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Paddy Mayne from County Down; a founding member of the SAS; was one of the most decorated British soldiers of World War II. He also played rugby for Ireland.

Plantations of Ireland introduced large numbers of people from Great Britain to Ireland throughout the Middle Ages and early modern period. The resulting Protestant Ascendancy, the aristocratic class of the Lordship of Ireland, broadly identified themselves as Anglo-Irish.[205] In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Protestant British settlers subjugated Catholic, Gaelic inhabitants in the north of Ireland during the Plantation of Ulster and the Williamite War in Ireland; it was "an explicit attempt to control Ireland strategically by introducing ethnic and religious elements loyal to the British interest in Ireland".[206]

The Ulster Scots people are an ethnic group of British origin in Ireland, broadly descended from Lowland Scots who settled in large numbers in th

Plantations of Ireland introduced large numbers of people from Great Britain to Ireland throughout the Middle Ages and early modern period. The resulting Protestant Ascendancy, the aristocratic class of the Lordship of Ireland, broadly identified themselves as Anglo-Irish.[205] In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Protestant British settlers subjugated Catholic, Gaelic inhabitants in the north of Ireland during the Plantation of Ulster and the Williamite War in Ireland; it was "an explicit attempt to control Ireland strategically by introducing ethnic and religious elements loyal to the British interest in Ireland".[206]

The Ulster Scots people are an ethnic group of British origin in Ireland, broadly descended from Lowland Scots who settled in large numbers in the Province of Ulster during the planned process of colonisations of Ireland which took place in the reign of James VI of Scotland and I of England. Together with English and Welsh settlers, these Scots introduced Protestantism (particularly the Presbyterianism of the Church of Scotland) and the Ulster Scots and English languages to, mainly, northeastern Ireland. With the partition of Ireland and independence for what is now the Republic of Ireland some of these people found themselves no longer living within the United Kingdom.

Northern Ireland itself was, for many years, the site of a violent and bitter ethno-sectarian conflict—The Troubles—between those claiming to represent Irish nationalism, who are predominantly Roman Catholic, and those claiming to represent British unionism, who are predominantly Protestant.[207] Unionists want Northern Ireland to remain p

The Ulster Scots people are an ethnic group of British origin in Ireland, broadly descended from Lowland Scots who settled in large numbers in the Province of Ulster during the planned process of colonisations of Ireland which took place in the reign of James VI of Scotland and I of England. Together with English and Welsh settlers, these Scots introduced Protestantism (particularly the Presbyterianism of the Church of Scotland) and the Ulster Scots and English languages to, mainly, northeastern Ireland. With the partition of Ireland and independence for what is now the Republic of Ireland some of these people found themselves no longer living within the United Kingdom.

Northern Ireland itself was, for many years, the site of a violent and bitter ethno-sectarian conflict—The Troubles—between those claiming to represent Irish nationalism, who are predominantly Roman Catholic, and those claiming to represent British unionism, who are predominantly Protestant.[207] Unionists want Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom,[208] while nationalists desire a united Ireland.[209][210]

Since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, most of the paramilitary groups involved in the Troubles have ceased their armed campaigns, and constitutionally, the people of Northern Ireland have been recognised as "all persons born in Northern Ireland and having, at the time of their birth, at least one parent who is a British citizen, an Irish citizen or is otherwise entitled to reside in Northern Ireland without any restriction on their period of residence".[211] The Good Friday Agreement guarantees the "recognition of the birthright of all the people of Northern Ireland to identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British, or both, as they may so choose".[211]

Result from the expansion of the British Empire, British cultural influence can be observed in the language and culture of a geographically wide assortment of countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Pakistan, the United States, and the British overseas territories. These states are sometimes collectively known as the Anglosphere.[212] As well as the British influence on its empire, the empire also influenced British culture, particularly British cuisine. Innovations and movements within the wider-culture of Europe have also changed the United Kingdom; Humanism, Protestantism, and representative democracy have developed from broader Western culture.

As a result of the history of the formation of the United Kingdom, the cultures of England, Scotland, Wales, and history of the formation of the United Kingdom, the cultures of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are diverse and have varying degrees of overlap and distinctiveness.

