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The IRISH SEA (Irish : _Muir Éireann / An Mhuir Mheann_, Manx : _Y Keayn Yernagh_, Scots : _Erse Sea_, Scottish Gaelic : _Muir Èireann_, Ulster-Scots : _Airish Sea_, Welsh : _Môr Iwerddon_) separates the islands of Ireland and Great Britain. It is connected to the Celtic Sea in the south by St George\'s Channel , and to the Inner Seas off the West Coast of Scotland in the north by the North Channel . Anglesey is the largest island within the Irish Sea, followed by the Isle of Man . The sea is occasionally, but rarely, referred to as the MANX SEA (Irish : _Muir Meann_, Manx : _Mooir Vannin_, Scottish Gaelic : _Muir Mhanainn_).

The sea is of significant economic importance to regional trade, shipping and transport, fishing, and power generation in the form of wind power and nuclear power plants . Annual traffic between Great Britain and Ireland amounts to over 12 million passengers and 17 million tonnes (17,000,000 long tons; 19,000,000 short tons) of traded goods.

CONTENTS

* 1 Origin and topography

* 2 Shipping

* 2.1 SailRail

* 3 Geography

* 3.1 Cities and towns * 3.2 Islands

* 4 Environment

* 4.1 Biodiversity * 4.2 Radioactivity

* 5 Oil and gas exploration

* 5.1 East Irish Sea Basin * 5.2 Caernarfon Bay Basin * 5.3 The Cardigan Bay Basin * 5.4 Liverpool Bay * 5.5 Dalkey Island Exploration Prospect

* 6 Proposed tunnel projects * 7 Wind power * 8 In fiction * 9 See also

* 10 References

* 10.1 Bibliography

* 11 Further reading * 12 External links

ORIGIN AND TOPOGRAPHY

The Irish Sea has undergone a series of dramatic changes over the last 20,000 years as the last glacial period ended and was replaced by warmer conditions. At the height of the glaciation the central part of the modern sea was probably a long freshwater lake. As the ice retreated 10,000 years ago the lake reconnected to the sea, becoming brackish and then fully saline once again.

The International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the Irish Sea (with St George's Channel) as follows:

_On the North._ The Southern limit of the Scottish Seas .

_On the South._ A line joining St. David\'s Head (51°54′N 5°19′W / 51.900°N 5.317°W / 51.900; -5.317 ) to Carnsore Point (52°10′N 6°22′W / 52.167°N 6.367°W / 52.167; -6.367 ).

It is connected to the North Atlantic at both its northern and southern ends. To the north, the connection is through the North Channel between Scotland and Northern Ireland and the Malin Sea . The southern end is linked to the Atlantic through the St George\'s Channel between south eastern Ireland and Pembrokeshire in Wales , and the Celtic Sea . The Irish Sea is composed of a deeper channel about 300 km (190 mi) long and 30–50 km (19–31 mi) wide on its western side and shallower embayments to the east. The western channel's depth ranges from 80 metres (260 ft) up to 275 m (902 ft) in the Beaufort\'s Dyke in the North Channel. The main embayments – Cardigan Bay in the south and the waters to the east of the Isle of Man – are less than 50 m (160 ft) deep. The Sea has a total water volume of 2,430 km3 (580 cu mi), 80% of which is to the west of the Isle of Man, and a surface area of 47,000 km2 (18,000 sq mi). The largest sandbanks are the Bahama and King William Banks to the east and north of the Isle of Man and the Kish Bank , Codling Bank, Arklow Bank and Blackwater Bank near the coast of Ireland. The Irish Sea, at its greatest width, is 200 km (120 mi) and narrows to 75 km (47 mi).

SHIPPING

Unlike Great Britain, Ireland has no tunnel or bridge connection to continental Europe . Thus the vast majority of heavy goods trade is done by sea. Northern Ireland ports handle 10 million tonnes (9,800,000 long tons; 11,000,000 short tons) of goods trade with Great Britain annually, while ports in the Republic of Ireland handle 7.6 million tonnes (7,500,000 long tons; 8,400,000 short tons), representing 50% and 40% respectively of total trade by weight.

The Port of Liverpool handles 32 million tonnes (31,000,000 long tons; 35,000,000 short tons) of cargo and 734 thousand passengers a year. Holyhead port handles most of the passenger traffic from Dublin and Dún Laoghaire ports, as well as 3.3 million tonnes (3,200,000 long tons; 3,600,000 short tons) of freight.

Ports in the Republic handle 3,600,000 travellers crossing the sea each year, amounting to 92% of all Irish Sea travel. This has been steadily dropping for a number of years (20% since 1999), probably as a result of low cost airlines.

