Republic of Ireland

Republic of Ireland

Overview
Ireland (ˈ or ˈ; , ˈeːɾʲə), described as the Republic of Ireland , is 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...

 in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic
Constitutional republic
A constitutional republic is a state in which the head of state and other officials are representatives of the people and must govern according to existing constitutional law that limits the government's power over all of its citizens...

 governed as a parliamentary democracy, with an elected president serving as head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

. It is a member 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...

.
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Timeline

1936   Aer Lingus (Aer Loingeas) is founded by the Irish government as the national airline of the Republic of Ireland.

1937   The Irish Free State is replaced by a new state called Ireland with the adoption of a new constitution.

1949   The twenty-six counties of the Irish Free State become the Republic of Ireland.

1949   At midnight 26 Irish counties officially leave the British Commonwealth. A 21-gun salute on O'Connell Bridge, Dublin, ushers in the Republic of Ireland.

1973   Denmark, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland are admitted into the European Community.

1973   Mountjoy Prison helicopter escape. Three Provisional Irish Republican Army members escape from Mountjoy Prison, Dublin, Republic of Ireland aboard a hijacked helicopter that lands in the exercise yard.

1976   Christopher Ewart-Biggs British ambassador to the Republic of Ireland is assassinated by the Provisional IRA.

1979   An IRA bomb kills British World War II admiral Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma and 3 others while they are boating on holiday in Sligo, Republic of Ireland. Another bomb near Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland kills 18 British soldiers.

1979   Pope John Paul II becomes the first pope to set foot on Irish soil with his pastoral visit to the Republic of Ireland.

1980   Buttevant Rail Disaster kills 18 and injures dozens of train passengers in Ireland.

 
Encyclopedia
Ireland (ˈ or ˈ; , ˈeːɾʲə), described as the Republic of Ireland , is 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...

 in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic
Constitutional republic
A constitutional republic is a state in which the head of state and other officials are representatives of the people and must govern according to existing constitutional law that limits the government's power over all of its citizens...

 governed as a parliamentary democracy, with an elected president serving as head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

. It is a member 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...

. Ireland is a developed country with the seventh highest Human Development Index
Human Development Index
The Human Development Index is a composite statistic used to rank countries by level of "human development" and separate "very high human development", "high human development", "medium human development", and "low human development" countries...

. The country is highly ranked for press freedom
Press Freedom Index
The Press Freedom Index is an annual ranking of countries compiled and published by Reporters Without Borders based upon the organization's assessment of their press freedom records. Small countries, such as Andorra, are excluded from this report...

, economic freedom and democracy and political freedom. Ireland is also a member of the Council of Europe
Council of Europe
The Council of Europe is an international organisation promoting co-operation between all countries of Europe in the areas of legal standards, human rights, democratic development, the rule of law and cultural co-operation...

, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development is an international economic organisation of 34 countries founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade...

, the World Trade Organisation and the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

.

The modern Irish state was established in 1922 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...

, a dominion within the 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...

, following 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...

 which brought an end to the Irish 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...

. The partition of Ireland
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...

 had already been provided for in previous British legislation in 1921 in response to opposition to Irish Home Rule
Irish Home Rule Movement
The Irish Home Rule Movement articulated a longstanding Irish desire for the repeal of the Act of Union of 1800 by a demand for self-government within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The movement drew upon a legacy of patriotic thought that dated back at least to the late 17th...

 or independence by Unionists
Unionism in Ireland
Unionism in Ireland is an ideology that favours the continuation of some form of political union between the islands of Ireland and Great Britain...

, who formed a majority in the north-eastern part of the country. Six of the nine counties in the northern province of 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...

 were established under that legislation as 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...

, part of the United Kingdom, with which the Irish state shares its only land border. The state is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with 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...

 to the south, St George's Channel
St George's Channel
St George's Channel is a sea channel connecting the Irish Sea to the north and the Celtic Sea to the southwest.Historically, the name "St Georges Channel" was used interchangeably with "Irish Sea" or "Irish Channel" to encompass all the waters between Ireland to the west and Great Britain to the...

 to the south east, and 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...

 to the east.

In 1801, the kingdoms of Ireland and Great Britain, previously in a personal union
Personal union
A personal union is the combination by which two or more different states have the same monarch while their boundaries, their laws and their interests remain distinct. It should not be confused with a federation which is internationally considered a single state...

, were united to form the 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....

. Following a failed uprising
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...

 in 1916, in 1919 Irish nationalist parliamentarians supporting the establishment of the 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...

 formed a secessionist parliament and the Irish Republican Army
Irish Republican Army
The Irish Republican Army was an Irish republican revolutionary military organisation. It was descended from the Irish Volunteers, an organisation established on 25 November 1913 that staged the Easter Rising in April 1916...

 launched a guerrilla war to realise independence. The Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1922 concluded that war and established the Irish Free State as a self-governing dominion within the British Commonwealth
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

. Northern Ireland chose to remain as part of the United Kingdom. The independent state increased in sovereignty through the 1931 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 the abdication crisis of 1936
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....

. A new constitution
Constitution of Ireland
The Constitution of Ireland is the fundamental law of the Irish state. The constitution falls broadly within the liberal democratic tradition. It establishes an independent state based on a system of representative democracy and guarantees certain fundamental rights, along with a popularly elected...

 introduced in 1937 declared it 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...

 named Ireland ().

John T. Koch, Celtic culture: a historical encyclopedia, ABC-CLIO: Santa Barbara, 2006 The Republic of Ireland Act
Republic of Ireland Act
The Republic of Ireland Act 1948 is an Act of the Oireachtas which declared the Irish state to be a republic, and vested in the President of Ireland the power to exercise the executive authority of the state in its external relations, on the advice of the Government of Ireland...

 proclaimed Ireland a republic in 1949 by removing the remaining duties of the monarch
Monarchy 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...

. Ireland consequently withdrew from the British Commonwealth.

While it ranks among the wealthiest countries in the world today in terms of GDP, Ireland was one of the most impoverished countries in Europe while it was a part of the United Kingdom and for decades following independence. Economic protectionism
Protectionism
Protectionism is the economic policy of restraining trade between states through methods such as tariffs on imported goods, restrictive quotas, and a variety of other government regulations designed to allow "fair competition" between imports and goods and services produced domestically.This...

 was dismantled in the late 1950s and 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...

 in 1973. Economic liberalism
Economic liberalism
Economic liberalism is the ideological belief in giving all people economic freedom, and as such granting people with more basis to control their own lives and make their own mistakes. It is an economic philosophy that supports and promotes individual liberty and choice in economic matters and...

 from the late 1980s onwards resulted in rapid economic expansion, particularly from 1995 to 2007, which 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...

 period. An unprecedented financial crisis
2008–2011 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...

 beginning in 2008 ended this era of rapid economic growth.

Name


The Constitution of Ireland
Constitution of Ireland
The Constitution of Ireland is the fundamental law of the Irish state. The constitution falls broadly within the liberal democratic tradition. It establishes an independent state based on a system of representative democracy and guarantees certain fundamental rights, along with a popularly elected...

 provides that "[t]he name of the State is Éire, or, in the English language, Ireland." Under Irish statute law, the term Republic of Ireland is "the description of the State" but is not its official name. This official description was provided for in the Republic of Ireland Act 1948, which transferred the remaining duties of monarch
Monarchy 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...

 to an elected president. However, no actual change of name occurred under that act. A change to the name of the state would require a constitutional referendum. In the UK however, the Ireland Act 1949
Ireland Act 1949
The Ireland Act 1949 is a British Act of Parliament that was intended to deal with the consequences of the Republic of Ireland Act 1948 as passed by the Irish parliament...

 provided that "Republic of Ireland" is the official name of the state under UK law.

The use of the name Ireland by the state has been a source of contention between the United Kingdom and Ireland since part of the island of Ireland is in the United Kingdom. These differences led the Irish Supreme Court to reject an extradition warrant from the United Kingdom in 1989 that used the name Republic of Ireland ruling that, "if the courts of other countries seeking the assistance of this country are unwilling to give this State its constitutionally correct and internationally recognised name, then in my view, the warrants should be returned to such countries until they have been rectified." These tensions fell away subsequent to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which resolved issues relating to political rights in Northern Ireland and the dropping of Ireland's claim to jurisdiction over the entire island.

In 1996, a parliamentary body charged with reviewing the constitution, the Constitution Review Group
Constitution Review Group
The Constitution Review Group was a group established by the Government of Ireland in 1995 to review the Constitution of Ireland and to recommend alterations. The group was chaired by T. K...

