IRELAND (/ˈaɪərlənd/ ( listen ); Irish :
Éire ( listen );
Ulster-Scots : Airlann ) is an island in the
North Atlantic . It is
Great Britain to its east by the North Channel , the
Irish Sea , and St George\'s Channel .
Ireland is the second-largest
island of the
British Isles , the third-largest in
Europe , and the
Ireland is divided between the Republic of Ireland
Ireland ), which covers five-sixths of the island,
Northern Ireland , which is part of the
United Kingdom , in the
northeast of the island. In 2011, the population of
Ireland was about
6.4 million, ranking it the second-most populous island in Europe
Great Britain . Just under 4.6 million live in the Republic of
Ireland and just over 1.8 million live in Northern Ireland.
The island's geography comprises relatively low-lying mountains
surrounding a central plain, with several navigable rivers extending
inland. The island has lush vegetation, a product of its mild but
changeable climate which is free of extremes in temperature. Thick
woodlands covered the island until the
Middle Ages . As of 2013, the
amount of land that is wooded in
Ireland is about 11% of the total,
compared with a European average of 35%. There are twenty-six extant
mammal species native to Ireland. The Irish climate is very moderate
and classified as oceanic . As a result, winters are milder than
expected for such a northerly area. However, summers are cooler than
those in Continental
Europe . Rainfall and cloud cover are abundant.
The earliest evidence of human presence in
Ireland is dated at 10,500
Gaelic Ireland had emerged by the 1st century CE. The island was
Christianised from the 5th century onward. Following the Norman
invasion in the 12th century,
England claimed sovereignty over
Ireland. However, English rule did not extend over the whole island
until the 16th–17th century Tudor conquest , which led to
colonisation by settlers from Britain . In the 1690s, a system of
Protestant English rule was designed to materially disadvantage the
Catholic majority and
Protestant dissenters , and was extended during
the 18th century. With the Acts of Union in 1801,
Ireland became a
part of the
United Kingdom . A war of independence in the early 20th
century was followed by the partition of the island , creating the
Irish Free State , which became increasingly sovereign over the
following decades, and Northern Ireland, which remained a part of the
Northern Ireland saw much civil unrest from the late
1960s until the 1990s . This subsided following a political agreement
in 1998. In 1973 the
Republic of Ireland joined the European Economic
Community while the United Kingdom, and Northern Ireland, as part of
it, did the same.
Irish culture has had a significant influence on other cultures,
especially in the fields of literature . Alongside mainstream Western
culture , a strong indigenous culture exists, as expressed through
Gaelic games ,
Irish music , and the
Irish language . The culture of
the island also shares many features with that of Great Britain,
English language , and sports such as association
football , rugby , horse racing , and golf .
* 1 Name
* 2 History
* 2.1.1 Emergence of Celtic
* 2.2 Late antiquity and early medieval times
* 2.3 Norman and English invasions
* 2.4 The
Kingdom of Ireland
* 2.5 Union with
* 2.6 Partition
* 2.6.1 Independence
* 3 Politics
Republic of Ireland
* 3.3 All-island institutions
* 4 Economy
* 4.1 Tourism
* 4.2 Energy
* 5.1 Climate
* 6 Flora and fauna
* 6.1 Impact of agriculture
* 7 Demographics
* 7.1 Divisions and settlements
* 7.2 Migration
* 7.3 Languages
* 8 Culture
* 8.1 Arts
* 8.2 Science
* 8.3 Sports
* 8.3.1 Field sports
* 8.3.2 Other sports
* 8.3.3 Recreation
* 8.4 Food and drink
* 9 See also
* 10 Notes
* 11 References
* 12 Bibliography
* 13 External links
Ireland derives from
Old Irish Eriu. This in turn derives
Proto-Celtic *Iveriu (compare Welsh Iwerddon), which is also the
Hibernia . Iveriu derives from a root meaning "fat,
PART OF A SERIES ON THE
HISTORY OF IRELAND
Timeline of Irish history
PEOPLES AND POLITIES
Lordship of Ireland
Kingdom of Ireland
United Kingdom of
Great Britain and
Irish Free State
Republic of Ireland and
* Gaelic monarchs
* British monarchs
* Economic history
* History of the
History of Ireland
During the last glacial period , and up until about 12,000 years ago,
Ireland was periodically covered in ice.
Sea levels were lower
and Ireland, like
Great Britain , formed part of continental
By 16,000 BC, rising sea levels due to ice melting caused
become separated from Great Britain. Later, around 6000 BC, Great
Britain itself became separated from continental
Europe . The
earliest evidence of human presence in
Ireland is dated at 10,500 BC,
demonstrated by a butchered bear bone found in a cave in County Clare.
It is not until about 8000 BC, however, that more sustained
occupation of the island has been shown, with evidence for Mesolithic
communities around the island. These
Mesolithic communities lived as
hunter-gatherers across the island until about 4000 BC.
From about 4000 BC,
Neolithic settlers arrived introducing cereal
cultivars , domesticated animals such cattle and sheep, large timber
building, and stone monuments. Field systems were developed in
different parts of Ireland, including at the
Céide Fields , that has
been preserved beneath a blanket of peat in present-day
Tyrawley . An
extensive field system , arguably the oldest in the world, consisted
of small divisions separated by dry-stone walls . The fields were
farmed for several centuries between 3500 BC and 3000 BC.
barley were the principal crops.
Bronze Age – defined by the use of metal – began around 2500
BC, with technology changing people's everyday lives during this
period through innovations such as the wheel ; harnessing oxen ;
weaving textiles ; brewing alcohol ; and skilful metalworking , which
produced new weapons and tools, along with fine gold decoration and
jewellery, such as brooches and torcs . According to
John T. Koch and
Ireland in the Late
Bronze Age was part of a maritime
trading-network culture called the Atlantic
Bronze Age that also
included Britain, western France and Iberia, and that this is where
Celtic languages developed. This contrasts with the traditional
view that their origin lies in mainland
Europe with the Hallstatt
Emergence Of Celtic Ireland
Iron Age , a Celtic language and culture emerged in
Ireland. How and when the island of
Ireland became Celtic has been
debated for close to a century, with the migrations of the
one of the more enduring themes of archaeological and linguistic
studies. Today, there is more than one school of thought on how this
occurred in Ireland. The
Uragh Stone Circle
Uragh Stone Circle , a
Tuosist , close to Gleninchaquin Park,
The long-standing traditional view, once widely accepted, is that the
Ogham script and culture were brought to
waves of invading or migrating
Celts from mainland Europe. This theory
draws on the
Lebor Gabála Érenn
Lebor Gabála Érenn , a medieval Christian
Ireland along with the presence of Celtic culture,
language and artefacts found in
Ireland such as Celtic bronze spears,
shields, torcs and other finely crafted Celtic associated possessions.
The theory holds that there were four separate Celtic invasions of
Priteni were said to be the first, followed by the Belgae
from northern Gaul and Britain. Later, Laighin tribes from Armorica
(present-day Brittany) were said to have invaded
Ireland and Britain
more or less simultaneously. Lastly, the Milesians (
Gaels ) were said
to have reached
Ireland from either northern Iberia or southern Gaul.
It was claimed that a second wave named the Euerni, belonging to the
Belgae people of northern Gaul, began arriving about the sixth century
BC. They were said to have given their name to the island.
A more recent theory, with broad support among archaeologists, is
that Celtic culture and language arrived in
Ireland as a result of
cultural diffusion. This theory proposes that the Celticisation of
Ireland may have been the culmination of a long process of social and
economic interaction between Ireland, Britain and adjacent parts of
The theory was advanced in part because of lack of archeological
evidence for large-scale Celtic immigration , though it is accepted
that such movements are notoriously difficult to identify. Some
proponents of this theory hold that it is likely that there was
migration of smaller groups of
Celts to Ireland, with sufficiently
regular traffic to constitute a "migration stream," but that this was
not the fundamental cause of Insular Celticisation. Historical
linguists are sceptical that this method alone could account for the
absorption of the Celtic language, with some saying that an assumed
processional view of Celtic linguistic formation is 'an especially
hazardous exercise'. Genetic lineage investigation into the area of
Celtic migration to
Ireland has led to findings that showed no
significant differences in mitochondrial DNA between
Ireland and large
areas of continental Europe, in contrast to parts of the Y-chromosome
pattern. When taking both into account a recent study drew the
conclusion that modern Celtic speakers in
Ireland could be thought of
as European "Atlantic Celts" showing a shared ancestry throughout the
Atlantic zone from northern Iberia to western Scandinavia rather than
substantially central European.
LATE ANTIQUITY AND EARLY MEDIEVAL TIMES
History of Ireland (800–1169) The
Gaelic -speaking people from
Ireland who settled in western Scotland
in the 6th century or before.
