Ireland

Ireland

Overview
Ireland (ˈaɪrlənd; ˈeːɾʲə; Ulster Scots: Airlann or Airlan) is an island
Island
An island or isle is any piece of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atolls can be called islets, cays or keys. An island in a river or lake may be called an eyot , or holm...

 to the northwest of continental Europe
Continental Europe
Continental Europe, also referred to as mainland Europe or simply the Continent, is the continent of Europe, explicitly excluding European islands....

. It is the third-largest island in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 and the twentieth-largest island on Earth. To its east is the larger island of Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

, from which it is separated by the Irish Sea
Irish Sea
The Irish Sea 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 Atlantic Ocean in the north by the North Channel. Anglesey is the largest island within the Irish Sea, followed by the Isle of Man...

.

Politically, the island is divided
Partition of Ireland
The partition of Ireland was the division of the island of Ireland into two distinct territories, now Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland . Partition occurred when the British Parliament passed the Government of Ireland Act 1920...

 between the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

, which covers just under five-sixths of the island, and Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

, a part of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, which covers the remainder and is located in the northeast of the island.
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Timeline

456   St. Patrick returns to Ireland as a missionary bishop.

1264   The Parliament of Ireland meets at Castledermot in County Kildare, the first definitively known meeting of this Irish legislature.

1487   The ten-year-old Lambert Simnel is crowned in Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland with the name of Edward VI in a bid to threaten King Henry VII's reign.

1580   After a three-day siege, the English Army beheads over 600 Irish and Papal soldiers and civilians at Dún an Óir, Ireland.

1625   Charles I becomes King of England, Scotland and Ireland as well as claiming the title King of France.

1631   The sack of Baltimore: the Irish village of Baltimore is attacked by Algerian pirates.

1649   New Ross town, Co. Wexford, Ireland, surrenders to Oliver Cromwell.

1661   King Charles II of England, Scotland and Ireland is crowned in Westminster Abbey.

1691   Battle of Aughrim (Julian calendar) – The decisive victory of William III of England's forces in Ireland.

1742   George Frideric Handel's oratorio ''Messiah'' makes its world-premiere in Dublin, Ireland.

 
Encyclopedia
Ireland (ˈaɪrlənd; ˈeːɾʲə; Ulster Scots: Airlann or Airlan) is an island
Island
An island or isle is any piece of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atolls can be called islets, cays or keys. An island in a river or lake may be called an eyot , or holm...

 to the northwest of continental Europe
Continental Europe
Continental Europe, also referred to as mainland Europe or simply the Continent, is the continent of Europe, explicitly excluding European islands....

. It is the third-largest island in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 and the twentieth-largest island on Earth. To its east is the larger island of Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

, from which it is separated by the Irish Sea
Irish Sea
The Irish Sea 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 Atlantic Ocean in the north by the North Channel. Anglesey is the largest island within the Irish Sea, followed by the Isle of Man...

.

Politically, the island is divided
Partition of Ireland
The partition of Ireland was the division of the island of Ireland into two distinct territories, now Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland . Partition occurred when the British Parliament passed the Government of Ireland Act 1920...

 between the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

, which covers just under five-sixths of the island, and Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

, a part of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, which covers the remainder and is located in the northeast of the island. The population of Ireland is approximately 6.4 million. Just under 4.6 million live in the Republic of Ireland and just under 1.8 million live in Northern Ireland.

Relatively low-lying mountains surrounding a central plain epitomise Ireland's geography with several navigable rivers extending inland. The island has lush vegetation, a product of its mild but changeable oceanic climate, which avoids extremes in temperature. Thick woodlands covered the island until the 17th century. Today, it is one of the most deforested areas in Europe. There are twenty-six extant mammal
Mammal
Mammals are members of a class of air-breathing vertebrate animals characterised by the possession of endothermy, hair, three middle ear bones, and mammary glands functional in mothers with young...

 species native to Ireland.

A Norman invasion
Norman Invasion of Ireland
The Norman invasion of Ireland was a two-stage process, which began on 1 May 1169 when a force of loosely associated Norman knights landed near Bannow, County Wexford...

 in the Middle Ages gave way to a Gaelic
Gaels
The Gaels or Goidels are speakers of one of the Goidelic Celtic languages: Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and Manx. Goidelic speech originated in Ireland and subsequently spread to western and northern Scotland and the Isle of Man....

 resurgence in the 13th century. Over sixty years of intermittent warfare in the 1500s led to English dominance after 1603. In the 1690s, a system of Protestant English rule
Protestant Ascendancy
The Protestant Ascendancy, usually known in Ireland simply as the Ascendancy, is a phrase used when referring to the political, economic, and social domination of Ireland by a minority of great landowners, Protestant clergy, and professionals, all members of the Established Church during the 17th...

 was designed to materially disadvantage the Catholic majority and Protestant dissenters, and was extended during the 18th century. In 1801, Ireland became a part of
Countries of the United Kingdom
Countries of the United Kingdom is a term used to describe England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. These four countries together form the sovereign state of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which is also described as a country. The alternative terms, constituent...

 the United Kingdom
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

. A war of independence
Irish War of Independence
The Irish War of Independence , Anglo-Irish War, Black and Tan War, or Tan War was a guerrilla war mounted by the Irish Republican Army against the British government and its forces in Ireland. It began in January 1919, following the Irish Republic's declaration of independence. Both sides agreed...

 in the early 20th century led to the partition of the island
Partition of Ireland
The partition of Ireland was the division of the island of Ireland into two distinct territories, now Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland . Partition occurred when the British Parliament passed the Government of Ireland Act 1920...

, creating the Irish Free State
Irish Free State
The Irish Free State was the state established as a Dominion on 6 December 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty, signed by the British government and Irish representatives exactly twelve months beforehand...

, which became increasingly sovereign over the following decades. Northern Ireland remained a part of the United Kingdom and saw much civil unrest from the late 1960s until the 1990s
The Troubles
The Troubles was a period of ethno-political conflict in Northern Ireland which spilled over at various times into England, the Republic of Ireland, and mainland Europe. The duration of the Troubles is conventionally dated from the late 1960s and considered by many to have ended with the Belfast...

. This subsided following a political agreement in 1998. In 1973, both parts of Ireland joined the European Economic Community
European Economic Community
The European Economic Community The European Economic Community (EEC) The European Economic Community (EEC) (also known as the Common Market in the English-speaking world, renamed the European Community (EC) in 1993The information in this article primarily covers the EEC's time as an independent...

.

Irish culture has had a significant influence on other cultures, particularly in the fields of literature
Literature
Literature is the art of written works, and is not bound to published sources...

 and, to a lesser degree, science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

 and education
Education
Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts...

. A strong indigenous culture exists, as expressed for example through Gaelic games
Gaelic games
Gaelic games are sports played in Ireland under the auspices of the Gaelic Athletic Association. The two main games are Gaelic football and hurling...

, Irish music and the Irish language
Irish language
Irish , also known as Irish Gaelic, is a Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family, originating in Ireland and historically spoken by the Irish people. Irish is now spoken as a first language by a minority of Irish people, as well as being a second language of a larger proportion of...

, alongside mainstream Western culture
Western culture
Western culture, sometimes equated with Western civilization or European civilization, refers to cultures of European origin and is used very broadly to refer to a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, religious beliefs, political systems, and specific artifacts and...

, such as contemporary music and drama
Drama
Drama is the specific mode of fiction represented in performance. The term comes from a Greek word meaning "action" , which is derived from "to do","to act" . The enactment of drama in theatre, performed by actors on a stage before an audience, presupposes collaborative modes of production and a...

, and a culture shared in common with Great Britain, as expressed through sports such as soccer, rugby
Rugby football
Rugby football is a style of football named after Rugby School in the United Kingdom. It is seen most prominently in two current sports, rugby league and rugby union.-History:...

, horse racing
Horse racing
Horse racing is an equestrian sport that has a long history. Archaeological records indicate that horse racing occurred in ancient Babylon, Syria, and Egypt. Both chariot and mounted horse racing were events in the ancient Greek Olympics by 648 BC...

, and golf
Golf
Golf is a precision club and ball sport, in which competing players use many types of clubs to hit balls into a series of holes on a golf course using the fewest number of strokes....

, and the English language
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

.

Pre-history and medieval period


Most of Ireland was covered with ice until the end of the last ice age
Ice age
An ice age or, more precisely, glacial age, is a generic geological period of long-term reduction in the temperature of the Earth's surface and atmosphere, resulting in the presence or expansion of continental ice sheets, polar ice sheets and alpine glaciers...

 over 9,000 years ago. Sea levels were lower and Ireland, like Great Britain, was part of continental Europe
Continental Europe
Continental Europe, also referred to as mainland Europe or simply the Continent, is the continent of Europe, explicitly excluding European islands....

. Mesolithic
Mesolithic
The Mesolithic is an archaeological concept used to refer to certain groups of archaeological cultures defined as falling between the Paleolithic and the Neolithic....

 stone age
Stone Age
The Stone Age is a broad prehistoric period, lasting about 2.5 million years , during which humans and their predecessor species in the genus Homo, as well as the earlier partly contemporary genera Australopithecus and Paranthropus, widely used exclusively stone as their hard material in the...

 inhabitants arrived some time after 8,000 BC and agriculture followed with the Neolithic Age around 4,500 to 4,000 BC when sheep, goats, cattle and cereals were imported from the Iberian peninsula
Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

.

At the Céide Fields
Céide Fields
The Céide Fields is an archaeological site on the north Mayo coast in the west of Ireland, about 8 kilometres northwest of Ballycastle. The site is the most extensive Stone Age site in the world and contains the oldest known field systems in the world...

, preserved beneath a blanket of peat in present-day County Mayo
County Mayo
County Mayo is a county in Ireland. It is located in the West Region and is also part of the province of Connacht. It is named after the village of Mayo, which is now generally known as Mayo Abbey. Mayo County Council is the local authority for the county. The population of the county is 130,552...

, is an extensive field system, arguably the oldest in the world, dating from not long after this period. Consisting of small divisions separated by dry-stone walls, the fields were farmed for several centuries between 3,500 and 3,000 BC. Wheat
Wheat
Wheat is a cereal grain, originally from the Levant region of the Near East, but now cultivated worldwide. In 2007 world production of wheat was 607 million tons, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize and rice...

 and barley
Barley
Barley is a major cereal grain, a member of the grass family. It serves as a major animal fodder, as a base malt for beer and certain distilled beverages, and as a component of various health foods...

 were the principal crops.

The Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

 – defined by the use of metal – began around 2,500 BC, with technology changing people's everyday lives during this period through innovations such as the wheel
Wheel
A wheel is a device that allows heavy objects to be moved easily through rotating on an axle through its center, facilitating movement or transportation while supporting a load, or performing labor in machines. Common examples found in transport applications. A wheel, together with an axle,...

, harnessing oxen, weaving textiles
Weaving
Weaving is a method of fabric production in which two distinct sets of yarns or threads are interlaced at right angles to form a fabric or cloth. The other methods are knitting, lace making and felting. The longitudinal threads are called the warp and the lateral threads are the weft or filling...

, brewing alcohol
Alcohol
In chemistry, an alcohol is an organic compound in which the hydroxy functional group is bound to a carbon atom. In particular, this carbon center should be saturated, having single bonds to three other atoms....

, and skillful metalworking
Metalworking
Metalworking is the process of working with metals to create individual parts, assemblies, or large scale structures. The term covers a wide range of work from large ships and bridges to precise engine parts and delicate jewelry. It therefore includes a correspondingly wide range of skills,...

, which produced new weapons and tools, along with fine gold decoration and jewellery, such as brooch
Brooch
A brooch ; also known in ancient times as a fibula; is a decorative jewelry item designed to be attached to garments. It is usually made of metal, often silver or gold but sometimes bronze or some other material...

es and torc
Torc
A torc, also spelled torq or torque, is a large, usually rigid, neck ring typically made from strands of metal twisted together. The great majority are open-ended at the front, although many seem designed for near-permanent wear and would have been difficult to remove. Smaller torcs worn around...

s. According to John T. Koch
John T. Koch
Professor John T. Koch is an American academic, historian and linguist who specializes in Celtic studies, especially prehistory and the early Middle Ages....

 and others, Ireland in the Late Bronze Age was part of a maritime trading-networked culture called the Atlantic Bronze Age
Atlantic Bronze Age
The Atlantic Bronze Age is a cultural complex of the Bronze Age period of approximately 1300–700 BC that includes different cultures in Portugal, Andalusia, Galicia, Armorica and the British Isles.-Trade:...

 that also included Britain, France, Spain and Portugal where Celtic languages
Celtic languages
The Celtic languages are descended from Proto-Celtic, or "Common Celtic"; a branch of the greater Indo-European language family...

 developed.

The Iron Age
Iron Age
The Iron Age is the archaeological period generally occurring after the Bronze Age, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing...

 in Ireland is traditionally associated with people known as the Celts. The Celts were commonly thought to have colonised Ireland in a series of invasions between the 8th and 1st centuries BC. The Gaels
Gaels
The Gaels or Goidels are speakers of one of the Goidelic Celtic languages: Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and Manx. Goidelic speech originated in Ireland and subsequently spread to western and northern Scotland and the Isle of Man....

, the last wave of Celts, were said to have divided the island into five or more kingdoms after conquering it. However, some academics favour a theory that emphasises the diffusion of culture from overseas as opposed to a military colonisation. Finds such as Clonycavan Man
Clonycavan Man
Clonycavan Man is the name given to a well-preserved Iron Age bog body found in Clonycavan, County Meath, Ireland in March 2003. He has been calculated to have been approximately 1.57 metres in height, and is remarkable for the "gel" in his hair....

 are given as evidence for this theory.

The earliest written records of Ireland come from classical Greco-Roman
Greco-Roman world
The Greco-Roman world, Greco-Roman culture, or the term Greco-Roman , when used as an adjective, as understood by modern scholars and writers, refers to those geographical regions and countries that culturally were directly, protractedly and intimately influenced by the language, culture,...

 geographers. Ptolemy
Ptolemy
Claudius Ptolemy , was a Roman citizen of Egypt who wrote in Greek. He was a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer, and poet of a single epigram in the Greek Anthology. He lived in Egypt under Roman rule, and is believed to have been born in the town of Ptolemais Hermiou in the...

 in his Almagest
Almagest
The Almagest is a 2nd-century mathematical and astronomical treatise on the apparent motions of the stars and planetary paths. Written in Greek by Claudius Ptolemy, a Roman era scholar of Egypt,...

 refers to Ireland as Mikra Brettania (Lesser Britain), in contrast to the larger island, which he called Megale Brettania (Great Britain). In his later work, Geography, Ptolemy refers to Ireland as Iwernia
Hibernia
Hibernia is the Classical Latin name for the island of Ireland. The name Hibernia was taken from Greek geographical accounts. During his exploration of northwest Europe , Pytheas of Massilia called the island Ierne . In his book Geographia Hibernia is the Classical Latin name for the island of...

 and to Great Britain as Albion. These "new" names were likely to have been the Celtic names for the islands at the time. The earlier names, in contrast
Exonym and endonym
In ethnolinguistics, an endonym or autonym is a local name for a geographical feature, and an exonym or xenonym is a foreign language name for it...

, were likely to have been coined before direct contact with local peoples were made.

The Romans would later refer to Ireland by this name too in its Latinised form, Hibernia
Hibernia
Hibernia is the Classical Latin name for the island of Ireland. The name Hibernia was taken from Greek geographical accounts. During his exploration of northwest Europe , Pytheas of Massilia called the island Ierne . In his book Geographia Hibernia is the Classical Latin name for the island of...

, or Scotia
Scotia
Scotia was originally a Roman name for Ireland, inhabited by the people they called Scoti or Scotii. Use of the name shifted in the Middle Ages to designate the part of the island of Great Britain lying north of the Firth of Forth, the Kingdom of Alba...

. Ptolemy records sixteen tribes inhabiting every part of Ireland in 100 AD. The relationship between the Roman Empire and the tribes of ancient Ireland is unclear. However, a number of finds of Roman coins have been found, for example at New Grange.

Ireland continued as a patchwork of rival tribes but, beginning in the 7th century AD, a concept of national kingship gradually became articulated through the concept of a High King of Ireland
High King of Ireland
The High Kings of Ireland were sometimes historical and sometimes legendary figures who had, or who are claimed to have had, lordship over the whole of Ireland. Medieval and early modern Irish literature portrays an almost unbroken sequence of High Kings, ruling from Tara over a hierarchy of...

. 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.

The High King was said to preside over the patchwork of provincial kingdoms that together formed Ireland. Each of these kingdoms had their own kings but were at least 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
Hill of Tara
The Hill of Tara , located near the River Boyne, is an archaeological complex that runs between Navan and Dunshaughlin in County Meath, Leinster, Ireland...

. The concept only became a political reality in the Viking Age and even then was not a consistent one. However, Ireland did have a unifying rule of law: the early written judicial system, the Brehon Laws
Brehon Laws
Early Irish law refers to the statutes that governed everyday life and politics in Early Medieval Ireland. They were partially eclipsed by the Norman invasion of 1169, but underwent a resurgence in the 13th century, and survived into Early Modern Ireland in parallel with English law over the...

, administered by a professional class of jurists known as the brehons.

The Chronicle of Ireland records that in 431 AD Bishop Palladius
Palladius
Palladius was the first Bishop of the Christians of Ireland, preceding Saint Patrick. The Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion consider Palladius a saint.-Armorica:...

 arrived in Ireland on a mission from Pope Celestine I
Pope Celestine I
Pope Saint Celestine I was elevated to the papacy in the year 422, on November 3 according to the Liber Pontificalis, but on April 10 according to Tillemont....

 to minister to the Irish "already believing in Christ." The same chronicle records that Saint Patrick
Saint Patrick
Saint Patrick was a Romano-Briton and Christian missionary, who is the most generally recognized patron saint of Ireland or the Apostle of Ireland, although Brigid of Kildare and Colmcille are also formally patron saints....

, Ireland's best known patron saint
Patron saints of places
This article features a list of patron saints of places by nation, region and town/city. If a place is not here it may be in Patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary.- Supranational :*Benedict of Nursia – main patron saint of Europe*Bridget of Sweden – Europe...

, 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
Druid
A druid was a member of the priestly class in Britain, Ireland, and Gaul, and possibly other parts of Celtic western Europe, during the Iron Age....

 tradition collapsed in the face of the new religion. Irish Christian scholars excelled in the study of Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 and Greek learning and Christian theology. In the monastic culture that followed the Christianisation of Ireland, Latin and Greek learning was preserved in Ireland during the Early Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 in contrast to elsewhere in Europe, where the Dark Ages
Early Middle Ages
The Early Middle Ages was the period of European history lasting from the 5th century to approximately 1000. The Early Middle Ages followed the decline of the Western Roman Empire and preceded the High Middle Ages...

 followed the decline of the Roman Empire
Decline of the Roman Empire
The decline of the Roman Empire refers to the gradual societal collapse of the Western Roman Empire. Many theories of causality prevail, but most concern the disintegration of political, economic, military, and other social institutions, in tandem with foreign invasions and usurpers from within the...

.

The arts of manuscript illumination
Illuminated manuscript
An illuminated manuscript is a manuscript in which the text is supplemented by the addition of decoration, such as decorated initials, borders and miniature illustrations...

, metalworking and sculpture flourished and produced treasures such as the Book of Kells
Book of Kells
The Book of Kells is an illuminated manuscript Gospel book in Latin, containing the four Gospels of the New Testament together with various prefatory texts and tables. It was created by Celtic monks ca. 800 or slightly earlier...

, ornate jewellery and the many carved stone crosses that still dot the island today. A mission founded in 563 on Iona
Iona
Iona is a small island in the Inner Hebrides off the western coast of Scotland. It was a centre of Irish monasticism for four centuries and is today renowned for its tranquility and natural beauty. It is a popular tourist destination and a place for retreats...

 by the Irish monk Saint Columba
Columba
Saint Columba —also known as Colum Cille , Colm Cille , Calum Cille and Kolban or Kolbjørn —was a Gaelic Irish missionary monk who propagated Christianity among the Picts during the Early Medieval Period...

 began a tradition of Irish missionary
Hiberno-Scottish mission
The Hiberno-Scottish mission was a mission led by Irish and Scottish monks which spread Christianity and established monasteries in Great Britain and continental Europe during the Middle Ages...

 work that spread Christianity and learning to Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, England and the Frankish Empire
Frankish Empire
Francia or Frankia, later also called the Frankish Empire , Frankish Kingdom , Frankish Realm or occasionally Frankland, was the territory inhabited and ruled by the Franks from the 3rd to the 10th century...

 on Continental Europe
Continental Europe
Continental Europe, also referred to as mainland Europe or simply the Continent, is the continent of Europe, explicitly excluding European islands....

 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
Sedulius Scottus
Sedulius Scottus was an Irish teacher, Latin grammarian and Scriptural commentator, who lived in the ninth century.Sedulius is sometimes called Sedulius the Younger, to distinguish him from Coelius Sedulius . The Irish form of the name is Siadhal.Sedulius the Younger flourished from 840 to 860...

 and Johannes Eriugena and exerting much influence in Europe.

Norse Viking invasions


From the 9th century, waves of Viking
Viking
The term Viking is customarily used to refer to the Norse explorers, warriors, merchants, and pirates who raided, traded, explored and settled in wide areas of Europe, Asia and the North Atlantic islands from the late 8th to the mid-11th century.These Norsemen used their famed longships to...

 raiders plundered Irish monasteries and towns. These raids added to a pattern of raiding and endemic warfare
Endemic warfare
Endemic warfare is the state of continual, low-threshold warfare in a tribal warrior society. Endemic warfare is often highly ritualized and plays an important function in assisting the formation of a social structure among the tribes' men by proving themselves in battle.Ritual fighting permits...

 that was already deep-seated in Ireland. The Vikings also were involved in establishing most of the major coastal settlements in Ireland: Dublin, Limerick
Limerick
Limerick is the third largest city in the Republic of Ireland, and the principal city of County Limerick and Ireland's Mid-West Region. It is the fifth most populous city in all of Ireland. When taking the extra-municipal suburbs into account, Limerick is the third largest conurbation in the...

, Cork
County Cork
County Cork is a county in Ireland. It is located in the South-West Region and is also part of the province of Munster. It is named after the city of Cork . Cork County Council is the local authority for the county...

, Wexford
Wexford
Wexford is the county town of County Wexford, Ireland. It is situated near the southeastern corner of Ireland, close to Rosslare Europort. The town is connected to Dublin via the M11/N11 National Primary Route, and the national rail network...

, Waterford
Waterford
Waterford is a city in the South-East Region of Ireland. It is the oldest city in the country and fifth largest by population. Waterford City Council is the local government authority for the city and its immediate hinterland...

, and also Carlingford, Strangford, Annagassan, Arklow, Youghal, Lough Foyle and Lough Ree.

Norman and English invasions


On May 1, 1169, an expedition of Cambro
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

-Norman knights with an army of about six hundred landed at Bannow Strand
Bannow
Bannow is an area situated in the south of County Wexford, in Ireland. An early Norman town was founded at Bannow. This town has since disappeared for unknown reasons, although the ruins of an early Norman church can still be seen there today . The Norman church is located near the former Island...

 in present-day County Wexford
County Wexford
County Wexford is a county in Ireland. It is part of the South-East Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the town of Wexford. In pre-Norman times it was part of the Kingdom of Uí Cheinnselaig, whose capital was at Ferns. Wexford County Council is the local...

. It was led by Richard de Clare
Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke
Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke , Lord of Leinster, Justiciar of Ireland . Like his father, he was also commonly known as Strongbow...

, 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 Leinster
Kings of Leinster
The following is a provisional list of the kings of Leinster who ruled the Irish kingdom of Leinster up to 1632 with the death of Domhnall Spainnach MacMurrough-Kavanagh, the last legitimately inaugurated head of the MacMurrough Kavanagh royal line...

.

In 1166, Mac Murrough had fled to Anjou, France following a war involving Tighearnán Ua Ruairc, of Breifne, and sought the assistance of the Angevin
Angevin Empire
The term Angevin Empire is a modern term describing the collection of states once ruled by the Angevin Plantagenet dynasty.The Plantagenets ruled over an area stretching from the Pyrenees to Ireland during the 12th and early 13th centuries, located north of Moorish Iberia. This "empire" extended...