, stated that the wording of the article was "unnecessarily complicated and that it should be simplified". An amendment was recommended to state that, "The name of the state is Ireland", with an equivalent change in the Irish text. The Constitution Review Group also considered whether it should be amended to also give the name as Republic of Ireland. The review group deemed the legislative provision declaring the state's description in the Republic of Ireland Act sufficient. Republic of Ireland is frequently used to distinguish the state from the island. 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...

, the name of the unilaterally declared republic at the time of independence, is also often used by the international, particularly British, press.

Home-rule movement


From the Act of Union
Act of Union 1800
The Acts of Union 1800 describe two complementary Acts, namely:* the Union with Ireland Act 1800 , an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain, and...

 on 1 January 1801 until 6 December 1922, the island of Ireland was part of the 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....

. During the Great Famine, from 1845 to 1849, the island's population of over 8 million fell by 30%. One million Irish died of starvation and/or disease and another 1.5 million emigrated, particularly to the United States. This set the pattern of emigration for the century to come, resulting in a constant population decline up to the 1960s.

From 1874, particularly under 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...

 from 1880, the Irish Parliamentary Party
Irish Parliamentary Party
The Irish Parliamentary Party was formed in 1882 by Charles Stewart Parnell, the leader of the Nationalist Party, replacing the Home Rule League, as official parliamentary party for Irish nationalist Members of Parliament elected to the House of Commons at...

 moved to prominence through widespread agrarian agitation, via the Irish Land League, that won improved tenant land reforms in the form of the Irish Land Acts
Irish Land Acts
The Land Acts were a series of measures to deal with the question of peasant proprietorship of land in Ireland in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Five such acts were introduced by the government of the United Kingdom between 1870 and 1909...

, and with its attempts to achieve Home Rule
Irish Home Rule Movement
The Irish Home Rule Movement articulated a longstanding Irish desire for the repeal of the Act of Union of 1800 by a demand for self-government within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The movement drew upon a legacy of patriotic thought that dated back at least to the late 17th...

, via two unsuccessful Bills which would have granted Ireland limited national autonomy. These led to the "grass-roots" control of national affairs under the Local Government Act 1898
Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898
The Local Government Act 1898 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that established a system of local government in Ireland similar to that already created for England, Wales and Scotland by legislation in 1888 and 1889...

 previously in the hands of landlord-dominated grand juries of 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...

.

Home Rule seemed certain when the Parliament Act 1911
Parliament Act 1911
The Parliament Act 1911 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It is constitutionally important and partly governs the relationship between the House of Commons and the House of Lords which make up the Houses of Parliament. This Act must be construed as one with the Parliament Act 1949...

 abolished the veto of the House of Lords
House of Lords
The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster....

, and 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...

 secured the Third Home Rule Act 1914
Home Rule Act 1914
The Government of Ireland Act 1914 , also known as the Third Home Rule Bill, was an Act passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom intended to provide self-government for Ireland within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.The Act was the first law ever passed by the Parliament of...

. However, the Unionist movement
Unionism in Ireland
Unionism in Ireland is an ideology that favours the continuation of some form of political union between the islands of Ireland and Great Britain...

 had been growing since 1886 among Irish Protestants after the introduction of the first home rule bill, fearing discrimination and loss of economic and social privileges if Irish Catholics
Rome Rule
"Rome Rule" was a term used by Irish unionists and socialists to describe the belief that the Roman Catholic Church would gain political control over their interests with the passage of a Home Rule Bill...

 achieved real political power. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century unionism was particularly strong in parts of 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...

, where industrialisation was more common in contrast to the more agrarian rest of the island. It was feared that any tariff barriers would heavily affect that region. In addition, the Protestant population was more prominent in Ulster, with a majority in four counties. Under the leadership of the Dublin-born Sir Edward Carson
Edward Carson, Baron Carson
Edward Henry Carson, Baron Carson PC, PC , Kt, QC , often known as Sir Edward Carson or Lord Carson, was a barrister, judge and politician from Ireland...

 of the Irish Unionist Party
Irish Unionist Party
The Irish Unionist Alliance was a Unionist party founded in Ireland in 1891 to oppose plans for Gladstonian and Parnellite Home Rule for Ireland. The party was led for much of its life by Colonel Edward James Saunderson and later by the William St John Brodrick, Earl of Midleton...

 and the northerner Sir James Craig
James Craig, 1st Viscount Craigavon
James Craig, 1st Viscount Craigavon, PC, PC , was a prominent Irish unionist politician, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party and the first Prime Minister of Northern Ireland...

 of 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...

, unionists became strongly militant in order to oppose the Coercion of Ulster. After the Home Rule Bill passed parliament in May 1914, to avoid rebellion with Ulster, the British Prime Minister H. H. Asquith
H. H. Asquith
Herbert Henry Asquith, 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith, KG, PC, KC served as the Liberal Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1908 to 1916...

 introduced an Amending Bill reluctantly conceded to by the Irish Party leadership. This provided for the temporary exclusion of Ulster from the workings of the bill for a trial period of six years, with an as yet undecided new set of measures to be introduced for the area to be temporarily excluded.

Revolution


Though it received the Royal Assent
Royal Assent
The granting of royal assent refers to the method by which any constitutional monarch formally approves and promulgates an act of his or her nation's parliament, thus making it a law...

 and was placed on the statute books in 1914, the implementation of the Third Home Rule Act
Home Rule Act 1914
The Government of Ireland Act 1914 , also known as the Third Home Rule Bill, was an Act passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom intended to provide self-government for Ireland within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.The Act was the first law ever passed by the Parliament of...

 was suspended until after the Great 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...

. For the prior reasons of ensuring the implementation of the Act at the end of the war, Redmond and his Irish 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:...

 supported the Allied cause
Allies of World War I
The Entente Powers were the countries at war with the Central Powers during World War I. The members of the Triple Entente were the United Kingdom, France, and the Russian Empire; Italy entered the war on their side in 1915...

, and 175,000 joined Irish regiments of the 10th (Irish), 16th (Irish), while Unionists joined the 36th (Ulster) divisions of the New British Army
Kitchener's Army
The New Army, often referred to as Kitchener's Army or, disparagingly, Kitchener's Mob, was an all-volunteer army formed in the United Kingdom following the outbreak of hostilities in the First World War...

. In January 1919, after the December 1918 general election, 73 of Ireland's 106 MPs
Member of Parliament
A Member of Parliament is a representative of the voters to a :parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, the term applies specifically to members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title, such as senate, and thus also have different titles for its members,...

 elected were Sinn Féin members who refused to take their seats in the British House of Commons
British House of Commons
The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which also comprises the Sovereign and the House of Lords . Both Commons and Lords meet in the Palace of Westminster. The Commons is a democratically elected body, consisting of 650 members , who are known as Members...

. Instead, they set up an Irish parliament called Dáil Éireann. This 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"...

 in January 1919 issued a Declaration of Independence
Declaration of independence
A declaration of independence is an assertion of the independence of an aspiring state or states. Such places are usually declared from part or all of the territory of another nation or failed nation, or are breakaway territories from within the larger state...

 and 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...

. The Declaration was mainly a restatement of the 1916 Proclamation with the additional provision that Ireland was no longer a part of the United Kingdom. The new Irish Republic was recognised internationally only by the Russian Soviet Republic
Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic
The Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic , commonly referred to as Soviet Russia, Bolshevik Russia, or simply Russia, was the largest, most populous and economically developed republic in the former Soviet Union....

. The Republic's Aireacht
Aireacht
The Aireacht or Ministry was the cabinet of the 1919–1922 Irish Republic. The Ministry was originally established by the Dáil Constitution adopted by the First Dáil in 1919, after it issued the Irish Declaration of Independence...

 (ministry) sent a delegation under Ceann Comhairle
Ceann Comhairle
The Ceann Comhairle is the chairman of Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Oireachtas of Ireland. The person who holds the position is elected by members of the Dáil from among their number in the first session after each general election...

 Seán T. O'Kelly
Sean T. O'Kelly
Seán Thomas O'Kelly was the second President of Ireland . He was a member of Dáil Éireann from 1918 until his election as President. During this time he served as Minister for Local Government and Minister for Finance...

 to the Paris Peace Conference
Paris Peace Conference, 1919
The Paris Peace Conference was the meeting of the Allied victors following the end of World War I to set the peace terms for the defeated Central Powers following the armistices of 1918. It took place in Paris in 1919 and involved diplomats from more than 32 countries and nationalities...

 of 1919, but it was not admitted.