The earliest written records of
Ireland come from classical
Ptolemy in his
Almagest refers to
Mikra Brettania (Little Britain), in contrast to the larger island,
which he called Megale Brettania (Great Britain). In his later work,
Ptolemy refers to
Ireland as Iouernia and to Great Britain
as Albion. These "new" names were likely to have been the local names
for the islands at the time. The earlier names, in contrast , were
likely to have been coined before direct contact with local peoples
The Romans would later refer to
Ireland by this name too in its
Hibernia , or
Ptolemy records sixteen
nations inhabiting every part of
Ireland in 100 CE. The relationship
between the Roman Empire and the kingdoms of ancient
unclear. However, a number of finds of Roman coins have been made, for
example at the
Iron Age settlement of Freestone Hill near
Ireland continued as a patchwork of rival kingdoms but, beginning in
the 7th century, a concept of national kingship gradually became
articulated through the concept of a
High King of Ireland . Medieval
Irish literature portrays an almost unbroken sequence of High Kings
stretching back thousands of years but modern historians believe the
scheme was constructed in the 8th century to justify the status of
powerful political groupings by projecting the origins of their rule
into the remote past.
All of the Irish kingdoms had their own kings but were nominally
subject to the High King. The High King was drawn from the ranks of
the provincial kings and ruled also the royal kingdom of Meath , with
a ceremonial capital at the
Hill of Tara . The concept didn't become a
political reality until the
Viking Age and even then was not a
Ireland did have a culturally unifying rule of law:
the early written judicial system, the
Brehon Laws , administered by a
professional class of jurists known as the brehons. Gallarus
Oratory , one of the earliest churches built in
The Chronicle of Ireland
The Chronicle of Ireland records that in 431, Bishop Palladius
Ireland on a mission from
Pope Celestine I
Pope Celestine I to minister to
the Irish "already believing in Christ". The same chronicle records
Saint Patrick , Ireland's best known patron saint , arrived the
following year. There is continued debate over the missions of
Palladius and Patrick, but the consensus is that they both took place
and that the older druid tradition collapsed in the face of the new
religion. Irish Christian scholars excelled in the study of
Greek learning and Christian theology. In the monastic culture that
followed the Christianisation of Ireland,
Latin and Greek learning was
Ireland during the Early
Middle Ages in contrast to
elsewhere in Europe, where the Dark Ages followed the Fall of the
Western Roman Empire .
The arts of manuscript illumination , metalworking and sculpture
flourished and produced treasures such as the
Book of Kells , ornate
jewellery and the many carved stone crosses that still dot the island
today. A mission founded in 563 on
Iona by the Irish monk Saint
Columba began a tradition of Irish missionary work that spread Celtic
Christianity and learning to
England and the Frankish
Empire on Continental
Europe after the fall of Rome. These missions
continued until the late
Middle Ages , establishing monasteries and
centres of learning, producing scholars such as
Sedulius Scottus and
Johannes Eriugena and exerting much influence in Europe.
From the 9th century, waves of
Viking raiders plundered Irish
monasteries and towns. These raids added to a pattern of raiding and
endemic warfare that was already deep-seated in Ireland. The Vikings
also were involved in establishing most of the major coastal
settlements in Ireland:
Limerick , Cork ,
Wexford , Waterford
, as well as other smaller settlements.
NORMAN AND ENGLISH INVASIONS
Norman invasion of Ireland , History of Ireland
(1169–1536) , and
Tudor conquest of Ireland See also: Bruce
Ireland Remains of the 12th-century
Trim Castle in
County Meath , the largest Norman castle in
On 1 May 1169, an expedition of Cambro -Norman knights with an army
of about six hundred landed at
Bannow Strand in present-day County
Wexford . It was led by Richard de Clare , called Strongbow due to his
prowess as an archer. The invasion, which coincided with a period of
renewed Norman expansion, was at the invitation of Dermot Mac Murrough
, the king of
In 1166, Mac Murrough had fled to
Anjou , France, following a war
Tighearnán Ua Ruairc , of
Breifne , and sought the
assistance of the Angevin king, Henry II , in recapturing his kingdom.
In 1171, Henry arrived in
Ireland in order to review the general
progress of the expedition. He wanted to re-exert royal authority over
the invasion which was expanding beyond his control. Henry
successfully re-imposed his authority over Strongbow and the
Cambro-Norman warlords and persuaded many of the Irish kings to accept
him as their overlord, an arrangement confirmed in the 1175 Treaty of
The invasion was legitimised by the provisions of the Papal Bull
Laudabiliter , issued by Adrian IV in 1155. The bull encouraged Henry
to take control in
Ireland in order to oversee the financial and
administrative reorganisation of the Irish Church and its integration
into the Roman Church system. Some restructuring had already begun at
the ecclesiastical level following the
Synod of Kells in 1152. There
has been significant controversy regarding the authenticity of
Laudabiliter, and there is no general agreement as to whether the
bull was genuine or a forgery.
In 1172, the new pope, Alexander III , further encouraged Henry to
advance the integration of the Irish Church with Rome. Henry was
authorised to impose a tithe of one penny per hearth as an annual
contribution. This church levy, called Peter\'s Pence , is extant in
Ireland as a voluntary donation. In turn, Henry accepted the title of
Lord of Ireland which Henry conferred on his younger son, John
Lackland , in 1185. This defined the Irish state as the Lordship of
Ireland . When Henry's successor died unexpectedly in 1199, John
inherited the crown of
England and retained the Lordship of Ireland.
Irish soldiers, 1521 – by
Over the century that followed, Norman feudal law gradually replaced
the Gaelic Brehon Law so that by the late 13th century the
Norman-Irish had established a feudal system throughout much of
Ireland. Norman settlements were characterised by the establishment of
baronies, manors, towns and the seeds of the modern county system. A
version of the
Magna Carta (the
Great Charter of Ireland ),
London and Irish Church for Church of England,
was published in 1216 and the
Parliament of Ireland was founded in
From the mid-14th century, after the
Black Death , Norman settlements
Ireland went into a period of decline. The Norman rulers and the
Gaelic Irish elites intermarried and the areas under Norman rule
became Gaelicised . In some parts, a hybrid
emerged. In response, the Irish parliament passed the Statutes of
Kilkenny in 1367. These were a set of laws designed to prevent the
assimilation of the
Normans into Irish society by requiring English
Ireland to speak English, follow English customs and abide
by English law.
By the end of the 15th century central English authority in Ireland
had all but disappeared and a renewed
Irish culture and language,
albeit with Norman influences, was dominant again. English Crown
control remained relatively unshaken in an amorphous foothold around
Dublin known as
The Pale , and under the provisions of Poynings\' Law
of 1494, the Irish Parliamentary legislation was subject to the
approval of the
English Parliament .
THE KINGDOM OF IRELAND
Kingdom of Ireland A scene from The Image of
Irelande (1581) showing a chieftain at a feast
The title of
King of Ireland was re-created in 1542 by
Henry VIII ,
King of England , of the
Tudor dynasty . English rule of law was
reinforced and expanded in
Ireland during the latter part of the 16th
century, leading to the
Tudor conquest of Ireland . A near complete
conquest was achieved by the turn of the 17th century, following the
Nine Years\' War and the
Flight of the Earls
Flight of the Earls .
This control was further consolidated during the wars and conflicts
of the 17th century, which witnessed English and Scottish colonisation
Plantations of Ireland , the
Wars of the Three Kingdoms and the
Williamite War . Irish losses during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms
(which, in Ireland, included the
Irish Confederacy and the Cromwellian
Ireland ) are estimated to include 20,000 battlefield
casualties. 200,000 civilians are estimated to have died as a result
of a combination of war-related famine, displacement, guerrilla
activity and pestilence over the duration of the war. A further 50,000
were sent into indentured servitude in the
West Indies . Some
historians estimate that as much as half of the pre-war population of
Ireland may have died as a result of the conflict.
The religious struggles of the 17th century left a deep sectarian
division in Ireland. Religious allegiance now determined the
perception in law of loyalty to the Irish King and Parliament. After
the passing of the Test Act 1672 , and with the victory of the forces
of the dual monarchy of William and Mary over the Jacobites , Roman
Catholics and nonconforming
Dissenters were barred from
sitting as members in the Irish Parliament . Under the emerging Penal
Laws , Irish Roman Catholics and
Dissenters were increasingly deprived
of various and sundry civil rights even to the ownership of hereditary
property. Additional regressive punitive legislation followed 1703,
1709 and 1728. This completed a comprehensive systemic effort to
materially disadvantage Roman Catholics and
while enriching a new ruling class of Anglican conformists. The new
Anglo-Irish ruling class became known as the
Protestant Ascendancy .
Half-hanging of suspected
An extraordinary climatic shock known as the "Great Frost " struck
Ireland and the rest of
Europe between December 1739 and September
1741, after a decade of relatively mild winters. The winters destroyed
stored crops of potatoes and other staples and the poor summers
severely damaged harvests. This resulted in the famine of 1740 . An
estimated 250,000 people (about one in eight of the population) died
from the ensuing pestilence and disease. The Irish government halted
export of corn and kept the army in quarters but did little more.
Local gentry and charitable organisations provided relief but could do
little to prevent the ensuing mortality.
In the aftermath of the famine, an increase in industrial production
and a surge in trade brought a succession of construction booms. The
population soared in the latter part of this century and the
architectural legacy of Georgian
Ireland was built. In 1782,
Poynings\' Law was repealed, giving
Ireland legislative independence
Great Britain for the first time since 1495. The British
government, however, still retained the right to nominate the
Ireland without the consent of the Irish parliament.