 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
Gaelic Ireland
Gaelic Ireland is the name given to the period when a Gaelic political order existed in Ireland. The order continued to exist after the arrival of the Anglo-Normans until about 1607 AD...

 kings to accept him as their overlord, an arrangement confirmed in the 1175 Treaty of Windsor.

The invasion was legitimised by the provisions of the Papal Bull
Papal bull
A Papal bull is a particular type of letters patent or charter issued by a Pope of the Catholic Church. It is named after the bulla that was appended to the end in order to authenticate it....

 Laudabiliter
Laudabiliter
Laudabiliter was a papal bull issued in 1155 by Adrian IV, the only Englishman to serve as Pope, giving the Angevin King Henry II of England the right to assume control over Ireland and apply the Gregorian Reforms in the Irish church...

, issued by Adrian IV
Pope Adrian IV
Pope Adrian IV , born Nicholas Breakspear or Breakspeare, was Pope from 1154 to 1159.Adrian IV is the only Englishman who has occupied the papal chair...

 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 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
Pope Alexander III
Pope Alexander III , born Rolando of Siena, was Pope from 1159 to 1181. He is noted in history for laying the foundation stone for the Notre Dame de Paris.-Church career:...

, further encouraged Henry to advance the integration of the Irish Church with Rome. Henry was authorised to impose a tithe
Tithe
A tithe is a one-tenth part of something, paid as a contribution to a religious organization or compulsory tax to government. Today, tithes are normally voluntary and paid in cash, cheques, or stocks, whereas historically tithes were required and paid in kind, such as agricultural products...

 of one penny per hearth as an annual contribution. This church levy, called Peter's Pence
Peter's Pence
Peter's Pence is payment made more or less voluntarily to the Roman Catholic Church. It began under the Saxons in England and is seen in other countries. Though formally discontinued in England at the time of the Reformation, a post-Reformation payment of uncertain characteristics is seen in some...

, is still 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
Lordship of Ireland
The Lordship of Ireland refers to that part of Ireland that was under the rule of the king of England, styled Lord of Ireland, between 1177 and 1541. It was created in the wake of the Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169–71 and was succeeded by the Kingdom of Ireland...

. When Henry's successor died unexpectedly in 1199, John inherited the crown of England and retained the Lordship of Ireland.

Over the century that followed, Norman feudal law gradually replaced the Gaelic Brehon Law so that by the late 13th century the Norman-Irish
Hiberno-Norman
The Hiberno-Normans are those Norman lords who settled in Ireland who admitted little if any real fealty to the Anglo-Norman settlers in England, and who soon began to interact and intermarry with the Gaelic nobility of Ireland. The term embraces both their origins as a distinct community with...

 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
Magna Carta
Magna Carta is an English charter, originally issued in the year 1215 and reissued later in the 13th century in modified versions, which included the most direct challenges to the monarch's authority to date. The charter first passed into law in 1225...

 (the Great Charter of Ireland
Great Charter of Ireland
The Great Charter of Ireland was an issue of the English Magna Carta, or Great Charter of Liberties in Ireland. King Henry III of England's Charter of 1216 was issued for Ireland on 12 November 1216 but not transmitted to Ireland until February 1217; it secured rights for the Anglo-Norman magnates...

), substituting Dublin for London and Irish Church for Church of England, was published in 1216 and the Parliament of Ireland
Parliament of Ireland
The Parliament of Ireland was a legislature that existed in Dublin from 1297 until 1800. In its early mediaeval period during the Lordship of Ireland it consisted of either two or three chambers: the House of Commons, elected by a very restricted suffrage, the House of Lords in which the lords...

 was founded in 1297.

However, from the mid-14th century, after the Black Death
Black Death
The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. Of several competing theories, the dominant explanation for the Black Death is the plague theory, which attributes the outbreak to the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Thought to have...

, Norman settlements in 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 Hiberno-Norman culture emerged. In response, the Irish parliament
Parliament of Ireland
The Parliament of Ireland was a legislature that existed in Dublin from 1297 until 1800. In its early mediaeval period during the Lordship of Ireland it consisted of either two or three chambers: the House of Commons, elected by a very restricted suffrage, the House of Lords in which the lords...

 passed the Statutes of Kilkenny
Statutes of Kilkenny
The Statutes of Kilkenny were a series of thirty-five acts passed at Kilkenny in 1366, aiming to curb the decline of the Hiberno-Norman Lordship of Ireland.-Background to the Statutes:...

 in 1367. These were a set of laws designed to prevent the assimilation of the Normans into Irish society by requiring English subjects in Ireland to speak English, follow English customs and abide by English law. However, 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
The Pale
The Pale or the English Pale , was the part of Ireland that was directly under the control of the English government in the late Middle Ages. It had reduced by the late 15th century to an area along the east coast stretching from Dalkey, south of Dublin, to the garrison town of Dundalk...

 and under the provisions of Poynings' Law of 1494, the Irish Parliamentary legislation was subject to the approval of the English Parliament.

Kingdom of Ireland


The title of King of Ireland
King of Ireland
A monarchical polity has existed in Ireland during three periods of its history, finally ending in 1801. The designation King of Ireland and Queen of Ireland was used during these periods...

 was re-created in 1542 by Henry VIII, then King of England, of the Tudor dynasty
Tudor dynasty
The Tudor dynasty or House of Tudor was a European royal house of Welsh origin that ruled the Kingdom of England and its realms, including the Lordship of Ireland, later the Kingdom of Ireland, from 1485 until 1603. Its first monarch was Henry Tudor, a descendant through his mother of a legitimised...

. 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
Nine Years' War (Ireland)
The Nine Years' War or Tyrone's Rebellion took place in Ireland from 1594 to 1603. It was fought between the forces of Gaelic Irish chieftains Hugh O'Neill of Tír Eoghain, Hugh Roe O'Donnell of Tír Chonaill and their allies, against English rule in Ireland. The war was fought in all parts of the...

 and the Flight of the Earls
Flight of the Earls
The Flight of the Earls took place on 14 September 1607, when Hugh Ó Neill of Tír Eóghain, Rory Ó Donnell of Tír Chonaill and about ninety followers left Ireland for mainland Europe.-Background to the exile:...

. This control was further consolidated during the wars and conflicts of the 17th century, which witnessed English and Scottish colonisation in the Plantations of Ireland
Plantations of Ireland
Plantations in 16th and 17th century Ireland were the confiscation of land by the English crown and the colonisation of this land with settlers from England and the Scottish Lowlands....

, the Wars of the Three Kingdoms
Wars of the Three Kingdoms
The Wars of the Three Kingdoms formed an intertwined series of conflicts that took place in England, Ireland, and Scotland between 1639 and 1651 after these three countries had come under the "Personal Rule" of the same monarch...

 and the Williamite War
Williamite war in Ireland
The Williamite War in Ireland—also called the Jacobite War in Ireland, the Williamite-Jacobite War in Ireland and in Irish as Cogadh an Dá Rí —was a conflict between Catholic King James II and Protestant King William of Orange over who would be King of England, Scotland and Ireland...

. Irish losses during the Wars of the three Kingdoms (which, in Ireland, included the Irish Confederacy and the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland
Cromwellian conquest of Ireland
The Cromwellian conquest of Ireland refers to the conquest of Ireland by the forces of the English Parliament, led by Oliver Cromwell during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. Cromwell landed in Ireland with his New Model Army on behalf of England's Rump Parliament in 1649...

) 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, guerilla activity and pestilence over the duration of the war. A further 50,000 were sent to slavery 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
William III of England
William III & II was a sovereign Prince of Orange of the House of Orange-Nassau by birth. From 1672 he governed as Stadtholder William III of Orange over Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders, and Overijssel of the Dutch Republic. From 1689 he reigned as William III over England and Ireland...

 and Mary
Mary II of England
Mary II was joint Sovereign of England, Scotland, and Ireland with her husband and first cousin, William III and II, from 1689 until her death. William and Mary, both Protestants, became king and queen regnant, respectively, following the Glorious Revolution, which resulted in the deposition of...

 over the Jacobites
Jacobitism
Jacobitism was the political movement in Britain dedicated to the restoration of the Stuart kings to the thrones of England, Scotland, later the Kingdom of Great Britain, and the Kingdom of Ireland...

, Roman Catholics and nonconforming Protestant Dissenters were barred from sitting as members in the Irish Parliament
Parliament of Ireland
The Parliament of Ireland was a legislature that existed in Dublin from 1297 until 1800. In its early mediaeval period during the Lordship of Ireland it consisted of either two or three chambers: the House of Commons, elected by a very restricted suffrage, the House of Lords in which the lords...

. Under the emerging penal laws
Penal Laws (Ireland)
The term Penal Laws in Ireland were a series of laws imposed under English and later British rule that sought to discriminate against Roman Catholics and Protestant dissenters in favour of members of the established Church of Ireland....

 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 Protestant Dissenters, while enriching a new ruling class of Anglican conformists. The new Anglo-Irish ruling class became known as the Protestant Ascendancy
Protestant Ascendancy
The Protestant Ascendancy, usually known in Ireland simply as the Ascendancy, is a phrase used when referring to the political, economic, and social domination of Ireland by a minority of great landowners, Protestant clergy, and professionals, all members of the Established Church during the 17th...

.


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
Georgian architecture
Georgian architecture is the name given in most English-speaking countries to the set of architectural styles current between 1720 and 1840. It is eponymous for the first four British monarchs of the House of Hanover—George I of Great Britain, George II of Great Britain, George III of the United...

 Ireland was built. In 1782, Poynings' Law was repealed, giving Ireland virtual legislative independence from Great Britain for the first time since the Norman invasion. The British government, however, still retained the right to nominate the government of Ireland without the consent of the Irish parliament.

In 1798, members of the Protestant Dissenter tradition (mainly Presbyterian
Presbyterianism
Presbyterianism refers to a number of Christian churches adhering to the Calvinist theological tradition within Protestantism, which are organized according to a characteristic Presbyterian polity. Presbyterian theology typically emphasizes the sovereignty of God, the authority of the Scriptures,...

) 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
Irish Rebellion of 1798
The Irish Rebellion of 1798 , also known as the United Irishmen Rebellion , was an uprising in 1798, lasting several months, against British rule in Ireland...

 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
Kingdom of Ireland
The Kingdom of Ireland refers to the country of Ireland in the period between the proclamation of Henry VIII as King of Ireland by the Crown of Ireland Act 1542 and the Act of Union in 1800. It replaced the Lordship of Ireland, which had been created in 1171...

 and the Kingdom of Great Britain
Kingdom of Great Britain
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

 to create a United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

.

Union with Great Britain


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, Ireland became part of an extended United Kingdom, ruled directly by a united parliament at Westminster
Parliament of the United Kingdom
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom, British Crown dependencies and British overseas territories, located in London...

 in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

.

The Great Famine of the 1840s caused the deaths of one million Irish people and over a million more emigrated to escape it. By the end of the decade, half of all immigration to the United States
Immigration to the United States
Immigration to the United States has been a major source of population growth and cultural change throughout much of the history of the United States. The economic, social, and political aspects of immigration have caused controversy regarding ethnicity, economic benefits, jobs for non-immigrants,...

 was from Ireland. 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 Ireland (County Leitrim
County Leitrim
County Leitrim is a county in Ireland. It is located in the West Region and is also part of the province of Connacht. It is named after the village of Leitrim. Leitrim County Council is the local authority for the county...

) to record a rise in population since 1841 did so.

The 19th and early 20th centuries saw the rise of modern Irish nationalism
Irish nationalism
Irish nationalism manifests itself in political and social movements and in sentiment inspired by a love for Irish culture, language and history, and as a sense of pride in Ireland and in the Irish people...

, primarily among the Roman Catholic population. The pre-eminent Irish political figure after the Union was Daniel O'Connell
Daniel O'Connell
Daniel O'Connell Daniel O'Connell Daniel O'Connell (6 August 1775 – 15 May 1847; often referred to as The Liberator, or The Emancipator, was an Irish political leader in the first half of the 19th century...

. He was elected as Member of Parliament for Ennis
Ennis (UK Parliament constituency)
Ennis is a former United Kingdom Parliament constituency, in Ireland, returning one MP. It was an original constituency represented in Parliament when the Union of Great Britain and Ireland took effect on 1 January 1801.-Members of Parliament:Notes:-...

 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
Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington
Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, KG, GCB, GCH, PC, FRS , was an Irish-born British soldier and statesman, and one of the leading military and political figures of the 19th century...

. Steering the Catholic Relief Bill through Parliament, aided by future prime minister Robert Peel
Robert Peel
Sir Robert Peel, 2nd Baronet was a British Conservative statesman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 10 December 1834 to 8 April 1835, and again from 30 August 1841 to 29 June 1846...

, Wellington prevailed upon a reluctant George IV
George IV of the United Kingdom
George IV was the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and also of Hanover from the death of his father, George III, on 29 January 1820 until his own death ten years later...

 to sign the Bill and proclaim it into law. George's father
George III of the United Kingdom
George III was King of Great Britain and King of Ireland from 25 October 1760 until the union of these two countries on 1 January 1801, after which he was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until his death...

 had opposed the plan of the earlier Prime Minister, Pitt the Younger
William Pitt the Younger
William Pitt the Younger was a British politician of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. He became the youngest Prime Minister in 1783 at the age of 24 . He left office in 1801, but was Prime Minister again from 1804 until his death in 1806...

, to introduce such a bill following the Union of 1801, fearing Catholic Emancipation
Catholic Emancipation
Catholic emancipation or Catholic relief was a process in Great Britain and Ireland in the late 18th century and early 19th century which involved reducing and removing many of the restrictions on Roman Catholics which had been introduced by the Act of Uniformity, the Test Acts and the penal laws...

 to be in conflict with the Act of Settlement 1701
Act of Settlement 1701
The Act of Settlement is an act of the Parliament of England that was passed in 1701 to settle the succession to the English throne on the Electress Sophia of Hanover and her Protestant heirs. The act was later extended to Scotland, as a result of the Treaty of Union , enacted in the Acts of Union...

.

A subsequent campaign, led by O'Connell, for the repeal of the Act of Union failed. Later in the century, Charles Stewart Parnell
Charles Stewart Parnell
Charles Stewart Parnell was an Irish landowner, nationalist political leader, land reform agitator, and the founder and leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party...

 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
Irish Volunteers
The Irish Volunteers was a military organisation established in 1913 by Irish nationalists. It was ostensibly formed in response to the formation of the Ulster Volunteers in 1912, and its declared primary aim was "to secure and maintain the rights and liberties common to the whole people of Ireland"...

, 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
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. The Irish Volunteers split into two groups. The majority, approximately 175,000 in number, under John Redmond
John Redmond
John Edward Redmond was an Irish nationalist politician, barrister, MP in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party from 1900 to 1918...

, took the name National Volunteers
National Volunteers
The National Volunteers was the name taken by the majority of the Irish Volunteers that sided with Irish Parliamentary Party leader John Redmond after the movement split over the question of the Volunteers' role in World War I.-Origins:...

 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.
The failed Easter Rising
Easter Rising
The Easter Rising was an insurrection staged in Ireland during Easter Week, 1916. The Rising was mounted by Irish republicans with the aims of ending British rule in Ireland and establishing the Irish Republic at a time when the British Empire was heavily engaged in the First World War...

 of 1916 was carried out by the latter group in alliance with a smaller socialist militia, the Irish Citizen Army
Irish Citizen Army
The Irish Citizen Army , or ICA, was a small group of trained trade union volunteers established in Dublin for the defence of worker’s demonstrations from the police. It was formed by James Larkin and Jack White. Other prominent members included James Connolly, Seán O'Casey, Constance Markievicz,...

. 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. The pro-independence republican party, Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin is a left wing, Irish republican political party in Ireland. The name is Irish for "ourselves" or "we ourselves", although it is frequently mistranslated as "ourselves alone". Originating in the Sinn Féin organisation founded in 1905 by Arthur Griffith, it took its current form in 1970...

, received overwhelming endorsement in the general election of 1918, and in 1919 proclaimed an Irish Republic
Irish Republic
The Irish Republic was a revolutionary state that declared its independence from Great Britain in January 1919. It established a legislature , a government , a court system and a police force...

, setting up its own parliament (Dáil Éireann
Dáil Éireann
Dáil Éireann is the lower house, but principal chamber, of the Oireachtas , which also includes the President of Ireland and Seanad Éireann . It is directly elected at least once in every five years under the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote...

) and government. British authorities attempted to extinguish this challenge, sparking a guerilla war from 1919 to July 1921 which ended in a truce.

In 1921, the Anglo-Irish Treaty
Anglo-Irish Treaty
The Anglo-Irish Treaty , officially called the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty Between Great Britain and Ireland, was a treaty between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and representatives of the secessionist Irish Republic that concluded the Irish War of...

 was concluded between the British Government and representatives of the First Dáil
First Dáil
The First Dáil was Dáil Éireann as it convened from 1919–1921. In 1919 candidates who had been elected in the Westminster elections of 1918 refused to recognise the Parliament of the United Kingdom and instead assembled as a unicameral, revolutionary parliament called "Dáil Éireann"...

. It gave all of Ireland complete independence in their home affairs and practical independence for foreign policy. However, an oath of allegiance to the British Crown had to be exercised, and Northern Ireland was given an opt-out clause, which it exercised immediately as expected. Disagreements over these provisions led to a split in the nationalist movement and a subsequent civil war
Irish Civil War
The Irish Civil War was a conflict that accompanied the establishment of the Irish Free State as an entity independent from the United Kingdom within the British Empire....

 between the new government of the Irish Free State
Irish Free State
The Irish Free State was the state established as a Dominion on 6 December 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty, signed by the British government and Irish representatives exactly twelve months beforehand...

 and those opposed to the treaty, led by Éamon de Valera
Éamon de Valera
Éamon de Valera was one of the dominant political figures in twentieth century Ireland, serving as head of government of the Irish Free State and head of government and head of state of Ireland...

. The civil war officially ended in May 1923 when de Valera issued a cease-fire order.

Independent Ireland




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
Statute of Westminster 1931
The Statute of Westminster 1931 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Passed on 11 December 1931, the Act established legislative equality for the self-governing dominions of the British Empire with the United Kingdom...

 and political circumstances
Edward VIII abdication crisis
In 1936, a constitutional crisis in the British Empire was caused by King-Emperor Edward VIII's proposal to marry Wallis Simpson, a twice-divorced American socialite....

 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
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

.

The state was neutral
Irish neutrality
Ireland has a "traditional policy of military neutrality". In particular, Ireland remained neutral during World War II, and has never been a member of NATO or the Non-Aligned Movement. The formulation and justification of the neutrality policy has varied over time...

 during World War II, but offered clandestine assistance to the Allies
Irish neutrality during World War II
The policy of Irish neutrality during World War II was adopted by Dáil Éireann at the instigation of Éamon de Valera, its Taoiseach upon the outbreak of hostilities in Europe and maintained throughout the conflict. De Valera refrained from joining either the Allies or Axis powers...

, particularly in the potential defence of Northern Ireland. Despite being neutral, approximately 50,000 volunteers from independent Ireland joined the British forces during the war, four being awarded Victoria Crosses.

German Intelligence was also active in Ireland, with both the Abwehr (the German military intelligence service) and the SD (the Sicherheitsdienst, the intelligence service of the SS) sending agents there. German intelligence operations effectively ended in September 1941 when An Garda Síochána made arrests on the basis of surveillance carried out on the key diplomatic legations in Ireland, including the United States. To the authorities counterintelligence was more than mere luxury, but 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 of the conflict.

Large-scale emigration marked 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
Celtic Tiger
Celtic Tiger is a term used to describe the economy of Ireland during a period of rapid economic growth between 1995 and 2007. The expansion underwent a dramatic reversal from 2008, with GDP contracting by 14% and unemployment levels rising to 14% by 2010...

. The Republic's real GDP grew by an average of 9.6% per annum between 1995 and 1999 and in 2000 Ireland was the sixth-richest country in the world in terms of GDP per capita. Social changes followed quickly on the heels of economic prosperity ranging from the 'modernisation' of the St. Patrick's Day parade in Dublin to the decline in authority of the Catholic Church. The financial crisis of 2008–2010 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).

Northern Ireland



Northern Ireland was created as a division of the United Kingdom by the Government of Ireland Act 1920
Government of Ireland Act 1920
The Government of Ireland Act 1920 was the Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which partitioned Ireland. The Act's long title was "An Act to provide for the better government of Ireland"; it is also known as the Fourth Home Rule Bill or as the Fourth Home Rule Act.The Act was intended...

 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
Belfast Blitz
The Belfast Blitz was an event that occurred on the night of Easter Tuesday, 15 April 1941 during World War II. Two hundred bombers of the German Air Force attacked the city of Belfast in Northern Ireland. Nearly one thousand people died as a result of the bombing and 1,500 were injured. In terms...

 in 1941. Conscription
Conscription
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

 was not extended to Northern Ireland and roughly an equal number volunteered from Northern Ireland as volunteered from the south. One, James Joseph Magennis
James Joseph Magennis
James Joseph Magennis VC was a Belfast-born recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces...

, received the Victoria Cross for valour.

Although 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 Kingdom. The 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
Ulster Unionist Party
The Ulster Unionist Party – sometimes referred to as the Official Unionist Party or, in a historic sense, simply the Unionist Party – is the more moderate of the two main unionist political parties in Northern Ireland...

. Over time, the minority Catholic community felt increasingly alienated with further disaffection fueled by practices such as gerrymandering
Gerrymandering
In the process of setting electoral districts, gerrymandering is a practice that attempts to establish a political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating geographic boundaries to create partisan, incumbent-protected districts...

 and discrimination
Discrimination
Discrimination is the prejudicial treatment of an individual based on their membership in a certain group or category. It involves the actual behaviors towards groups such as excluding or restricting members of one group from opportunities that are available to another group. The term began to be...

 in housing and employment.

In the late 1960s, nationalist grievances were aired publicly in mass civil rights
Civil rights
Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from unwarranted infringement by governments and private organizations, and ensure one's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression.Civil rights include...

 protests, which were often confronted by loyalist
Ulster loyalism
Ulster loyalism is an ideology that is opposed to a united Ireland. It can mean either support for upholding Northern Ireland's status as a constituent part of the United Kingdom , support for Northern Ireland independence, or support for loyalist paramilitaries...

 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
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 to aid the police, who were exhausted after several nights of serious rioting
1969 Northern Ireland Riots
During 12–17 August 1969, Northern Ireland was rocked by intense political and sectarian rioting. There had been sporadic violence throughout the year arising from the civil rights campaign, which was demanding an end to government discrimination against Irish Catholics and nationalists...

. In 1969, the paramilitary
Paramilitary
A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

 Provisional IRA
Provisional Irish Republican Army
The Provisional Irish Republican Army is an Irish republican paramilitary organisation whose aim was to remove Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom and bring about a socialist republic within a united Ireland by force of arms and political persuasion...

, which favoured the creation of a united Ireland
United Ireland
A united Ireland is the term used to refer to the idea of a sovereign state which covers all of the thirty-two traditional counties of Ireland. The island of Ireland includes the territory of two independent sovereign states: the Republic of Ireland, which covers 26 counties of the island, and the...

, emerged from a split in the Irish Republican Army
Irish Republican Army (1922–1969)
The original Irish Republican Army fought a guerrilla war against British rule in Ireland in the Irish War of Independence 1919–1921. Following the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty on 6 December 1921, the IRA in the 26 counties that were to become the Irish Free State split between supporters and...

 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
The Troubles
The Troubles was a period of ethno-political conflict in Northern Ireland which spilled over at various times into England, the Republic of Ireland, and mainland Europe. The duration of the Troubles is conventionally dated from the late 1960s and considered by many to have ended with the Belfast...

 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
Direct Rule
Direct rule was the term given, during the late 20th and early 21st centuries, to the administration of Northern Ireland directly from Westminster, seat of United Kingdom government...