After the 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...

 and truce called in July 1921, representatives of the British government and the Irish treaty delegates, led by Arthur Griffith
Arthur Griffith
Arthur Griffith was the founder and third leader of Sinn Féin. He served as President of Dáil Éireann from January to August 1922, and was head of the Irish delegation at the negotiations in London that produced the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921.-Early life:...

, Robert Barton
Robert Barton
Robert Childers Barton was an Irish lawyer, soldier, statesman and farmer who participated in the negotiations leading up to the signature of the Anglo-Irish Treaty. His father was Charles William Barton and his mother was Agnes Childers. His wife was Rachel Warren of Boston, daughter of Fiske...

 and Michael Collins
Michael Collins (Irish leader)
Michael "Mick" Collins was an Irish revolutionary leader, Minister for Finance and Teachta Dála for Cork South in the First Dáil of 1919, Director of Intelligence for the IRA, and member of the Irish delegation during the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations. Subsequently, he was both Chairman of the...

, negotiated the Anglo-Irish Treaty in London from 11 October to 6 December 1921. The Irish delegates set up headquarters at Hans Place
Hans Place
Hans Place, London, England, is a residential garden square situated immediately south of Harrods in Chelsea. It is named after Sir Hans Sloane, 1st Baronet, PRS , who was a physician and collector, notable for bequeathing his collection to the British nation which became the foundation of the...

 in Knightsbridge
Knightsbridge
Knightsbridge is a road which gives its name to an exclusive district lying to the west of central London. The road runs along the south side of Hyde Park, west from Hyde Park Corner, spanning the City of Westminster and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea...

 and it was here in private discussions that the decision was taken on 5 December to recommend the Treaty to Dáil Éireann.
The Second Dáil Éireann
Second Dáil
The Second Dáil was Dáil Éireann as it convened from 16 August 1921 until 8 June 1922. From 1919–1922 Dáil Éireann was the revolutionary parliament of the self-proclaimed Irish Republic. The Second Dáil consisted of members elected in 1921...

 narrowly ratified
Anglo-Irish Treaty Dáil vote
The Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed in London on 6 December 1921. Dáil Éireann voted on the treaty on 7 January 1922, following a debate through late December 1921 and into January 1922.-Result:Of the 125 Teachtaí Dála , 121 cast their vote in the Dáil...

 the Treaty.

In accordance with the Treaty, on 6 December 1922 the entire island of Ireland became a self-governing British dominion called 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...

 (Saorstát Éireann). Under the Constitution of the Irish Free State
Constitution of the Irish Free State
The Constitution of the Irish Free State was the first constitution of the independent Irish state. It was enacted with the adoption of the Constitution of the Irish Free State Act 1922, of which it formed a part...

, the Parliament of Northern Ireland
Parliament of Northern Ireland
The Parliament of Northern Ireland was the home rule legislature of Northern Ireland, created under the Government of Ireland Act 1920, which sat from 7 June 1921 to 30 March 1972, when it was suspended...

 had the option to leave the Irish Free State exactly one month later and return to the United Kingdom. During the intervening period, the powers of the Parliament of the Irish Free State and Executive Council of the Irish Free State
Executive Council of the Irish Free State
The Executive Council was the cabinet and de facto executive branch of government of the 1922–1937 Irish Free State. Formally, the role of the Executive Council was to "aid and advise" the Governor-General who would exercise the executive authority on behalf of the King...

 did not extend to 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...

. Northern Ireland exercised its right under the Treaty to opt out of the new dominion and rejoined the United Kingdom on 8 December 1922. It did so by making an Address to the King requesting, "that the powers of the Parliament and Government of the Irish Free State shall no longer extend to Northern Ireland." However, the Irish Free State was a constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

 over which the British monarch reigned. It had a Governor-General
Governor-General of the Irish Free State
The Governor-General was the representative of the King in the 1922–1937 Irish Free State. Until 1927 he was also the agent of the British government in the Irish state. By convention the office of Governor-General was largely ceremonial...

, a bicameral
Bicameralism
In the government, bicameralism is the practice of having two legislative or parliamentary chambers. Thus, a bicameral parliament or bicameral legislature is a legislature which consists of two chambers or houses....

 parliament, a cabinet called the "Executive Council" and a prime minister called the President of the Executive Council
President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State
The President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State was the head of government or prime minister of the Irish Free State which existed from 1922 to 1937...

.

Irish Civil War



The Irish 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....

 was the consequence of the creation of the Irish Free State. Anti-Treaty forces, 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...

, objected to the fact that acceptance of the Treaty abolished the 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...

 of 1919 to which they had sworn loyalty, arguing in the face of public support for the settlement that the "people have no right to do wrong". They objected most to the fact that the state would remain part of the British Commonwealth and that members of the Free State Parliament
Oireachtas of the Irish Free State
The Oireachtas of the Irish Free State was the legislature of the Irish Free State from 1922 until 1937. It was established by the 1922 Constitution of Ireland which was based from the Anglo-Irish Treaty...

 would have to swear, what the Anti-Treaty side saw as, an oath of fidelity to the British King. Pro-Treaty forces, led by Michael Collins
Michael Collins (Irish leader)
Michael "Mick" Collins was an Irish revolutionary leader, Minister for Finance and Teachta Dála for Cork South in the First Dáil of 1919, Director of Intelligence for the IRA, and member of the Irish delegation during the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations. Subsequently, he was both Chairman of the...

, argued that the Treaty gave "not the ultimate freedom that all nations aspire to and develop, but the freedom to achieve it".

At the start of the war, the Irish Republican Army
Irish Republican Army
The Irish Republican Army was an Irish republican revolutionary military organisation. It was descended from the Irish Volunteers, an organisation established on 25 November 1913 that staged the Easter Rising in April 1916...

 (IRA) split into two opposing camps: a pro-treaty IRA and an anti-treaty IRA
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...

. The pro-Treaty IRA disbanded and joined the new Irish Army
Irish Army
The Irish Army, officially named simply the Army is the main branch of the Defence Forces of Ireland. Approximately 8,500 men and women serve in the Irish Army, divided into three infantry Brigades...

. However, through the lack of an effective command structure in the anti-Treaty IRA, and their defensive tactics throughout the war, Michael Collins and his pro-treaty forces were able to build up an army with many tens of thousands of World War I veterans from the 1922 disbanded Irish regiments of the British Army, capable of overwhelming the anti-Treatyists. British supplies of artillery, aircraft, machine-guns and ammunition boosted pro-treaty forces, and the threat of a return of Crown forces to the Free State removed any doubts about the necessity of enforcing the treaty. The lack of public support for the anti-treaty forces (often called the Irregulars) and the determination of the government to overcome the Irregulars contributed significantly to their defeat.

In the Northern Ireland question, Irish governments started to seek a peaceful reunification of Ireland and have usually cooperated with the British government in the violent conflict involving many paramilitaries
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....

 and 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...

 in Northern Ireland 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...

". A peace settlement for Northern Ireland, 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 approved in 1998 in referendums north and south of the border. As part of the peace settlement, Ireland dropped its territorial claim to Northern Ireland
Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution of Ireland
Article 2 and Article 3 of the Constitution of Ireland were adopted with the constitution as a whole on 29 December 1937, but completely revised by means of the Nineteenth Amendment which took effect on 2 December 1999...

.

1937 Constitution


On 29 December 1937, the new Constitution of Ireland
Constitution of Ireland
The Constitution of Ireland is the fundamental law of the Irish state. The constitution falls broadly within the liberal democratic tradition. It establishes an independent state based on a system of representative democracy and guarantees certain fundamental rights, along with a popularly elected...

 (Bunreacht na hÉireann) came into force, which replaced the Constitution of the Irish Free State
Constitution of the Irish Free State
The Constitution of the Irish Free State was the first constitution of the independent Irish state. It was enacted with the adoption of the Constitution of the Irish Free State Act 1922, of which it formed a part...

 and called the state Ireland, or Éire in Irish. The former Irish Free State government had taken steps to formally abolish the Office of Governor-General
Governor-General of the Irish Free State
The Governor-General was the representative of the King in the 1922–1937 Irish Free State. Until 1927 he was also the agent of the British government in the Irish state. By convention the office of Governor-General was largely ceremonial...

 some months before the new Constitution came into force. Although the Constitution established the office of President of Ireland
President of Ireland
The President of Ireland is the head of state of Ireland. The President is usually directly elected by the people for seven years, and can be elected for a maximum of two terms. The presidency is largely a ceremonial office, but the President does exercise certain limited powers with absolute...