Ferry connections from Great Britain to Ireland across the Irish Sea include Fishguard and Pembroke to Rosslare , Holyhead to Dún Laoghaire, Holyhead to Dublin, Cairnryan to Belfast and Larne to Cairnryan . There is also a connection between Liverpool and Belfast via the Isle of Man or direct from Birkenhead . The world's largest car ferry , _Ulysses _, is operated by Irish Ferries on the Dublin Port– Holyhead route; Stena Line also operates between Britain and Ireland. The Port of Barrow-in-Furness , despite being one of Britain's largest shipbuilding centres and being home to the United Kingdom's only submarine -building complex, is only a minor port.

A ferry crossing used to run between Swansea and Cork , but given the geographical limits defined above, this route crosses the Celtic Sea rather than the Irish Sea.

"Irish Sea" is also the name of one of the BBC 's Shipping Forecast areas defined by the coordinates:

* 54°50′N 05°05′W / 54.833°N 5.083°W / 54.833; -5.083 * 54°45′N 05°45′W / 54.750°N 5.750°W / 54.750; -5.750 * 52°30′N 06°15′W / 52.500°N 6.250°W / 52.500; -6.250 * 52°00′N 05°05′W / 52.000°N 5.083°W / 52.000; -5.083

During World War I the Irish Sea became known as " U-boat Alley", because the U-boats moved their emphasis from the Atlantic to the Irish Sea after the United States entered the war in 1917. See also: Transport in Ireland , Transport in the United Kingdom , and Transport on the Isle of Man

SAILRAIL

Arriva Trains Wales , Iarnród Éireann , as well as Irish Ferries and Stena Line promotes SailRail with through rail tickets for the train and the ferry.

Likewise between Northern Ireland and Scotland, Northern Ireland Railways , Stena Line and Abellio ScotRail promote SailRail.

GEOGRAPHY

The Irish Sea has coasts on the Republic of Ireland, all four constituent countries of the United Kingdom, and the Isle of Man.

CITIES AND TOWNS

Below is a list of cities and towns around the Irish Sea coasts in order of size:

RANK CITY/TOWN COUNTY REGION/PROVINCE POPULATION COUNTRY

1 Dublin County Dublin Leinster 1,173,179 Republic of Ireland

2 Liverpool Merseyside North West 864,122 England

3 Belfast County Antrim Ulster 847,153 Northern Ireland

5 Blackpool Lancashire North West 142,900 England

6 Southport Merseyside North West 99,456 England

7 Birkenhead Merseyside North West 83,729 England

8 Bangor County Down Ulster 76,851 Northern Ireland

9 Barrow-in-Furness Cumbria North West 71,980 England

10 Wallasey Merseyside North West 58,710 England

11 Crosby Merseyside North West 51,789 England

12 Morecambe Lancashire North West 45,000 England

13 Lytham St Annes Lancashire North West 41,330 England

14 Drogheda County Louth Leinster 35,190 Republic of Ireland

15 Dundalk County Louth Leinster 35,085 Republic of Ireland

16 Rhyl Denbighshire Clwyd 35,000 Wales

17 Bray County Wicklow Leinster 31,901 Republic of Ireland

18 Thornton-Cleveleys Lancashire North West 31,157 England

19 Colwyn Bay Conwy Clwyd 30,265 Wales

20 Carrickfergus County Antrim Ulster 27,201 Northern Ireland

21 Fleetwood Lancashire North West 26,840 England

22 Douglas N/A Isle of Man 26,218 Isle of Man

20 Workington Cumbria North West 25,978 England

23 Whitehaven Cumbria North West 25,500 England

24 Dún Laoghaire Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown Leinster 23,857 Republic of Ireland

25 Llandudno Conwy Clwyd 20,090 Wales

26 Larne County Antrim Ulster 18,228 Northern Ireland

27 Wexford County Wexford Leinster 18,163 Republic of Ireland

28 Arklow County Wicklow Leinster 14,080 Republic of Ireland

29 Holyhead Holy Island Isle of Anglesey 13,659 Wales

30 Aberystwyth Dyfed Ceredigion 13,040 Wales

ISLANDS

The Irish Sea lies between the islands of Ireland and Great Britain . Listed below are islands in the Irish Sea which are over 1 km² in area, or which have a permanent population. Anglesey is almost attached to Holy Island; Holy Island is included separately.

NAME AREA (KM²) RANK (AREA) PERMANENT POPULATION RANK (POP.) COUNTRY

Anglesey 675 01 56,092 02 Wales

Isle of Man 572 02 84,497 01 Isle of Man

Holy Island 39 03 13,579 03 Wales

Walney Island 13 04 11,388 04 England

Lambay Island 5.54 05

Links: ------ /wiki/Irish_language /#cite_note-tearma-1 /wiki/Manx_language /#cite_note-2

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