. There were several ultimately unsuccessful attempts to end the Troubles politically, such as the Sunningdale Agreement
Sunningdale Agreement
The Sunningdale Agreement was an attempt to establish a power-sharing Northern Ireland Executive and a cross-border Council of Ireland. The Agreement was signed at the Civil Service College in Sunningdale Park located in Sunningdale, Berkshire, on 9 December 1973.Unionist opposition, violence and...

 of 1973. In 1998, following a ceasefire by the Provisional IRA and multi-party talks, the Belfast Agreement
Belfast Agreement
The Good Friday Agreement or Belfast Agreement , sometimes called the Stormont Agreement, was a major political development in the Northern Ireland peace process...

 was concluded as a treaty between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, annexing the text agreed in the multi-party talks. The substance of the Agreement (often referred to as the Good Friday 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
Northern Ireland Executive
The Northern Ireland Executive is the executive arm of the Northern Ireland Assembly, the devolved legislature for Northern Ireland. It is answerable to the Assembly and was established according to the terms of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, which followed the Good Friday Agreement...

 drawn from the major parties in a new Northern Ireland Assembly
Northern Ireland Assembly
The Northern Ireland Assembly is the devolved legislature of Northern Ireland. It has power to legislate in a wide range of areas that are not explicitly reserved to the Parliament of the United Kingdom, and to appoint the Northern Ireland Executive...

, with entrenched protections for the two main communities. The Executive is jointly headed by a First Minister and deputy First Minister
First Minister and deputy First Minister
The First Minister and the Deputy First Minister , sometimes abbreviated to FM/DFM, are positions in the Northern Ireland...

 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
Independent International Commission on Decommissioning
The Independent International Commission on Decommissioning was established to oversee the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons in Northern Ireland, as part of the peace process.-Legislation and organisation:...

 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 Ireland (Operation Banner
Operation Banner
Operation Banner was the operational name for the British Armed Forces' operation in Northern Ireland from August 1969 to July 2007. It was initially deployed at the request of the Unionist government of Northern Ireland to support the Royal Ulster Constabulary . After the 1998 Belfast Agreement,...

) and began withdrawing troops.

Governance


Ireland is occupied by two political entities:
  • The Republic of Ireland
    Republic of Ireland
    Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

    , formed as the Irish Free State
    Irish Free State
    The Irish Free State was the state established as a Dominion on 6 December 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty, signed by the British government and Irish representatives exactly twelve months beforehand...

     on the 6 December 1922, (officially
    Names of the Irish state
    There have been various names of the Irish state, some of which have been controversial. The constitutional name of the contemporary state is Ireland, the same as the island of Ireland, of which it comprises the major portion...

     Ireland), a sovereign state
    Sovereign state
    A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

     that covers five-sixths of the island. Its capital is Dublin.
  • Northern Ireland
    Northern Ireland
    Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

    , established on the 3 May 1921, is a part of the United Kingdom that covers the remaining sixth. Its capital is Belfast
    Belfast
    Belfast is the capital of and largest city in Northern Ireland. By population, it is the 14th biggest city in the United Kingdom and second biggest on the island of Ireland . It is the seat of the devolved government and legislative Northern Ireland Assembly...

    .


Traditionally, Ireland is subdivided into four provinces
Provinces of Ireland
Ireland has historically been divided into four provinces: Leinster, Ulster, Munster and Connacht. The Irish word for this territorial division, cúige, literally meaning "fifth part", indicates that there were once five; the fifth province, Meath, was incorporated into Leinster, with parts going to...

: Connacht
Connacht
Connacht , formerly anglicised as Connaught, is one of the Provinces of Ireland situated in the west of Ireland. In Ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for...

 (west), Leinster
Leinster
Leinster is one of the Provinces of Ireland situated in the east of Ireland. It comprises the ancient Kingdoms of Mide, Osraige and Leinster. Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the historic fifths of Leinster and Mide gradually merged, mainly due to the impact of the Pale, which straddled...

 (east), Munster
Munster
Munster is one of the Provinces of Ireland situated in the south of Ireland. In Ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for administrative and judicial purposes...

 (south), and Ulster
Ulster
Ulster is one of the four provinces of Ireland, located in the north of the island. In ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for administrative and judicial...

 (north). In a system that developed between the 13th and 17th centuries, Ireland has thirty-two traditional counties
Counties of Ireland
The counties of Ireland are sub-national divisions used for the purposes of geographic demarcation and local government. Closely related to the county is the County corporate which covered towns or cities which were deemed to be important enough to be independent from their counties. A county...

. Twenty-six of the counties are in the Republic of Ireland and six counties
Counties of Northern Ireland
The counties of Northern Ireland were the principal local government divisions of Northern Ireland from its creation in 1921 until 1972 when their governmental features were abolished and replaced with twenty-six unitary authorities....

 are in Northern Ireland. The six counties that constitute 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
County Dublin
County Dublin is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Dublin Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the city of Dublin which is the capital of Ireland. County Dublin was one of the first of the parts of Ireland to be shired by King John of England following the...

, Cork
County Cork
County Cork is a county in Ireland. It is located in the South-West Region and is also part of the province of Munster. It is named after the city of Cork . Cork County Council is the local authority for the county...

, Limerick
County Limerick
It is thought that humans had established themselves in the Lough Gur area of the county as early as 3000 BC, while megalithic remains found at Duntryleague date back further to 3500 BC...

, Galway
County Galway
County Galway is a county in Ireland. It is located in the West Region and is also part of the province of Connacht. It is named after the city of Galway. Galway County Council is the local authority for the county. There are several strongly Irish-speaking areas in the west of the county...

, Waterford
County Waterford
*Abbeyside, Affane, Aglish, Annestown, An Rinn, Ardmore*Ballinacourty, Ballinameela, Ballinamult, Ballinroad, Ballybeg, Ballybricken, Ballyduff Lower, Ballyduff Upper, Ballydurn, Ballygunner, Ballylaneen, Ballymacarbry, Ballymacart, Ballynaneashagh, Ballysaggart, Ballytruckle, Bilberry, Bunmahon,...

 and Tipperary
County Tipperary
County Tipperary is a county of Ireland. It is located in the province of Munster and is named after the town of Tipperary. The area of the county does not have a single local authority; local government is split between two authorities. In North Tipperary, part of the Mid-West Region, local...

 have been broken up into smaller administrative areas. However, they are still treated as counties for cultural and some official purposes, for example post and by the Ordnance Survey Ireland
Ordnance Survey Ireland
Ordnance Survey Ireland is the national mapping agency of the Republic of Ireland and, together with the Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland , succeeded, after 1922, the Irish operations of the United Kingdom Ordnance Survey. It is part of the Public service of the Republic of 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
Legislation
Legislation is law which has been promulgated by a legislature or other governing body, or the process of making it...

 or royal charter
Royal Charter
A royal charter is a formal document issued by a monarch as letters patent, granting a right or power to an individual or a body corporate. They were, and are still, used to establish significant organizations such as cities or universities. Charters should be distinguished from warrants and...

. Dublin, with just over 1 million residents in the Greater Dublin Area
Greater Dublin Area
Greater Dublin Area , or simply Greater Dublin, is a term which is used to describe the city of Dublin and various counties in the hinterland of the city in Ireland. The term has no basis in law and no local government, department of government or agency of the state is bound by the term...

, is the largest city on the island. Other cities are:
  • Dublin (urban area: 1,049,765 , metropolitan area
    Dublin Metropolitan Area
    Dublin Metropolitan Area is a term used by various bodies to describe the area of Dublin, Ireland, and its surrounding counties which have an urban designation; between these bodies its definition is not always consistent.-Garda usage:...

    : 1,801,040 )
  • Belfast
    Belfast
    Belfast is the capital of and largest city in Northern Ireland. By population, it is the 14th biggest city in the United Kingdom and second biggest on the island of Ireland . It is the seat of the devolved government and legislative Northern Ireland Assembly...

     (urban area: 267,742, metropolitan area
    Belfast Metropolitan Area
    The Belfast Metropolitan Area is a grouping of council areas which include commuter towns and overspill from Belfast, Northern Ireland with a population of 579,276. The area was first officially classified as a Metropolitan area in the late 1990s when the Government began to prepare for a cohesive...

    : 575,231)
  • Cork
    Cork (city)
    Cork is the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland and the island of Ireland's third most populous city. It is the principal city and administrative centre of County Cork and the largest city in the province of Munster. Cork has a population of 119,418, while the addition of the suburban...

     (urban area: 190,384, metropolitan area: 274,000 )
  • Derry
    Derry
    Derry or Londonderry is the second-biggest city in Northern Ireland and the fourth-biggest city on the island of Ireland. The name Derry is an anglicisation of the Irish name Doire or Doire Cholmcille meaning "oak-wood of Colmcille"...

     (urban area: 93,512, greater area: 237,000)
  • Limerick
    Limerick
    Limerick is the third largest city in the Republic of Ireland, and the principal city of County Limerick and Ireland's Mid-West Region. It is the fifth most populous city in all of Ireland. When taking the extra-municipal suburbs into account, Limerick is the third largest conurbation in the...

     (urban area: 90,757, metropolitan area: 110,000)
  • Galway
    Galway
    Galway or City of Galway is a city in County Galway, Republic of Ireland. It is the sixth largest and the fastest-growing city in Ireland. It is also the third largest city within the Republic and the only city in the Province of Connacht. Located on the west coast of Ireland, it sits on the...

     (urban area: 72,729)
  • Lisburn
    Lisburn
    DemographicsLisburn Urban Area is within Belfast Metropolitan Urban Area and is classified as a Large Town by the . On census day there were 71,465 people living in Lisburn...

     (urban area: 71,465)
  • Waterford
    Waterford
    Waterford is a city in the South-East Region of Ireland. It is the oldest city in the country and fifth largest by population. Waterford City Council is the local government authority for the city and its immediate hinterland...

     (urban area: 49,213)
  • Newry
    Newry
    Newry is a city in Northern Ireland. The River Clanrye, which runs through the city, formed the historic border between County Armagh and County Down. It is from Belfast and from Dublin. Newry had a population of 27,433 at the 2001 Census, while Newry and Mourne Council Area had a population...

     (urban area: 29,946)
  • Armagh
    Armagh
    Armagh is a large settlement in Northern Ireland, and the county town of County Armagh. It is a site of historical importance for both Celtic paganism and Christianity and is the seat, for both the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Ireland, of the Archbishop of Armagh...

     (urban area: 15,020)


Kilkenny
Kilkenny
Kilkenny is a city and is the county town of the eponymous County Kilkenny in Ireland. It is situated on both banks of the River Nore in the province of Leinster, in the south-east of Ireland...

 (pop. 22,179), while strictly no longer a city, is entitled by law to describe itself as such. Several towns have larger populations than some of these cities, such as Drogheda
Drogheda
Drogheda is an industrial and port town in County Louth on the east coast of Ireland, 56 km north of Dublin. It is the last bridging point on the River Boyne before it enters the Irish Sea....

 (pop. 35,090) and Dundalk
Dundalk
Dundalk is the county town of County Louth in Ireland. It is situated where the Castletown River flows into Dundalk Bay. The town is close to the border with Northern Ireland and equi-distant from Dublin and Belfast. The town's name, which was historically written as Dundalgan, has associations...

 (pop. 35,085) but are not recognised as cities because they lack historic charters or legal status.
Province Population Area (km²) Density (p/km²) Largest city
Connacht
Connacht
Connacht , formerly anglicised as Connaught, is one of the Provinces of Ireland situated in the west of Ireland. In Ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for...

 
503,083 17,713 28 Galway
Galway
Galway or City of Galway is a city in County Galway, Republic of Ireland. It is the sixth largest and the fastest-growing city in Ireland. It is also the third largest city within the Republic and the only city in the Province of Connacht. Located on the west coast of Ireland, it sits on the...

Leinster
Leinster
Leinster is one of the Provinces of Ireland situated in the east of Ireland. It comprises the ancient Kingdoms of Mide, Osraige and Leinster. Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the historic fifths of Leinster and Mide gradually merged, mainly due to the impact of the Pale, which straddled...

 
2,292,939 19,801 100 Dublin
Munster
Munster
Munster is one of the Provinces of Ireland situated in the south of Ireland. In Ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for administrative and judicial purposes...

 
1,172,170 24,608 48 Cork
Cork (city)
Cork is the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland and the island of Ireland's third most populous city. It is the principal city and administrative centre of County Cork and the largest city in the province of Munster. Cork has a population of 119,418, while the addition of the suburban...

Ulster
Ulster
Ulster is one of the four provinces of Ireland, located in the north of the island. In ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for administrative and judicial...

 
2,008,333 22,300 90 Belfast
Belfast
Belfast is the capital of and largest city in Northern Ireland. By population, it is the 14th biggest city in the United Kingdom and second biggest on the island of Ireland . It is the seat of the devolved government and legislative Northern Ireland Assembly...


All-island institutions


Despite the political partition
Partition of Ireland
The partition of Ireland was the division of the island of Ireland into two distinct territories, now Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland . Partition occurred when the British Parliament passed the Government of Ireland Act 1920...

, the island of Ireland continues to act as a single entity in a number of areas that transcend governmental agencies. The two jurisdictions share transport
Transport
Transport or transportation is the movement of people, cattle, animals and goods from one location to another. Modes of transport include air, rail, road, water, cable, pipeline, and space. The field can be divided into infrastructure, vehicles, and operations...

, telecommunications, energy and water systems. With a few notable exceptions, the island is the main organisational unit for major religious
Religion in Ireland
The island of Ireland is divided into two jurisdictions Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Religion in Ireland may refer to:* Religion in the Republic of Ireland* Religion in Northern Ireland* Christianity in Ireland...

, cultural and sporting organisations. The island fields a single international team in most sports, for example, and March 17 is celebrated throughout Ireland as the traditional Irish holiday of St. Patrick's Day. One notable exception to this is Association football, although both associations continued to field international teams under the name "Ireland" until the 1950s. An all-Ireland club competition for soccer, the Setanta Cup, was created in 2005.

The 1998 Belfast Agreement
Belfast Agreement
The Good Friday Agreement or Belfast Agreement , sometimes called the Stormont Agreement, was a major political development in the Northern Ireland peace process...

 provides for political co-operation between the two jurisdictions. The North/South Ministerial Council
North/South Ministerial Council
The North/South Ministerial Council is a body established under the Belfast Agreement to co-ordinate activity and exercise certain governmental powers across the whole island of Ireland...

, established under the agreement, is an institution through which ministers from the Government of Ireland and the Northern Ireland Executive
Northern Ireland Executive
The Northern Ireland Executive is the executive arm of the Northern Ireland Assembly, the devolved legislature for Northern Ireland. It is answerable to the Assembly and was established according to the terms of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, which followed the Good Friday Agreement...

 can formulate all-island policies in twelve "areas of co-operation" such as agriculture, the environment and transport. Six of these policy areas have associated all-island "implementation bodies." For example, food safety is managed by the Food Safety Promotion Board
Food Safety Promotion Board
The Food Safety Promotion Board , trading as safefood, is the body responsible for the promotion of food safety in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland...

 and Tourism Ireland
Tourism Ireland
Tourism Ireland is the marketing body responsible for marketing the island of Ireland overseas...

 markets the island as a whole. Three major political parties, Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin is a left wing, Irish republican political party in Ireland. The name is Irish for "ourselves" or "we ourselves", although it is frequently mistranslated as "ourselves alone". Originating in the Sinn Féin organisation founded in 1905 by Arthur Griffith, it took its current form in 1970...

, the Irish Green Party and, most recently, Fianna Fáil
Fianna Fáil
Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party , more commonly known as Fianna Fáil is a centrist political party in the Republic of Ireland, founded on 23 March 1926. Fianna Fáil's name is traditionally translated into English as Soldiers of Destiny, although a more accurate rendition would be Warriors of Fál...

, are organised on an all-island basis. However, only the former two of these have contested elections and have held legislative seats in both jurisdictions.

Despite the two jurisdictions using two distinct currencies (the euro
Euro
The euro is the official currency of the eurozone: 17 of the 27 member states of the European Union. It is also the currency used by the Institutions of the European Union. The eurozone consists of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg,...

 and pound sterling
Pound sterling
The pound sterling , commonly called the pound, is the official currency of the United Kingdom, its Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, British Antarctic Territory and Tristan da Cunha. It is subdivided into 100 pence...

), a growing amount of commercial activity is carried out on an all-island basis. This has in part been facilitated by the two jurisdictions' shared membership of the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

. Calls for the creation of an "all-island economy" have been made from members of the business community and policymakers so as to benefit from economies of scale
Economies of scale
Economies of scale, in microeconomics, refers to the cost advantages that an enterprise obtains due to expansion. There are factors that cause a producer’s average cost per unit to fall as the scale of output is increased. "Economies of scale" is a long run concept and refers to reductions in unit...

 and boost competitiveness. One area in which the island already operates largely as a single market is electricity
Electricity
Electricity is a general term encompassing a variety of phenomena resulting from the presence and flow of electric charge. These include many easily recognizable phenomena, such as lightning, static electricity, and the flow of electrical current in an electrical wire...

 and there are plans for the creation of an all-island gas
Natural gas
Natural gas is a naturally occurring gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, typically with 0–20% higher hydrocarbons . It is found associated with other hydrocarbon fuel, in coal beds, as methane clathrates, and is an important fuel source and a major feedstock for fertilizers.Most natural...

 market. Support for such initiatives comes from the Irish government
Irish Government
The Government of Ireland is the cabinet that exercises executive authority in Ireland.-Members of the Government:Membership of the Government is regulated fundamentally by the Constitution of Ireland. The Government is headed by a prime minister called the Taoiseach...

 and nationalist
Irish nationalism
Irish nationalism manifests itself in political and social movements and in sentiment inspired by a love for Irish culture, language and history, and as a sense of pride in Ireland and in the Irish people...

 parties in the Northern Ireland Assembly
Northern Ireland Assembly
The Northern Ireland Assembly is the devolved legislature of Northern Ireland. It has power to legislate in a wide range of areas that are not explicitly reserved to the Parliament of the United Kingdom, and to appoint the Northern Ireland Executive...

.

Geography


The island of Ireland is located in the north-west of Europe
North-West Europe
North-West Europe is a term that refers to a northern area of Western Europe, although the exact area or countries it comprises varies.-Geographic definition:...

, between latitudes 51°
51st parallel north
The 51st parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 51 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Europe, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean....

 and 56° N
56th parallel north
The 56th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 56 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Europe, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean....

, and longitudes 11°
11th meridian west
The meridian 11° west of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, Africa, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

 and 5° W
5th meridian west
The meridian 5° west of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, Europe, Africa, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

. It is separated from the neighbouring island of Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 by the Irish Sea
Irish Sea
The Irish Sea 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 Atlantic Ocean in the north by the North Channel. Anglesey is the largest island within the Irish Sea, followed by the Isle of Man...

 and the North Channel
North Channel (Great Britain and Ireland)
The North Channel is the strait which separates eastern Northern Ireland from southwestern Scotland...

, which has a width of 23 kilometres (14.3 mi) at its narrowest point. To the west is the northern Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 and to the south is the Celtic Sea
Celtic Sea
The Celtic Sea is the area of the Atlantic Ocean off the south coast of Ireland bounded to the east by Saint George's Channel; other limits include the Bristol Channel, the English Channel, and the Bay of Biscay, as well as adjacent portions of Wales, Cornwall, Devon, and Brittany...

, which lies between Ireland and Brittany
Brittany
Brittany is a cultural and administrative region in the north-west of France. Previously a kingdom and then a duchy, Brittany was united to the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province. Brittany has also been referred to as Less, Lesser or Little Britain...

, in France. Ireland and Great Britain, together with nearby islands, are known collectively as the British Isles
British Isles
The British Isles are a group of islands off the northwest coast of continental Europe that include the islands of Great Britain and Ireland and over six thousand smaller isles. There are two sovereign states located on the islands: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and...

. As the term British Isles is controversial
British Isles naming dispute
There is disagreement over the term "the British Isles", particularly with relation to Ireland. The term is defined in dictionaries as referring to Great Britain, Ireland and adjacent islands. However, the association between the word "British" and the United Kingdom causes the term to be regarded...

 in relation to Ireland, the alternate term "Ireland and Britain" (or "Britain and Ireland") is often used as a neutral term for the islands.

A ring of coastal mountains surround low plain
Plain
In geography, a plain is land with relatively low relief, that is flat or gently rolling. Prairies and steppes are types of plains, and the archetype for a plain is often thought of as a grassland, but plains in their natural state may also be covered in shrublands, woodland and forest, or...

s at the centre of the island. The highest of these is Carrauntoohil  in County Kerry
County Kerry
Kerry means the "people of Ciar" which was the name of the pre-Gaelic tribe who lived in part of the present county. The legendary founder of the tribe was Ciar, son of Fergus mac Róich. In Old Irish "Ciar" meant black or dark brown, and the word continues in use in modern Irish as an adjective...

, which rises to 1038 m (3,406 ft) above sea level. The most arable land lies in the province of Leinster. Western areas can be mountainous and rocky with green panoramic vistas
Panorama
A panorama is any wide-angle view or representation of a physical space, whether in painting, drawing, photography, film/video, or a three-dimensional model....

. The River Shannon
River Shannon
The River Shannon is the longest river in Ireland at . It divides the west of Ireland from the east and south . County Clare, being west of the Shannon but part of the province of Munster, is the major exception...

, the island's longest river at 386 km (240 mi) long, rises in County Cavan
County Cavan
County Cavan is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Border Region and is also located in the province of Ulster. It is named after the town of Cavan. Cavan County Council is the local authority for the county...

 in the north west and flows 113 kilometres (70.2 mi) to Limerick
Limerick
Limerick is the third largest city in the Republic of Ireland, and the principal city of County Limerick and Ireland's Mid-West Region. It is the fifth most populous city in all of Ireland. When taking the extra-municipal suburbs into account, Limerick is the third largest conurbation in the...

 city in the mid west.

The island's lush vegetation, a product of its mild climate and frequent rainfall, earns it the sobriquet
Sobriquet
A sobriquet is a nickname, sometimes assumed, but often given by another. It is usually a familiar name, distinct from a pseudonym assumed as a disguise, but a nickname which is familiar enough such that it can be used in place of a real name without the need of explanation...

 the Emerald Isle. Overall, Ireland has a mild but changeable oceanic climate
Oceanic climate
An oceanic climate, also called marine west coast climate, maritime climate, Cascadian climate and British climate for Köppen climate classification Cfb and subtropical highland for Köppen Cfb or Cwb, is a type of climate typically found along the west coasts at the middle latitudes of some of the...

 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
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

.

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
County Galway
County Galway is a county in Ireland. It is located in the West Region and is also part of the province of Connacht. It is named after the city of Galway. Galway County Council is the local authority for the county. There are several strongly Irish-speaking areas in the west of the county...

 and east County Mayo
County Mayo
County Mayo is a county in Ireland. It is located in the West Region and is also part of the province of Connacht. It is named after the village of Mayo, which is now generally known as Mayo Abbey. Mayo County Council is the local authority for the county. The population of the county is 130,552...

 have the highest incidents of recorded lightning annually for the island, with lightening occurring approximately five to ten days per year in these areas. Munster
Munster
Munster is one of the Provinces of Ireland situated in the south of Ireland. In Ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for administrative and judicial purposes...

, in the south, records the least snow whereas Ulster
Ulster
Ulster is one of the four provinces of Ireland, located in the north of the island. In ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for administrative and judicial...

, in the north, records the most.

Inland areas are warmer in summer and colder in winter. Usually around 40 days of the year are below freezing at inland weather station
Weather station
A weather station is a facility, either on land or sea, with instruments and equipment for observing atmospheric conditions to provide information for weather forecasts and to study the weather and climate. The measurements taken include temperature, barometric pressure, humidity, wind speed, wind...

s, compared to 10 days at coastal stations. Ireland is sometimes affected by heat waves, most recently in 1995, 2003
2003 European heat wave
The 2003 European heat wave was the hottest summer on record in Europe since at least 1540. France was hit especially hard. The heat wave led to health crises in several countries and combined with drought to create a crop shortfall in Southern Europe...

 and 2006. In common with the rest of Europe, Ireland experienced unusually cold weather during the winter of 2009/10
Winter of 2009–2010 in Europe
The winter of 2009–2010 in Europe was unusually cold. Globally, atypical weather patterns brought cold, moist air from the north. Weather systems were undergoing cyclogenesis from North American storms moving across the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and saw many parts of Europe experiencing heavy...

. Temperatures fell as low as −17.2 °C (1 °F) in County Mayo on December 20 and up to a metre (3 ft) of snow in mountainous areas.

The island consists of varied geological provinces
Geologic province
A geologic or geomorphic province is a spatial entity with common geologic or geomorphic attributes. A province may include a single dominant structural element such as a basin or a fold belt, or a number of contiguous related elements...

. In the far west, around County Galway and County Donegal
County Donegal
County Donegal is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Border Region and is also located in the province of Ulster. It is named after the town of Donegal. Donegal County Council is the local authority for the county...