UNION WITH GREAT BRITAIN
United Kingdom of
Great Britain and
In 1798, members of the
Protestant Dissenter tradition (mainly
Presbyterian ) made common cause with Roman Catholics in a republican
rebellion inspired and led by the Society of
United Irishmen , with
the aim of creating an independent Ireland. Despite assistance from
France the rebellion was put down by British and Irish government and
yeomanry forces. In 1800, the British and Irish parliaments both
passed Acts of Union that, with effect from 1 January 1801, merged the
Kingdom of Ireland and the Kingdom of
Great Britain to create a United
Great Britain and
The passage of the Act in the Irish Parliament was ultimately
achieved with substantial majorities, having failed on the first
attempt in 1799. According to contemporary documents and historical
analysis, this was achieved through a considerable degree of bribery,
with funding provided by the British Secret Service Office, and the
awarding of peerages, places and honours to secure votes. Thus, the
Ireland was abolished and replaced by a united
parliament at Westminster in
London , though resistance remained, as
Robert Emmet 's failed
Irish Rebellion of 1803
Irish Rebellion of 1803 .
Aside from the development of the linen industry,
Ireland was largely
passed over by the industrial revolution , partly because it lacked
coal and iron resources and partly because of the impact of the
sudden union with the structurally superior economy of England, which
Ireland as a source of agricultural produce and capital.
Ireland engraving by Henry Doyle depicting the
emigration to America following the Great Famine in
The Great Famine of 1845–1851 devastated Ireland, as in those years
Ireland's population fell by one-third. More than one million people
died from starvation and disease, while an additional two million
people emigrated, mostly to the United States and Canada. By the end
of the decade, half of all immigration to the United States was from
Ireland. The period of civil unrest that followed until the end of the
19th century is referred to as the
Land War . Mass emigration became
deeply entrenched and the population continued to decline until the
mid-20th century. Immediately prior to the famine the population was
recorded as 8.2 million by the 1841 census . The population has never
returned to this level since. The population continued to fall until
1961 and it was not until the 2006 census that the last county of
County Leitrim ) to record a rise in population since 1841
The 19th and early 20th centuries saw the rise of modern Irish
nationalism , primarily among the
Roman Catholic population. The
pre-eminent Irish political figure after the Union was Daniel
O\'Connell . He was elected as Member of Parliament for Ennis in a
surprise result and despite being unable to take his seat as a Roman
Catholic . O'Connell spearheaded a vigorous campaign that was taken up
by the Prime Minister, the Irish-born soldier and statesman, the Duke
of Wellington . Steering the Catholic Relief Bill through Parliament,
aided by future prime minister
Robert Peel , Wellington prevailed upon
a reluctant George IV to sign the Bill and proclaim it into law.
George\'s father had opposed the plan of the earlier Prime Minister,
Pitt the Younger , to introduce such a bill following the Union of
Catholic Emancipation to be in conflict with the Act of
Settlement 1701 .
Daniel O'Connell led a subsequent campaign, for the repeal of the Act
of Union, which failed. Later in the century, Charles Stewart Parnell
and others campaigned for autonomy within the Union, or "Home Rule ".
Unionists, especially those located in Ulster, were strongly opposed
to Home Rule, which they thought would be dominated by Catholic
interests. After several attempts to pass a Home Rule bill through
parliament, it looked certain that one would finally pass in 1914. To
prevent this from happening, the
Ulster Volunteers were formed in 1913
under the leadership of
Edward Carson .
Their formation was followed in 1914 by the establishment of the
Irish Volunteers , whose aim was to ensure that the Home Rule Bill was
passed. The Act was passed but with the "temporary" exclusion of the
six counties of
Ulster that would become Northern Ireland. Before it
could be implemented, however, the Act was suspended for the duration
of the First World War . The
Irish Volunteers split into two groups.
The majority, approximately 175,000 in number, under
John Redmond ,
took the name
National Volunteers and supported Irish involvement in
the war. A minority, approximately 13,000, retained the Irish
Volunteers' name, and opposed Ireland's involvement in the war.
Sackville Street (now O\'Connell Street ), Dublin, after the 1916
Easter Rising of 1916 was carried out by the latter group
together with a smaller socialist militia, the
Irish Citizen Army .
The British response, executing fifteen leaders of the Rising over a
period of ten days and imprisoning or interning more than a thousand
people, turned the mood of the country in favour of the rebels.
Irish republicanism increased further due to the ongoing
war in Europe, as well as the
Conscription Crisis of 1918 .
The pro-independence republican party,
Sinn Féin , received
overwhelming endorsement in the general election of 1918 , and in 1919
Irish Republic , setting up its own parliament (Dáil
Éireann ) and government. Simultaneously the Volunteers, which became
known as the
Irish Republican Army (IRA), launched a three-year
guerrilla war , which ended in a truce in July 1921 (although violence
continued until June 1922, mostly in Northern Ireland).
Partition of Ireland
Partition of Ireland
In December 1921, the
Anglo-Irish Treaty was concluded between the
British Government and representatives of the
Second Dáil . It gave
Ireland complete independence in its home affairs and practical
independence for foreign policy, but an opt-out clause allowed
Northern Ireland to remain within the United Kingdom, which it
immediately exercised as expected. Additionally, an oath of allegiance
to the King was to be taken. Disagreements over these provisions led
to a split in the nationalist movement and a subsequent Irish Civil
War between the new government of the
Irish Free State and those
opposed to the treaty, led by
Éamon de Valera . The civil war
officially ended in May 1923 when de Valera issued a cease-fire order.
Main articles: History of the
Republic of Ireland and Economy of the
Republic of Ireland Annotated page from the Anglo-Irish Treaty
that established the
Irish Free State and independence for 26 out of
32 Irish counties
During its first decade, the newly formed
Irish Free State was
governed by the victors of the civil war. When de Valera achieved
power, he took advantage of the Statute of Westminster and political
circumstances to build upon inroads to greater sovereignty made by the
previous government. The oath was abolished and in 1937 a new
constitution was adopted. This completed a process of gradual
separation from the
British Empire that governments had pursued since
independence. However, it was not until 1949 that the state was
declared, officially, to be the
Republic of Ireland .
The state was neutral during World War II , but offered clandestine
assistance to the Allies , particularly in the potential defence of
Northern Ireland. Despite their country's neutrality, approximately
50,000 volunteers from independent
Ireland joined the British forces
during the war, four being awarded
Victoria Crosses .
Abwehr was also active in Ireland. German intelligence
operations effectively ended in September 1941 when police made
arrests on the basis of surveillance carried out on the key diplomatic
legations in Dublin, including that of the United States. To the
authorities, counterintelligence was a fundamental line of defence.
With a regular army of only slightly over seven thousand men at the
start of the war, and with limited supplies of modern weapons, the
state would have had great difficulty in defending itself from
invasion from either side in the conflict.
Large-scale emigration marked most of the post-WWII period
(particularly during the 1950s and 1980s), but beginning in 1987 the
economy improved, and the 1990s saw the beginning of substantial
economic growth. This period of growth became known as the Celtic
Tiger . The Republic's real GDP grew by an average of 9.6% per annum
between 1995 and 1999, in which year the Republic joined the euro .
In 2000, it was the sixth-richest country in the world in terms of GDP
Social changes also occurred in this time, most markedly with the
decline in authority of the Catholic Church. The financial crisis that
began in 2008 dramatically ended this period of boom. GDP fell by 3%
in 2008 and by 7.1% in 2009, the worst year since records began
(although earnings by foreign-owned businesses continued to grow).
The state has since experienced deep recession, with unemployment,
which doubled during 2009, remaining above 14% in 2012.
Main articles: History of
Northern Ireland and Economy of Northern
Northern Ireland was created as a division of the
United Kingdom by
Government of Ireland Act 1920 and until 1972 it was a
self-governing jurisdiction within the
United Kingdom with its own
parliament and prime minister. Northern Ireland, as part of the United
Kingdom, was not neutral during the Second World War and Belfast
suffered four bombing raids in 1941.
Conscription was not extended to
Northern Ireland and roughly an equal number volunteered from Northern
Ireland as volunteered from the south. One,
James Joseph Magennis ,
received the Victoria Cross for valour.
Edward Carson signing the
Solemn League and Covenant in 1912, declaring opposition to Home Rule
"using all means which may be found necessary"
Northern Ireland was largely spared the strife of the civil
war, in decades that followed partition there were sporadic episodes
of inter-communal violence. Nationalists, mainly Roman Catholic,
wanted to unite
Ireland as an independent republic, whereas unionists,
mainly Protestant, wanted
Northern Ireland to remain in the United
Protestant and Catholic communities in Northern Ireland
voted largely along sectarian lines, meaning that the Government of
Northern Ireland (elected by "first-past-the-post" from 1929) was
controlled by the
Ulster Unionist Party . Over time, the minority
Catholic community felt increasingly alienated with further
disaffection fuelled by practices such as gerrymandering and
discrimination in housing and employment.
In the late 1960s, nationalist grievances were aired publicly in mass
civil rights protests, which were often confronted by loyalist
counter-protests. The government's reaction to confrontations was
seen to be one-sided and heavy-handed in favour of unionists. Law and
order broke down as unrest and inter-communal violence increased. The
Northern Ireland government requested the
British Army to aid the
police, who were exhausted after several nights of serious rioting .
In 1969, the paramilitary Provisional IRA , which favoured the
creation of a united
Ireland , emerged from a split in the Irish
Republican Army and began a campaign against what it called the
"British occupation of the six counties".
