, Irish law, mostly follow county boundaries. Maintaining links to the county system is a mandatory consideration in the re-organisation of constituency boundaries by a Constituency Commission. In Northern Ireland, a major re-organisation of local government in 1973 replaced the six traditional counties and two county boroughs (Belfast and Derry) by 26 single-tier districts of Northern Ireland, districts, which, apart from Fermanagh cross the traditional county boundaries. The six counties and two county-boroughs remain in use for purposes such as Lord-Lieutenant, Lieutenancy. In November 2005, proposals were announced which would see the number of local authorities reduced to seven. The island's total population of nearly 7 million people is concentrated in the east and south, particularly in Dublin, Belfast, Cork and their surrounding areas.


Natural resources


Bogs

Ireland has 12,000 km2 (about 4,600 sq miles) of
bog A bog or bogland is a wetland A wetland is a distinct ecosystem An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which they interact. These biotic and abiotic components are lin ...

bog
land, consisting of two distinct types: blanket bogs and raised bogs. Blanket bogs are the more widespread of the two types. They are essentially a product of human activity aided by the moist Irish climate. Blanket bogs formed on sites where Neolithic farmers cleared trees for farming. As the land so cleared fell into disuse, the soil began to leach and become more acidic, producing a suitable environment for the growth of Calluna, heather and Juncaceae, rushes. The debris from these plants accumulated and a layer of peat formed. One of the largest expanses of Atlantic blanket bog in Ireland is to be found in County Mayo. Raised bogs are most common in the Shannon basin. They formed when depressions left behind after the ice age filled with water to form lakes. Debris from reeds in these lakes formed a layer of at the bottom of the water. This eventually choked the lakes and raised above the surface, forming raised bogs. Since the 17th century, peat has been cut for fuel for domestic heating and cooking, and it is called turf when so used. The process accelerated as commercial exploitation of bogs grew. In the 1940s, machines for cutting turf were introduced and larger-scale harvesting became possible. In the Republic, this became the responsibility of a semi-state company called Bord na Móna. In addition to domestic uses, commercially extracted turf is used in a number of industries, producing Briquette#Peat briquettes, peat briquettes for domestic fuel and milled peat for electricity generation. More recently peat is being combined with biomass for dual-firing electricity generation. In recent years, the destruction of bogs has raised environmental concerns. The issue is particularly acute for raised bogs which were more widely mined as they yield a higher-grade fuel than blanket bogs. Plans are now in place in both the Republic and Northern Ireland to conserve most of the remaining raised bogs on the island.


Oil, natural gas, renewables and minerals

Offshore exploration for natural gas began in 1970.Shannon, Corcoran & Haughton (2001), ''The petroleum exploration of Ireland's offshore basins: introduction'', Geological Society, London Lyell Collection—Special Publications, p 2 The first major discovery was the Kinsale Head gas field in 1971. Next were the smaller Ballycotton gas field in 1989, and the Corrib gas project, Corrib gas field in 1996. Gas from these fields is pumped ashore and used for both domestic and industrial purposes. The Helvick oil field, estimated to contain over of oil, was discovered in 2000, and Barryroe, estimated to contain 1.6 billion barrels (250,000,000 m3) of oil, was discovered in 2012, although neither have been exploited. Ireland is the largest European producer of zinc, with one zinc-lead mine currently in operation at Tara Mine, Tara, which is Europe's largest and deepest active mine. Other mineral deposits with actual or potential commercial value include gold, silver, gypsum, talc, calcite, Dolomite (mineral), dolomite, roofing slate,
limestone Limestone is a common type of carbonate In chemistry, a carbonate is a salt Salt is a mineral composed primarily of sodium chloride (NaCl), a chemical compound belonging to the larger class of Salt (chemistry), salts; salt in its na ...

limestone
aggregate, building stone, sand and gravel. In May 2007 the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources (now replaced by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources) reported that there may be volumes over of petroleum and of natural gas in Irish waters – worth trillions of Euro, if true. The minimum confirmed amount of oil in the Irish Atlantic waters is , worth over €450 billion. There are also areas of petroleum and natural gas on shore, for example the Lough Allen basin, with of gas and of oil, valued at €74.4 billion. Already some fields are being exploited, such as the Spanish Point, County Clare, Spanish Point field, with of gas and of oil, valued at €19.6 billion. The Corrib Basin is also quite large, worth anything up to €87 billion, while the Dunquin gas field, initially estimated to have of natural gas and of petroleum but 2012 revised estimates suggest only of natural gas and barrels of oil condensate. In March 2012 the first commercial oil well was drilled 70 km off the Cork coast by Providence Resources. The Barryroe oil well is yielding 3500 barrels per day; at current oil prices of $120 a barrel Barryroe oil well is worth in excess of €2.14bn annually.


See also

* Extreme points of Ireland * Gravity Anomalies of Britain and Ireland * Coastal landforms of Ireland * Geographical centre of Ireland


Notes


References


Bibliography


Print

*Mitchell, Frank and Ryan, Michael. ''Reading the Irish landscape'' (1998). *Whittow, J. B. ''Geography and Scenery in Ireland'' (Penguin Books 1974) *Holland, Charles, H and Sanders, Ian S. ''The Geology of Ireland'' 2nd ed. (2009). * ''Place-names'', Diarmuid O Murchadha and Kevin Murray, in ''The Heritage of Ireland'', ed. N. Buttimer et al., The Collins Press, Cork, 2000, pp. 146–155. * ''A paper landscape:the Ordnance Survey in nineteenth-century Ireland'', J.H. Andrews, London, 1975 * ''Monasticon Hibernicum'', M. Archdall, 1786 * ''Etymological aetiology in Irish tradition'', R. Baumgarten, ''Eiru'' 41, pp. 115–122, 1990 * ''The Origin and History of Irish names of Places'', Patrick Weston Joyce, three volumes, Dublin, 1869, 1875, 1913. * ''Irish Place Names'', D. Flanagan and L. Flanagan, Dublin, 1994 * ''Census of Ireland:general alphabetical index to the townlands and towns, parishes and paronies of Ireland'', Dublin, 1861 * ''The Placenames of Westmeath'', Paul Walsh (priest), Paul Walsh, 1957 * ''The Placenames of Decies'', P. Power, Cork, 1952 * ''The place-names of county Wicklow'', Liam Price, seven volumes, Dublin, 1945–67


Online

*Abbot, Patrick
Ireland's Peat Bogs
Retrieved on 23 January 2008.
Ireland
– The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved on 23 January 2008.
OnlineWeather.com
– climate details for Ireland. Retrieved 2011-01-12


External links


OSI FAQ
– lists of the longest, highest and other statistics * A discussion on RTÉ Radio 1's science show ''Quantum Leap'' about the quality of GPS mapping in Ireland is available
here
(archived link). The discussion starts 8mins 17sec into the show. It was aired o

(archived link). Requires RealPlayer. {{DEFAULTSORT:Geography Of Ireland Geography of Ireland,