, is a medium to high grade metamorphic and igneous complex of Caledonide affinity, similar to the Scottish Highlands
Scottish Highlands
The Highlands is an historic region of Scotland. The area is sometimes referred to as the "Scottish Highlands". It was culturally distinguishable from the Lowlands from the later Middle Ages into the modern period, when Lowland Scots replaced Scottish Gaelic throughout most of the Lowlands...

. Across southeast Ulster and extending southwest to Longford
Longford
Longford is the county town of County Longford in Ireland. It has a population of 7,622 according to the 2006 census. Approximately one third of the county's population resides in the town. Longford town is also the biggest town in the county...

 and south to Navan
Navan
-People:Navan was the childhood home of Pierce Brosnan, who appeared in the television series Remington Steele and was the fifth film actor to play James Bond. TV personality Hector Ó hEochagáin, and comedians Dylan Moran and Tommy Tiernan also hail from Navan....

 is a province of Ordovician and Silurian rocks, with similarities to the Southern Uplands
Southern Uplands
The Southern Uplands are the southernmost and least populous of mainland Scotland's three major geographic areas . The term is used both to describe the geographical region and to collectively denote the various ranges of hills within this region...

 province of Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

. Further south, along the County Wexford
County Wexford
County Wexford is a county in Ireland. It is part of the South-East Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the town of Wexford. In pre-Norman times it was part of the Kingdom of Uí Cheinnselaig, whose capital was at Ferns. Wexford County Council is the local...

 coastline, is an area of granite intrusives
Intrusion
An intrusion is liquid rock that forms under Earth's surface. Magma from under the surface is slowly pushed up from deep within the earth into any cracks or spaces it can find, sometimes pushing existing country rock out of the way, a process that can take millions of years. As the rock slowly...

 into more Ordovician and Silurian rocks, like that found in Wales
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

. In the southwest, around Bantry Bay
Bantry Bay
Bantry Bay is a bay located in County Cork, southwest Ireland. The bay runs approximately from northeast to southwest into the Atlantic Ocean. It is approximately 3-to-4 km wide at the head and wide at the entrance....

 and the mountains of Macgillicuddy's Reeks, is an area of substantially deformed, but only lightly metamorphosed
Metamorphic rock
Metamorphic rock is the transformation of an existing rock type, the protolith, in a process called metamorphism, which means "change in form". The protolith is subjected to heat and pressure causing profound physical and/or chemical change...

, 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
The Burren
The Burren is a karst-landscape region or alvar in northwest County Clare, in Ireland. It is one of the largest karst landscapes in Europe. The region measures approximately 250 square kilometres and is enclosed roughly within the circle made by the villages Ballyvaughan, Kinvara, Tubber, Corofin,...

 around Lisdoonvarna has well-developed karst
KARST
Kilometer-square Area Radio Synthesis Telescope is a Chinese telescope project to which FAST is a forerunner. KARST is a set of large spherical reflectors on karst landforms, which are bowlshaped limestone sinkholes named after the Kras region in Slovenia and Northern Italy. It will consist of...

 features. Significant stratiform lead-zinc mineralisation is found in the limestones around Silvermines
Silvermines
Silvermines, historically known as Bellagowan , is a village in North Tipperary in Ireland. It lies immediately north of the Silvermine mountain range and takes its name from the extensive mines of lead, zinc, copper, baryte and silver nearby...

 and Tynagh
Tynagh
Tynagh is a village and parish in south-east County Galway in Ireland.-Origin of the name:Recorded as Tyneaach , Teacneaghe , Theaneac , its current name is a contraction of Teach nEachach, 'Eochu's house'. In medieval Irish sources it is referred to as Teach nEachach, or 'the house of Eochu'...

.

Hydrocarbon exploration is ongoing following the first major find at the Kinsale Head gas field off Cork
Cork (city)
Cork is the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland and the island of Ireland's third most populous city. It is the principal city and administrative centre of County Cork and the largest city in the province of Munster. Cork has a population of 119,418, while the addition of the suburban...

 in the mid-1970s. More recently, in 1999, economically significant finds of natural gas
Natural gas
Natural gas is a naturally occurring gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, typically with 0–20% higher hydrocarbons . It is found associated with other hydrocarbon fuel, in coal beds, as methane clathrates, and is an important fuel source and a major feedstock for fertilizers.Most natural...

 were made in the Corrib Gas Field
Corrib Gas Field
The Corrib gas project entails the extraction of a natural gas deposit off the northwest coast of Ireland. The project includes a development of the Corrib gas field, and constructions of the natural gas pipeline and a gas processing plant. The project has attracted considerable...

 off the County Mayo
County Mayo
County Mayo is a county in Ireland. It is located in the West Region and is also part of the province of Connacht. It is named after the village of Mayo, which is now generally known as Mayo Abbey. Mayo County Council is the local authority for the county. The population of the county is 130,552...

 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
North Sea oil
North Sea oil is a mixture of hydrocarbons, comprising liquid oil and natural gas, produced from oil reservoirs beneath the North Sea.In the oil industry, the term "North Sea" often includes areas such as the Norwegian Sea and the area known as "West of Shetland", "the Atlantic Frontier" or "the...

. The Helvick oil field, estimated to contain over 28 Moilbbl of oil, is another recent discovery.

Places of interest



There are three World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

s on the island: the Brú na Boinne, Skellig Michael
Skellig Michael
Skellig Michael , also known as Great Skellig, is a steep rocky island in the Atlantic Ocean about 9 miles from the coast of County Kerry, Ireland. It is the larger of the two Skellig Islands...

 and the Giant's Causeway
Giant's Causeway
The Giant's Causeway is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption. It is located in County Antrim on the northeast coast of Northern Ireland, about three miles northeast of the town of Bushmills...

. A number of other places are on the tentative list, for example the Burren
The Burren
The Burren is a karst-landscape region or alvar in northwest County Clare, in Ireland. It is one of the largest karst landscapes in Europe. The region measures approximately 250 square kilometres and is enclosed roughly within the circle made by the villages Ballyvaughan, Kinvara, Tubber, Corofin,...

 and Mount Stewart
Mount Stewart
Mount Stewart is an 18th-century house and garden in County Down, Northern Ireland, owned by the National Trust. Situated on the east shore of Strangford Lough, a few miles outside the town of Newtownards and near Greyabbey, it was the home of the Vane-Tempest-Stewart family, Marquesses of...

.

Some of the most visited sites in Ireland include Bunratty Castle
Bunratty Castle
Bunratty Castle is a large tower house in County Clare, Ireland. It lies in the centre of Bunratty village , by the N18 road between Limerick and Ennis, near Shannon Town and its airport. The name Bunratty, Bun Raite in Irish, means the 'bottom' or end of the 'Ratty' river. This river, alongside...

, the Rock of Cashel
Rock of Cashel
The Rock of Cashel , also known as Cashel of the Kings and St. Patrick's Rock, is a historic site in Ireland's province of Munster, located at Cashel, South Tipperary.-History:...

, the Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher are located in the parish of Liscannor at the south-western edge of the Burren area near Doolin, which is located in County Clare, Ireland....

, Holy Cross Abbey
Holy Cross Abbey
The Holy Cross Abbey in Tipperary is a restored Cistercian monastery in Holycross near Thurles, County Tipperary, Ireland, situated on the River Suir. It takes its name from a relic of the True Cross or Holy rood....

 and Blarney Castle
Blarney Castle
Blarney Castle is a medieval stronghold in Blarney, near Cork, Ireland, and the River Martin. Though earlier fortifications were built on the same spot, the current keep was built by the MacCarthy of Muskerry dynasty, a cadet branch of the Kings of Desmond, and dates from 1446...

. Historically important monastic sites include Glendalough
Glendalough
Glendalough or Glendaloch is a glacial valley in County Wicklow, Ireland. It is renowned for its Early Medieval monastic settlement founded in the 6th century by St Kevin, a hermit priest, and partly destroyed in 1398 by English troops....

 and Clonmacnoise
Clonmacnoise
The monastery of Clonmacnoise is situated in County Offaly, Ireland on the River Shannon south of Athlone....

, which are maintained as national monuments
National Monument (Ireland)
The Irish state has officially approved the following List of National Monuments of Ireland. In the Republic of Ireland, a structure or site may be deemed to be a "National Monument", and therefore worthy of state protection, if it is of national importance...

 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
Guinness Storehouse
The Guinness Storehouse is a Guinness-themed tourist attraction located at St. James's Gate Brewery in Dublin, Republic of Ireland...

 and Book of Kells
Book of Kells
The Book of Kells is an illuminated manuscript Gospel book in Latin, containing the four Gospels of the New Testament together with various prefatory texts and tables. It was created by Celtic monks ca. 800 or slightly earlier...

. The west and south west, which includes the Lakes of Killarney
Lakes of Killarney
The Lakes of Killarney are a renowned scenic attraction located near Killarney, County Kerry, in Ireland. They consist of three lakes - Lough Leane, Muckross Lake and Upper Lake.Lough Leane is the largest of the three lakes...

 and the Dingle peninsula
Dingle Peninsula
The Dingle Peninsula is the northernmost of the major peninsulae in County Kerry. Its ends beyond the town of Dingle at Dunmore Head, the westernmost point of Ireland.-Name:...

 in County Kerry and Connemara
Connemara
Connemara is a district in the west of Ireland consisting of a broad peninsula between Killary Harbour and Kilkieran Bay in the west of County Galway.-Overview:...

 and the Aran Islands
Aran Islands
The Aran Islands or The Arans are a group of three islands located at the mouth of Galway Bay, on the west coast of Ireland. They constitute the barony of Aran in County Galway, Ireland...

 in County Galway
County Galway
County Galway is a county in Ireland. It is located in the West Region and is also part of the province of Connacht. It is named after the city of Galway. Galway County Council is the local authority for the county. There are several strongly Irish-speaking areas in the west of the county...

, are also popular tourist destinations. Achill Island
Achill Island
Achill Island in County Mayo is the largest island off the coast of Ireland, and is situated off the west coast. It has a population of 2,700. Its area is . Achill is attached to the mainland by Michael Davitt Bridge, between the villages of Gob an Choire and Poll Raithní . A bridge was first...

 lies off the coast of County Mayo
County Mayo
County Mayo is a county in Ireland. It is located in the West Region and is also part of the province of Connacht. It is named after the village of Mayo, which is now generally known as Mayo Abbey. Mayo County Council is the local authority for the county. The population of the county is 130,552...

 and is Ireland's largest island. It is a popular tourist destination for surfing and contains 5 Blue Flag beach
Blue Flag beach
The Blue Flag is a certification by the Foundation for Environmental Education that a beach or marina meets its stringent standards.The Blue Flag is a trademark owned by FEE which is a not-for-profit, non-governmental organisation consisting of 65 organisations in 60 member countries in Europe,...

es and Croaghaun
Croaghaun
Croaghaun is a mountain in County Mayo, Ireland. At 688 metres , it has the highest cliffs in Ireland and the second highest sea cliffs in Europe ....

 one of the worlds highest sea cliffs. Stately home
Stately home
A stately home is a "great country house". It is thus a palatial great house or in some cases an updated castle, located in the British Isles, mostly built between the mid-16th century and the early part of the 20th century, as well as converted abbeys and other church property...

s, built during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries in Palladian, Neoclassical
Neoclassical architecture
Neoclassical architecture was an architectural style produced by the neoclassical movement that began in the mid-18th century, manifested both in its details as a reaction against the Rococo style of naturalistic ornament, and in its architectural formulas as an outgrowth of some classicizing...

 and neo-Gothic styles, such as, Castle Ward
Castle Ward
Castle Ward is an 18th century National Trust property located near the village of Strangford, in County Down, Northern Ireland. It overlooks Strangford Lough and is 7 miles from Downpatrick and 1.5 miles from Strangford....

, Castletown House
Castletown House
Castletown House, Celbridge, County Kildare, Ireland's is a Palladian country house built in 1722 for William Conolly, the Speaker of the Irish House of Commons. It formed the centrepiece of a estate...

, Bantry House
Bantry House
Bantry House is a historic house with gardens in Bantry, County Cork, Ireland.-History:Bantry House was constructed in about 1700 on the South side of Bantry Bay. In 1750, Councillor Richard White bought Blackrock from Samuel Hutchinson and changed the name to Seafield...

, are also of interest to tourists. Some have been converted into hotels, such as Ashford Castle
Ashford Castle
Ashford Castle is a medieval castle turned five star luxury hotel near Cong on the Mayo/Galway Border in Ireland, on the shore of Lough Corrib. Ashford Castle is a member of the Leading Hotels of the World organization.-History:...

, Castle Leslie
Castle Leslie
Castle Leslie, home to an Irish branch of Clan Leslie, is located on the 4 km² Castle Leslie Estate adjacent to the village of Glaslough, north-east of Monaghan town in County Monaghan, Ireland.-Architecture:...

 and Dromoland Castle
Dromoland Castle
Dromoland Castle is a castle, now a luxury hotel with golf course, located near Newmarket-on-Fergus, County Clare, Ireland. Its restaurant, the Earl of Thomond, was awarded a Michelin star in 1995.The present building was completed in 1835...

.


Flora and fauna


As Ireland was isolated from mainland Europe by rising sea levels after the ice age
Ice age
An ice age or, more precisely, glacial age, is a generic geological period of long-term reduction in the temperature of the Earth's surface and atmosphere, resulting in the presence or expansion of continental ice sheets, polar ice sheets and alpine glaciers...

, it has less diverse animal and plant species than either Great Britain or mainland Europe. There are 55 mammal species in Ireland and of them only 26 land mammal
Mammal
Mammals are members of a class of air-breathing vertebrate animals characterised by the possession of endothermy, hair, three middle ear bones, and mammary glands functional in mothers with young...

 species are native to Ireland. Some species, such as, the red fox
Red Fox
The red fox is the largest of the true foxes, as well as being the most geographically spread member of the Carnivora, being distributed across the entire northern hemisphere from the Arctic Circle to North Africa, Central America, and the steppes of Asia...

, hedgehog
Hedgehog
A hedgehog is any of the spiny mammals of the subfamily Erinaceinae and the order Erinaceomorpha. There are 17 species of hedgehog in five genera, found through parts of Europe, Asia, Africa, and New Zealand . There are no hedgehogs native to Australia, and no living species native to the Americas...

 and badger
Badger
Badgers are short-legged omnivores in the weasel family, Mustelidae. There are nine species of badger, in three subfamilies : Melinae , Mellivorinae , and Taxideinae...

, are very common, whereas others, like the Irish hare
Mountain Hare
The Mountain Hare , also known as Blue Hare, Tundra Hare, Variable Hare, White Hare, Alpine Hare and Irish Hare, is a hare, which is largely adapted to polar and mountainous habitats. It is distributed from Fennoscandia to eastern Siberia; in addition there are isolated populations in the Alps,...

, red deer
Red Deer
The red deer is one of the largest deer species. Depending on taxonomy, the red deer inhabits most of Europe, the Caucasus Mountains region, Asia Minor, parts of western Asia, and central Asia. It also inhabits the Atlas Mountains region between Morocco and Tunisia in northwestern Africa, being...

 and pine marten
Pine Marten
The European Pine Marten , known most commonly as the pine marten in Anglophone Europe, and less commonly also known as Pineten, baum marten, or sweet marten, is an animal native to Northern Europe belonging to the mustelid family, which also includes mink, otter, badger, wolverine and weasel. It...

 are less so. Aquatic wildlife, such as species of turtle
Turtle
Turtles are reptiles of the order Testudines , characterised by a special bony or cartilaginous shell developed from their ribs that acts as a shield...

, shark
Shark
Sharks are a type of fish with a full cartilaginous skeleton and a highly streamlined body. The earliest known sharks date from more than 420 million years ago....

, whale
Whale
Whale is the common name for various marine mammals of the order Cetacea. The term whale sometimes refers to all cetaceans, but more often it excludes dolphins and porpoises, which belong to suborder Odontoceti . This suborder also includes the sperm whale, killer whale, pilot whale, and beluga...

, and dolphin
Dolphin
Dolphins are marine mammals that are closely related to whales and porpoises. There are almost forty species of dolphin in 17 genera. They vary in size from and , up to and . They are found worldwide, mostly in the shallower seas of the continental shelves, and are carnivores, mostly eating...

, are common off the coast. About 400 species of birds have been recorded in Ireland. Many of these are migratory, including the Barn Swallow
Barn Swallow
The Barn Swallow is the most widespread species of swallow in the world. It is a distinctive passerine bird with blue upperparts, a long, deeply forked tail and curved, pointed wings. It is found in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas...

. Most of Ireland's bird species come from Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

, Greenland
Greenland
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

 and Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

.

Several different habitat
Habitat (ecology)
A habitat is an ecological or environmental area that is inhabited by a particular species of animal, plant or other type of organism...

 types are found in Ireland, including farmland, open woodland, temperate broadleaf and mixed forests
Temperate broadleaf and mixed forests
Mixed forests are a temperate and humid biome. The typical structure of these forests includes four layers. The uppermost layer is the canopy composed of tall mature trees ranging from 33 to 66 m high. Below the canopy is the three-layered, shade-tolerant understory that is roughly 9 to...

, conifer plantations, peat
Peat
Peat is an accumulation of partially decayed vegetation matter or histosol. Peat forms in wetland bogs, moors, muskegs, pocosins, mires, and peat swamp forests. Peat is harvested as an important source of fuel in certain parts of the world...

 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 top predator in Ireland, populations of animals, such as semi-wild deer, that cannot be controlled by smaller predators, such as the fox, are controlled by annual culling
Culling
Culling is the process of removing animals from a group based on specific criteria. This is done either to reinforce certain desirable characteristics or to remove certain undesirable characteristics from the group...

.

There are no snakes in Ireland and only one reptile (the common lizard
Viviparous lizard
The viviparous lizard or common lizard is a Eurasian lizard. It lives farther north than any other reptile species, and most populations are viviparous , rather than laying eggs as most other lizards do.-Identification:The length of the body is less than...

) is native to the island. Extinct species include the Irish elk
Irish Elk
The Irish Elk or Giant Deer , was a species of Megaloceros and one of the largest deer that ever lived. Its range extended across Eurasia, from Ireland to east of Lake Baikal, during the Late Pleistocene. The latest known remains of the species have been carbon dated to about 7,700 years ago...

, the great auk
Great Auk
The Great Auk, Pinguinus impennis, formerly of the genus Alca, was a large, flightless alcid that became extinct in the mid-19th century. It was the only modern species in the genus Pinguinus, a group of birds that formerly included one other species of flightless giant auk from the Atlantic Ocean...

 and the wolf. Some previously extinct birds, such as, the Golden Eagle
Golden Eagle
The Golden Eagle is one of the best known birds of prey in the Northern Hemisphere. Like all eagles, it belongs to the family Accipitridae. Once widespread across the Holarctic, it has disappeared from many of the more heavily populated areas...

, have recently been reintroduced after decades of extirpation
Local extinction
Local extinction, also known as extirpation, is the condition of a species which ceases to exist in the chosen geographic area of study, though it still exists elsewhere...

.

Until medieval times Ireland was heavily forested with oak
Oak
An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus , of which about 600 species exist. "Oak" may also appear in the names of species in related genera, notably Lithocarpus...

, pine
Pine
Pines are trees in the genus Pinus ,in the family Pinaceae. They make up the monotypic subfamily Pinoideae. There are about 115 species of pine, although different authorities accept between 105 and 125 species.-Etymology:...

 and birch
Birch
Birch is a tree or shrub of the genus Betula , in the family Betulaceae, closely related to the beech/oak family, Fagaceae. The Betula genus contains 30–60 known taxa...

. Forests today cover about 12.6% of Ireland, of which 4,450 km² or one million acres is owned by Coillte, the Republic's forestry service. The Republic lies in 42nd place (out of 55) in a list of the most 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
Spartina anglica
Spartina anglica is a species of cordgrass that originated in southern England in about 1870. It is an allotetraploid species derived from the hybrid Spartina × townsendii, which arose when the European native cordgrass Spartina maritima hybridised with the introduced American Spartina...

.
The algal
Algae
Algae are a large and diverse group of simple, typically autotrophic organisms, ranging from unicellular to multicellular forms, such as the giant kelps that grow to 65 meters in length. They are photosynthetic like plants, and "simple" because their tissues are not organized into the many...

 and seaweed flora is that of the cold-temperate variety. The total number of species is 574 and is distributed as follows:
  • 264 Rhodophyta (red algae)
  • 152 Phaeophyceae (brown algae including kelps)
  • 114 Chloropyta
    Green algae
    The green algae are the large group of algae from which the embryophytes emerged. As such, they form a paraphyletic group, although the group including both green algae and embryophytes is monophyletic...

     (green algae)
  • 31 Cyanophyta (Blue-green algae)


Rarer species include:
  • Itonoa marginifera (J.Agardh) Masuda & Guiry
  • Schmitzia hiscockiana
    Schmitzia hiscockiana
    Schmitzia hiscockiana Maggs & Guiry is a small, rare, red seaweed or marine alga of the phylum Rhodophyta or red algae. It was discovered and named in 1985.-Distribution:...

     Maggs & Guiry
  • Gelidiella calcicola
    Gelidiella calcicola
    Gelidiella calcicola is a rare seaweed species in the Rhodophyta, described for the first time in 1988.-Botanical description:Gelidiella calcicola is a small creeping alga that forms prostrate low-growing tufts on the surface of calcareous substrata...

     Maggs & Guiry
  • Gelidium maggsiae Rico & Guiry
  • Halymenia latifolia P.L.Crouan & H.M.Crouan ex Kützing.


The island has been invaded by some algae, some of which are now well established. For example:
  • Asparagopsis armara Harvey, which originated in Australia and was first recorded by M. De Valera in 1939
  • Colpomenia peregrina
    Colpomenia peregrina
    Colpomenia peregrina Hamel is a seaweed not native to the British Isles but recorded in Ireland since 1934. It appears to have been introduced from the Pacific and was first noticed in Europe in 1906 on oyster beds. It has now been recorded throughout the eastern north Atlantic from Norway and...

     Sauvageau, which is now locally abundant and first recorded in the 1930s
  • Sargassum
    Sargassum
    Sargassum is a genus of brown macroalga in the order Fucales. Numerous species are distributed throughout the temperate and tropical oceans of the world, where they generally inhabit shallow water and coral reefs. However, the genus may be best known for its planktonic species...

     muticum (Yendo) Fensholt, now well established in a number of localities on the south, west, and north-east coasts
  • Codium fragile ssp. fragile (formerly reported as ssp. tomentosum), now well established.


Codium fragile ssp. atlanticum has recently been established to be native, although for many years it was regarded as an alien species.

Because of its mild climate, many species, including sub-tropical
Subtropics
The subtropics are the geographical and climatical zone of the Earth immediately north and south of the tropical zone, which is bounded by the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, at latitudes 23.5°N and 23.5°S...

 species such as palm trees
Arecaceae
Arecaceae or Palmae , are a family of flowering plants, the only family in the monocot order Arecales. There are roughly 202 currently known genera with around 2600 species, most of which are restricted to tropical, subtropical, and warm temperate climates...

, are grown in Ireland. Phytogeographically
Phytogeography
Phytogeography , also called geobotany, is the branch of biogeography that is concerned with the geographic distribution of plant species...

, Ireland belongs to the Atlantic European province of the Circumboreal Region
Circumboreal Region
The Circumboreal Region is a floristic region within the Holarctic Kingdom in Eurasia and North America, as delineated by such geobotanists as Josias Braun-Blanquet and Armen Takhtajan....

 within the Boreal Kingdom
Boreal Kingdom
The Boreal Kingdom or Holarctic Kingdom is a floristic kingdom identified by botanist Ronald Good , which includes the temperate to Arctic portions of North America and Eurasia. Its flora is inherited from the ancient supercontinent of Laurasia...

. The island itself can be subdivided into two ecoregion
Ecoregion
An ecoregion , sometimes called a bioregion, is an ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than an ecozone and larger than an ecosystem. Ecoregions cover relatively large areas of land or water, and contain characteristic, geographically distinct assemblages of natural...

s: the Celtic broadleaf forests and North Atlantic moist mixed forests.

Impact of agriculture



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
Common Agricultural Policy
The Common Agricultural Policy is a system of European Union agricultural subsidies and programmes. It represents 48% of the EU's budget, €49.8 billion in 2006 ....

, 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 recent reforms have gradually decoupled subsidies from production levels and introduced environmental and other requirements.