Other groups, on both the unionist side and the nationalist side,
participated in violence and a period known as the Troubles began.
Over 3,600 deaths resulted over the subsequent three decades of
conflict. Owing to the civil unrest during the Troubles, the British
government suspended home rule in 1972 and imposed direct rule . There
were several unsuccessful attempts to end the Troubles politically,
such as the
Sunningdale Agreement of 1973. In 1998, following a
ceasefire by the Provisional IRA and multi-party talks, the Good
Friday Agreement was concluded as a treaty between the British and
Irish governments, annexing the text agreed in the multi-party talks.
The substance of the Agreement (formally referred to as the Belfast
Agreement) was later endorsed by referendums in both parts of Ireland.
The Agreement restored self-government to
Northern Ireland on the
basis of power-sharing in a regional Executive drawn from the major
parties in a new
Northern Ireland Assembly , with entrenched
protections for the two main communities. The Executive is jointly
headed by a
First Minister and deputy First Minister drawn from the
unionist and nationalist parties. Violence had decreased greatly after
the Provisional IRA and loyalist ceasefires in 1994 and in 2005 the
Provisional IRA announced the end of its armed campaign and an
independent commission supervised its disarmament and that of other
nationalist and unionist paramilitary organisations.
The Assembly and power-sharing Executive were suspended several times
but were restored again in 2007. In that year the British government
officially ended its military support of the police in Northern
Operation Banner ) and began withdrawing troops. On 27 June
2012, Northern Ireland's deputy first minister and former IRA
commander, Martin McGuinness, shook hands with Queen Elizabeth II in
Belfast, symbolising reconciliation between the two sides.
Political map of Ireland, showing the
Republic of Ireland and
Northern Ireland Main article:
Politics of Ireland
Politics of Ireland
Politically, the island is divided between the Republic of Ireland,
an independent state , and
Northern Ireland (a constituent country of
United Kingdom ). They share an open border and both are part of
Common Travel Area
Common Travel Area .
Republic of Ireland and the
United Kingdom are members of
European Union , and as a consequence there is free movement of
people, goods, services and capital across the border.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
Republic of Ireland
Áras an Uachtaráin , the
official residence of the
President of Ireland
President of Ireland
Republic of Ireland is a parliamentary democracy based on the
British model, with a written constitution and a popularly elected
president who has mostly ceremonial powers. The government is headed
by a prime minister, the
Taoiseach , who is appointed by the President
on the nomination of the lower house of parliament, the Dáil .
Members of the government are chosen from both the Dáil and the upper
house of parliament, the Seanad . Its capital is
The Republic today ranks amongst the wealthiest countries in the
world in terms of
GDP per capita and in 2015 was ranked the sixth
most developed nation in the world by the United Nations' Human
Development Index . A period of rapid economic expansion from 1995
onwards became known as the
Celtic Tiger period, was brought to an end
in 2008 with an unprecedented financial crisis and an economic
depression in 2009.
Northern Ireland Parliament Buildings , in
Stormont Estate , seat of the
Northern Ireland Assembly
Northern Ireland is a part of the
United Kingdom with a local
executive and assembly which exercise devolved powers. The executive
is jointly headed by the first and deputy-first minister, with the
ministries being allocated in proportion with each party's
representation in the assembly. Its capital is Belfast.
Ultimately political power is held by the
UK government , from which
Northern Ireland has gone through intermittent periods of direct rule
during which devolved powers have been suspended. Northern Ireland
elects 18 of the UK House of Commons ' 650 MPs. The Northern Ireland
Secretary is a cabinet-level post in the British government.
Northern Ireland forms
one of the three separate legal jurisdictions of the UK, all of which
share the Supreme Court of the
United Kingdom as their court of final
As part of the
Good Friday Agreement , the British and Irish
governments agreed on the creation of all-island institutions and
areas of cooperation. The offices of the North/South Ministerial
Council on Upper English Street,
North/South Ministerial Council is an institution through which
ministers from the
Government of Ireland and the Northern Ireland
Executive agree all-island policies. At least six of these policy
areas must have an associated all-island "implementation bodies" and
at least six others must be implemented separately in each
jurisdiction. The implementation bodies are:
Waterways Ireland , the
Food Safety Promotion Board ,
InterTradeIreland , the
Union Programmes Body , the North/South Language Body and the Foyle,
Carlingford and Irish Lights Commission .
British–Irish Intergovernmental Conference provides for
co-operation between the
Government of Ireland and the Government of
United Kingdom on all matter of mutual interest, especially
Northern Ireland. In light of the Republic's particular interest in
the governance of Northern Ireland, "regular and frequent" meetings
co-chaired by the ROI Minister for Foreign Affairs and the UK
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, dealing with non-devolved
matters to do with
Northern Ireland and non-devolved all-Ireland
issues, are required to take place under the establishing treaty.
North/South Inter-Parliamentary Association is a joint
parliamentary forum for the island of Ireland. It has no formal powers
but operates as a forum for discussing matters of common concern
between the respective legislatures.
Despite the two jurisdictions using two distinct currencies (the euro
and pound sterling ), a growing amount of commercial activity is
carried out on an all-
Ireland basis. This has been facilitated by the
two jurisdictions' shared membership of the
European Union , and there
have been calls from members of the business community and
policymakers for the creation of an "all-
Ireland economy" to take
advantage of economies of scale and boost competitiveness.
There are two multi-city regions on the island of Ireland:
Belfast corridor - 3.3 m
Cork-Limerick-Galway corridor - 1 m
Below is a comparison of the Regional GDP on the island of Ireland.
Republic of Ireland: Border Midlands & West
Republic of Ireland: Southern & Eastern
United Kingdom: Northern Ireland
€142 bn (
€43.4 bn (
Belfast €20.9 bn)
€23,700 per person
€39,900 per person
€21,000 per person
2012 GDP €
GDP PER PERSON €
2014 GDP €
GDP PER PERSON €
East of Northern Ireland
West and South of Northern Ireland
North of Northern Ireland
* The BMW region of the
Republic of Ireland (consisting of Connacht
, Counties Laois , Offaly , Westmeath ,
Longford , Donegal , Monaghan
, Cavan , Louth )
* The S"> Typical scenery on
Inisheer (Inis Oírr), Aran Islands
There are three World Heritage Sites on the island: the Brú na
Skellig Michael and the Giant\'s Causeway . A number of
other places are on the tentative list, for example the Burren , the
Ceide Fields and
Mount Stewart .
Some of the most visited sites in
Bunratty Castle ,
Rock of Cashel
Rock of Cashel , the
Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher ,
Holy Cross Abbey and
Blarney Castle . Historically important monastic sites include
Clonmacnoise , which are maintained as national
monuments in the Republic of Ireland.
Dublin is the most heavily touristed region and home to several of
the most popular attractions such as the
Guinness Storehouse and Book
of Kells . The west and south west, which includes the Lakes of
Killarney and the
Dingle peninsula in
County Kerry and
Aran Islands in
County Galway , are also popular tourist
Island lies off the coast of
County Mayo and is Ireland's
largest island. It is a popular tourist destination for surfing and
contains 5 Blue Flag beaches and
Croaghaun one of the worlds highest
sea cliffs. Stately homes , built during the 17th, 18th and 19th
Palladian , Neoclassical and neo-Gothic styles, such as,
Castle Ward ,
Castletown House ,
Bantry House ,
Glenveagh Castle are
also of interest to tourists. Some have been converted into hotels,
Ashford Castle ,
Castle Leslie and
Dromoland Castle .
* World Heritage Sites
Giant\'s Causeway ,
Skellig Michael ,
Brú na Bóinne
Brú na Bóinne ,
TURF-CUTTING IN CONNEMARA. Near Maam Crossing, by the road to
Leenane, Co. Galway.
Ireland has an ancient industry based on peat (known locally as
"turf") as a source of energy for home fires. A form of biomass
energy, this source of heat is still widely used in rural areas.
However, due to the ecological importance of peatlands in storing
carbon and their rarity, the EU is attempting to protect this habitat
Ireland if they are dug up. In cities, heat is generally
supplied by heating oil , although some urban suppliers distribute
"sods of turf" as "smokeless fuel".
An area in which the island operates as a single market is
electricity . For much of their existence electricity networks in the
Republic of Ireland and
Northern Ireland were entirely separate. Both
networks were designed and constructed independently post partition.
However, as a result of changes over recent years they are now
connected with three interlinks and also connected through Great
Britain to mainland Europe. The situation in
Northern Ireland is
complicated by the issue of private companies not supplying Northern
Electricity (NIE) with enough power. In the Republic of
Ireland, the ESB has failed to modernise its power stations and the
availability of power plants has recently averaged only 66%, one of
the worst such rates in Western Europe.
EirGrid is building a HVDC
transmission line between
Great Britain with a capacity of
500 MW, about 10% of Ireland's peak demand.
As with electricity, the natural gas distribution network is also now
all-island, with a pipeline linking Gormanston,
County Meath , and
County Antrim completed in 2007. Most of Ireland's gas
comes through interconnectors between
County Antrim and
Loughshinny , County
Dublin . A
decreasing supply is coming from the Kinsale gas field off the County
Cork coast and the
Corrib Gas Field
Corrib Gas Field off the coast of
County Mayo has
yet to come on-line. The
County Mayo field is facing some localised
opposition over a controversial decision to refine the gas onshore.