, the question over whether Ireland was a republic remained open. Diplomats were accreditated to the King, but the President exercised the internal functions of a Head of State. For instance, the President gave assent to new laws with his own authority, without reference to King George VI. George VI was only an "organ", that was provided for by statute law.

Ireland remained neutral
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...

 during World War II, a period it described as The Emergency. The link with the monarchy ceased with the passage of the Republic of Ireland Act 1948, which came into force on 18 April 1949 and declared that the state was a republic. Later, the Crown of Ireland Act was formally repealed in Ireland by the Statute Law Revision (Pre-Union Irish Statutes) Act, 1962. Ireland was technically a member of the British Commonwealth after independence until the declaration of a republic on 18 April 1949. At the time, a declaration of a republic terminated Commonwealth membership. This rule was changed 10 days after Ireland declared itself a republic, with the London Declaration
London Declaration
The London Declaration was a declaration issued by the governments of the Commonwealth of Nations on the issue of India's continued membership of the Commonwealth. It was made in London on 28 April 1949, and marked the birth of the modern Commonwealth. The declaration had two main provisions...

 of 28 April 1949. Ireland did not reapply when the rules were altered to permit republics to join.

Recent history



Ireland became a member of the United Nations in December 1955, after previously being denied membership due to its neutral stance
Neutrality (international relations)
A neutral power in a particular war is a sovereign state which declares itself to be neutral towards the belligerents. A non-belligerent state does not need to be neutral. The rights and duties of a neutral power are defined in Sections 5 and 13 of the Hague Convention of 1907...

 during the Second World War and not supporting the Allied cause
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

. At the time, joining the UN involved a commitment to using force to deter aggression by one state against another if the UN thought it was necessary.

Interest towards membership of 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...

 developed in Ireland during the 1950s, with consideration also given to membership of the European Free Trade Area
European Free Trade Area
At present, there are three multi-lateral free trade areas in Europe, plus the European Union which has a single market, and one former-FTA in recent history...

. As the United Kingdom intended on EEC membership, Ireland formally applied for membership in July 1961 due to the substantial economic linkages with the United Kingdom. However, the founding EEC members remained skeptical regarding Ireland's economic capacity, neutrality, and unattractive protectionist policy. Many Irish economists and politicians realised that economic policy reform was necessary. The prospect of EEC membership became doubtful in 1963 when French President General Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle
Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle was a French general and statesman who led the Free French Forces during World War II. He later founded the French Fifth Republic in 1958 and served as its first President from 1959 to 1969....

 stated that France opposed Britain's accession, which ceased negotiations with all other candidate countries. However, in 1969 his successor, George Pompidou, was not opposed to British and Irish membership. Negotiations began and in 1972 the Treaty of Accession was signed. A referendum held in 1972 confirmed Ireland's entry, and finally succeeded in joining the EEC in 1973.

The economic crisis of the late 1970s was fueled by 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...

's budget, the abolition of the car tax, excessive borrowing, and global economic instability. There were significant policy changes from 1989 onwards, with economic reform, tax cuts, welfare reform, an increase in competition, and a ban on borrowing to fund current spending. This policy began in 1989–1992 by the Fianna Fáil/Progressive Democrat
Progressive Democrats
The Progressive Democrats , commonly known as the PDs, was a pro-free market liberal political party in the Republic of Ireland.Launched on 21 December 1985 by Desmond O'Malley and other politicians who had split from Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, the Progressive Democrats took liberal positions on...

 government, and continued by the subsequent Fianna Fáil/Labour
Labour Party (Ireland)
The Labour Party is a social-democratic political party in the Republic of Ireland. The Labour Party was founded in 1912 in Clonmel, County Tipperary, by James Connolly, James Larkin and William X. O'Brien as the political wing of the Irish Trade Union Congress. Unlike the other main Irish...

 government and Fine Gael
Fine Gael
Fine Gael is a centre-right to centrist political party in the Republic of Ireland. It is the single largest party in Ireland in the Oireachtas, in local government, and in terms of Members of the European Parliament. The party has a membership of over 35,000...

/Labour/Democratic Left
Democratic Left (Ireland)
Democratic Left was a democratic socialist political party active in Ireland between 1992 and 1999. It came into being after a split in the Workers' Party and, after just seven years in existence, it merged into the Irish Labour Party.-Origins:...

 government. Ireland became one of the world's fastest growing economies by the late 1990s in what was 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...

 period, which lasted until the global financial crisis of 2007–2010.

Geography




The Republic of Ireland extends over an area of approximately five-sixths (70273 km² (27,133 sq mi)) of the island of Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 (84421 km² (32,595 sq mi)), with 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...

 constituting the remainder. The island is bounded to the north and west by the Atlantic Ocean and to the northeast by the North Channel
North Channel (Great Britain and Ireland)
The North Channel is the strait which separates eastern Northern Ireland from southwestern Scotland...

. To the east, 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...

 connects to the Atlantic Ocean via St George's Channel
St George's Channel
St George's Channel is a sea channel connecting the Irish Sea to the north and the Celtic Sea to the southwest.Historically, the name "St Georges Channel" was used interchangeably with "Irish Sea" or "Irish Channel" to encompass all the waters between Ireland to the west and Great Britain to the...

 and 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...

 to the southwest.

The western landscape mostly consists of rugged cliffs, hills and mountains. The central lowlands are extensively covered with glacial deposits of clay and sand, as well as significant areas of bogland and several lakes. The highest point is Carrauntoohil (1038 m (3,406 ft)), located in the Macgillycuddy's Reeks
Macgillycuddy's Reeks
MacGillycuddy's Reeks is a mountain range in County Kerry, Republic of Ireland. Stretching slightly over , it includes the highest peaks in Ireland and the only peaks on the island that are over . The highest of these is Corrán Tuathail or Carrauntoohil , followed by Binn Chaorach and Cathair na...

 mountain range in the southwest. 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...

, which traverses the central lowlands, is the longest river in Ireland at 386 km in length. The west coast is more rugged than the east, with numerous islands, peninsula
Peninsula
A peninsula is a piece of land that is bordered by water on three sides but connected to mainland. In many Germanic and Celtic languages and also in Baltic, Slavic and Hungarian, peninsulas are called "half-islands"....

s, headland
Headland
A headland is a point of land, usually high and often with a sheer drop, that extends out into a body of water.Headland can also refer to:*Headlands and bays*headLand, an Australian television series...

s and bay
Bay
A bay is an area of water mostly surrounded by land. Bays generally have calmer waters than the surrounding sea, due to the surrounding land blocking some waves and often reducing winds. Bays also exist as an inlet in a lake or pond. A large bay may be called a gulf, a sea, a sound, or a bight...

s.
Preceding the arrival of the first settlers in Ireland approximately 9,000 years ago, the landscape was extensively covered by forests of 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...

, ash, elm
Elm
Elms are deciduous and semi-deciduous trees comprising the genus Ulmus in the plant family Ulmaceae. The dozens of species are found in temperate and tropical-montane regions of North America and Eurasia, ranging southward into Indonesia. Elms are components of many kinds of natural forests...

, hazel
Hazel
The hazels are a genus of deciduous trees and large shrubs native to the temperate northern hemisphere. The genus is usually placed in the birch family Betulaceae, though some botanists split the hazels into a separate family Corylaceae.They have simple, rounded leaves with double-serrate margins...

, yew
Taxus baccata
Taxus baccata is a conifer native to western, central and southern Europe, northwest Africa, northern Iran and southwest Asia. It is the tree originally known as yew, though with other related trees becoming known, it may be now known as the English yew, or European yew.-Description:It is a small-...

, and other native trees. The growth of blanket bog
Blanket bog
Blanket bog or blanket mire is an area of peatland, forming where there is a climate of high rainfall and a low level of evapotranspiration, allowing peat to develop not only in wet hollows but over large expanses of undulating ground. The blanketing of the ground with a variable depth of peat...

 and the extensive clearing of woodland to facilitate farming are believed to be the main causes of deforestation
Deforestation
Deforestation is the removal of a forest or stand of trees where the land is thereafter converted to a nonforest use. Examples of deforestation include conversion of forestland to farms, ranches, or urban use....

 during the subsequent centuries. Today, approximately 12% of Ireland is forested, of which a significant majority is composed of mainly non-native coniferous plantations for commercial use. Ideal soil conditions, high rainfall and a mild climate give Ireland the highest growth rates for forests in Europe. Hedgerows, which are traditionally used to define land boundaries, are an important substitute for woodland habitat, providing refuge for native wild flora and a wide range of insect, bird and mammal species.