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
Killarney National Park
Killarney National Park is located beside the town of Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland. It was the first national park established in Ireland, created when Muckross Estate was donated to the Irish state in 1932...

. Natural areas require fencing to prevent over-grazing by deer
Deer of Ireland
There are three species of deer living wild in Ireland today, namely Red Deer, Fallow Deer, and the Sika Deer. Red deer have been in Ireland since the end of the ice age, but almost became extinct there, with only around 60 left, in the 20th century, but have now made a comeback to approximately...

 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.

Economy



Ireland was largely passed over by the industrial revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

. One reason given why Ireland did not experience an industrial revolution is because of the scarcity of coal and iron, resources that facilitate an industrial revolution. However, there were other countries that lacked these resources but nonetheless industrialised, so there may be other reasons why Ireland did not industrialise. Nineteenth-century explanations for why Ireland did not industrialise did not blame the absence of natural resources but that "The fault is not in the country, but in ourselves; the absence of successful enterprise is owing to the fact, that we do not know how to succeed ... we want special industrial knowledge." Some historians today point to the sudden union with the structurally superior economy of England. They point out that iron and coal prices in Ireland were as cheap as they were in parts of England outside of the mining centres – and a little cheaper in some parts – and that, on the eve of union with Great Britain, Ireland was industrialising (particularly the linen
Linen
Linen is a textile made from the fibers of the flax plant, Linum usitatissimum. Linen is labor-intensive to manufacture, but when it is made into garments, it is valued for its exceptional coolness and freshness in hot weather....

 industry). It may be that, by merging the two economies suddenly, Ireland did not industrialise, but "instead became a supplier of food – and capital – to the 'mainland'."

Mass emigration followed in the wake of the Great Famine in the mid-19th century and continued until the 1980s. However, the Irish economic experience reversed dramatically during the course of the 1990s, which saw the beginning of unprecedented economic growth in the Republic of Ireland, in a phenomenon known as the "Celtic Tiger
Celtic Tiger
Celtic Tiger is a term used to describe the economy of Ireland during a period of rapid economic growth between 1995 and 2007. The expansion underwent a dramatic reversal from 2008, with GDP contracting by 14% and unemployment levels rising to 14% by 2010...

", and peace being restored in Northern Ireland. In 2005 the Republic of Ireland was ranked the best place to live in the world according to a "quality of life
Quality of life
The term quality of life is used to evaluate the general well-being of individuals and societies. The term is used in a wide range of contexts, including the fields of international development, healthcare, and politics. Quality of life should not be confused with the concept of standard of...

" assessment by The Economist
The Economist
The Economist is an English-language weekly news and international affairs publication owned by The Economist Newspaper Ltd. and edited in offices in the City of Westminster, London, England. Continuous publication began under founder James Wilson in September 1843...

 magazine. The Republic of Ireland joined the euro
Euro
The euro is the official currency of the eurozone: 17 of the 27 member states of the European Union. It is also the currency used by the Institutions of the European Union. The eurozone consists of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg,...

 in 1999, while Northern Ireland remained with the pound sterling
Pound sterling
The pound sterling , commonly called the pound, is the official currency of the United Kingdom, its Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, British Antarctic Territory and Tristan da Cunha. It is subdivided into 100 pence...

. Both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland entered recession in 2008 and, in 2009, the unemployment rate for the Republic of Ireland was 12.5% due to the 2008–2010 Irish financial crisis.

Transport




Ireland has five main international airports: Dublin Airport
Dublin Airport
Dublin Airport, , is operated by the Dublin Airport Authority. Located in Collinstown, in the Fingal part of County Dublin, 18.4 million passengers passed through the airport in 2010, making it the busiest airport in the Republic of Ireland, followed by Cork and Shannon...

, Belfast International Airport
Belfast International Airport
Belfast International Airport is a major airport located northwest of Belfast in Northern Ireland. It was formerly known and is still referred to as Aldergrove Airport, after the village of the same name lying immediately to the west of the airport. Belfast International shares its runways with...

 (Aldergrove), Cork Airport, Shannon Airport
Shannon Airport
Shannon Airport, is one of the Republic of Ireland's three primary airports along with Dublin and Cork. In 2010 around 1,750,000 passengers passed through the airport, making it the third busiest airport in the Republic of Ireland after Dublin and Cork, and the fifth busiest airport on the island...

 and Ireland West Airport
Ireland West Airport Knock
-Ground transport:BusBus Éireann currently provide services from the Airport on the Derry-Sligo-Galway and Galway-Sligo-Derry Route 64, Ireland West Airport Knock - Castlebar - Westport - Achill Island route 440, Dublin - Athlone - Ireland West Airport Knock - Westport route 21, and connects with...

 (Knock). Dublin Airport is the busiest of these
World's busiest airports by international passenger traffic
The following is a list of the world's busiest airports by international passenger traffic.London Heathrow has been the busiest since 2000-2010 year-to-date statistics:Airports Council International's year-to-date figures are as follows....

, carrying over 22 million passengers per year; a second terminal (T2) was opened in November 2010. All provide services to Great Britain and continental Europe, while Belfast International, Dublin and Shannon also offer transatlantic services. For several decades until 2007 Shannon was a mandatory stopover for transatlantic routes to the United States. In recent years it has opened a pre-screening service allowing passengers to pass through US immigration services before departing from Ireland. There are also several smaller regional airports: George Best Belfast City Airport
George Best Belfast City Airport
George Best Belfast City Airport is a single-runway airport in Belfast, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Situated adjacent to the Port of Belfast it is from Belfast City Centre. It shares the site with the Short Brothers/Bombardier aircraft manufacturing facility...

, City of Derry Airport
City of Derry Airport
City of Derry Airport is an airport located northeast of Derry, Northern Ireland. It is located on the south bank of Lough Foyle, a short distance from the village of Eglinton and from the city centre...

, Galway Airport
Galway Airport
Galway Airport is located at Carnmore, north of Galway City, County Galway, Ireland and is managed by Corrib Airport Limited.On 31 October 2011 the airport's sole remaining operator Aer Arann ceased commercial operations at the airport...

, Kerry Airport
Kerry Airport
-Ground transportation:Kerry Airport is approximately from both Cork and Limerick. Iarnród Éireann's Farranfore railway station is located to the south with services to Killarney, Tralee, Cork and Dublin....

 (Farranfore), Sligo Airport
Sligo Airport
Sligo Airport is located in Strandhill, County Sligo, west of Sligo in Ireland. The airport is a small regional airport and has no scheduled routes.-Introduction:...

 (Strandhill), Waterford Airport
Waterford Airport
Waterford Airport , is south-east of Waterford. It is in Killowen near Waterford City serving the south-east of Ireland. The airport is operated by Waterford Regional Airport Plc. In 2009 112,000 passengers passed through the airport...

 and Donegal Airport
Donegal Airport
Donegal Airport is located south-west of An Bun Beag , being located at Carrickfinn, a townland in The Rosses, a district in north-west County Donegal, Ireland. The small airport is located right on the county's north-west coast. It is about a 15 minute drive from Dungloe and Gweedore and 45...

 (Carrickfinn). Scheduled services from these regional points are in the main limited to flights travelling to other parts of Ireland and to Great Britain. Airlines based in Ireland include Aer Lingus
Aer Lingus
Aer Lingus Group Plc is the flag carrier of Ireland. It operates a fleet of Airbus aircraft serving Europe and North America. It is Ireland's oldest extant airline, and its second largest after low-cost rival Ryanair...

 (the former national airline of the Republic of Ireland), Ryanair
Ryanair
Ryanair is an Irish low-cost airline. Its head office is at Dublin Airport and its primary operational bases at Dublin Airport and London Stansted Airport....

, Aer Arann
Aer Arann
Aer Arann is a regional airline based in Dublin, Ireland. Aer Arann operates scheduled services from Ireland and the Isle of Man to destinations in Ireland, the United Kingdom, and France, with a fleet of 18 aircraft. Aer Arann has expanded from a single aircraft to Ireland's third largest airline...

 and CityJet
Cityjet
CityJet Limited is an Irish regional airline headquartered in the Swords Business Campus in Swords, County Dublin, Ireland. It operates at London City Airport, and flies franchise services on behalf of its parent company Air France from Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. Since the take over of VLM...

.

Ireland has major ports in Dublin
Dublin Port
Dublin Port is Ireland's biggest sea port. It has both historical and contemporary economic importance. Approximatively two-thirds of the Republic of Ireland's port traffic goes via Dublin Port...

, Belfast
Port of Belfast
Belfast Harbour is a major maritime gateway in Northern Ireland, serving the Northern Ireland economy and increasingly that of the Republic of Ireland...

, Cork
Cork Harbour
Cork Harbour is a natural harbour and river estuary at the mouth of the River Lee in County Cork, Ireland. It is one of several which lay claim to the title of "second largest natural harbour in the world by navigational area" . Other contenders include Halifax Harbour in Canada, and Poole Harbour...

, Rosslare
Rosslare Europort
Rosslare Europort is a modern seaport located at Rosslare Harbour in County Wexford, Ireland, near the southeastern-most point of Ireland's coastline, handling passenger and freight ferries to and from Wales and France....

, Derry
Londonderry Port
Londonderry Port at Lisahally is a port near Derry, Northern Ireland. It is the United Kingdom’s most westerly port, has capacity for 30,000 ton vessels and accepts cruise ships. The current port is on the east bank of the River Foyle at the southern end of Lough Foyle, by the small village of...

 and Waterford
Port of Waterford
The Port of Waterford is situated several kilometres downstream of Waterford City on the northern side of the Suir river in South County Kilkenny, and is called Belview...

. Smaller ports exist in Arklow, Ballina, Drogheda, Dundalk, Dún Laoghaire, Foynes, Galway, Larne, Limerick, New Ross, Sligo, Warrenpoint and Wicklow. Ports in the Republic handle 3.6 million travellers crossing the sea between Ireland and Great Britain
Irish Sea
The Irish Sea 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 Atlantic Ocean in the north by the North Channel. Anglesey is the largest island within the Irish Sea, followed by the Isle of Man...

 each year. The vast majority of heavy goods trade is done by sea. Ports in Northern Ireland handle 10 megatons (11 million short tons) of goods trade with Britain annually, while ports in the Republic of Ireland handle 7.6 Mt (8.4 million short tons).

Ferry connections between Ireland and Great Britain via the Irish Sea include routes from Dublin to Holyhead
Holyhead
Holyhead is the largest town in the county of Anglesey in the North Wales. It is also a major port adjacent to the Irish Sea serving Ireland....

, Birkenhead
Birkenhead
Birkenhead is a town within the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral in Merseyside, England. It is on the Wirral Peninsula, along the west bank of the River Mersey, opposite the city of Liverpool...

, and Douglas, Isle of Man
Douglas, Isle of Man
right|thumb|250px|Douglas Promenade, which runs nearly the entire length of beachfront in Douglasright|thumb|250px|Sea terminal in DouglasDouglas is the capital and largest town of the Isle of Man, with a population of 26,218 people . It is located at the mouth of the River Douglas, and a sweeping...

, Belfast to Stranraer
Stranraer
Stranraer is a town in the southwest of Scotland. It lies in the west of Dumfries and Galloway and in the county of Wigtownshire.Stranraer lies on the shores of Loch Ryan on the northern side of the isthmus joining the Rhins of Galloway to the mainland...

, Birkenhead
Birkenhead
Birkenhead is a town within the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral in Merseyside, England. It is on the Wirral Peninsula, along the west bank of the River Mersey, opposite the city of Liverpool...

 and Douglas, Isle of Man
Douglas, Isle of Man
right|thumb|250px|Douglas Promenade, which runs nearly the entire length of beachfront in Douglasright|thumb|250px|Sea terminal in DouglasDouglas is the capital and largest town of the Isle of Man, with a population of 26,218 people . It is located at the mouth of the River Douglas, and a sweeping...

, Larne to Cairnryan
Cairnryan
Cairnryan is a small Scottish village in Dumfries and Galloway on the eastern shore of Loch Ryan. The village has been of vital importance in maritime history.-Ferry Port:...

 and Troon
Troon
Troon is a town in South Ayrshire. It is situated on the west coast of Scotland, about eight miles north of Ayr and three miles northwest of Glasgow Prestwick International Airport. Lying across the Firth of Clyde, the Isle of Arran can be seen. Troon is also a port with freight and ferry services...

, Cork to Swansea
Swansea
Swansea is a coastal city and county in Wales. Swansea is in the historic county boundaries of Glamorgan. Situated on the sandy South West Wales coast, the county area includes the Gower Peninsula and the Lliw uplands...

 and Rosslare to Fishguard
Fishguard
Fishguard is a coastal town in Pembrokeshire, south-west Wales, with a population of 3,300 . The community of Fishguard and Goodwick had a population of 5043 at the 2001 census....

 and Pembroke
Pembrokeshire
Pembrokeshire is a county in the south west of Wales. It borders Carmarthenshire to the east and Ceredigion to the north east. The county town is Haverfordwest where Pembrokeshire County Council is headquartered....

.

There are also ferry connections to France, from Rosslare to Roscoff
Roscoff
Roscoff is a commune in the Finistère department of Brittany in northwestern France.The nearby Île de Batz, called Enez Vaz in Breton, is a small island that can be reached by launch from the harbour....

 and Cherbourg, and also from Cork to Roscoff
Roscoff
Roscoff is a commune in the Finistère department of Brittany in northwestern France.The nearby Île de Batz, called Enez Vaz in Breton, is a small island that can be reached by launch from the harbour....

.

Several (mainly hypothetical) plans to build an "Irish Sea tunnel
Irish Sea Tunnel
An Irish Sea Tunnel is a proposed tunnel that would link the island of Ireland to Great Britain beneath the Irish Sea. It has been suggested in the past largely for political reasons. It would be a railway tunnel, similar to the Channel Tunnel beneath the English Channel...

" have been proposed. The first serious proposal was made in 1897, which was for a tunnel between Ireland and Scotland crossing the North Channel
North Channel (Great Britain and Ireland)
The North Channel is the strait which separates eastern Northern Ireland from southwestern Scotland...

. Most recently, in 2004, the Irish Academy of Engineering envisaged a "Tusker Tunnel
Tusker Tunnel
The Tusker Tunnel is an idea for an Irish Sea tunnel project aimed at linking the ports of Rosslare and Fishguard located in Ireland and Wales respectively. The idea was first mentioned by the Institute of Engineers of Ireland in 2004...

" between the ports of Rosslare and Fishguard. In 1997 a British engineering firm, Symonds, proposed a rail tunnel from Dublin to Holyhead. Either of the two most recent proposals, at 80 km (49.7 mi), would be by far the longest tunnel in the world and would cost an estimated €20bn.
The railway network in Ireland was developed by various private companies during the 19th century, with some receiving government funding in the late 19th century. The network reached its greatest extent by 1920. A broad gauge
Broad gauge
Broad-gauge railways use a track gauge greater than the standard gauge of .- List :For list see: List of broad gauges, by gauge and country- History :...

 of 1,600mm (5 ft 3in) was agreed as the standard the island
Irish gauge
Irish gauge railways use a track gauge of . It is used in* Ireland * Australia where it is also known as Victorian Broad Gauge* Brazil where it is also known as Bitola larga no Brasil....

, although there were also hundreds of kilometres of 914mm (3 ft) narrow gauge railways.

Long distance passenger trains in the Republic of Ireland are managed by Iarnród Éireann
Iarnród Éireann
Iarnród Éireann is the national railway system operator of Ireland. Established on 2 February 1987, it is a subsidiary of Córas Iompair Éireann . It operates all internal intercity, commuter and freight railway services in the Republic of Ireland, and, jointly with Northern Ireland Railways, the...

 and connect most major towns and cities. In Northern Ireland all rail services are provided by Northern Ireland Railways
Northern Ireland Railways
NI Railways, also known as Northern Ireland Railways and for a brief period of time, Ulster Transport Railways , is the railway operator in Northern Ireland...

. Ireland has one of the largest dedicated freight railways in Europe, operated by Bord na Móna
Bord na Móna
Bord na Móna , abbreviated BNM, is a semi-state company in Ireland, created in 1946 by the Turf Development Act 1946. The company is responsible for the mechanised harvesting of peat, primarily in the Midlands of Ireland...

 totalling nearly 1400 kilometres (869.9 mi).

In Dublin, two local rail networks provide transport in the city and its immediate vicinity. The Dublin Area Rapid Transit
Dublin Area Rapid Transit
The Dublin Area Rapid Transit is part of the suburban railway network in Ireland, running mainly along the coastline of Dublin Bay on the Trans-Dublin route, from Greystones in County Wicklow, through Dublin to Howth and Malahide in County Dublin.Trains are powered via a 1500V DC overhead catenary...

 (DART) links the city centre with coastal suburbs. A new light rail
Light rail
Light rail or light rail transit is a form of urban rail public transportation that generally has a lower capacity and lower speed than heavy rail and metro systems, but higher capacity and higher speed than traditional street-running tram systems...

 system, the Luas
Luas
Luas , also promoted in the development stage as the Dublin Light Rail System, is a tram or light rail system serving Dublin, the first such system in the decades since the closure of the last of the Dublin tramways. In 2007, the system carried 28.4 million passengers, a growth of 10% since...

, opened in 2004 and transports passengers to the central and western suburbs. Several more Luas lines are planned as well as a Dublin metro system
Dublin Metro
The Dublin Metro is a proposed metro system for the city of Dublin. The first two lines were set out in the Irish Government's 2005 Transport 21 transport plan: they are known as Metro North and Metro West...

. The DART is run by Iarnród Éireann and the Luas is run by Veolia under franchise from the Railway Procurement Agency
Railway Procurement Agency
Railway Procurement Agency is a State Agency of the Department of Transport in the Republic of Ireland charged with the development of light railway and metro infrastructure...

. Under the Irish government's Transport 21
Transport 21
Transport 21 is an Irish infrastructure plan, announced in November 2005. It aims to greatly expand Ireland's transport network. A cost estimate of €34 billion was attached to the plan at the time....

 plan, the Cork to Midleton
Midleton
Midleton, historically Middleton , is a town in south-eastern County Cork, Ireland. It lies some 22 km east of Cork City on the Owenacurra River and the N25 road, which connects Cork to the port of Rosslare...

 rail link was reopened in 2009. The re-opening of the Navan
Navan
-People:Navan was the childhood home of Pierce Brosnan, who appeared in the television series Remington Steele and was the fifth film actor to play James Bond. TV personality Hector Ó hEochagáin, and comedians Dylan Moran and Tommy Tiernan also hail from Navan....

-Clonsilla
Clonsilla
Clonsilla is a suburb of Dublin in the district of Fingal, Ireland.-Location and access:Originally a small village in its own right, Clonsilla is now a large residential suburban area, with Ongar and other localities developing their own subsidiary identities...

 rail link and the Western Rail Corridor are amongst future projects as part of the same plan.

Public transport services in Northern Ireland are sparse in comparison with those of the rest of Ireland or Great Britain. A large railway network was severely curtailed in the 1950s and 1960s. Current services includes suburban routes to Larne
Larne
Larne is a substantial seaport and industrial market town on the east coast of County Antrim, Northern Ireland with a population of 18,228 people in the 2001 Census. As of 2011, there are about 31,000 residents in the greater Larne area. It has been used as a seaport for over 1,000 years, and is...

, Newry and Bangor, as well as services to Derry. There is also a branch from Coleraine
Coleraine
Coleraine is a large town near the mouth of the River Bann in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland. It is northwest of Belfast and east of Derry, both of which are linked by major roads and railway connections...

 to Portrush
Portrush
Portrush is a small seaside resort town in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, on the County Londonderry border. The main part of the old town, including the railway station as well as most hotels, restaurants and bars, is built on a mile–long peninsula, Ramore Head, pointing north-northwest....

.

Motorists in Ireland drive on the left
Driving on the left or right
The terms right-hand traffic and left-hand traffic refer to regulations requiring all bidirectional traffic to keep either to the right or the left side of the road, respectively. This is so fundamental to traffic flow that it is sometimes referred to as the rule of the road. This basic rule eases...

. There is an extensive road network and a developing motorway network fanning out from Dublin and Belfast in particular. Historically, land owners developed most roads and later Turnpike Trusts collected tolls so that as early as 1800 Ireland had a 16100 kilometres (10,004.1 mi) road network. In recent years, the Irish Government launched a new transport plan that is the largest investment project ever in Ireland's transport system, investing €34 billion from 2006 until 2015. Work on a number of road projects has already commenced and a number of objectives have been completed.

Ireland's first mail coach
Mail coach
In Great Britain, the mail coach or post coach was a horse-drawn carriage that carried mail deliveries, from 1784. In Ireland, the first mail coach began service from Dublin in 1789. The coach was drawn by four horses and had seating for four passengers inside. Further passengers were later allowed...

 services were contracted with the government by John Anderson
John Anderson (Scottish businessman)
John Anderson was a Scottish businessman and entrepreneur.-Overview:Anderson was born into a poor family at Portland near Dumfries, Scotland and moved to Glasgow in 1784. He later settled in Cork City, at that time the major provisioning centre on the Atlantic Coast. During the American wars he...

 with William Bourne in 1791 who also paid to improve the condition of the roads. The system of mail coaches, carriages and "bians" was further developed by Charles Bianconi
Charles Bianconi
-Life and work:Born Carlo Bianconi in Costa Masnaga on September 24, 1786, he moved from an area poised to fall to Napoleon and travelled to Ireland in 1802, via England, just four years after the 1798 rebellion. At the time, British fear of continental invasion resulted in an acute sense of...

, based in Clonmel, from 1815 as a fore-runner of the modern Irish public transportation system.

Today the main bus companies are Bus Éireann
Bus Éireann
Bus Éireann provides bus services in Ireland with the exception of those operated entirely within the Dublin Region, which are provided by Dublin Bus. Bus Éireann, established as a separate company in 1987, is a subsidiary of Córas Iompair Éireann. The logo of Bus Éireann incorporates a red Irish...

 in the Republic and Ulsterbus
Ulsterbus
Ulsterbus is a public transport operator in Northern Ireland and operates bus services outside Belfast. It is part of Translink , which also includes Northern Ireland Railways, Metro Belfast and Flexibus.-Services:Ulsterbus is responsible for most of the province-wide bus...

 in Northern Ireland, both of which offer extensive passenger service in all parts of the island. Dublin Bus
Dublin Bus
Dublin Bus is a public transport operator in Ireland. It operates an extensive bus network of 172 radial, cross-city and peripheral routes and 18 night routes in the city of Dublin and the Greater Dublin Area. The company, established in 1987, is a subsidiary of Córas Iompair Éireann which is...

 specifically serves the greater Dublin area and Metro
Metro (Belfast)
Metro is the trading name for bus company Citybus in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It is a subsidiary of the Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company, within the common management structure of Translink, along with Ulsterbus and Northern Ireland Railways....

 operates services within the greater Belfast area.

Signposts and speed limits in the Republic of Ireland are shown in kilometres per hour, with speed limits having changed in 2005. Distance and speed limit signs in Northern Ireland use imperial units in common with the rest of United Kingdom.

Electricity networks


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
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 to mainland Europe. The situation in Northern Ireland is complicated by the issue of private companies not supplying Northern Ireland Electricity
Northern Ireland Electricity
Northern Ireland Electricity Limited is the electricity asset owner of the transmission and distribution infrastructure in Northern Ireland. NIE does not own generate or supply electricity. NIE is a subsidiary of ESB Group....

 (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
Eirgrid
EirGrid plc is the state-owned electric power transmission operator in the Republic of Ireland. It is a public limited company registered under the Companies Acts; Its shares are held by the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources who appoints the board and the Minister for Finance...

 is building a HVDC
High-voltage direct current
A high-voltage, direct current electric power transmission system uses direct current for the bulk transmission of electrical power, in contrast with the more common alternating current systems. For long-distance transmission, HVDC systems may be less expensive and suffer lower electrical losses...

 transmission line between Ireland and Great Britain with a capacity of 500 MW, about 10% of Ireland's peak demand.


Similar to electricity, the natural gas
Natural gas
Natural gas is a naturally occurring gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, typically with 0–20% higher hydrocarbons . It is found associated with other hydrocarbon fuel, in coal beds, as methane clathrates, and is an important fuel source and a major feedstock for fertilizers.Most natural...

 distribution network is also now all-island, with a pipeline linking Gormanston, County Meath
Gormanston, County Meath
Gormanston or Gormanstown is a village in County Meath, Ireland. It is near the mouth of the River Delvin and the northern border of County Dublin.-Access:Gormanston is near the M1 Dublin-Belfast road...