Historically, British cuisine has meant "unfussy dishes made with quality local ingredients, matched with simple sauces to accentuate flavour, rather than disguise it".[214] It has been "vilified as unimaginative and heavy", and traditionally been limited in its international recognition to the full breakfast and the Christmas dinner.[215] This is despite British cuisine having absorbed the culinary influences of those who have settled in Britain, resulting in hybrid dishes such as the British Asian Chicken tikka masala, hailed by some as "Britain's true national dish".[216]

Celtic agriculture and animal breeding produced a wide variety of foodstuffs for Celts and Britons. The Anglo-Saxons developed meat and savoury herb stewing techniques before the practice became common in Europe. The Norman conquest of England introduced exotic spices into Britain in the Middle Ages.[215] The British Empire facilitated a knowledge of India's food tradition of "strong, penetrating spices and herbs".[215] Food rationing policies, imposed by the British government during wartime periods of the 20th century, are said to have been the stimulus for British cuisine's poor international reputation.[215]

British dishes include fish and chips, the Sunday roast, and bangers and mash. British cuisine has several national and

Celtic agriculture and animal breeding produced a wide variety of foodstuffs for Celts and Britons. The Anglo-Saxons developed meat and savoury herb stewing techniques before the practice became common in Europe. The Norman conquest of England introduced exotic spices into Britain in the Middle Ages.[215] The British Empire facilitated a knowledge of India's food tradition of "strong, penetrating spices and herbs".[215] Food rationing policies, imposed by the British government during wartime periods of the 20th century, are said to have been the stimulus for British cuisine's poor international reputation.[215]

British dishes include fish and chips, the Sunday roast, and bangers and mash. British cuisine has several national and regional varieties, including English, Scottish and Welsh cuisine, each of which has developed its own regional or local dishes, many of which are geographically indicated foods such as Cheddar cheese, Cheshire cheese, the Yorkshire pudding, Arbroath Smokie, Cornish pasty and Welsh cakes.

The British are the second largest per capita tea consumers in the world, consuming an average of 2.1 kilograms (4.6 lb) per person each year.[217] British tea culture dates back to the 19th century, when India was part of the British Empire and British interests controlled tea production in the subcontinent.

There is no single British language, though English is by far the main language spoken by British citizens, being spoken monolingually by more than 70% of the UK population. English is therefore the de facto official language of the United Kingdom.[218] However, under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, the Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, Cornish, Irish Gaelic, Ulster Scots, Manx, Scots and Lowland Scots languages are officially recognised as Regional or Minority languages by the UK Government.[219] As indigenous languages which continue to be spoken as a first language by native inhabitants, Welsh and Scottish Gaelic have a different legal status from other minority languages. In some parts of the UK, some of these languages are commonly spoken as a first language; in wider areas, their use in a bilingual context is sometimes supported or promoted by central or local government policy. For naturalisation purposes, a competence standard of English, Scottish Gaelic or Welsh is required to pass the life in the United Kingdom test.[220] However, English is used routinely, and although considered culturally important, Scottish Gaelic and Welsh are much less used.

Throughout the United Kingdom there are distinctive spoken expressions and regional accents of English,[53] which are seen to be symptomatic of a locality's culture and identity.[221] An awareness and knowledge of accents in the United Kingdom can "place, within a few miles, the locality in which a man or woman has grown up".[222

Throughout the United Kingdom there are distinctive spoken expressions and regional accents of English,[53] which are seen to be symptomatic of a locality's culture and identity.[221] An awareness and knowledge of accents in the United Kingdom can "place, within a few miles, the locality in which a man or woman has grown up".[222]

British literature is "one of the leading literatures in the world".[224] The overwhelming part is written in the English language, but there are also pieces of literature written in Scots, Scottish Gaelic, Ulster Scots, Cornish and Welsh.

Britain has a long history of famous and influential authors. It boasts some of the oldest pieces of literature in the Western world, such as the epic poem Beowulf, one of the oldest surviving written work in the English language.[225]

Famous authors include some of the world's most studied and praised writers. William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe defined England's Elizabethan period.[226] The British Romantic movement was one of the strongest and most recognisable in Europe. The poets William Blake, Wordsworth and Coleridge were amongst the pioneers of Romanticism in literature.[227] Other Romantic writers that followed these figure further enhanced the profile of Romanticism in Europe, such as John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord ByronBritain has a long history of famous and influential authors. It boasts some of the oldest pieces of literature in the Western world, such as the epic poem Beowulf, one of the oldest surviving written work in the English language.[225]

Famous authors include some of the world's most studied and praised writers. William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe defined England's Elizabethan period.[226] The British Romantic movement was one of the strongest and most recognisable in Europe. The poets William Blake, Wordsworth and Coleridge were amongst the pioneers of Romanticism in literature.[227] Other Romantic writers that followed these figure further enhanced the profile of Romanticism in Europe, such as John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron.[228] Later periods like the Victorian Era saw a further flourishing of British writing, including Charles Dickens and William Thackeray.[229]