Republic of Ireland has shown a strong commitment to renewable
energy, ranking as one of the top 10 markets for cleantech investment
in the 2014 Global Green Economy Index. Research and development in
Ireland in renewable energy such as wind power has increased since
2004. Large wind farms are being constructed in coastal counties such
as Cork, Donegal, Mayo and Antrim. The construction of wind farms has
in some cases been delayed by opposition from local communities, some
of whom overall consider the wind turbines to be unsightly. The
Republic of Ireland is also hindered by an ageing network that was not
designed to handle the varying availability of power that comes from
wind farms. The ESB's
Turlough Hill facility is the only power-storage
facility in the state.
Ireland Physical features of Ireland
The island of
Ireland is located in the north-west of
between latitudes 51° and 56° N , and longitudes 11° and 5° W . It
is separated from the neighbouring island of
Great Britain by the
Irish Sea and the North Channel , which has a width of 23 kilometres
(14 mi) at its narrowest point. To the west is the northern Atlantic
Ocean and to the south is the
Celtic Sea , which lies between Ireland
Brittany , in France.
Ireland has a total area of 84,421 km2
(32,595 sq mi), of which the
Republic of Ireland occupies 83
Ireland and Great Britain, together with many nearby smaller
islands, are known collectively as the
British Isles . As the term
British Isles is controversial in relation to Ireland, the alternate
term Britain and
Ireland is often used as a neutral term for the
A ring of coastal mountains surround low plains at the centre of the
island. The highest of these is
Carrauntoohil (Irish : Corrán
County Kerry , which rises to 1,038 m (3,406 ft) above
sea level. The most arable land lies in the province of
Western areas can be mountainous and rocky with green panoramic vistas
River Shannon , the island's longest river at 386 km (240 mi)
long, rises in
County Cavan in the north west and flows 113 kilometres
(70 mi) to
Limerick city in the mid west.
The island consists of varied geological provinces . In the far west,
County Galway and
County Donegal , is a medium to high grade
metamorphic and igneous complex of Caledonide affinity, similar to the
Scottish Highlands . Across southeast
Ulster and extending southwest
Longford and south to
Navan is a province of Ordovician and
Silurian rocks, with similarities to the
Southern Uplands province of
Scotland . Further south, along the County
Wexford coastline, is an
area of granite intrusives into more Ordovician and Silurian rocks,
like that found in
In the southwest, around
Bantry Bay and the mountains of
Macgillicuddy\'s Reeks , is an area of substantially deformed, but
only lightly metamorphosed , Devonian-aged rocks. This partial ring
of "hard rock" geology is covered by a blanket of Carboniferous
limestone over the centre of the country, giving rise to a
comparatively fertile and lush landscape. The west-coast district of
the Burren around
Lisdoonvarna has well-developed karst features.
Significant stratiform lead-zinc mineralisation is found in the
Hydrocarbon exploration is ongoing following the first major find at
Kinsale Head gas field off Cork in the mid-1970s. In 1999,
economically significant finds of natural gas were made in the Corrib
Gas Field off the
County Mayo coast. This has increased activity off
the west coast in parallel with the "West of
Shetland " step-out
development from the North Sea hydrocarbon province . The Helvick oil
field, estimated to contain over 28 million barrels (4,500,000 m3) of
oil, is another recent discovery.
The rugged hills of
South Kildare countryside
Climate of Ireland
The island's lush vegetation, a product of its mild climate and
frequent rainfall, earns it the sobriquet the Emerald Isle. Overall,
Ireland has a mild but changeable oceanic climate with few extremes.
The climate is typically insular and is temperate avoiding the
extremes in temperature of many other areas in the world at similar
latitudes. This is a result of the moderating moist winds which
ordinarily prevail from the South-Western Atlantic .
Precipitation falls throughout the year but is light overall,
particularly in the east. The west tends to be wetter on average and
prone to Atlantic storms, especially in the late autumn and winter
months. These occasionally bring destructive winds and higher total
rainfall to these areas, as well as sometimes snow and hail. The
regions of north
County Galway and east
County Mayo have the highest
incidents of recorded lightning annually for the island, with
lightning occurring approximately five to ten days per year in these
Munster , in the south, records the least snow whereas Ulster
, in the north, records the most. Pasture near Ballyieragh,
County Cork .
Inland areas are warmer in summer and colder in winter. Usually
around 40 days of the year are below freezing 0 °C (32 °F) at inland
weather stations , compared to 10 days at coastal stations.
sometimes affected by heat waves, most recently in 1995, 2003 , 2006
and 2013. In common with the rest of Europe,
unusually cold weather during the winter of 2009/10 . Temperatures
fell as low as −17.2 °C (1 °F) in
County Mayo on 20 December and
up to a metre (3 ft) of snow fell in mountainous areas.
FLORA AND FAUNA
Fauna of Ireland
Fauna of Ireland ,
Flora of Ireland , and Trees of
Red deer (Cervus elaphus) in Killarney
National Park Two red foxes (Vulpes vulpes). Photo taken in
Gubbeen, County Cork, Republic of Ireland.
Ireland became isolated from mainland
Europe by rising sea
levels before the last ice age had completely finished, it has fewer
land animal and plant species than Great Britain, which separated
later, or mainland Europe. There are 55 mammal species in
of them only 26 land mammal species are considered native to Ireland.
Some species, such as, the red fox , hedgehog and badger , are very
common, whereas others, like the Irish hare , red deer and pine marten
are less so. Aquatic wildlife, such as species of sea turtle , shark ,
seal , whale , and dolphin , are common off the coast. About 400
species of birds have been recorded in Ireland. Many of these are
migratory, including the barn swallow .
Several different habitat types are found in Ireland, including
farmland, open woodland, temperate broadleaf and mixed forests ,
conifer plantations, peat bogs and a variety of coastal habitats.
However, agriculture drives current land use patterns in Ireland,
limiting natural habitat preserves, particularly for larger wild
mammals with greater territorial needs. With no large apex predators
Ireland other than humans and dogs, such populations of animals as
semi-wild deer that cannot be controlled by smaller predators, such as
the fox, are controlled by annual culling .
There are no snakes in
Ireland and only one species of reptile (the
common lizard ) is native to the island. Extinct species include the
Irish elk , the great auk and the wolf . Some previously extinct
birds, such as the golden eagle , been reintroduced in about the year
2000 after decades of extirpation . Until medieval times
heavily forested with oak , pine and birch . Forests today cover about
12.6% of Ireland, of which 4,450 km² or one million acres is owned
Coillte , the Republic's forestry service.
As of 2012 the Republic is one of the least forested countries in
Europe. Much of the land is now covered with pasture and there are
many species of wild-flower. Gorse (
Ulex europaeus ), a wild furze ,
is commonly found growing in the uplands and ferns are plentiful in
the more moist regions, especially in the western parts. It is home to
hundreds of plant species, some of them unique to the island, and has
been "invaded" by some grasses, such as
Spartina anglica . Furze
Ulex europaeus )
The algal and seaweed flora is that of the cold-temperate variety.
The total number of species is 574 and is distributed as follows:
Rhodophyta (red algae)
Phaeophyceae (brown algae including kelps)
* 114 Chloropyta (green algae)
Cyanophyta (Blue-green algae)
Rarer species include:
* Itonoa marginifera (J.Agardh) Masuda & Guiry
Schmitzia hiscockiana Maggs & Guiry
Gelidiella calcicola Maggs & Guiry
* Gelidium maggsiae Rico & Guiry
* Halymenia latifolia P.L.Crouan "> Rolling green pastures near
The long history of agricultural production, coupled with modern
intensive agricultural methods such as pesticide and fertiliser use
and runoff from contaminants into streams, rivers and lakes, impact
the natural fresh-water ecosystems and have placed pressure on
biodiversity in Ireland.
A land of green fields for crop cultivation and cattle rearing limits
the space available for the establishment of native wild species.
Hedgerows, however, traditionally used for maintaining and demarcating
land boundaries, act as a refuge for native wild flora. This ecosystem
stretches across the countryside and acts as a network of connections
to preserve remnants of the ecosystem that once covered the island.
Subsidies under the
Common Agricultural Policy , which supported
agricultural practices that preserved hedgerow environments, are
undergoing reforms. The
Common Agricultural Policy had in the past
subsidised potentially destructive agricultural practices, for example
by emphasising production without placing limits on indiscriminate use
of fertilisers and pesticides; but reforms have gradually decoupled
subsidies from production levels and introduced environmental and
Forest covers about 12.6% of the country, most of it designated for
commercial production. Forested areas typically consist of
monoculture plantations of non-native species, which may result in
habitats that are not suitable for supporting native species of
invertebrates. Remnants of native forest can be found scattered around
the island, in particular in the
Killarney National Park . Natural
areas require fencing to prevent over-grazing by deer and sheep that
roam over uncultivated areas. Grazing in this manner is one of the
main factors preventing the natural regeneration of forests across
many regions of the country.
Irish people , Demographics of the Republic of Ireland
, and Demography of
Northern Ireland A
Population density map of
Ireland 2002 showing the heavily weighted eastern seaboard and
Proportion of respondents to the
Ireland census 2011 or the
Northern Ireland census 2011 who stated they were Catholic. Areas in
which Catholics are in the majority are blue. Areas in which Catholics
are in a minority are red.