, and Ballyclare
Ballyclare
Ballyclare is a small town in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It had a population of 8,770 people in the 2001 Census...

, County Antrim
County Antrim
County Antrim is one of six counties that form Northern Ireland, situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland. Adjoined to the north-east shore of Lough Neagh, the county covers an area of 2,844 km², with a population of approximately 616,000...

. Most of Ireland's gas comes through interconnectors between Twynholm
Twynholm
Twynholm is a small village in Kirkcudbrightshire, Dumfries and Galloway. It is located 3km north-north west of Kirkcudbright.Twynholm is the home town of Formula One racing driver David Coulthard. A museum to his career was established in the village and is a popular tourist attraction.The...

 in Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 and Ballylumford
Ballylumford power station
Ballylumford power station is a natural gas-fired power station in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. With its main plant generating 600 megawatts of electricity, it is Northern Ireland's largest power station and provides half of the country's power. Overall the station produces 1316MW...

, County Antrim and Loughshinny
Loughshinny
Loughshinny is a small village in Fingal, County Dublin, Ireland. The seaside village is between Skerries and Rush. Loughshinny's more famous landmarks are the Martello Tower and some unusual rock formations visible on some of the many coastal walks in the area. Loughshinny's most famous resident...

, County Dublin
County Dublin
County Dublin is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Dublin Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the city of Dublin which is the capital of Ireland. County Dublin was one of the first of the parts of Ireland to be shired by King John of England following the...

. A decreasing supply is coming from the Kinsale gas field off the County Cork coast and the Corrib Gas Field
Corrib Gas Field
The Corrib gas project entails the extraction of a natural gas deposit off the northwest coast of Ireland. The project includes a development of the Corrib gas field, and constructions of the natural gas pipeline and a gas processing plant. The project has attracted considerable...

 off the coast of County Mayo
County Mayo
County Mayo is a county in Ireland. It is located in the West Region and is also part of the province of Connacht. It is named after the village of Mayo, which is now generally known as Mayo Abbey. Mayo County Council is the local authority for the county. The population of the county is 130,552...

 has yet to come on-line. The County Mayo field is facing some localised opposition over a controversial decision
Corrib gas controversy
The Corrib gas controversy concerns plans by Shell E&P Ireland, Statoil Exploration Limited, Vermilion Energy Trust and the Irish government for processing the Corrib gas field through Broadhaven Bay and Sruth Fada Conn Bay in Kilcommon parish, Erris, County Mayo, and objections raised against...

 to refine the gas onshore.

There have been recent efforts in Ireland to use renewable energy
Renewable energy
Renewable energy is energy which comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat, which are renewable . About 16% of global final energy consumption comes from renewables, with 10% coming from traditional biomass, which is mainly used for heating, and 3.4% from...

 such as wind power
Wind power
Wind power is the conversion of wind energy into a useful form of energy, such as using wind turbines to make electricity, windmills for mechanical power, windpumps for water pumping or drainage, or sails to propel ships....

. Large wind farm
Wind farm
A wind farm is a group of wind turbines in the same location used to produce electric power. A large wind farm may consist of several hundred individual wind turbines, and cover an extended area of hundreds of square miles, but the land between the turbines may be used for agricultural or other...

s 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 consider the wind turbine
Wind turbine
A wind turbine is a device that converts kinetic energy from the wind into mechanical energy. If the mechanical energy is used to produce electricity, the device may be called a wind generator or wind charger. If the mechanical energy is used to drive machinery, such as for grinding grain or...

s 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.

Demographics


People have lived in Ireland for over 9,000 years, although little is known about the palaeolithic and neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 inhabitants of the island. Early historical and genealogical records note the existence of dozens of different peoples that may or may not be mythological, for example the Cruithne, Attacotti
Attacotti
Attacotti refers to a people who despoiled Roman Britain between 364 and 368, along with Scotti, Picts, Saxons, Roman military deserters, and the indigenous Britons themselves. The marauders were defeated by Count Theodosius in 368...

, Conmaicne
Conmaicne
The Conmhaicne or Conmaicne were an ancient tribal grouping that were divided into a number of distinct branches that were found scattered around Ireland in the early medieval period. They settled in Connacht, where they gave their name to several territories....

, Eóganachta
Eóganachta
The Eóganachta or Eoghanachta were an Irish dynasty centred around Cashel which dominated southern Ireland from the 6/7th to the 10th centuries, and following that, in a restricted form, the Kingdom of Desmond, and its offshoot Carbery, well into the 16th century...

, Érainn, and Soghain
Soghain
The Soghain were a people of ancient Ireland. Dubhaltach Mac Fhirbhisigh identified them as part of a larger group called the Cruithin, and stated of them:...

, to name but a few. Over the past 1000 years or so, Vikings, Normans
Normans
The Normans were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a region in northern France. They were descended from Norse Viking conquerors of the territory and the native population of Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock...

, Scots
Scottish people
The Scottish people , or Scots, are a nation and ethnic group native to Scotland. Historically they emerged from an amalgamation of the Picts and Gaels, incorporating neighbouring Britons to the south as well as invading Germanic peoples such as the Anglo-Saxons and the Norse.In modern use,...

 and English
English people
The English are a nation and ethnic group native to England, who speak English. The English identity is of early mediaeval origin, when they were known in Old English as the Anglecynn. England is now a country of the United Kingdom, and the majority of English people in England are British Citizens...

 have all added to the Gaelic population.

Ireland's largest religious group is Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

. The largest denomination is 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 Protestant denominations (about 53% of Northern Ireland). The largest is the Anglican
Anglicanism
Anglicanism is a tradition within Christianity comprising churches with historical connections to the Church of England or similar beliefs, worship and church structures. The word Anglican originates in ecclesia anglicana, a medieval Latin phrase dating to at least 1246 that means the English...

 Church of Ireland
Church of Ireland
The Church of Ireland is an autonomous province of the Anglican Communion. The church operates in all parts of Ireland and is the second largest religious body on the island after the Roman Catholic Church...

. The Muslim community
Islam in Ireland
The documented history of Islam in Ireland dates to the 1950s. The number of Muslims in the Republic of Ireland has increased since the 1990s. although most of those are not Irish nationals.-History:...

 is growing in Ireland, mostly through increased immigration. The island has a small Jewish community
History of the Jews in Ireland
The history of the Jews in Ireland extends back nearly a thousand years. Although the Jewish community has always been small in numbers , it is well established and has generally been well-accepted into Irish life.-Early history:The earliest reference to the Jews in Ireland was in the year 1079...

. 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 week.

The population of Ireland rose rapidly from the 16th century until the mid-19th century, but a 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.
Emigration from Ireland over this period contributed to the populations of England, the United States, Canada and Australia where today a large Irish diaspora
Irish diaspora
thumb|Night Train with Reaper by London Irish artist [[Brian Whelan]] from the book Myth of Return, 2007The Irish diaspora consists of Irish emigrants and their descendants in countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, Argentina, New Zealand, Mexico, South Africa,...

 lives. Today 4.3 million Canadians, or 14% of her population, are of Irish descent. A total of 36 million Americans claim Irish ancestry – more than 12% of the total population and 20% of the white population. Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

 is the most Irish of US states with 23.8% of the population claiming Irish ancestry. The pattern of immigration over this period particularly devastated the western and southern sea-boards. Prior to the Great Famine, the provinces of Connacht, Munster and Leinster were more or less evenly populated whereas Ulster was far less densely populated than the other three. Today, Ulster and Leinster, and in particular Dublin, have a far greater population density than Munster and Connacht.

With growing prosperity since the last decade of the 20th century, Ireland became a place of immigration until the financial crisis that began in 2008. Since the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 expanded to included Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 in 2004, Polish people have made up the largest number of immigrants (over 150,000) from Central Europe
Central Europe
Central Europe or alternatively Middle Europe is a region of the European continent lying between the variously defined areas of Eastern and Western Europe...

. There has also been significant immigration from Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

, the Czech Republic
Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe. The country is bordered by Poland to the northeast, Slovakia to the east, Austria to the south, and Germany to the west and northwest....

 and Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

.

The Republic of Ireland in particular has seen large-scale immigration. The 2006 census recorded that 420,000 foreign nationals, or about 10% of the population, lived in the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

. Chinese
Overseas Chinese
Overseas Chinese are people of Chinese birth or descent who live outside the Greater China Area . People of partial Chinese ancestry living outside the Greater China Area may also consider themselves Overseas Chinese....

 and Nigerians, along with people from other African countries, have accounted for a large proportion of the non–European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 migrants to Ireland. Up to 50,000 eastern European migrant workers may have left Ireland towards the end of since 2008
2008–2009 Irish financial crisis
The 2008–2011 Irish financial crisis, which had stemmed from the financial crisis of 2008, is a major political and economic crisis in Ireland that is partly responsible for the country falling into recession for the first time since the 1980s...

.

English
Hiberno-English
Hiberno-English is the dialect of English written and spoken in Ireland .English was first brought to Ireland during the Norman invasion of the late 12th century. Initially it was mainly spoken in an area known as the Pale around Dublin, with Irish spoken throughout the rest of the country...

 has been spoken in Ireland since the Middle Ages and since a language shift during the 19th century has replaced Irish
Irish language
Irish , also known as Irish Gaelic, is a Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family, originating in Ireland and historically spoken by the Irish people. Irish is now spoken as a first language by a minority of Irish people, as well as being a second language of a larger proportion of...

 as the first language for a vast majority of the population. 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 both Irish and Ulster Scots, which is also spoken by a number of people south of the border. In recent decades, with the increase in immigration, many more languages have been introduced, particularly deriving from Asia and Eastern Europe.

Culture




Ireland's culture comprises elements of the culture of ancient immigration and influences (such as Gaelic culture
Gaels
The Gaels or Goidels are speakers of one of the Goidelic Celtic languages: Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and Manx. Goidelic speech originated in Ireland and subsequently spread to western and northern Scotland and the Isle of Man....

) and more recent Anglicisation
Anglicisation
Anglicisation, or anglicization , is the process of converting verbal or written elements of any other language into a form that is more comprehensible to an English speaker, or, more generally, of altering something such that it becomes English in form or character.The term most often refers to...

 and Americanisation as well as participation in a broader European culture. In broad terms, Ireland is regarded as one of the Celtic nations
Celtic nations
The Celtic nations are territories in North-West Europe in which that area's own Celtic languages and some cultural traits have survived.The term "nation" is used in its original sense to mean a people who share a common traditional identity and culture and are identified with a traditional...

 of Europe, which also includes Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, Wales
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

, Cornwall
Cornwall
Cornwall is a unitary authority and ceremonial county of England, within the United Kingdom. It is bordered to the north and west by the Celtic Sea, to the south by the English Channel, and to the east by the county of Devon, over the River Tamar. Cornwall has a population of , and covers an area of...

, Isle of Mann and Brittany
Brittany
Brittany is a cultural and administrative region in the north-west of France. Previously a kingdom and then a duchy, Brittany was united to the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province. Brittany has also been referred to as Less, Lesser or Little Britain...

. This combination of cultural influences is visible in the intricate designs termed Irish interlace
Interlace (visual arts)
In the visual arts, interlace is a decorative element found in medieval art. In interlace, bands or portions of other motifs are looped, braided, and knotted in complex geometric patterns, often to fill a space. Islamic interlace patterns and Celtic knotwork share similar patterns, suggesting a...

 or Celtic knot
Celtic knot
Celtic knots are a variety of knots and stylized graphical representations of knots used for decoration, used extensively in the Celtic style of Insular art. These knots are most known for their adaptation for use in the ornamentation of Christian monuments and manuscripts, such as the 8th-century...

work. These can be seen in the ornamentation of medieval religious and secular works. The style is still is 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
Religion in Ireland
The island of Ireland is divided into two jurisdictions Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Religion in Ireland may refer to:* Religion in the Republic of Ireland* Religion in Northern Ireland* Christianity in Ireland...

 has played a significant role in the cultural life of the island since ancient times (and since the 17th century plantations
Plantations of Ireland
Plantations in 16th and 17th century Ireland were the confiscation of land by the English crown and the colonisation of this land with settlers from England and the Scottish Lowlands....

, 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
Saint Patrick
Saint Patrick was a Romano-Briton and Christian missionary, who is the most generally recognized patron saint of Ireland or the Apostle of Ireland, although Brigid of Kildare and Colmcille are also formally patron saints....

 in the 5th century. The Hiberno-Scottish mission
Hiberno-Scottish mission
The Hiberno-Scottish mission was a mission led by Irish and Scottish monks which spread Christianity and established monasteries in Great Britain and continental Europe during the Middle Ages...

s, begun by the Irish monk Saint Columba
Columba
Saint Columba —also known as Colum Cille , Colm Cille , Calum Cille and Kolban or Kolbjørn —was a Gaelic Irish missionary monk who propagated Christianity among the Picts during the Early Medieval Period...

, spread the Irish vision of Christianity to pagan England and the Frankish Empire
Frankish Empire
Francia or Frankia, later also called the Frankish Empire , Frankish Kingdom , Frankish Realm or occasionally Frankland, was the territory inhabited and ruled by the Franks from the 3rd to the 10th century...

. These missions brought written language to an illiterate population of Europe during the Dark Ages
Early Middle Ages
The Early Middle Ages was the period of European history lasting from the 5th century to approximately 1000. The Early Middle Ages followed the decline of the Western Roman Empire and preceded the High Middle Ages...

 that followed the fall of Rome, earning Ireland the sobriquet, "the island of saints and scholars". In more recent years, the Irish pubs have become outposts of Irish culture worldwide.

The Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

's national theatre is the Abbey Theatre
Abbey Theatre
The Abbey Theatre , also known as the National Theatre of Ireland , is a theatre located in Dublin, Ireland. The Abbey first opened its doors to the public on 27 December 1904. Despite losing its original building to a fire in 1951, it has remained active to the present day...

 founded in 1904 and the national Irish-language theatre is An Taibhdhearc, established in 1928 in Galway
Galway
Galway or City of Galway is a city in County Galway, Republic of Ireland. It is the sixth largest and the fastest-growing city in Ireland. It is also the third largest city within the Republic and the only city in the Province of Connacht. Located on the west coast of Ireland, it sits on the...

. Playwrights such as Seán O'Casey
Seán O'Casey
Seán O'Casey was an Irish dramatist and memoirist. A committed socialist, he was the first Irish playwright of note to write about the Dublin working classes.- Early life:...

, Brian Friel
Brian Friel
Brian Friel is an Irish dramatist, author and director of the Field Day Theatre Company. He is considered to be the greatest living English-language dramatist, hailed by the English-speaking world as an "Irish Chekhov" and "the universally accented voice of Ireland"...

, Sebastian Barry
Sebastian Barry
Sebastian Barry is an Irish playwright, novelist, and poet. He has been shortlisted twice for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction and has won the 2008 Costa Book of the Year....

, Conor McPherson
Conor McPherson
Conor McPherson is an Irish playwright and director.-Life and career:McPherson was born in Dublin, . He was educated at University College Dublin, McPherson began writing his first plays there as a member of UCD Dramsoc, the college's dramatic society, and went on to found Fly By Night Theatre...

 and Billy Roche
Billy Roche
Billy Roche is an Irish playwright and actor. He was born and still lives in Wexford and most of his writings are based there...

 are internationally renowned.

Art



There are a number of languages used in Ireland. Irish
Irish language
Irish , also known as Irish Gaelic, is a Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family, originating in Ireland and historically spoken by the Irish people. Irish is now spoken as a first language by a minority of Irish people, as well as being a second language of a larger proportion of...

 is the only language to have originated from within the island. Since the late 19th century, English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 has become the predominant first language having been a spoken language in Ireland since the Middle Ages. A large minority claim some ability to speak Irish today, although it is the first language only of a small percentage of the population. Under the constitution of the Republic of Ireland, both languages have official status with Irish being the national and first official language. In Northern Ireland English is the dominant state language, whilst Irish and Ulster Scots are recognised minority languages.

Ireland has made a large contribution to world literature in all its branches, particularly in the English language. Poetry in Irish is the oldest vernacular poetry
Vernacular literature
Vernacular literature is literature written in the vernacular—the speech of the "common people".In the European tradition, this effectively means literature not written in Latin...

 in Europe, with the earliest examples dating from the 6th century. In English, Jonathan Swift
Jonathan Swift
Jonathan Swift was an Irish satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer , poet and cleric who became Dean of St...

, still often called the foremost satirist in the English language
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

, was wildly popular in his day for works such as Gulliver's Travels
Gulliver's Travels
Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, in Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of Several Ships, better known simply as Gulliver's Travels , is a novel by Anglo-Irish writer and clergyman Jonathan Swift that is both a satire on human nature and a parody of...

 and A Modest Proposal
A Modest Proposal
A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland From Being a Burden on Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick, commonly referred to as A Modest Proposal, is a Juvenalian satirical essay written and published anonymously by Jonathan Swift in...

 and Oscar Wilde is known most for his often quoted witticisms.

In the 20th century, Ireland produced four winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature: George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main talent was for drama, and he wrote more than 60...

, William Butler Yeats
William Butler Yeats
William Butler Yeats was an Irish poet and playwright, and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature. A pillar of both the Irish and British literary establishments, in his later years he served as an Irish Senator for two terms...

, Samuel Beckett
Samuel Beckett
Samuel Barclay Beckett was an Irish avant-garde novelist, playwright, theatre director, and poet. He wrote both in English and French. His work offers a bleak, tragicomic outlook on human nature, often coupled with black comedy and gallows humour.Beckett is widely regarded as among the most...

 and Seamus Heaney
Seamus Heaney
Seamus Heaney is an Irish poet, writer and lecturer. He lives in Dublin. Heaney has received the Nobel Prize in Literature , the Golden Wreath of Poetry , T. S. Eliot Prize and two Whitbread prizes...

. Although not a Nobel Prize
Nobel Prize
The Nobel Prizes are annual international awards bestowed by Scandinavian committees in recognition of cultural and scientific advances. The will of the Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, established the prizes in 1895...

 winner, James Joyce
James Joyce
James Augustine Aloysius Joyce was an Irish novelist and poet, considered to be one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant-garde of the early 20th century...

 is widely considered to be one of the most significant writers of the 20th century. Joyce's 1922 novel Ulysses
Ulysses (novel)
Ulysses is a novel by the Irish author James Joyce. It was first serialised in parts in the American journal The Little Review from March 1918 to December 1920, and then published in its entirety by Sylvia Beach on 2 February 1922, in Paris. One of the most important works of Modernist literature,...

 is considered one of the most important works of Modernist literature
Modernist literature
Modernist literature is sub-genre of Modernism, a predominantly European movement beginning in the early 20th century that was characterized by a self-conscious break with traditional aesthetic forms...

 and his life is celebrated annually on 16 June in Dublin as "Bloomsday
Bloomsday
Bloomsday is a commemoration observed annually on 16 June in Dublin and elsewhere to celebrate the life of Irish writer James Joyce and relive the events in his novel Ulysses, all of which took place on the same day in Dublin in 1904...

". Modern Irish literature is often connected with its rural heritage through writers such as John McGahern
John McGahern
John McGahern was one of the most important Irish authors of the latter half of the twentieth century. Before his death in 2006 he was hailed as "the greatest living Irish novelist" by The Observer.-Life:...

 and poets such as Seamus Heaney.

The Irish traditional music
Folk music
Folk music is an English term encompassing both traditional folk music and contemporary folk music. The term originated in the 19th century. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted by mouth, as music of the lower classes, and as music with unknown composers....

 and dance
Dance
Dance is an art form that generally refers to movement of the body, usually rhythmic and to music, used as a form of expression, social interaction or presented in a spiritual or performance setting....

 has seen a recent surge in popularity, not least through the phenomenon of Riverdance
Riverdance
Riverdance is a theatrical show consisting of traditional Irish stepdancing, notable for its rapid leg movements while body and arms are kept largely stationary. It originated as an interval performance during the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest, a moment that is still considered a significant...

, a theatrical performance of Irish traditional dancing. In the middle years of the 20th century, as Irish society was modernising, traditional music fell out of favour, especially in urban areas. During the 1960s, inspired by the American folk music movement, there was a revival of interest in Irish traditional music led by groups such as The Dubliners
The Dubliners
The Dubliners are an Irish folk band founded in 1962.-Formation and history:The Dubliners, initially known as "The Ronnie Drew Ballad Group", formed in 1962 and made a name for themselves playing regularly in O'Donoghue's Pub in Dublin...

, The Chieftains
The Chieftains
The Chieftains are a Grammy-winning Irish musical group founded in 1962, best known for being one of the first bands to make Irish traditional music popular around the world.-Name:...

, Emmet Spiceland
Emmet Spiceland
Emmet Spiceland was a band formed when brothers Brian and Michael Byrne of The Spiceland Folk Group joined forces with Donal Lunny, Brian Bolger and Mick Moloney's Emmet Folk Group around 1968, after Mick left the group, forming a quartet....

, The Wolfe Tones, the Clancy Brothers, Sweeney's Men
Sweeney's Men
Sweeney's Men was an Irish traditional band. They emerged from the late 1960s Irish roots revival, along with groups such as The Dubliners and the Clancy Brothers. The founding line-up in May 1966 was 'Galway Joe' Dolan, Johnny Moynihan and Andy Irvine....

 and individuals like Seán Ó Riada
Seán Ó Riada
Seán Ó Riada , was a composer and perhaps the single most influential figure in the revival of Irish traditional music during the 1960s...

 and Christy Moore
Christy Moore
Christopher Andrew "Christy" Moore is a popular Irish folk singer, songwriter, and guitarist. He is well known as one of the founding members of Planxty and Moving Hearts...

.

Groups and musicians including Horslips
Horslips
Horslips are an Irish Celtic rock band that compose, arrange and perform songs based on traditional Irish jigs and reels. The group are regarded as 'founding fathers of Celtic rock' for their fusion of traditional Irish music with rock music and went on to inspire many local and international acts....

, Van Morrison
Van Morrison
Van Morrison, OBE is a Northern Irish singer-songwriter and musician. His live performances at their best are regarded as transcendental and inspired; while some of his recordings, such as the studio albums Astral Weeks and Moondance, and the live album It's Too Late to Stop Now, are widely...

 and Thin Lizzy
Thin Lizzy
Thin Lizzy are an Irish hard rock band formed in Dublin in 1969. Two of the founding members, drummer Brian Downey and bass guitarist/vocalist Phil Lynott met while still in school. Lynott assumed the role of frontman and led them throughout their recording career of thirteen studio albums...

 incorporated elements of Irish traditional music into contemporary rock music
Rock music
Rock music is a genre of popular music that developed during and after the 1960s, particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, itself heavily influenced by rhythm and blues and country 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 like Enya
Enya
Enya is an Irish singer, instrumentalist and songwriter. Enya is an approximate transliteration of how Eithne is pronounced in the Donegal dialect of the Irish language, her native tongue.She began her musical career in 1980, when she briefly joined her family band Clannad before leaving to...

, The Saw Doctors
The Saw Doctors
The Saw Doctors are an Irish rock band. Formed in 1986 in Tuam, County Galway, they have achieved eighteen Top 30 singles in Ireland, including three number ones. Their first number one, "I Useta Lover," topped the Irish charts for nine consecutive weeks in 1990, and still holds the record for the...

, The Corrs
The Corrs
The Corrs are an Irish band which combine pop rock with traditional Celtic folk music. The brother and sisters are from Dundalk, Ireland. The group consists of the Corr siblings: Andrea ; Sharon ; Caroline ; and Jim .The Corrs came to international prominence with their performance at the...

, Sinéad O'Connor
Sinéad O'Connor
Sinéad Marie Bernadette O'Connor is an Irish singer-songwriter. She rose to fame in the late 1980s with her debut album The Lion and the Cobra and achieved worldwide success in 1990 with a cover of the song "Nothing Compares 2 U"....

, Clannad, The Cranberries
The Cranberries
The Cranberries are an Irish rock band formed in Limerick in 1989 under the name The Cranberry Saw Us, later changed by vocalist Dolores O'Riordan. The band currently consists of O'Riordan, guitarist Noel Hogan, bassist Mike Hogan and drummer Fergal Lawler...