Women's literature in Britain has had a long and often troubled history, with many female writers producing work under a pen name, such as George Eliot.[230] Other great female novelists that have contributed to world literature are Frances Burney, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Virginia Woolf, Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters, Emily, Charlotte and Anne.[231]

Non-fiction has also played an important role in the history of British letters, with the first dictionary of the English language being produced and compiled by Samuel Johnson, a graduate of Oxford University and a London resident.[232]

Although cinema, theatre, dance and live music are popular, the favourite pastime of the British is watching television.[235] Public broadcast television in the United Kingdom began in 1936, with the launch of the BBC Television Service (now BBC One). In the United Kingdom and the Crown dependencies, one must have a television licence to legally receive any broadcast television service, from any source. This includes the commercial channels, cable and satellite transmissions, and the Internet. Revenue generated from the television licence is used to provide radio, television and Internet content for the British Broadcasting Corporation, and Welsh language television programmes for S4C. The BBC, the common abbreviation of the British Broadcasting Corporation,[236] is the world's largest broadcaster.[237] Unlike other broadcasters in the UK, it is a public service based, quasi-autonomous, statutory corporation run by the BBC Trust. Free-to-air terrestrial television channels available on a national basis are BBC One, BBC Two, ITV, Channel 4 (S4C in Wales), and Five.

100 Greatest British Television Programmes was a list compiled by the British Film Institute in 2000, chosen by a poll of industry professionals, to determine what were the greatest British television programmes of any genre ever to have been screened.[238] Topping the list was Fawlty Towers, a British sitcom set in a fictional Torquay hotel starring John Cleese.[238]

"British musical tradition is essentially vocal",[239] dominated by the music of England and Germanic culture,[240] most greatly influenced by hymns and Anglican church music.[241] However, the specific, traditional music of Wales and music of Scotland is distinct, and of the Celtic musical tradition.100 Greatest British Television Programmes was a list compiled by the British Film Institute in 2000, chosen by a poll of industry professionals, to determine what were the greatest British television programmes of any genre ever to have been screened.[238] Topping the list was Fawlty Towers, a British sitcom set in a fictional Torquay hotel starring John Cleese.[238]

"British musical tradition is essentially vocal",[239] dominated by the music of England and Germanic culture,[240] most greatly influenced by hymns and Anglican church music.[241] However, the specific, traditional music of Wales and music of Scotland is distinct, and of the Celtic musical tradition.[242] In the United Kingdom, more people attend live music performances than football matches.[243] British rock was born in the mid-20th century out of the influence of rock and roll and rhythm and blues from the United States. Major early exports were The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who and The Kinks.[244] Together with other bands from the United Kingdom, these constituted the British Invasion, a popularisation of British pop and rock music in the United States. Into the 1970s heavy metal, new wave, and 2 tone.[244] Britpop is a subgenre of alternative rock that emerged from the British independent music scene of the early 1990s and was characterised by bands reviving British guitar pop music of the 1960s and 1970s. Leading exponents of Britpop were Blur, Oasis and Pulp.[245] Also popularised in the United Kingdom during the 1990s were several domestically produced varieties of electronic dance music; acid house, UK hard house, jungle, UK garage which in turn have influenced grime and British hip hop in the 2000s.[245] The BRIT Awards are the British Phonographic Industry's annual awards for both international and British popular music.

Historically, Christianity has been the most influential and important religion in Britain, and it remains the declared faith of the majority of the British people.[246] The influence of Christianity on British culture has been "widespread, extending beyond the spheres of prayer and worship. Churches and cathedrals make a significant contribution to the architectural landscape of the nation's cities and towns" whilst "many schools and hospitals were founded by men and women who were strongly influenced by Christian motives".[246] Throughout the United Kingdom, Easter and Christmas, the "two most important events in the Christian calendar", are recognised as public holidays.[246]

Christianity remains the major religion of the population of the United Kingdom in the 21st century, followed by Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism and then Judaism in terms of numbers of adherents. The 2007 Tearfund Survey revealed 53% identified themselves as Christian, which was similar to the 2004 British Social Attitudes Survey,[247][248] and to the United Kingdom Census 2001 in which 71.6% said that Christianity was their religion,[249] However, the Tearfund Survey showed only one in ten Britons attend church weekly.[250] Secularism was advanced in Britain during the Age of Enlightenment, and modern British organisations such as the