Agriculture
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

 accounts for approximately 64% of the total land area. This has resulted in limited land to preserve natural habitats, in particular for larger wild mammals with greater territorial requirements. The long history of agricultural production coupled with modern agricultural methods, such as pesticide
Pesticide
Pesticides are substances or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling or mitigating any pest.A pesticide may be a chemical unicycle, biological agent , antimicrobial, disinfectant or device used against any pest...

 and fertiliser use, has placed pressure on biodiversity
Biodiversity
Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is a measure of the health of ecosystems. Biodiversity is in part a function of climate. In terrestrial habitats, tropical regions are typically rich whereas polar regions...

.

Climate


The Atlantic Ocean and the warming influence of the Gulf Stream
Gulf Stream
The Gulf Stream, together with its northern extension towards Europe, the North Atlantic Drift, is a powerful, warm, and swift Atlantic ocean current that originates at the tip of Florida, and follows the eastern coastlines of the United States and Newfoundland before crossing the Atlantic Ocean...

 affect weather patterns in Ireland. Temperatures differ regionally, with central and eastern areas tending to be more extreme. However, due to a temperate 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...

, temperatures are seldom lower than -3 °C in winter or higher than 22 °C (71.6 °F) in summer. The highest temperature recorded in Ireland was 33.3 °C (91.9 °F) on 26 June 1987 at Kilkenny Castle
Kilkenny Castle
Kilkenny Castle is a castle in Kilkenny, Ireland built in 1195 by William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke to control a fording-point of the River Nore and the junction of several routeways...

 in Kilkenny, while the lowest temperature recorded was -19.1 °C at Markree Castle
Markree Castle
Markree Castle, in Collooney, County Sligo, Ireland is the ancestral seat of the Cooper family, partially moated by the River Unshin. Today it is a small family-run hotel.-17th century:...

 in Sligo. Rainfall is more prevalent during winter months and less so during the early months of summer. Western areas experience the most rainfall as a result of south westerly winds, while Dublin receives the least. Sunshine duration is highest in the southeast of the country. The far north and west are two of the windiest regions in Europe, with great potential for wind energy
Wind energy
Wind energy is the kinetic energy of air in motion; see also wind power.Total wind energy flowing through an imaginary area A during the time t is:E = ½ m v2 = ½ v 2...

 generation.

Politics


Ireland is a constitutional republic
Constitutional republic
A constitutional republic is a state in which the head of state and other officials are representatives of the people and must govern according to existing constitutional law that limits the government's power over all of its citizens...

 with a parliamentary system
Parliamentary system
A parliamentary system is a system of government in which the ministers of the executive branch get their democratic legitimacy from the legislature and are accountable to that body, such that the executive and legislative branches are intertwined....

 of government. The is a bicameral national parliament composed of the President of Ireland
President of Ireland
The President of Ireland is the head of state of Ireland. The President is usually directly elected by the people for seven years, and can be elected for a maximum of two terms. The presidency is largely a ceremonial office, but the President does exercise certain limited powers with absolute...

 and the two Houses of the Oireachtas:
(Senate) and (House of Representatives). Áras an Uachtaráin
Áras an Uachtaráin
Áras an Uachtaráin , formerly the Viceregal Lodge, is the official residence of the President of Ireland. It is located in the Phoenix Park on the northside of Dublin.-Origins:...

 is the official residence
Official residence
An official residence is the residence at which heads of state, heads of government, gubernatorial or other senior figures officially reside...

 of the President of Ireland, while the houses of the Oireachtas meet at Leinster House
Leinster House
Leinster House is the name of the building housing the Oireachtas, the national parliament of Ireland.Leinster House was originally the ducal palace of the Dukes of Leinster. Since 1922, it is a complex of buildings, of which the former ducal palace is the core, which house Oireachtas Éireann, its...

 in Dublin.

The President serves as head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

, and is elected for a seven-year term and may be re-elected once. The President is primarily a figurehead
Figurehead (metaphor)
In politics, a figurehead is a person who holds de jure an important title or office yet de facto executes little actual power, most commonly limited by convention rather than law. The metaphor derives from the carved figurehead at the prow of a sailing ship...

, but is entrusted with certain constitutional powers with the advice of the Council of State
Council of State (Ireland)
The Council of State is a body established by the Constitution of Ireland to advise the President of Ireland in the exercise of many of his or her discretionary, reserve powers...

. The office has absolute discretion in some areas, such as referring a bill to the Supreme Court for a judgement on its constitutionality. Michael D. Higgins
Michael D. Higgins
Michael Daniel Higgins is the ninth and current President of Ireland, having taken office on 11 November 2011 following victory in the 2011 Irish presidential election. Higgins is an Irish politician, poet, sociologist, author and broadcaster. Higgins was President of the Labour Party until his...

 became the ninth President of Ireland on 11 November 2011.

The serves as the head of government
Head of government
Head of government is the chief officer of the executive branch of a government, often presiding over a cabinet. In a parliamentary system, the head of government is often styled prime minister, chief minister, premier, etc...

 and is appointed by the President upon the nomination of the . Most have served as the leader of the political party that gains the most seats in national elections. It has become customary for coalition
Coalition
A coalition is a pact or treaty among individuals or groups, during which they cooperate in joint action, each in their own self-interest, joining forces together for a common cause. This alliance may be temporary or a matter of convenience. A coalition thus differs from a more formal covenant...

s to form a government, as there has not been a single-party government since 1989. Enda Kenny
Enda Kenny
Enda Kenny is an Irish Fine Gael politician, and has been the Taoiseach since 2011. He has led Fine Gael since 2002. He served as Minister for Tourism and Trade from 1994 to 1997. He is also a two-term Vice President of the European People's Party.Kenny has been a Teachta Dála for Mayo since...

 assumed the office of Taoiseach on 9 March 2011.

The is composed of sixty members, with eleven nominated by the , six elected by two universities, and 43 elected by public representatives from panels of candidates established on a vocational basis. The has 166 members elected to represent multi-seat constituencies
Parliamentary constituencies in the Republic of Ireland
The lower house of the Oireachtas , Dáil Éireann, contains 166 Teachtaí Dála , representing 43 parliamentary constituencies throughout the Republic of Ireland. Depending on its size, each constituency must have at least 3 members and a maximum of five members. The most recent ratio indicates that...

 under the system of proportional representation
Proportional representation
Proportional representation is a concept in voting systems used to elect an assembly or council. PR means that the number of seats won by a party or group of candidates is proportionate to the number of votes received. For example, under a PR voting system if 30% of voters support a particular...

 and by means of the single transferable vote
Single transferable vote
The single transferable vote is a voting system designed to achieve proportional representation through preferential voting. Under STV, an elector's vote is initially allocated to his or her most preferred candidate, and then, after candidates have been either elected or eliminated, any surplus or...

.

The Government is constitutionally limited to fifteen members. No more than two members can be selected from the , and the , (deputy prime minister) and Minister for Finance
Minister for Finance (Ireland)
The Minister for Finance is the title held by the Irish government minister responsible for all financial and monetary matters. The office-holder controls the Department of Finance and is considered one of the most important members of the Government of Ireland.The current Minister for Finance is...

 must be members of the . The Dáil must be dissolved within five years after its first meeting following the previous election, and a general election for members of the Dáil must take place no later than thirty days after the dissolution. According to the Constitution of Ireland
Constitution of Ireland
The Constitution of Ireland is the fundamental law of the Irish state. The constitution falls broadly within the liberal democratic tradition. It establishes an independent state based on a system of representative democracy and guarantees certain fundamental rights, along with a popularly elected...

, parliamentary elections must be held at least every seven years, though a lower limit may be set by statute law. The current government is a coalition administration led by with Enda Kenny as , supported by the Labour Party
Labour Party (Ireland)
The Labour Party is a social-democratic political party in the Republic of Ireland. The Labour Party was founded in 1912 in Clonmel, County Tipperary, by James Connolly, James Larkin and William X. O'Brien as the political wing of the Irish Trade Union Congress. Unlike the other main Irish...

 with Eamon Gilmore
Eamon Gilmore
Eamon Gilmore is an Irish Labour Party politician and the current Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade. He has been the Leader of the Labour Party since September 2007, and a Teachta Dála for the Dún Laoghaire constituency since 1989, first with the Workers' Party of Ireland, and...

 as . Opposition parties in the current are 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...