, Black 47
Black 47
Black 47 are a New York City based celtic rock band with Irish Republican sympathies, whose music also shows influence from reggae, hip hop, folk and jazz...

 and The Pogues
The Pogues
The Pogues are a Celtic punk band, formed in 1982 and fronted by Shane MacGowan. The band reached international prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s. MacGowan left the band in 1991 due to drinking problems but the band continued first with Joe Strummer and then with Spider Stacy on vocals before...

 among others.

During the 1990s a sub-genre of folk metal
Folk metal
Folk metal is a sub-genre of heavy metal music that developed in Europe during the 1990s. As the name suggests, the genre is a fusion of heavy metal with traditional folk music...

 emerged in Ireland that fused heavy metal music
Heavy metal music
Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the Midlands of the United Kingdom and the United States...

 with Irish and Celtic music. The pioneers of this sub-genre were Cruachan
Cruachan (band)
Cruachan [kroo-a-khawn] is a Celtic metal band from Dublin, Ireland that has been active since the 1990s. They have been acclaimed as having "gone the greatest lengths of anyone in their attempts to expand" the genre of folk metal. They are recognised as one of the founders of the genre of folk metal...

, Primordial
Primordial (band)
Primordial is an extreme metal band from Skerries, County Dublin, Ireland. It was formed in 1987 by Pól MacAmlaigh and Ciarán MacUiliam . Their sound melds black metal with Irish folk music.-Biography:...

, and Waylander
Waylander (band)
Waylander is a Northern Irish band influential in the realms of Celtic folk metal. Formed in 1993, the band blends traditional Irish folk with 1990s heavy metal.-Biography:...

. Some contemporary music groups stick closer to a "traditional" sound, including Altan, Téada
Téada
Téada is a traditional Irish music group from Ireland. The band comprises five members. The members are Oisín Mac Diarmada who plays the Téada is a traditional [[Irish music]] group from [[Ireland]]. The band comprises five members. The members are [[Oisín Mac Diarmada]] who plays the Téada is a...

, Danú
Danú
Danú is an Irish traditional music band.The members of Danú met in Waterford in Southeastern Ireland in 1994. After performing in the Festival Interceltique de Lorient in 2005, the then thrown-together group decided to consolidate as a band....

, Dervish
Dervish
A Dervish or Darvesh is someone treading a Sufi Muslim ascetic path or "Tariqah", known for their extreme poverty and austerity, similar to mendicant friars in Christianity or Hindu/Buddhist/Jain sadhus.-Etymology:The Persian word darvīsh is of ancient origin and descends from a Proto-Iranian...

, Lúnasa
Lúnasa (band)
-History:Named after Lughnasadh, an ancient Irish harvest festival, Lúnasa was started when Seán Smyth, Trevor Hutchinson, and Donogh Hennessy briefly toured through Scandinavia in 1996. Upon their return to Ireland, they teamed up with Michael McGoldrick and John McSherry to record a few tracks...

, and Solas. Others incorporate multiple cultures in a fusion of styles, such as Afro Celt Sound System
Afro Celt Sound System
The Afro Celt Sound System is a musical group which fuses modern electronic dance rhythms with traditional Irish and West African music...

 and Kíla
Kíla
Kíla are an Irish folk music/World music group, originally formed in 1987 in the Irish Language secondary school, Coláiste Eoin in Co. Dublin. Kila's blend of Irish traditional music and World Music with a modern rock sensibility is generally credited with breathing new life into contemporary Irish...

. The theme is can also be seen among Ireland's entries to the Eurovision Song Contest
Eurovision Song Contest
The Eurovision Song Contest is an annual competition held among active member countries of the European Broadcasting Union .Each member country submits a song to be performed on live television and then casts votes for the other countries' songs to determine the most popular song in the competition...

, where Ireland is also the most successful country in the competition with seven wins.

The earliest known Irish graphic art and sculpture are Neolithic carvings found at sites such as Newgrange
Newgrange
Newgrange is a prehistoric monument located in County Meath, on the eastern side of Ireland, about one kilometre north of the River Boyne. It was built around 3200 BC , during the Neolithic period...

 and is traced through Bronze age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron 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 figures as John Butler Yeats
John Butler Yeats
John Butler Yeats was an Irish artist and the father of William Butler Yeats, Lily Yeats, Lollie Yeats and Jack B. Yeats. He is probably best known for his portrait of the young William Butler Yeats which is one of a number of his portraits of Irishmen and women in the Yeats museum in the National...

, William Orpen
William Orpen
Major Sir William Newenham Montague Orpen, KBE, RA, RHA was an Irish portrait painter, who worked mainly in London...

, Jack Yeats and Louis le Brocquy
Louis le Brocquy
Louis le Brocquy is an Irish painter born in Dublin. His work has received many accolades in a career that spans seventy years of creative practice...

.

Science



The Irish philosopher and theologian Johannes Scotus Eriugena
Johannes Scotus Eriugena
Johannes Scotus Eriugena was an Irish theologian, Neoplatonist philosopher, and poet. He is known for having translated and made commentaries upon the work of Pseudo-Dionysius.-Name:...

 was considered one of the leading intellectuals of his early Middle Ages. Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton, an Anglo-Irish explorer, was one of the principal figures of Antarctic exploration. He, along with his expedition, made the first ascent of Mount Erebus
Mount Erebus
Mount Erebus in Antarctica is the southernmost historically active volcano on Earth, the second highest volcano in Antarctica , and the 6th highest ultra mountain on an island. With a summit elevation of , it is located on Ross Island, which is also home to three inactive volcanoes, notably Mount...

 and the discovery of the approximate location of the South Magnetic Pole
South Magnetic Pole
The Earth's South Magnetic Pole is the wandering point on the Earth's surface where the geomagnetic field lines are directed vertically upwards...

. Robert Boyle
Robert Boyle
Robert Boyle FRS was a 17th century natural philosopher, chemist, physicist, and inventor, also noted for his writings in theology. He has been variously described as English, Irish, or Anglo-Irish, his father having come to Ireland from England during the time of the English plantations of...

 was a 17th-century natural philosopher, chemist, physicist, inventor and early gentleman scientist
Gentleman scientist
A gentleman scientist is a financially independent scientist who pursues scientific study as a hobby. The term arose in post-Renaissance Europe but became less common in the 20th century as government and private funding increased.-History:...

. He is largely regarded one of the founders of modern chemistry and is best known for the formulation of Boyle's law
Boyle's law
Boyle's law is one of many gas laws and a special case of the ideal gas law. Boyle's law describes the inversely proportional relationship between the absolute pressure and volume of a gas, if the temperature is kept constant within a closed system...

. 19th century physicist, John Tyndall
John Tyndall
John Tyndall FRS was a prominent Irish 19th century physicist. His initial scientific fame arose in the 1850s from his study of diamagnetism. Later he studied thermal radiation, and produced a number of discoveries about processes in the atmosphere...

, discovered the Tyndall effect
Tyndall effect
The Tyndall effect, also known as Tyndall scattering, is light scattering by particles in a colloid or particles in a fine suspension. It is named after the 19th century physicist John Tyndall. It is similar to Rayleigh scattering, in that the intensity of the scattered light depends on the fourth...

, which explains why the sky is blue. Father Nicholas Joseph Callan, Professor of Natural Philosophy in Maynooth College, is best known for his invention of the induction coil
Induction coil
An induction coil or "spark coil" is a type of disruptive discharge coil. It is a type of electrical transformer used to produce high-voltage pulses from a low-voltage direct current supply...

, transformer
Transformer
A transformer is a device that transfers electrical energy from one circuit to another through inductively coupled conductors—the transformer's coils. A varying current in the first or primary winding creates a varying magnetic flux in the transformer's core and thus a varying magnetic field...

 and he discovered an early method of galvanisation in the 19th century.

Other notable Irish physicists include Ernest Walton
Ernest Walton
Ernest Thomas Sinton Walton was an Irish physicist and Nobel laureate for his work with John Cockcroft with "atom-smashing" experiments done at Cambridge University in the early 1930s, and so became the first person in history to artificially split the atom, thus ushering the nuclear age...

, winner of the 1951 Nobel Prize in Physics
Nobel Prize in Physics
The Nobel Prize in Physics is awarded once a year by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895 and awarded since 1901; the others are the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Nobel Prize in Literature, Nobel Peace Prize, and...

. 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
Wave equation
The wave equation is an important second-order linear partial differential equation for the description of waves – as they occur in physics – such as sound waves, light waves and water waves. It arises in fields like acoustics, electromagnetics, and fluid dynamics...

. William Thomson, or Lord Kelvin, is the person whom the absolute temperature unit, the Kelvin
Kelvin
The kelvin is a unit of measurement for temperature. It is one of the seven base units in the International System of Units and is assigned the unit symbol K. The Kelvin scale is an absolute, thermodynamic temperature scale using as its null point absolute zero, the temperature at which all...

, is named after. Sir Joseph Larmor
Joseph Larmor
Sir Joseph Larmor , a physicist and mathematician who made innovations in the understanding of electricity, dynamics, thermodynamics, and the electron theory of matter...

, 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
George Johnstone Stoney
George Johnstone Stoney was an Irish physicist most famous for introducing the term electron as the "fundamental unit quantity of electricity"....

 introduced the term electron
Electron
The electron is a subatomic particle with a negative elementary electric charge. It has no known components or substructure; in other words, it is generally thought to be an elementary particle. An electron has a mass that is approximately 1/1836 that of the proton...

 in 1891. John Stewart Bell
John Stewart Bell
John Stewart Bell FRS was a British physicist from Northern Ireland , and the originator of Bell's theorem, a significant theorem in quantum physics regarding hidden variable theories.- Early life and work :...

 was the originator of Bell's Theorem
Bell's theorem
In theoretical physics, Bell's theorem is a no-go theorem, loosely stating that:The theorem has great importance for physics and the philosophy of science, as it implies that quantum physics must necessarily violate either the principle of locality or counterfactual definiteness...

 and a paper concerning the discovery of the Bell-Jackiw-Adler anomaly
Chiral anomaly
A chiral anomaly is the anomalous nonconservation of a chiral current. In some theories of fermions with chiral symmetry, the quantization may lead to the breaking of this chiral symmetry. In that case, the charge associated with the chiral symmetry is not conserved.The non-conservation happens...

 and was nominated for a Nobel prize. Notable mathematicians include Sir William Rowan Hamilton
William Rowan Hamilton
Sir William Rowan Hamilton was an Irish physicist, astronomer, and mathematician, who made important contributions to classical mechanics, optics, and algebra. His studies of mechanical and optical systems led him to discover new mathematical concepts and techniques...

, famous for work in classical mechanics
Hamiltonian mechanics
Hamiltonian mechanics is a reformulation of classical mechanics that was introduced in 1833 by Irish mathematician William Rowan Hamilton.It arose from Lagrangian mechanics, a previous reformulation of classical mechanics introduced by Joseph Louis Lagrange in 1788, but can be formulated without...

 and the invention of quaternions. Francis Ysidro Edgeworth
Francis Ysidro Edgeworth
Francis Ysidro Edgeworth FBA was an Irish philosopher and political economist who made significant contributions to the methods of statistics during the 1880s...

's contribution of the Edgeworth Box
Edgeworth box
In economics, an Edgeworth box, named after Francis Ysidro Edgeworth, is a way of representing various distributions of resources. Edgeworth made his presentation in his book Mathematical Psychics: An Essay on the Application of Mathematics to the Moral Sciences, 1881...

 remains influential in neo-classical microeconomic theory to this day; while Richard Cantillon
Richard Cantillon
Richard Cantillon was an Irish-French economist and author of Essai sur la Nature du Commerce en Général , a book considered by William Stanley Jevons to be the "cradle of political economy". Although little information exists on Cantillon's life, it is known that he became a successful banker and...

 inspired Adam Smith
Adam Smith
Adam Smith was a Scottish social philosopher and a pioneer of political economy. One of the key figures of the Scottish Enlightenment, Smith is the author of The Theory of Moral Sentiments and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations...

, among others. John B. Cosgrave
John B. Cosgrave
Dr. John B. Cosgrave is an Irish mathematician specialising in number theory.-Other:In January 1999, while preparing some work for his students, he identified a highly structured prime number with exactly two thousand digits...

 was a specialist in number theory
Number theory
Number theory is a branch of pure mathematics devoted primarily to the study of the integers. Number theorists study prime numbers as well...

 and discovered a 2000-digit prime number
Prime number
A prime number is a natural number greater than 1 that has no positive divisors other than 1 and itself. A natural number greater than 1 that is not a prime number is called a composite number. For example 5 is prime, as only 1 and 5 divide it, whereas 6 is composite, since it has the divisors 2...

 in 1999 and a record composite Fermat number in 2003. John Lighton Synge
John Lighton Synge
John Lighton Synge was an Irish mathematician and physicist.-Background:Synge was born 1897 in Dublin, Ireland, in a Protestant family and educated at St. Andrew's College, Dublin. He entered Trinity College, Dublin in 1915...

 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.

Ireland has eight universities and numerous Institutes of Technologies as well as The Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies
Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies
The Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies Dublin, Ireland was established in 1940 by the Taoiseach of the time, Éamon de Valera under the . The Institute consists of 3 schools: The , the and the . The directors of these schools are currently Professor Werner Nahm, Professor Luke Drury and...

, which was established in 1940 with physicist Erwin Schrödinger
Erwin Schrödinger
Erwin Rudolf Josef Alexander Schrödinger was an Austrian physicist and theoretical biologist who was one of the fathers of quantum mechanics, and is famed for a number of important contributions to physics, especially the Schrödinger equation, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1933...

 as director.

Sport


Gaelic football
Gaelic football
Gaelic football , commonly referred to as "football" or "Gaelic", or "Gah" is a form of football played mainly in Ireland...

 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 events in Ireland and abroad, followed by hurling
Hurling
Hurling is an outdoor team game of ancient Gaelic origin, administered by the Gaelic Athletic Association, and played with sticks called hurleys and a ball called a sliotar. Hurling is the national game of Ireland. The game has prehistoric origins, has been played for at least 3,000 years, and...

 at 23%, soccer at 16% and rugby at 8% and 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 Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

. Swimming, golf, aerobics, soccer, cycling, Gaelic football and billiards/snooker are the sporting activities with the highest levels of playing participation. Soccer is the most popular sport involving national teams. Northern Ireland have also produced two World Snooker Champions, and is governed by NIBSA—Northern Ireland Snooker Association—as recognised by Sport NI.
In recent years Ice hockey has seen an increase in popularity, notably with the Belfast Giants
Belfast Giants
The Belfast Giants are an ice hockey team from Belfast, Northern Ireland that compete in the Elite Ice Hockey League. Home games are played at the 7,100-capacity Odyssey Arena in Belfast....

 ice hockey team in Northern Ireland.

Many other sports are also played and followed, including basketball
Basketball
Basketball is a team sport in which two teams of five players try to score points by throwing or "shooting" a ball through the top of a basketball hoop while following a set of rules...

, boxing
Boxing
Boxing, also called pugilism, is a combat sport in which two people fight each other using their fists. Boxing is supervised by a referee over a series of between one to three minute intervals called rounds...

, cricket
Cricket
Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of 11 players on an oval-shaped field, at the centre of which is a rectangular 22-yard long pitch. One team bats, trying to score as many runs as possible while the other team bowls and fields, trying to dismiss the batsmen and thus limit the...

, fishing
Fishing
Fishing is the activity of trying to catch wild fish. Fish are normally caught in the wild. Techniques for catching fish include hand gathering, spearing, netting, angling and trapping....

, greyhound racing
Greyhound racing
Greyhound racing is the sport of racing greyhounds. The dogs chase a lure on a track until they arrive at the finish line. The one that arrives first is the winner....

, handball
Gaelic handball
Gaelic handball is a sport similar to Basque pelota, racquetball, squash and American handball . It is one of the four Gaelic games organised by the Gaelic Athletic Association...

, hockey
Hockey
Hockey is a family of sports in which two teams play against each other by trying to maneuver a ball or a puck into the opponent's goal using a hockey stick.-Etymology:...

, horse racing
Horse racing
Horse racing is an equestrian sport that has a long history. Archaeological records indicate that horse racing occurred in ancient Babylon, Syria, and Egypt. Both chariot and mounted horse racing were events in the ancient Greek Olympics by 648 BC...

, motor sport, show jumping
Show jumping
Show jumping, also known as "stadium jumping," "open jumping," or "jumpers," is a member of a family of English riding equestrian events that also includes dressage, eventing, hunters, and equitation. Jumping classes commonly are seen at horse shows throughout the world, including the Olympics...

 and tennis
Tennis
Tennis is a sport usually played between two players or between two teams of two players each . Each player uses a racket that is strung to strike a hollow rubber ball covered with felt over a net into the opponent's court. Tennis is an Olympic sport and is played at all levels of society at all...

.

Field sports



Gaelic football
Gaelic football
Gaelic football , commonly referred to as "football" or "Gaelic", or "Gah" is a form of football played mainly in Ireland...

, Hurling
Hurling
Hurling is an outdoor team game of ancient Gaelic origin, administered by the Gaelic Athletic Association, and played with sticks called hurleys and a ball called a sliotar. Hurling is the national game of Ireland. The game has prehistoric origins, has been played for at least 3,000 years, and...

 and handball
Gaelic handball
Gaelic handball is a sport similar to Basque pelota, racquetball, squash and American handball . It is one of the four Gaelic games organised by the Gaelic Athletic Association...

 make up the national sports of the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

, collectively known as Gaelic games
Gaelic games
Gaelic games are sports played in Ireland under the auspices of the Gaelic Athletic Association. The two main games are Gaelic football and hurling...

, and are also popular in Northern Ireland. Gaelic games are governed by the Gaelic Athletic Association
Gaelic Athletic Association
The Gaelic Athletic Association is an amateur Irish and international cultural and sporting organisation focused primarily on promoting Gaelic games, which include the traditional Irish sports of hurling, camogie, Gaelic football, handball and rounders...

 (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 82,500 capacity Croke Park
Croke Park
Croke Park in Dublin is the principal stadium and headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association , Ireland's biggest sporting organisation...

 in north Dublin. Many major GAA games are played there, including the semi-finals and finals of the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship
All-Ireland Senior Football Championship
The All-Ireland Senior Football Championship, the premier competition in Gaelic football, is a series of games organised by the Gaelic Athletic Association and played during the summer and early autumn...

 and All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship
All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship
The GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship is an annual hurling competition organised by the Gaelic Athletic Association since 1887 for the top hurling teams in Ireland....

. During the redevelopment of the Lansdowne Road stadium
Lansdowne Road
Lansdowne Road was a stadium in Dublin owned by the Irish Rugby Football Union that has been the location of a number of sports stadiums. It was used primarily for rugby union and for association football matches as well as some music concerts...

 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.

The Irish Football Association
Irish Football Association
The Irish Football Association is the organising body for association football in Northern Ireland, and was historically the governing body for Ireland...

 (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.
Cliftonville F.C.
Cliftonville Football & Athletic Club is a semi-professional, Northern Irish football club playing in the IFA Premiership. Founded on 20 September 1879 by John McCredy McAlery in the suburb of Cliftonville in north Belfast, it is the oldest football club in Ireland and celebrated its 130th...

 in 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, Protestant 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
Irish Cup
For the equivalent tournament in the Republic of Ireland, see FAI Cup.The Irish Cup is the national cup knock-out competition in Northern Irish football. Inaugurated in 1881, it is the fourth oldest national cup competition in the world...

 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
Football Association of Ireland
The Football Association of Ireland is the governing body for the sport of association football in the Republic of Ireland. It should not to be confused with the Irish Football Association , which is the organising body for the sport in Northern Ireland.For the full history, statistics and records...

 (FAI). Despite being initially blacklisted by the Home Nations
Home Nations
Home Nations is a collective term with one of two meanings depending on the context. Politically, it means the nations of the constituent countries of the United Kingdom...

' associations, the FAI was recognised by FIFA
FIFA
The Fédération Internationale de Football Association , commonly known by the acronym FIFA , is the international governing body of :association football, futsal and beach football. Its headquarters are located in Zurich, Switzerland, and its president is Sepp Blatter, who is in his fourth...

 in 1923 and organised its first international fixture in 1926 (against Italy
Italy national football team
The Italy National Football Team , represents Italy in association football and is controlled by the Italian Football Federation , the governing body for football in Italy. Italy is the second most successful national team in the history of the World Cup having won four titles , just one fewer than...

). 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.
In 1950, 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
Republic of Ireland national football team
The Republic of Ireland national football team represents Ireland in association football. It is run by the Football Association of Ireland and currently plays home fixtures at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, which opened in May 2010....

" and that the IFA's team be known as "Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland national football team
The Northern Ireland national football team represents Northern Ireland in international association football. Before 1921 all of Ireland was represented by a single side, the Ireland national football team, organised by the Irish Football Association...

" (with certain exceptions). Northern Ireland qualified for the World Cup
FIFA World Cup
The FIFA World Cup, often simply the World Cup, is an international association football competition contested by the senior men's national teams of the members of Fédération Internationale de Football Association , the sport's global governing body...

 finals in 1958
1958 FIFA World Cup
The 1958 FIFA World Cup, the sixth staging of the World Cup, was hosted by Sweden from 8 June to 29 June. The tournament was won by Brazil, who beat Sweden 5–2 in the final for their first title. To date, this marks the only occasion that a World Cup staged in Europe was not won by a European...

 (reaching the quarter-finals), 1982
1982 FIFA World Cup
The 1982 FIFA World Cup, the 12th FIFA World Cup, was held in Spain from 13 June to 11 July. The tournament was won by Italy, after defeating West Germany 3–1 in the final.-Host selection:...

 and 1986
1986 FIFA World Cup
The 1986 FIFA World Cup, the 13th FIFA World Cup, was held in Mexico from 31 May to 29 June. The tournament was the second to feature a 24-team format. Colombia had been originally chosen to host the competition by FIFA but, largely due to economic reasons, was not able to do so and officially...

. The Republic qualified for the World Cup finals in 1990
1990 FIFA World Cup
The 1990 FIFA World Cup was the 14th FIFA World Cup, the quadrennial international football world championship tournament. It was held from 8 June to 8 July 1990 in Italy, the second country to host the event twice. Teams representing 116 national football associations from all six populated...

 (reaching the quarter-finals), 1994
1994 FIFA World Cup
The 1994 FIFA World Cup, the 15th staging of the FIFA World Cup, was held in nine cities across the United States from June 17 to July 17, 1994. The United States was chosen as the host by FIFA on July 4, 1988...

, 2002
2002 FIFA World Cup
The 2002 FIFA World Cup was the 17th staging of the FIFA World Cup, held in South Korea and Japan from 31 May to 30 June. It was also the first World Cup held in Asia, and the last in which the golden goal rule was implemented. Brazil won the tournament for a record fifth time, beating Germany 2–0...

 and the European Championships in 1988. Across Ireland, there is significant interest in the English and, to a lesser extent, Scottish
Scottish Premier League
The Scottish Premier League , also known as the SPL , is a professional league competition for association football clubs in Scotland...

 soccer leagues.

Unlike soccer, Ireland continues to field a single national rugby team
Ireland national rugby union team
The Ireland national rugby union team represents the island of Ireland in rugby union. The team competes annually in the Six Nations Championship and every four years in the Rugby World Cup, where they reached the quarter-final stage in all but two competitions The Ireland national rugby union...

 and a single association, the Irish Rugby Football Union
Irish Rugby Football Union
The Irish Rugby Football Union is the body managing rugby union in Ireland. The IRFU has its head office at 10/12 Lansdowne Road and home ground at Aviva Stadium, where Irish rugby union international matches are played...

 (IRFU), governs the sport across the island. The Irish rugby team have played in every Rugby World Cup
Rugby World Cup
The Rugby World Cup is an international rugby union competition organised by the International Rugby Board and held every four years since 1987....

, making the quarter-finals in four of them. Ireland also hosted games during the 1991
1991 Rugby World Cup
The 1991 Rugby World Cup was the second edition of the Rugby World Cup, and was jointly hosted by England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and France; at that time, the five European countries that participated in the Five Nations Championship making it the first Rugby World Cup to be staged in the...

 and the 1999 Rugby World Cup
1999 Rugby World Cup
The 1999 Rugby World Cup was the fourth Rugby World Cup, and the first to be held in rugby union's professional era. The principal host nation was Wales, although the majority of matches were played outside the country, shared between England, France, Scotland and Ireland...

s (including a quarter-final). There are four professional Irish teams; all four play in the Magners League (now called the RaboDirect Pro12) and at least three compete for the Heineken Cup
Heineken Cup
The Heineken Cup is one of two annual rugby union competitions organised by European Rugby Cup involving leading club, regional and provincial teams from the six International Rugby Board countries in Europe whose national teams compete in the Six Nations Championship: England, France, Ireland,...