People have lived in
Ireland for over 9,000 years. The different eras
are termed mesolithic , neolithic ,
Bronze Age , and
Iron Age .
Early historical and genealogical records note the existence of major
groups such as the
Corcu Loígde ,
Dál Riata ,
Ulaid . Slightly later major
groups included the
Smaller groups included the aithechthúatha (see
Fir Bolg ,
Uí Maine ,
Uí Liatháin . Many
survived into late medieval times, others vanished as they became
Over the past 1200 years,
Normans , Welsh ,
Scots , English ,
Eastern Europeans and South Americans
have all added to the population and have had significant influences
on Irish culture.
Ireland's largest religious group is
Christianity . The largest
Roman Catholicism representing over 73% for the island
(and about 87% of the Republic of Ireland). Most of the rest of the
population adhere to one of the various
(about 48% of Northern Ireland). The largest is the Anglican Church
Ireland . The Muslim community is growing in Ireland, mostly
through increased immigration, with a 50% increase in the republic
between the 2006 and 2011 census. The island has a small Jewish
community . About 4% of the Republic's population and about 14% of the
Northern Ireland population describe themselves as of no religion. In
a 2010 survey conducted on behalf of the
Irish Times , 32% of
respondents said they went to a religious service more than once a
The population of
Ireland rose rapidly from the 16th century until
the mid-19th century, interrupted briefly by the Famine of 1740-41 ,
which killed roughly two fifths of the island's population. The
population rebounded and multiplied over the next century, but another
devastating famine in the 1840s caused one million deaths and forced
over one million more to emigrate in its immediate wake. Over the
following century the population was reduced by over half, at a time
when the general trend in European countries was for populations to
rise by an average of three-fold.
DIVISIONS AND SETTLEMENTS
Provinces of Ireland ,
Counties of Ireland , and
City status in Ireland
Ireland is subdivided into four provinces : Connacht
Munster (south), and
Ulster (north). In a
system that developed between the 13th and 17th centuries, Ireland
has 32 traditional counties . Twenty-six of these counties are in the
Republic of Ireland and six are in
Northern Ireland . The six counties
Northern Ireland are all in the province of Ulster
(which has nine counties in total). As such,
Ulster is often used as a
synonym for Northern Ireland, although the two are not coterminous.
In the Republic of Ireland, counties form the basis of the system of
local government. Counties
Dublin , Cork ,
Waterford and Tipperary have been broken up into smaller
administrative areas. However, they are still treated as counties for
cultural and some official purposes, for example postal addresses and
Ordnance Survey Ireland . Counties in
Northern Ireland are no
longer used for local governmental purposes, but, as in the Republic,
their traditional boundaries are still used for informal purposes such
as sports leagues and in cultural or tourism contexts.
City status in Ireland is decided by legislative or royal charter .
Dublin , with over 1 million residents in the Greater
Dublin Area , is
the largest city on the island. Belfast, with 579,726 residents, is
the largest city in Northern Ireland. City status does not directly
equate with population size. For example,
Armagh , with 14,590 is the
seat of the
Church of Ireland and the
Roman Catholic Primate of All
Ireland and was re-granted city status by Queen Elizabeth II in 1994
(having lost that status in local government reforms of 1840 ). In the
Republic of Ireland,
Kilkenny , seat of the
Butler dynasty , while no
longer a city for administrative purposes (since the 2001 Local
Government Act ), is entitled by law to continue to use the
CITIES AND TOWNS BY POPULATIONS
URBAN AREA POPULATION
Metropolitan area :
300,0000 Cork Metro
The population of
Ireland since 1603 showing the consequence of
the Great Famine (1845–52) (Note: figures before 1841 are
The population of
Ireland collapsed dramatically during the second
half of the 19th century. A population of over 8 million in 1841 was
reduced to slightly more than 4 million by 1921. In part, the fall in
population was due to death from the Great Famine of 1845 to 1852,
which took about 1 million lives. However, by far the greater cause of
population decline was the dire economic state of the country which
led to an entrenched culture of emigration lasting until the 21st
Ireland in the 19th century contributed to the
populations of England, the United States, Canada and Australia, where
Irish diaspora lives. As of 2006 , 4.3 million Canadians, or
14% of the population, are of Irish descent. As of 2013 , a total of
34.5 million Americans claim Irish ancestry.
With growing prosperity since the last decade of the 20th century,
Ireland became a destination for immigrants. Since the European Union
expanded to include
Poland in 2004,
Polish people have made up the
largest number of immigrants (over 150,000) from Central
There has also been significant immigration from
Lithuania , the Czech
Republic of Ireland in particular has seen large-scale
immigration, with 420,000 foreign nationals as of 2006, about 10% of
the population. A quarter of births (24 percent) in 2009 were to
mothers born outside Ireland. Chinese and Nigerians , along with
people from other African countries, have accounted for a large
proportion of the non–
European Union migrants to Ireland. Up to
50,000 eastern and central European migrant workers left
response to the Irish financial crisis.
Languages of Ireland
Languages of Ireland Proportion of respondents
who said they could speak Irish in the
Ireland census in 2011 or the
Northern Ireland census in 2011
Two main languages are spoken in Ireland: Irish and English . Both
languages have widely contributed to literature. Irish, now a minority
but official language of the Republic of Ireland, was the vernacular
Irish people for over two thousand years and was probably
introduced by some sort of proto-Gaelic migration during the Iron Age,
possibly earlier. It began to be written down after Christianisation
in the 5th century and spread to
Scotland and the
Isle of Man where it
evolved into the
Scottish Gaelic and Manx languages respectively.
Irish language has a vast treasure of written texts from many
centuries, and is divided by linguists into
Old Irish from the 6th to
Middle Irish from the 10th to 13th century, Early Modern
Irish until the 17th century, and the Modern Irish spoken today. It
remained the dominant language of
Ireland for most of those periods,
having influences from
Old Norse , French and English. It
declined under British rule but remained the majority tongue until the
early 19th century, and since then has been a minority language,
although revival efforts are continuing in both the Republic of
Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Gaeltacht or Irish-speaking areas are still seeing a decline in the
language. The main
Gaeltacht areas are down the west of the country,
in Donegal, Mayo,
Galway and Kerry with smaller
Gaeltacht areas near
Dungarvan in Waterford,
Navan , in Meath, and the Shaw\'s Road in
Irish language is a compulsory subject in the state education
system in the Republic, and the
Gaelscoil movement has seen many Irish
medium schools established in both jurisdictions.
English was first introduced to
Ireland in the Norman invasion. It
was spoken by a few peasants and merchants brought over from England,
and was largely replaced by Irish before the Tudor Conquest of
Ireland. It was introduced as the official language with the Tudor and
Cromwellian conquests. The
Ulster plantations gave it a permanent
foothold in Ulster, and it remained the official and upper-class
language elsewhere, the Irish-speaking chieftains and nobility having
been deposed. Language shift during the 19th century replaced Irish
with English as the first language for a vast majority of the
Less than 10% of the population of the
Republic of Ireland today
speak Irish regularly outside of the education system and 38% of
those over 15 years are classified as "Irish speakers". In Northern
Ireland, English is the de facto official language, but official
recognition is afforded to Irish, including specific protective
measures under Part III of the European Charter for Regional or
Minority Languages . A lesser status (including recognition under Part
II of the Charter) is given to
Ulster Scots dialects
Ulster Scots dialects , which are
spoken by roughly 2% of
Northern Ireland residents, and also spoken by
some in the Republic of Ireland. Since the 1960s with the increase in
immigration, many more languages have been introduced, particularly
deriving from Asia and Eastern Europe.
Shelta , the language of the nomadic
Irish Travellers is native to
Culture of Ireland
Culture of Ireland and Culture of
Ardboe High Cross
Ardboe High Cross ,
Ireland's culture comprises elements of the culture of ancient
peoples, later immigrant and broadcast cultural influences (chiefly
Gaelic culture ,
Americanisation and aspects of
European culture ). In broad terms,
Ireland is regarded as one
Celtic nations of Europe, alongside
Wales , Cornwall
Isle of Man and
Brittany . This combination of cultural influences
is visible in the intricate designs termed Irish interlace or Celtic
knotwork . These can be seen in the ornamentation of medieval
religious and secular works. The style is still popular today in
jewellery and graphic art, as is the distinctive style of traditional
Irish music and dance, and has become indicative of modern "Celtic"
culture in general.
Religion has played a significant role in the cultural life of the
island since ancient times (and since the 17th century plantations ,
has been the focus of political identity and divisions on the island).
Ireland's pre-Christian heritage fused with the Celtic Church
following the missions of
Saint Patrick in the 5th century. The
Hiberno-Scottish missions , begun by the Irish monk
Saint Columba ,
spread the Irish vision of
Christianity to pagan
England and the
Frankish Empire . These missions brought written language to an
illiterate population of
Europe during the Dark Ages that followed the
fall of Rome , earning
Ireland the sobriquet, "the island of saints
Since the 20th century the Irish pubs worldwide have become,
especially those with a full range of cultural and gastronomic
offerings, outposts of Irish culture.