, 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 Socialist Party
Socialist Party (Ireland)
The Socialist Party is a socialist political party active in Ireland. It is a member of the Committee for a Workers' International .Formerly known as Militant Tendency, then Militant Labour, it adopted the name The Socialist Party in 1996. From their foundation in 1972 until the 1980s, members of...

, the PBPA
People Before Profit Alliance
The People Before Profit Alliance is an Irish political party formed in October 2005. It is active in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.-Overview:It was established by the Socialist Workers Party...

, the WUAG, as well as a number of Independents
Independent (politician)
In politics, an independent or non-party politician is an individual not affiliated to any political party. Independents may hold a centrist viewpoint between those of major political parties, a viewpoint more extreme than any major party, or they may have a viewpoint based on issues that they do...

.

Ireland has been a member state of the European Union
Member State of the European Union
A member state of the European Union is a state that is party to treaties of the European Union and has thereby undertaken the privileges and obligations that EU membership entails. Unlike membership of an international organisation, being an EU member state places a country under binding laws in...

 since 1973, but has chosen to remain outside the Schengen Area
Schengen Area
The Schengen Area comprises the territories of twenty-five European countries that have implemented the Schengen Agreement signed in the town of Schengen, Luxembourg, in 1985...

. Citizens of the United Kingdom can freely enter the country without a passport due to the Common Travel Area
Common Travel Area
The Common Travel Area is a passport-free zone that comprises the islands of Ireland, Great Britain, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. The area's internal borders are subject to minimal or non-existent border controls and can normally be crossed by Irish and British citizens with only...

, which is a passport-free zone comprising the islands of Ireland, Great Britain, the Isle of Man
Isle of Man
The Isle of Man , otherwise known simply as Mann , is a self-governing British Crown Dependency, located in the Irish Sea between the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, within the British Isles. The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who holds the title of Lord of Mann. The Lord of Mann is...

 and the Channel Islands
Channel Islands
The Channel Islands are an archipelago of British Crown Dependencies in the English Channel, off the French coast of Normandy. They include two separate bailiwicks: the Bailiwick of Guernsey and the Bailiwick of Jersey...

. However, some identification is required at airports and seaports.

Local government



The Local Government Act 1898
Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898
The Local Government Act 1898 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that established a system of local government in Ireland similar to that already created for England, Wales and Scotland by legislation in 1888 and 1889...

 is the founding document of the present system of local government, while the Twentieth Amendment to the constitution
Twentieth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland
The Twentieth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland provided constitutional recognition of local government and required that local government elections occur at least once in every five years...

 of 1999 provided for its constitutional recognition. The twenty-six traditional counties of Ireland
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...

 are not always coterminous with administrative divisions. County 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...

 was divided into North Tipperary
North Tipperary
North Tipperary is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Mid-West Region and is also located in the province of Munster. It is named after the town of Tipperary and consists of 48% of the land area of the traditional county of Tipperary. The county was established in 1898 and has had a county...

 and South Tipperary
South Tipperary
South Tipperary is a county in Ireland. It is part of the South-East Region and is also located in the province of Munster. It is named after the town of Tipperary and consists of 52% of the land area of the traditional county of Tipperary. The county was established in 1898 and has had a county...

 in 1898, while 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...

 was divided into Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown
Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown
Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown is a county in Ireland. It is one of three smaller counties into which County Dublin was divided in 1994. Located to the south-east of Dublin city, its county seat is the town of Dún Laoghaire. It is one of the four constituent parts of the Dublin Region...

, Fingal
Fingal
Fingal is a county in Ireland. It is one of three smaller counties into which County Dublin was divided in 1994. With its county seat located in Swords, it has a population of 239,992 according to the 2006 census...

, and South Dublin
South Dublin
South Dublin is a county in Ireland. It is one of three smaller counties into which County Dublin was divided in 1994. The county seat is Tallaght, the largest suburb of Dublin and the biggest urban centre in the county. Other important centres of population are Lucan and Clondalkin...

 in 1994. The Local Government Act 2001
Local Government Act 2001
The Local Government Act, 2001 was enacted by the Oireachtas of the Republic of Ireland on 21 July 2001. Most of the provisions of the Act came into operation on 1 January 2002....

 established a two-tier structure, with the top tier consisting of twenty-nine county council
County council
A county council is the elected administrative body governing an area known as a county. This term has slightly different meanings in different countries.-United Kingdom:...

s and five city council
City council
A city council or town council is the legislative body that governs a city, town, municipality or local government area.-Australia & NZ:Because of the differences in legislation between the States, the exact definition of a City Council varies...

s. The five cities of Dublin, 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...

, 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...

, 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...

, and 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...

 are administered separately by their own city councils.

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  1. Fingal
    Fingal
    Fingal is a county in Ireland. It is one of three smaller counties into which County Dublin was divided in 1994. With its county seat located in Swords, it has a population of 239,992 according to the 2006 census...

  2. Dublin City
  3. Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown
    Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown
    Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown is a county in Ireland. It is one of three smaller counties into which County Dublin was divided in 1994. Located to the south-east of Dublin city, its county seat is the town of Dún Laoghaire. It is one of the four constituent parts of the Dublin Region...

  4. South Dublin
    South Dublin
    South Dublin is a county in Ireland. It is one of three smaller counties into which County Dublin was divided in 1994. The county seat is Tallaght, the largest suburb of Dublin and the biggest urban centre in the county. Other important centres of population are Lucan and Clondalkin...

  5. Wicklow
    County Wicklow
    County Wicklow 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 Wicklow, which derives from the Old Norse name Víkingalág or Wykynlo. Wicklow County Council is the local authority for the county...

  6. 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...

  7. Carlow
    County Carlow
    County Carlow 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 Carlow, which lies on the River Barrow. Carlow County Council is the local authority for the county...

  8. 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...

  9. Meath
    County Meath
    County Meath 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 ancient Kingdom of Mide . Meath County Council is the local authority for the county...

  10. Louth
    County Louth
    County Louth is a county of Ireland. It is part of the Border Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the town of Louth. Louth County Council is the local authority for the county...

  11. Monaghan
    County Monaghan
    County Monaghan 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 Monaghan. Monaghan County Council is the local authority for the county...

  12. 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...

  13. Longford
    County Longford
    County Longford is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Midlands Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the town of Longford.Longford County Council is the local authority for the county...

  14. Westmeath
    County Westmeath
    -Economy:Westmeath has a strong agricultural economy. Initially, development occurred around the major market centres of Mullingar, Moate, and Kinnegad. Athlone developed due to its military significance, and its strategic location on the main Dublin–Galway route across the River Shannon. Mullingar...

  15. Offaly
    County Offaly
    County Offaly is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Midlands Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the ancient Kingdom of Uí Failghe and was formerly known as King's County until the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922. Offaly County Council is...

  16. Laois
    County Laois
    County Laois is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Midlands Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It was formerly known as Queen's County until the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922. The county's name was formerly spelt as Laoighis and Leix. Laois County Council...

  17. Kilkenny
    County Kilkenny
    County Kilkenny 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 city of Kilkenny. The territory of the county was the core part of the ancient Irish Kingdom of Osraige which in turn was the core of the Diocese of...


  1. Waterford City
    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...


  2. 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,...


  3. Cork City
    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...


  4. 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...


  5. 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...


  6. 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...


  7. Limerick City
    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...


  8. South Tipperary
    South Tipperary
    South Tipperary is a county in Ireland. It is part of the South-East Region and is also located in the province of Munster. It is named after the town of Tipperary and consists of 52% of the land area of the traditional county of Tipperary. The county was established in 1898 and has had a county...


  9. North Tipperary
    North Tipperary
    North Tipperary is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Mid-West Region and is also located in the province of Munster. It is named after the town of Tipperary and consists of 48% of the land area of the traditional county of Tipperary. The county was established in 1898 and has had a county...


  10. Clare
    County Clare
    -History:There was a Neolithic civilisation in the Clare area — the name of the peoples is unknown, but the Prehistoric peoples left evidence behind in the form of ancient dolmen; single-chamber megalithic tombs, usually consisting of three or more upright stones...


  11. 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...


  12. Galway City
    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...


  13. 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...