. Irish rugby has become increasingly competitive at both the international and provincial levels since the sport went professional in 1994. During that time, Ulster
Ulster Rugby
Ulster Rugby, usually referred to simply as Ulster, is an Irish professional rugby union team based in Belfast, representing the Irish province of Ulster, that competes in the RaboDirect Pro12 and also competes in the Heineken Cup...

 (1999), Munster
Munster Rugby
Munster Rugby is an Irish professional rugby union team based in Munster, that competes in the RaboDirect Pro12 and Heineken Cup.The team represents the Irish Rugby Football Union Munster Branch which is one of four primary branches of the IRFU, and is responsible for rugby union in the Irish...

 (2006 and 2008
2007-08 Heineken Cup
The 2007–08 Heineken Cup was the 13th edition of the Heineken Cup, the annual rugby union European club competition for clubs from the top six nations in European rugby.The start of the tournament was delayed because of the 2007 Rugby World Cup...

) and Leinster
Leinster Rugby
Leinster Rugby, usually referred to simply as Leinster, is an Irish professional rugby union team based in Dublin, representing the Irish province of Leinster, that competes in the RaboDirect Pro 12 and also competes in the Heineken Cup...

 (2009 and 2011
2010–11 Heineken Cup
The 2010–11 Heineken Cup was the 16th season of the Heineken Cup, the annual rugby union European club competition for clubs from the top six nations in European rugby...

) 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
The Six Nations Championship is an annual international rugby union competition involving six European sides: England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales....

 against the other European elite sides. This success, including Triple Crown
Triple Crown (Rugby Union)
In rugby union, the Triple Crown is an honour contested annually by the four national teams of the British Isles who compete within the larger Six Nations Championship: England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. If any one team manages to win all their games against the other three they win the...

s in 2004, 2006 and 2007, culminated with a clean sweep of victories, known as a Grand Slam
Grand Slam (Rugby Union)
In rugby union, a Grand Slam occurs when one team in the Six Nations Championship manages to beat all the others during one year's competition...

, in 2009.

The Ireland cricket team was among the associate nations that qualified for the 2007 Cricket World Cup
2007 Cricket World Cup
The 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup was the ninth edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup tournament that took place in the West Indies from 13 March to 28 April 2007, using the sport's One Day International format...

. It defeated Pakistan and finished second in its pool, earning a place in the Super 8 stage
2007 Cricket World Cup Super Eight stage
The Super Eight stage of the 2007 Cricket World Cup was scheduled between 27 March 2007 and 21 April 2007, and determined the four qualifiers for the semi-finals of the tournament...

 of the competition. The team also competed in the 2009 ICC World Twenty20
2009 ICC World Twenty20
The 2009 ICC World Twenty20 was an international Twenty20 cricket tournament which took place in England in June 2009. It was the second ICC World Twenty20 tournament, following the inaugural event in South Africa in September 2007...

 after jointly winning the qualifiers
2009 ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier
-Group B:---------Semi-finals:-----Finals:---------External links:* from Cricinfo* from CricketArchive* from CricketEurope...

, where they also made the Super 8 stage. Ireland also won the 2009 ICC World Cup Qualifier
2009 ICC World Cup Qualifier
The 2009 ICC World Cup Qualifier was a cricket tournament that took place in April 2009 in South Africa. It was the final qualification tournament for the 2011 Cricket World Cup....

 to secure their place in the 2011 Cricket World Cup
2011 Cricket World Cup
The 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup was the tenth Cricket World Cup. It was played in India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. It was Bangladesh's first time co-hosting a World Cup...

, as well as official ODI status through 2013.

Rugby league
Rugby league
Rugby league football, usually called rugby league, is a full contact sport played by two teams of thirteen players on a rectangular grass field. One of the two codes of rugby football, it originated in England in 1895 by a split from Rugby Football Union over paying players...

 in Ireland is governed by Rugby League Ireland
Rugby League Ireland
Rugby League Ireland is the internationally recognised governing body for the development of rugby league football in Ireland, having secured official recognition from the RLIF in 2000...

, which runs the Irish Elite League
Irish Elite League
The Irish Elite League or the Carnegie League as it is known by its sponsorship name is a rugby league competition for teams in the Republic of Ireland...

, there are currently 20 teams across Ulster
Ulster
Ulster is one of the four provinces of Ireland, located in the north of the island. In ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for administrative and judicial...

, Munster
Munster
Munster is one of the Provinces of Ireland situated in the south of Ireland. In Ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for administrative and judicial purposes...

 and Leinster
Leinster
Leinster is one of the Provinces of Ireland situated in the east of Ireland. It comprises the ancient Kingdoms of Mide, Osraige and Leinster. Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the historic fifths of Leinster and Mide gradually merged, mainly due to the impact of the Pale, which straddled...

. The Irish rugby league team
Ireland national rugby league team
The Ireland national rugby league team, known as the Wolfhounds, represent the island of Ireland in rugby league football. The team is organized by Rugby League Ireland and are accredited as an affiliate member of the Rugby League International Federation...

 is made up predominantly of players based in Ireland, England and Australia. Ireland reached the quarter-finals of the 2000 Rugby League World Cup
2000 Rugby League World Cup
The 2000 Rugby League World Cup was the twelfth staging of the Rugby League World Cup and was held during October and November of that year in Great Britain, Ireland and France...

 as well as reaching the semi finals in the 2008 Rugby League World Cup
2008 Rugby League World Cup
The 2008 Rugby League World Cup was the thirteenth staging of the Rugby League World Cup since the inauguration of the tournament in 1954, and the first since the 2000 event...

.

Other sports



Horse racing
Horse racing
Horse racing is an equestrian sport that has a long history. Archaeological records indicate that horse racing occurred in ancient Babylon, Syria, and Egypt. Both chariot and mounted horse racing were events in the ancient Greek Olympics by 648 BC...

 and greyhound racing
Greyhound racing
Greyhound racing is the sport of racing greyhounds. The dogs chase a lure on a track until they arrive at the finish line. The one that arrives first is the winner....

 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
County Kildare
County Kildare is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Mid-East Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the town of Kildare. Kildare County Council is the local authority for the county...

.

Irish athletics has seen some development in recent times, with Sonia O'Sullivan
Sonia O'Sullivan
Sonia O'Sullivan in Cobh, County Cork. She began her running career in Ballymore Running Club which is located in the eastern side of Cobh Town. She was one of the world's leading female 5000 m runners for most of the 1990s and early first decade of the 21st century...

 winning two notable medals at 5,000 metres; gold at the 1995 World Championships
IAAF World Championships in Athletics
The World Championships in Athletics is an event organized by the International Association of Athletics Federations . Originally, it was organised every four years, but this changed in 1991, and it has since been organised biennially.-History:...

 and silver at the 2000 Sydney Olympics
2000 Summer Olympics
The Sydney 2000 Summer Olympic Games or the Millennium Games/Games of the New Millennium, officially known as the Games of the XXVII Olympiad, were an international multi-sport event which was celebrated between 15 September and 1 October 2000 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia...

. Gillian O'Sullivan
Gillian O'Sullivan
Gillian O'Sullivan is an Irish race walker. She has held the world record in the 5000m walk since 2002 and won a silver medal at the world championship in 2003 over 20km. It was the first time since 1995 that an Irish athlete had won a World Championship medal...

 won silver in the 20k walk at the 2003 World Championships, while sprint hurdler Derval O'Rourke
Derval O'Rourke
Derval O'Rourke is an Irish sprint hurdles athlete. She competes internationally in the 60 and 100 metres hurdles, and is the Irish national record holder in both events...

 won gold at the 2006 World Indoor Championship in Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

. 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 sport. Boxing is governed by the Irish Amateur Boxing Association
Irish Amateur Boxing Association
The Irish Amateur Boxing Association is the governing body of amateur boxing in Ireland. It was founded in 1911 following a meeting in Dublin.-Structure:...

. Michael Carruth
Michael Carruth
Michael Carruth is a southpaw Irish Olympic boxer from Dublin who won the welterweight gold medal at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. Carruth has just finished a stint as expert boxing analyst for RTEs Olympic coverage...

 won a gold medal
Gold medal
A gold medal is typically the medal awarded for highest achievement in a non-military field. Its name derives from the use of at least a fraction of gold in form of plating or alloying in its manufacture...

 in the Barcelona Olympic Games
1992 Summer Olympics
The 1992 Summer Olympic Games, officially known as the Games of the XXV Olympiad, were an international multi-sport event celebrated in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, in 1992. The International Olympic Committee voted in 1986 to separate the Summer and Winter Games, which had been held in the same...

 and in 2008 Kenneth Egan won a silver medal in the Beijing Games. Paddy Barnes
Paddy Barnes
Patrick Barnes, more commonly known as Paddy Barnes, is an Irish amateur boxer from Belfast, County Antrim, Northern Ireland....

 secured bronze in those games and gold in the 2010 European Amateur Boxing Championships
2010 European Amateur Boxing Championships
The Men's 2010 European Amateur Boxing Championships was held in Moscow, Russia from June 4 to June 13, 2010. It was the 38th edition of this biennial competition organised by the European governing body for amateur boxing, EUBC.- Medal winners:...

 (where Ireland came 2nd in the overall medal table) and 2010 Commonwealth Games
2010 Commonwealth Games
The 2010 Commonwealth Games, officially known as the XIX Commonwealth Games, were held in Delhi, India, from 3 to 14 October 2010. A total of 6,081 athletes from 71 Commonwealth nations and dependencies competed in 21 sports and 272 events, making it the largest Commonwealth Games till date...

. Katie Taylor has won gold in every European and World championship since 2005.

Golf is very popular and golf tourism is a major industry attracting more than 240,000 golfing visitors annually. The 2006
2006 Ryder Cup
The 36th Ryder Cup Matches were held 22–24 September 2006 at the K Club, Straffan, Co. Kildare, Ireland. Team Europe won the competition by a score of 18½ to 9½ points, equalling their record winning margin of 2 years earlier. This was the first time Europe had achieved three successive victories...

 Ryder Cup
Ryder Cup
The Ryder Cup is a biennial golf competition between teams from Europe and the United States. The competition is jointly administered by the PGA of America and the PGA European Tour, and is contested every two years, the venue alternating between courses in the United States and Europe...

 was held at The K Club
The Kildare Hotel and Golf Club
The Kildare Hotel and Golf Club is a golf and leisure complex located at Straffan, County Kildare, Ireland. It is built on the old grounds of Straffan House and at present is jointly owned by Gerry Gannon and Michael Smurfit....

 in County Kildare
County Kildare
County Kildare is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Mid-East Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the town of Kildare. Kildare County Council is the local authority for the county...

. Pádraig Harrington
Padraig Harrington
Pádraig P. Harrington is an Irish professional golfer who plays on The European Tour and The PGA Tour. He has won three major championships: The Open Championship in 2007 and 2008 and the PGA Championship, also in 2008.-Background:...

 became the first Irishman since Fred Daly
Fred Daly (golfer)
Frederick Daly was a Northern Irish professional golfer who was best known for winning The Open Championship of 1947 at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake.Daly was born in Portrush, County Antrim...

 in 1947 to win the British Open
The Open Championship
The Open Championship, or simply The Open , is the oldest of the four major championships in professional golf. It is the only "major" held outside the USA and is administered by The R&A, which is the governing body of golf outside the USA and Mexico...

 at Carnoustie
Carnoustie
Carnoustie is a town and former police burgh in the council area of Angus, Scotland. It is situated at the mouth of the Barry Burn on the North Sea coast...

 in July 2007. He successfully defended his title in July 2008 before going on to win the PGA Championship
PGA Championship
The PGA Championship is an annual golf tournament conducted by the PGA of America as part of the PGA Tour. It is one of the four major championships in men's professional golf, and is the golf season's final major, usually played in mid-August, customarily four weeks after The Open 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
Graeme McDowell
Graeme McDowell MBE is a Northern Irish professional golfer.McDowell has won seven events on the European Tour, including the 2010 U.S. Open which was also his first win on the PGA Tour...

 became the first Irish golfer to win the U.S. Open
U.S. Open (golf)
The United States Open Championship, commonly known as the U.S. Open, is the annual open golf tournament of the United States. It is the second of the four major championships in golf, and is on the official schedule of both the PGA Tour and the European Tour...

, and the first European to win that tournament since 1970. Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy is a Northern Irish professional golfer from Holywood in County Down. He has represented Europe, Great Britain & Ireland, and Ireland as both an amateur and a professional. He had a successful amateur career, topping the World Amateur Golf Ranking for one week as a 17-year-old in 2007...

, at the age of 22, won the 2011 U.S. Open, while Darren Clarke
Darren Clarke
Darren Christopher Clarke is a professional golfer from Northern Ireland who currently plays on the European Tour and has previously played on the PGA Tour. He has won 22 tournaments worldwide on a number of golf's main tours including the European Tour, the PGA Tour, the Sunshine Tour and the...

's latest victory was the 2011 Open Championship
2011 Open Championship
The 2011 Open Championship was the 140th Open Championship, played from July 14–17 at Royal St George's Golf Club in Sandwich, Kent, England. Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland won the event by three strokes for his first major championship victory.-Venue:...

 at Royal St. George.

The west coast of Ireland, Lahinch
Lahinch
Lahinch or Lehinch is a village on Liscannor Bay, on the northwest coast of County Clare, in northern Munster, Ireland. It lies on the N67 national secondary road....

 and Donegal Bay
Donegal Bay
Donegal Bay is an inlet in the northwest of Ireland. Three counties – Donegal to the north and west, Leitrim and Sligo to the south – have shorelines on the bay, which is bounded on the west by the Atlantic Ocean...

 in particular, have popular surfing beaches, being fully exposed to the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

. Donegal Bay is shaped like a funnel and catches west/south-west Atlantic winds, creating good surf, especially in winter. In recent years, Bundoran
Bundoran
Bundoran is a town in County Donegal, part of the Province of Ulster in the north of Ireland. The town is located on the N15 road near Ballyshannon, 3 hours drive from Dublin and around two and a quarter hours drive from Belfast...

 has hosted European championship surfing. Scuba diving
Scuba diving
Scuba diving is a form of underwater diving in which a diver uses a scuba set to breathe underwater....

 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
Malin Head
Malin Head , on the Inishowen Peninsula, County Donegal, is usually given as the most northerly headland of the mainland of Ireland . In fact, the most northerly point is actually a headland named Banba's Crown on the Inishowen Peninsula about 2 km to the northeast...

 and off the County Cork
County Cork
County Cork is a county in Ireland. It is located in the South-West Region and is also part of the province of Munster. It is named after the city of Cork . Cork County Council is the local authority for the county...

 coast.

With thousands of lakes, over 14000 kilometres (8,699.2 mi) of fish bearing rivers and over 3700 kilometres (2,299.1 mi) of coastline, Ireland is a popular angling
Angling
Angling is a method of fishing by means of an "angle" . The hook is usually attached to a fishing line and the line is often attached to a fishing rod. Fishing rods are usually fitted with a fishing reel that functions as a mechanism for storing, retrieving and paying out the line. The hook itself...

 destination. The temperate Irish climate is suited to sport angling. While salmon
Salmon
Salmon is the common name for several species of fish in the family Salmonidae. Several other fish in the same family are called trout; the difference is often said to be that salmon migrate and trout are resident, but this distinction does not strictly hold true...

 and trout
Trout
Trout is the name for a number of species of freshwater and saltwater fish belonging to the Salmoninae subfamily of the family Salmonidae. Salmon belong to the same family as trout. Most salmon species spend almost all their lives in salt water...

 fishing remain popular with anglers, salmon fishing in particular received a boost in 2006 with the closing of the salmon driftnet fishery. Coarse fishing
Coarse fishing
Coarse fishing is a term used in the United Kingdom and Ireland for angling for coarse fish, which are those types of freshwater fish other than game fish . The sport and the techniques used are particularly popular in the United Kingdom and mainland Europe.-History:The term "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



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 milk-producing cow.

For this reason, pork and white meat were more common than beef and a 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
Breakfast roll
The breakfast roll is a bread roll filled with elements of a traditional fry-up, designed to be eaten on the way to school or work. It can be purchased at a wide variety of petrol stations, local newsagents, supermarkets, and eateries throughout the Ireland and United Kingdom.- Recipe :A breakfast...

".

The introduction of the potato
Potato
The potato is a starchy, tuberous crop from the perennial Solanum tuberosum of the Solanaceae family . The word potato may refer to the plant itself as well as the edible tuber. In the region of the Andes, there are some other closely related cultivated potato species...

 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 stones (114.3 kg) of potatoes a week. Consequently, dishes that are considered as national dishes represent a fundamental unsophistication to cooking, such as the Irish stew
Irish stew
Irish stew is a traditional stew made from lamb, or mutton, as well as potatoes, carrots, onions, and parsley....

, bacon and cabbage
Bacon and Cabbage
Bacon and cabbage is a dish traditionally associated with Ireland. The dish consists of unsliced back bacon boiled with cabbage and potatoes. Sometimes other vegetables such as turnips, onions and carrots are also added...

, boxty
Boxty
Boxty is a traditional Irish potato pancake. The dish is mostly associated with the north midlands, north Connacht and southern Ulster, in particular the counties of Mayo, Sligo, Donegal , Fermanagh, Longford, Leitrim and Cavan...

, a type of potato pancake, or colcannon
Colcannon
Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish mainly consisting of mashed potatoes with kale or cabbage. It is also the name of a song about the dish.-Dish:...

, a dish of mashed potatoes and kale
Kale
Kale is very high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin, and reasonably rich in calcium. Kale, as with broccoli and other brassicas, contains sulforaphane , a chemical with potent anti-cancer properties. Boiling decreases the level of sulforaphane; however, steaming,...

 or cabbage
Cabbage
Cabbage is a popular cultivar of the species Brassica oleracea Linne of the Family Brassicaceae and is a leafy green vegetable...

.

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
Salmon
Salmon is the common name for several species of fish in the family Salmonidae. Several other fish in the same family are called trout; the difference is often said to be that salmon migrate and trout are resident, but this distinction does not strictly hold true...

, trout
Trout
Trout is the name for a number of species of freshwater and saltwater fish belonging to the Salmoninae subfamily of the family Salmonidae. Salmon belong to the same family as trout. Most salmon species spend almost all their lives in salt water...

, oyster
Oyster
The word oyster is used as a common name for a number of distinct groups of bivalve molluscs which live in marine or brackish habitats. The valves are highly calcified....

s, mussel
Mussel
The common name mussel is used for members of several families of clams or bivalvia mollusca, from saltwater and freshwater habitats. These groups have in common a shell whose outline is elongated and asymmetrical compared with other edible clams, which are often more or less rounded or oval.The...

s 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. The potato remains however a fundamental feature of this cuisine and the Irish remain the highest per capita consumers of potatoes in Europe. An example of this new cuisine is "Dublin Lawyer": lobster cooked in whiskey and cream. Traditional regional foods can be found throughout the country, for example coddle
Coddle
Coddle is an Irish dish consisting of layers of roughly sliced pork sausages and rashers with sliced potatoes, and onions. Traditionally, it can also include barley....

 in Dublin or drisheen
Drisheen
Drisheen is often viewed as a type of black pudding made in Ireland. Irish black pudding is made from a mixture of cow's, pig's and/or sheep's blood, milk, salt, fat and breadcrumbs, which is boiled and sieved and finally cooked using the main intestine of an animal as the sausage skin. The...

 in Cork, both a type of sausage, or blaa
Blaa
A blaa is a doughy, white bread bun speciality which, according to a writer in The Irish Times is currently particular to Waterford City and County, Ireland., but historically, the blaa is also known to have been made in Kilkenny and Wexford....

, a doughy white bread particular to Waterford
Waterford
Waterford is a city in the South-East Region of Ireland. It is the oldest city in the country and fifth largest by population. Waterford City Council is the local government authority for the city and its immediate hinterland...

.
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
Prohibition in the United States
Prohibition in the United States was a national ban on the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol, in place from 1920 to 1933. The ban was mandated by the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution, and the Volstead Act set down the rules for enforcing the ban, as well as defining which...

 (who sold poor-quality whiskey bearing Irish-sounding names thus eroding the pre-prohibition popularity for Irish brands) and tariffs on Irish whiskey across British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 during the Anglo-Irish Trade War
Anglo-Irish Trade War
The Anglo-Irish Trade War was a retaliatory trade war between the Irish Free State and the United Kingdom lasting from 1932 until 1938...

 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
Irish whiskey is whiskey made in Ireland.Key regulations defining Irish whiskey and its production are established by the Irish Whiskey Act of 1980, and are relatively simple...

.

Irish whiskey, however, remained popular domestically and in recent decades has grown in popularity again internationally. Typically, Irish whiskey is not as smoky as a Scotch whisky
Scotch whisky
Scotch whisky is whisky made in Scotland.Scotch whisky is divided into five distinct categories: Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Single Grain Scotch Whisky, Blended Malt Scotch Whisky , Blended Grain Scotch Whisky, and Blended Scotch Whisky.All Scotch whisky must be aged in oak barrels for at least three...

, but not as sweet as American
American whiskey
American whiskey is a distilled beverage produced in the United States from a fermented mash of cereal grain.The production and labeling of American whiskey are governed by Title 27 of the U.S...

 or Canadian whiskies. Whiskey forms the basis of traditional cream liqueurs
Irish Cream
Irish cream is a cream liqueur based on Irish whiskey, cream, and other ingredients such as coffee, which can be served on its own or used in mixed drinks or as part of a shot or a whole shot. Irish cream is very popular in the United Kingdom and the United States. Irish cream typically has between...

, such as Baileys
Baileys Irish Cream
Baileys Irish Cream is an Irish whiskey and cream based liqueur, made by Gilbeys of Ireland. The trademark is currently owned by Diageo. It has a declared alcohol content of 17% alcohol by volume...

, and the "Irish coffee
Irish coffee
Irish coffee is a cocktail consisting of hot coffee, Irish whiskey, and sugar, stirred, and topped with thick cream. The coffee is drunk through the cream. The original recipe explicitly uses cream that has not been whipped, although whipped cream is often used. Irish coffee may be considered a...

" (a cocktail
Cocktail
A cocktail is an alcoholic mixed drink that contains two or more ingredients—at least one of the ingredients must be a spirit.Cocktails were originally a mixture of spirits, sugar, water, and bitters. The word has come to mean almost any mixed drink that contains alcohol...

 of coffee and whiskey reputedly invented at Foynes flying-boat station
Foynes
Foynes is a village and major port in County Limerick in the midwest of Ireland, located at the edge of hilly land on the southern bank of the Shannon Estuary. The population of the town was 606 as of the 2006 census.-Foynes's role in aviation:...

) is probably the best-known Irish cocktail.

Stout
Porter (beer)
Porter is a dark-coloured style of beer. The history and development of stout and porter are intertwined. The name was first used in the 18th century from its popularity with the street and river porters of London. It is generally brewed with dark malts...

, a kind of porter beer, particularly Guinness
Guinness
Guinness is a popular Irish dry stout that originated in the brewery of Arthur Guinness at St. James's Gate, Dublin. Guinness is directly descended from the porter style that originated in London in the early 18th century and is one of the most successful beer brands worldwide, brewed in almost...

, is typically associated with Ireland, although historically it was more closely associated with London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

. Porter remains very popular, although it has lost sales since the mid-20th century to lager
Lager
Lager is a type of beer made from malted barley that is brewed and stored at low temperatures. There are many types of lager; pale lager is the most widely-consumed and commercially available style of beer in the world; Pilsner, Bock, Dortmunder Export and Märzen are all styles of lager...

. Cider
Cider
Cider or cyder is a fermented alcoholic beverage made from apple juice. Cider varies in alcohol content from 2% abv to 8.5% abv or more in traditional English ciders. In some regions, such as Germany and America, cider may be termed "apple wine"...

, particularly Magners (marketed in the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

 as Bulmers), is also a popular drink. Red lemonade
Red lemonade
Red lemonade is a popular soft drink in Ireland. Lemonade in Ireland comes in three varieties - red, brown and white. All three are lemon-flavoured, but there is a marked difference in taste between the varieties. Red lemonade is one of the most popular mixers used with spirits in Ireland,...

, a soft-drink, is consumed on its own and as a mixer, particularly with whiskey.

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