The Republic of Ireland's national theatre is the
Abbey Theatre ,
which was founded in 1904, and the national Irish-language theatre is
An Taibhdhearc , which was established in 1928 in
Playwrights such as Seán O\'Casey ,
Brian Friel ,
Sebastian Barry ,
Conor McPherson and
Billy Roche are internationally renowned.
Music of Ireland ,
Irish dance ,
Irish literature ,
Irish art , and
Irish theatre Illustrated page from Book of
Ireland has made a large contribution to world literature in all its
branches, particularly in the English language. Poetry in Irish is
among the oldest vernacular poetry in Europe, with the earliest
examples dating from the 6th century. In English,
Jonathan Swift ,
still often called the foremost satirist in the English language, was
very popular in his day for works such as Gulliver\'s Travels and A
Modest Proposal , and
Oscar Wilde is known most for his often quoted
In the 20th century,
Ireland produced four winners of the Nobel Prize
for Literature :
George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw ,
William Butler Yeats
William Butler Yeats , Samuel
Seamus Heaney . Although not a
Nobel Prize winner, James
Joyce is widely considered to be one of the most significant writers
of the 20th century. Joyce's 1922 novel Ulysses is considered one of
the most important works of
Modernist literature and his life is
celebrated annually on 16 June in
Dublin as "
Bloomsday ". Modern
Irish literature is often connected with its rural heritage through
writers such as
John McGahern and poets such as
Seamus Heaney .
James Joyce one of the most significant writers of the 20th century
Music has been in evidence in
Ireland since prehistoric times.
Although in the early
Middle Ages the church was "quite unlike its
counterpart in continental Europe", there was considerable
interchange between monastic settlements in
Ireland and the rest of
Europe that contributed to what is known as
Gregorian chant . Outside
religious establishments, musical genres in early
Gaelic Ireland are
referred to as a triad of weeping music (goltraige), laughing music
(geantraige) and sleeping music (suantraige). Vocal and instrumental
music (e.g. for the harp, pipes, and various string instruments ) was
transmitted orally, but the
Irish harp , in particular, was of such
significance that it became Ireland's national symbol. Classical music
following European models first developed in urban areas, in
establishments of Anglo-Irish rule such as
Dublin Castle , St
Patrick\'s Cathedral and Christ Church as well as the country houses
of the Anglo-Irish ascendancy, with the first performance of Handel 's
Messiah (1742) being among the highlights of the baroque era. In the
19th century, public concerts provided access to classical music to
all classes of society. Yet, for political and financial reasons
Ireland has been too small to provide a living to many musicians, so
the names of the better-known Irish composers of this time belong to
Irish traditional music and dance has seen a surge in popularity and
global coverage since the 1960s. In the middle years of the 20th
century, as Irish society was modernising, traditional music had
fallen out of favour, especially in urban areas. However during the
1960s, there was a revival of interest in Irish traditional music led
by groups such as
The Dubliners ,
The Chieftains ,
The Wolfe Tones ,
Clancy Brothers , Sweeney\'s Men and individuals like Seán Ó
Christy Moore . Groups and musicians including
Van Morrison and
Thin Lizzy incorporated elements of Irish traditional
music into contemporary rock music and, during the 1970s and 1980s,
the distinction between traditional and rock musicians became blurred,
with many individuals regularly crossing over between these styles of
playing. This trend can be seen more recently in the work of artists
The Saw Doctors ,
The Corrs , Sinéad O\'Connor , Clannad
The Cranberries and
The Pogues among others. Since then there have
been a number of stylistic fusions including folk metal and others,
while some contemporary music groups stick closer to a "traditional"
The earliest known Irish graphic art and sculpture are Neolithic
carvings found at sites such as
Newgrange and is traced through
Bronze age artefacts and the religious carvings and illuminated
manuscripts of the medieval period. During the course of the 19th and
20th centuries, a strong tradition of painting emerged, including such
John Butler Yeats ,
William Orpen ,
Jack Yeats and Louis le
Brocquy . Contemporary Irish visual artists of note include Sean
Kevin Abosch , and
Alice Maher .
Robert Boyle formulated Boyle's Law.
The Irish philosopher and theologian
Johannes Scotus Eriugena
Johannes Scotus Eriugena was
considered one of the leading intellectuals of the early Middle Ages.
Ernest Henry Shackleton
Ernest Henry Shackleton , an Irish explorer, was one of the
principal figures of Antarctic exploration. He, along with his
expedition, made the first ascent of
Mount Erebus and the discovery of
the approximate location of the
South Magnetic Pole
South Magnetic Pole .
Robert Boyle was
a 17th-century natural philosopher, chemist, physicist, inventor and
early gentleman scientist . He is largely regarded one of the founders
of modern chemistry and is best known for the formulation of Boyle\'s
19th century physicist,
John Tyndall , discovered the Tyndall effect
Father Nicholas Joseph Callan , Professor of Natural Philosophy in
Maynooth College , is best known for his invention of the induction
coil , transformer and he discovered an early method of galvanisation
in the 19th century.
Other notable Irish physicists include
Ernest Walton , winner of the
Nobel Prize in Physics . With
Sir John Douglas Cockcroft , he was
the first to split the nucleus of the atom by artificial means and
made contributions to the development of a new theory of wave equation
. William Thomson, or
Lord Kelvin , is the person whom the absolute
temperature unit, the kelvin , is named after. Sir
Joseph Larmor , a
physicist and mathematician, made innovations in the understanding of
electricity, dynamics, thermodynamics and the electron theory of
matter. His most influential work was Aether and Matter, a book on
theoretical physics published in 1900.
George Johnstone Stoney introduced the term electron in 1891. John
Stewart Bell was the originator of Bell\'s Theorem and a paper
concerning the discovery of the Bell-Jackiw-Adler anomaly and was
nominated for a Nobel prize. The astronomer
Jocelyn Bell Burnell ,
Lurgan , County
Armagh , discovered pulsars in 1967. Notable
mathematicians include Sir
William Rowan Hamilton
William Rowan Hamilton , famous for work in
classical mechanics and the invention of quaternions . Francis Ysidro
Edgeworth 's contribution of the
Edgeworth Box remains influential in
neo-classical microeconomic theory to this day; while Richard
Adam Smith , among others.
John B. Cosgrave was a
specialist in number theory and discovered a 2000-digit prime number
in 1999 and a record composite
Fermat number in 2003. John Lighton
Synge made progress in different fields of science, including
mechanics and geometrical methods in general relativity. He had
mathematician John Nash as one of his students.
Kathleen Lonsdale ,
Ireland and most known for her work with crystallography ,
became the first female president of the British Association for the
Advancement of Science.
Ireland has nine universities, seven in the
Republic of Ireland and
two in Northern Ireland, including Trinity College,
Dublin and the
Dublin , as well as numerous third-level colleges
and institutes and a branch of the Open University, the Open
Sport in Ireland See also: List of Irish sports people
Gaelic football is the most popular sport in
Ireland in terms of
match attendance and community involvement, with about 2,600 clubs on
the island. In 2003 it represented 34% of total sports attendances at
Ireland and abroad, followed by hurling at 23%, soccer at
16% and rugby at 8%. The
All-Ireland Football Final is the most
watched event in the sporting calendar. Soccer is the most widely
played team game on the island, and the most popular in Northern
Other sporting activities with the highest levels of playing
participation include swimming, golf, aerobics, cycling, and
billiards/snooker. Many other sports are also played and followed,
including boxing , cricket , fishing , greyhound racing , handball ,
hockey , horse racing , motor sport , show jumping and tennis .
The island of
Ireland fields a single international team in most
sports. One notable exception to this is association football,
although both associations continued to field international teams
under the name "Ireland" until the 1950s. The sport is also the most
notable exception where the
Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland
field separate international teams.
Northern Ireland has produced two
World Snooker Champions.
Tyrone v Kerry in the 2005
All-Ireland Senior Football
Gaelic football , hurling and handball are the best-known of the
Irish traditional sports, collectively known as
Gaelic games . Gaelic
games are governed by the
Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), with the
exception of ladies'
Gaelic football and camogie (women's variant of
hurling), which are governed by separate organisations. The
headquarters of the GAA (and the main stadium) is located at the
Croke Park in north Dublin. Many major GAA games are
played there, including the semi-finals and finals of the All-Ireland
Senior Football Championship and
All-Ireland Senior Hurling
Championship . During the redevelopment of the
Lansdowne Road stadium
in 2007–10, international rugby and soccer were played there. All
GAA players, even at the highest level, are amateurs, receiving no
wages, although they are permitted to receive a limited amount of
sport-related income from commercial sponsorship.
Irish Football Association
Irish Football Association (IFA) was originally the governing
body for soccer across the island. The game has been played in an
organised fashion in
Ireland since the 1870s, with Cliftonville F.C.
Belfast being Ireland's oldest club. It was most popular,
especially in its first decades, around
Belfast and in Ulster.