  14. Roscommon
    County Roscommon
    County Roscommon 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 town of Roscommon. Roscommon County Council is the local authority for the county...


  15. Sligo
  16. 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...


  17. 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...





  18. The second tier consists of five borough
    Borough
    A borough is an administrative division in various countries. In principle, the term borough designates a self-governing township although, in practice, official use of the term varies widely....

     councils and seventy-five town council
    Town Councils in the Republic of Ireland
    The term Town Council was introduced into Local government in the Republic of Ireland by the Local Government Act 2001. From 1 January 2002 the existing Urban District Councils and boards of Town Commissioners were renamed as Town Councils....

    s. The five boroughs of 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...

    , Sligo
    Sligo
    Sligo is the county town of County Sligo in Ireland. The town is a borough and has a charter and a town mayor. It is sometimes referred to as a city, and sometimes as a town, and is the second largest urban area in Connacht...

    , 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....

    , Clonmel
    Clonmel
    Clonmel is the county town of South Tipperary in Ireland. It is the largest town in the county. While the borough had a population of 15,482 in 2006, another 17,008 people were in the rural hinterland. The town is noted in Irish history for its resistance to the Cromwellian army which sacked both...

    , and 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...

     have a certain level of autonomy within their counties, but have no additional responsibilities. While Kilkenny is a borough, it has retained the legal right to be referred to as a city. Local authorities are responsible for matters such as planning, local roads, sanitation, and libraries. Dáil constituencies
    Parliamentary constituencies in the Republic of Ireland
    The lower house of the Oireachtas , Dáil Éireann, contains 166 Teachtaí Dála , representing 43 parliamentary constituencies throughout the Republic of Ireland. Depending on its size, each constituency must have at least 3 members and a maximum of five members. The most recent ratio indicates that...

     are required to follow county boundaries as much as possible. Counties with greater populations have multiple constituencies, some of more than one county, but generally do not cross county boundaries. The counties are grouped into eight regions
    Regions of the Republic of Ireland
    There are eight regions at NUTS III level in Ireland which came into existence in 1994, under the terms of the Local Government Act 1991. The geographical remit of each region is currently defined by combining the areas under the jurisdiction of three or more LAU-1 units of local government - the...

    , each with a Regional Authority composed of members delegated by the various county and city councils in the region. The regions do not have any direct administrative role as such, but they serve for planning, coordination and statistical purposes.

    Law


    Ireland has a common law
    Common law
    Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...

     legal system with a written constitution that provides for a parliamentary democracy. The court system consists of the Supreme Court, the Court of Criminal Appeal
    Court of Criminal Appeal (Ireland)
    The Court of Criminal Appeal of Ireland hears appeals of indictable offences tried in the Circuit Court, the Central Criminal Court and the Special Criminal Court....

    , the High Court, the Circuit Court
    Circuit Court (Ireland)
    The Circuit Court is an intermediate level court of local and limited jurisdiction in the Republic of Ireland which hears both civil and criminal matters. On the criminal side the Circuit Court hears criminal matters tried on indictment with a judge and jury, except for certain serious crimes...

     and the District Court
    District Court (Ireland)
    The District Court is the main court of summary jurisdiction in Ireland. It has responsibility for hearing minor criminal matters, small civil claims, liquor licensing, and certain family law applications...

    , all of which apply the law of Ireland
    Law of the Republic of Ireland
    The law of the Republic of Ireland consists of constitutional, statute and common law. The highest law in the Republic is the Constitution of Ireland, from which all other law derives its authority...

    . Trials for serious offences must usually be held before a jury
    Jury
    A jury is a sworn body of people convened to render an impartial verdict officially submitted to them by a court, or to set a penalty or judgment. Modern juries tend to be found in courts to ascertain the guilt, or lack thereof, in a crime. In Anglophone jurisdictions, the verdict may be guilty,...

    . The High Court and the Supreme Court have authority, by means of judicial review
    Judicial review
    Judicial review is the doctrine under which legislative and executive actions are subject to review by the judiciary. Specific courts with judicial review power must annul the acts of the state when it finds them incompatible with a higher authority...

    , to determine the compatibility of laws and activities of other institutions of the state with the constitution and the law. Except in exceptional circumstances, court hearings must occur in public. The Criminal Courts of Justice is the principal building for the criminal courts. It includes the Dublin Metropolitan District Court
    District Court (Ireland)
    The District Court is the main court of summary jurisdiction in Ireland. It has responsibility for hearing minor criminal matters, small civil claims, liquor licensing, and certain family law applications...

    , Court of Criminal Appeal
    Court of Criminal Appeal (Ireland)
    The Court of Criminal Appeal of Ireland hears appeals of indictable offences tried in the Circuit Court, the Central Criminal Court and the Special Criminal Court....

    , Dublin Circuit Criminal Court
    Circuit Court (Ireland)
    The Circuit Court is an intermediate level court of local and limited jurisdiction in the Republic of Ireland which hears both civil and criminal matters. On the criminal side the Circuit Court hears criminal matters tried on indictment with a judge and jury, except for certain serious crimes...

     and Central Criminal Court.
    Garda Síochána na hÉireann
    Garda Síochána
    , more commonly referred to as the Gardaí , is the police force of Ireland. The service is headed by the Commissioner who is appointed by the Irish Government. Its headquarters are located in the Phoenix Park in Dublin.- Terminology :...

     (Guardians of the Peace of Ireland), more commonly referred to as the Gardaí, is the state's civilian police force. The force is responsible for all aspects of civil policing, both in terms of territory and infrastructure. It is headed by the Garda Commissioner, who is appointed by the Government. Most uniformed members do not routinely carry firearms. Standard policing is traditionally carried out by uniformed officers equipped only with a baton
    Baton (law enforcement)
    A truncheon or baton is essentially a club of less than arm's length made of wood, plastic, or metal...

    .

    The Póilíní Airm
    Póilíní Airm
    The Póilíní Airm is the corps of the Irish Army responsible for the provision of policing service personnel and providing a military police presence to forces while on exercise and deployment. Its tasks increase during wartime to include traffic control organisation and POW and refugee control...

     (Military Police) is the corps of the Irish Army
    Irish Army
    The Irish Army, officially named simply the Army is the main branch of the Defence Forces of Ireland. Approximately 8,500 men and women serve in the Irish Army, divided into three infantry Brigades...

     responsible for the provision of policing service personnel and providing a military police presence to forces while on exercise and deployment. In wartime, additional tasks include the provision of a traffic control organisation to allow rapid movement of military formations to their mission areas. Other wartime roles include control of prisoners of war and refugees.

    Ireland's citizenship laws
    Irish nationality law
    Irish nationality law is the law of the Republic of Ireland governing citizenship. A person may be an Irish citizen through birth, descent, marriage to an Irish citizen or through naturalisation. Irish nationality law is currently contained in the provisions of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship...

     relate to "the island of Ireland", including islands and seas, thereby extending them to 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...

    , which is part of the United Kingdom. Therefore, anyone born in Northern Ireland who meets the requirements for being an Irish citizen, such as birth on the island of Ireland to an Irish or British citizen parent or a parent who is entitled to live in Northern Ireland or the Republic without restriction on their residency, may exercise an entitlement to Irish citizenship, such as an Irish passport.

    Foreign relations



    Foreign relations are substantially influenced by membership of the European Union, although bilateral relations with the United States and United Kingdom are also important. Ireland is the most pro-European
    Pro-European
    Pro-European is a subjective term applied to a person who supports the idea of European unification and generally supports further 'deepening' of European integration, specifically in the context of political argument over the current and future status of the EU and its policies.-The Pro-European...