However, some clubs based outside
Belfast thought that the IFA largely
favoured Ulster-based clubs in such matters as selection for the
national team. In 1921, following an incident in which, despite an
earlier promise, the IFA moved an
Irish Cup semi-final replay from
Dublin to Belfast, Dublin-based clubs broke away to form the Football
Association of the Irish Free State. Today the southern association is
known as the
Football Association of Ireland (FAI). Despite being
initially blacklisted by the
Home Nations ' associations, the FAI was
FIFA in 1923 and organised its first international
fixture in 1926 (against Italy ). However, both the IFA and FAI
continued to select their teams from the whole of Ireland, with some
players earning international caps for matches with both teams. Both
also referred to their respective teams as Ireland. Paul
O\'Connell reaching for the ball during a line out against Argentina
FIFA directed the associations only to select players from
within their respective territories and, in 1953, directed that the
FAI's team be known only as "
Republic of Ireland " and that the IFA's
team be known as "
Northern Ireland " (with certain exceptions).
Northern Ireland qualified for the World Cup finals in 1958 (reaching
the quarter-finals), 1982 and 1986 . The Republic qualified for the
World Cup finals in 1990 (reaching the quarter-finals), 1994 , 2002
and the European Championships in 1988 and 2012 . Across Ireland,
there is significant interest in the English and, to a lesser extent,
Scottish soccer leagues.
Ireland continues to field a single national rugby
team and a single association, the
Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU),
governs the sport across the island. The Irish rugby team have played
Rugby World Cup , making the quarter-finals in four of them.
Ireland also hosted games during the 1991 and the 1999 Rugby World
Cups (including a quarter-final). There are four professional Irish
teams; all four play in the
Pro14 and at least three compete for the
Heineken Cup . Irish rugby has become increasingly competitive at both
the international and provincial levels since the sport went
professional in 1994. During that time,
Ulster (1999 ),
and 2008 ) and
Leinster (2009 , 2011 and 2012 ) have won the
Heineken Cup. In addition to this, the Irish International side has
had increased success in the
Six Nations Championship
Six Nations Championship against the
other European elite sides. This success, including Triple Crowns in
2004, 2006 and 2007, culminated with a clean sweep of victories, known
as a Grand Slam , in 2009.
Horse racing in
Horse racing and greyhound racing are both popular in Ireland. There
are frequent horse race meetings and greyhound stadiums are
well-attended. The island is noted for the breeding and training of
race horses and is also a large exporter of racing dogs. The horse
racing sector is largely concentrated in the
County Kildare .
Irish athletics has seen a heightened success rate since the year
2000, with Sonia O\'Sullivan winning two medals at 5,000 metres on the
track; gold at the 1995 World Championships and silver at the 2000
Sydney Olympics . Gillian O\'Sullivan won silver in the 20k walk at
the 2003 World Championships, while sprint hurdler Derval O\'Rourke
won gold at the 2006 World Indoor Championship in
Moscow . Olive
Loughnane won a silver medal in the 20k walk in the World Athletics
Championships in Berlin in 2009.
Ireland has won more medals in boxing than in any other Olympic
Boxing is governed by the Irish Athletic
Boxing Association .
Michael Carruth won a gold medal and
Wayne McCullough won a silver
medal in the Barcelona Olympic Games . In 2008 Kenneth Egan won a
silver medal in the Beijing Games.
Paddy Barnes secured bronze in
those games and gold in the 2010 European Amateur
Ireland came 2nd in the overall medal table) and 2010
Commonwealth Games .
Katie Taylor has won gold in every European and
World championship since 2005. In August 2012 at the Olympic Games in
Katie Taylor created history by becoming the first Irish woman
to win a gold medal in boxing in the 60 kg lightweight.
Golf is very popular and golf tourism is a major industry attracting
more than 240,000 golfing visitors annually. The
2006 Ryder Cup
2006 Ryder Cup was
held at The K Club in
County Kildare .
Pádraig Harrington became the
first Irishman since Fred Daly in 1947 to win the British Open at
Carnoustie in July 2007. He successfully defended his title in July
2008 before going on to win the
PGA Championship in August.
Harrington became the first European to win the
PGA Championship in 78
years and was the first winner from Ireland. Three golfers from
Northern Ireland have been particularly successful. In 2010, Graeme
McDowell became the first Irish golfer to win the U.S. Open , and the
first European to win that tournament since 1970.
Rory McIlroy , at
the age of 22, won the 2011 U.S. Open, while
Darren Clarke 's latest
victory was the
2011 Open Championship
2011 Open Championship at Royal St. George's. In
August 2012, McIlroy won his 2nd major championship by winning the
PGA Championship by a record margin of 8 shots.
The west coast of Ireland,
Donegal Bay in particular,
have popular surfing beaches, being fully exposed to the Atlantic
Donegal Bay is shaped like a funnel and catches
west/south-west Atlantic winds, creating good surf, especially in
winter. Since just before the year 2010,
Bundoran has hosted European
Scuba diving is increasingly popular in Ireland
with clear waters and large populations of sea life, particularly
along the western seaboard. There are also many shipwrecks along the
coast of Ireland, with some of the best wreck dives being in Malin
Head and off the
County Cork coast.
With thousands of lakes, over 14,000 kilometres (8,700 mi) of fish
bearing rivers and over 3,700 kilometres (2,300 mi) of coastline,
Ireland is a popular angling destination. The temperate Irish climate
is suited to sport angling. While salmon and trout fishing remain
popular with anglers, salmon fishing in particular received a boost in
2006 with the closing of the salmon driftnet fishery. Coarse fishing
continues to increase its profile. Sea angling is developed with many
beaches mapped and signposted, and the range of sea angling species
is around 80.
FOOD AND DRINK
Gubbeen cheese , an example of the
resurgence in Irish cheese making
Food and cuisine in
Ireland takes its influence from the crops grown
and animals farmed in the island's temperate climate and from the
social and political circumstances of Irish history. For example,
whilst from the
Middle Ages until the arrival of the potato in the
16th century the dominant feature of the Irish economy was the herding
of cattle, the number of cattle a person owned was equated to their
social standing. Thus herders would avoid slaughtering a
For this reason, pork and white meat were more common than beef and
thick fatty strips of salted bacon (or rashers ) and the eating of
salted butter (i.e. a dairy product rather than beef itself) have been
a central feature of the diet in
Ireland since the Middle Ages. The
practice of bleeding cattle and mixing the blood with milk and butter
(not unlike the practice of the Maasai ) was common and black pudding
, made from blood, grain (usually barley) and seasoning, remains a
breakfast staple in Ireland. All of these influences can be seen today
in the phenomenon of the "breakfast roll ".
The introduction of the potato in the second half of the 16th century
heavily influenced cuisine thereafter. Great poverty encouraged a
subsistence approach to food and by the mid-19th century the vast
majority of the population sufficed with a diet of potatoes and milk.
A typical family, consisting of a man, a woman and four children,
would eat 18 stone (110 kg) of potatoes a week. Consequently, dishes
that are considered as national dishes represent a fundamental
unsophistication to cooking, such as the
Irish stew , bacon and
cabbage , boxty , a type of potato pancake, or colcannon , a dish of
mashed potatoes and kale or cabbage .
Since the last quarter of the 20th century, with a re-emergence of
wealth in Ireland, a "New Irish Cuisine" based on traditional
ingredients incorporating international influences has emerged. This
cuisine is based on fresh vegetables, fish (especially salmon , trout
, oysters , mussels and other shellfish), as well as traditional soda
breads and the wide range of hand-made cheeses that are now being
produced across the country. An example of this new cuisine is "Dublin
Lawyer": lobster cooked in whiskey and cream. The potato remains
however a fundamental feature of this cuisine and the Irish remain the
highest per capita consumers of potatoes in Europe. Traditional
regional foods can be found throughout the country, for example coddle
Dublin or drisheen in Cork, both a type of sausage, or blaa , a
doughy white bread particular to
Waterford . The Old Bushmills
Ireland once dominated the world's market for whiskey , producing 90%
of the world's whiskey at the start of the 20th century. However, as a
consequence of bootleggers during the prohibition in the United States
(who sold poor-quality whiskey bearing Irish-sounding names thus
eroding the pre-prohibition popularity for Irish brands) and tariffs
Irish whiskey across the
British Empire during the Anglo-Irish
Trade War of the 1930s, sales of
Irish whiskey worldwide fell to a
mere 2% by the mid-20th century. In 1953, an Irish government survey,
found that 50 per cent of whiskey drinkers in the United States had
never heard of
Irish whiskey .
Irish whiskey, as researched in 2009 by the CNBC American
broadcaster, remains popular domestically and has grown in
international sales steadily over a few decades. Typically CNBC
Irish whiskey is not as smoky as a
Scotch whisky , but not as
sweet as American or Canadian whiskies.
Whiskey forms the basis of
traditional cream liqueurs , such as Baileys , and the "
Irish coffee "
(a cocktail of coffee and whiskey reputedly invented at Foynes
flying-boat station ) is probably the best-known Irish cocktail.
Stout , a kind of porter beer , particularly
Guinness , is typically
associated with Ireland, although historically it was more closely
London . Porter remains very popular, although it has
lost sales since the mid-20th century to lager .
Cider , particularly
Magners (marketed in the
Republic of Ireland as Bulmers), is also a
Red lemonade , a soft-drink, is consumed on its own and
as a mixer, particularly with whiskey.
* Islands portal
Outline of Ireland
Irish states since 1171
Irish states since 1171
List of divided islands
List of Ireland-related topics
List of islands of Ireland
* List of
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Rinuccini wrote 50,000, T. N. Burke said 80,000 to 100,000.
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from the official governmental statistics agencies in the respective
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