     EU member state according to a Eurobarometer
    Eurobarometer
    Eurobarometer is a series of surveys regularly performed on behalf of the European Commission since 1973. It produces reports of public opinion of certain issues relating to the European Union across the member states...

     poll, with 66% of the population approving membership. In 2004, Ireland was one of only three countries to open its borders to workers from 10 new member states. It held the Presidency of the Council of the European Union
    Presidency of the Council of the European Union
    The Presidency of the Council of the European Union is the responsibility for the functioning of the Council of the European Union that rotates between the member states of the European Union every six months. The presidency is not a single president but rather the task is undertaken by a national...

     on six occasions and is due to hold the position again in 2013.
    Ireland tends towards independence in foreign policy, thus the country is not a member of NATO and has a longstanding  policy of military neutrality. This policy has helped the Irish Defence Forces
    Irish Defence Forces
    The armed forces of Ireland, known as the Defence Forces encompass the Army, Naval Service, Air Corps and Reserve Defence Force.The current Supreme Commander of the Irish Defence forces is His Excellency Michael D Higgins in his role as President of Ireland...

     to be successful in their contributions to peace-keeping missions with the United Nations since 1960, during the Congo Crisis
    Congo Crisis
    The Congo Crisis was a period of turmoil in the First Republic of the Congo that began with national independence from Belgium and ended with the seizing of power by Joseph Mobutu...

     and subsequently in Cyprus
    Cyprus
    Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

    , Lebanon
    Lebanon
    Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

     and Bosnia and Herzegovina
    Bosnia and Herzegovina
    Bosnia and Herzegovina , sometimes called Bosnia-Herzegovina or simply Bosnia, is a country in Southern Europe, on the Balkan Peninsula. Bordered by Croatia to the north, west and south, Serbia to the east, and Montenegro to the southeast, Bosnia and Herzegovina is almost landlocked, except for the...

    .

    Ireland's air facilities were used by the United States military for the delivery of military personnel involved in the 2003 invasion of Iraq
    2003 invasion of Iraq
    The 2003 invasion of Iraq , was the start of the conflict known as the Iraq War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq and toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 21 days of major combat operations...

     through 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...

    . The airport had previously been used for the invasion of Afghanistan
    War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
    The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

     in 2001, as well as the First Gulf War. This is part of a longer history of use of Shannon for controversial military transport, under Irish military policy which, while ostensibly neutral, was biased towards NATO during the Cold War
    Cold War
    The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

    . During the Cuban Missile Crisis
    Cuban Missile Crisis
    The Cuban Missile Crisis was a confrontation among the Soviet Union, Cuba and the United States in October 1962, during the Cold War...

    , Seán Lemass
    Seán Lemass
    Seán Francis Lemass was one of the most prominent Irish politicians of the 20th century. He served as Taoiseach from 1959 until 1966....

     authorised the search of Cuban and Czechoslovak aircraft passing through Shannon and passed the information to the CIA.

    During the Second World War, although officially neutral, Ireland supplied similar, though more extensive, support for the Allied Forces (see Irish neutrality during World War II
    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...

    ). Since 1999, Ireland has been a member of NATO's Partnership for Peace
    Partnership for Peace
    Partnership for Peace is a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation program aimed at creating trust between NATO and other states in Europe and the former Soviet Union; 22 States are members...

     program, which is aimed at creating trust between NATO and other states in Europe and the former Soviet Union.

    Military




    The Irish Defence Forces
    Irish Defence Forces
    The armed forces of Ireland, known as the Defence Forces encompass the Army, Naval Service, Air Corps and Reserve Defence Force.The current Supreme Commander of the Irish Defence forces is His Excellency Michael D Higgins in his role as President of Ireland...

      involves the Army
    Irish Army
    The Irish Army, officially named simply the Army is the main branch of the Defence Forces of Ireland. Approximately 8,500 men and women serve in the Irish Army, divided into three infantry Brigades...

    , Naval Service
    Irish Naval Service
    The Naval Service is the navy of Ireland and is one of the three standing branches of the Irish Defence Forces. Its main base is in Haulbowline, County Cork....

    , Air Corps
    Irish Air Corps
    The Air Corps is the air component of the Defence Forces of Ireland providing support to the Army and Naval Service, together with non-military air services such as search and rescue and the Ministerial Air Transport Service...

     and Reserve Defence Force
    Reserve Defence Forces
    The Reserve Defence Forces is the title given to the reserve components of the Irish Defence Forces. It comprises the Army Reserve and the Naval Service Reserve ....

    . It is small but well equipped, with almost 10,000 full-time military personnel. This is mainly due to Ireland's policy of neutrality
    Neutral country
    A neutral power in a particular war is a sovereign state which declares itself to be neutral towards the belligerents. A non-belligerent state does not need to be neutral. The rights and duties of a neutral power are defined in Sections 5 and 13 of the Hague Convention of 1907...

    , and its "triple-lock" rules governing the participation of Irish troops in conflict zones, whereby approval must be given by the UN, the Dáil and Government. Daily deployments of the Defence Forces cover aid to civil power
    Military Aid to the Civil Power
    Military aid to the civil power is assistance by the armed forces to the civil authorities of the state with the provision of specialist equipment or trained personnel...

     operations, protection and patrol of Irish territorial waters and EEZ by the Irish Naval Service, and UN, EU and PfP
    PFP
    -Politics:*Party of Freedom and Progress *People First Party *People First Party , a political party in the Republic of China *Peace and Freedom Party *Progressive Federal Party...

     peace-keeping missions. Over 40,000 Irish servicemen have served in international UN peacekeeping missions.

    The Irish Air Corps is the air component of the Defence Forces and operates sixteen fixed wing aircraft and eight helicopters. The Irish Naval Service is Ireland's Navy, and operates eight patrol ships, and smaller numbers of inflatable boats and training vessels, and has highly trained armed boarding parties capable of seizing a ship and a special unit of frogmen
    Frogman
    A frogman is someone who is trained to scuba diving or swim underwater in a military capacity which can include combat. Such personnel are also known by the more formal names of combat diver or combatant diver or combat swimmer....

    . Although the Naval Service has no heavy warships, all Irish vessels have significant firepower. The military includes the Reserve Defence Forces (Army Reserve
    Irish Army Reserve
    The Army Reserve is the land component of the Reserve Defence Forces . It is the second line reserve of the Army. The Army Reserve is a part-time, fully voluntary organisation, and is one of two elements of the Reserve Defence Forces of Ireland, the other element being the Naval Service Reserve.It...

     and Naval Service Reserve
    Naval Service Reserve
    The Naval Service Reserve is the reserve force of the Irish Naval Service. It is one of two elements of the Reserve Defence Forces of the Defence Forces of Ireland, the other element being the Army Reserve...

    ) for non-active reservists. Ireland's special forces are the elite Army Ranger Wing, which trains and operates with international special operations units. The President is the formal Supreme Commander of the Defence Forces, but in practice it answers to the Government via the Minister for Defence
    Minister for Defence (Ireland)
    The Minister for Defence is the senior minister at the Department of Defence in the Government of Ireland. Under new arrangements this department is being merged with the Department of Justice over which Mr. Shatter will also preside....

    .

    Development



    The Irish economy has transformed since the 1980s from being predominantly agricultural to a modern knowledge economy
    Knowledge economy
    The knowledge economy is a term that refers either to an economy of knowledge focused on the production and management of knowledge in the frame of economic constraints, or to a knowledge-based economy. In the second meaning, more frequently used, it refers to the use of knowledge technologies to...

     focused on high technology industries and services. Ireland adopted the euro currency in 2002 along with eleven other EU member states. The country is heavily reliant on Foreign Direct Investment
    Foreign direct investment
    Foreign direct investment or foreign investment refers to the net inflows of investment to acquire a lasting management interest in an enterprise operating in an economy other than that of the investor.. It is the sum of equity capital,other long-term capital, and short-term capital as shown in...

     and has attracted several multinational corporations due to a highly educated workforce and a low corporation tax
    Corporation tax in the Republic of Ireland
    Corporation tax in the Republic of Ireland is a levy on a company’s profits. The tax is charged on both a company's income and chargeable gains. The corporation tax in Ireland is quite low, and is often cited as an example of tax competition, as it is used as an incentive for foreign companies to...

     rate.

    Companies such as Intel invested in Ireland during the late 1980s, later followed by Microsoft
    Microsoft
    Microsoft Corporation is an American public multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing through its various product divisions...

     and Google
    Google
    Google Inc. is an American multinational public corporation invested in Internet search, cloud computing, and advertising technologies. Google hosts and develops a number of Internet-based services and products, and generates profit primarily from advertising through its AdWords program...

    . Ireland is ranked as the world's seventh most economically free economy in the world according to the Index of Economic Freedom
    Index of Economic Freedom
    The Index of Economic Freedom is a series of 10 economic measurements created by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal. Its stated objective is to measure the degree of economic freedom in the world's nations....

    . In terms of GDP per capita, Ireland is one of the wealthiest countries in the OECD and EU. However, the country ranks below the OECD average in terms of GNP
    GNP
    Gross National Product is the market value of all products and services produced in one year by labor and property supplied by the residents of a country...

     per capita. GDP is significantly greater than GNP due to the large amount of multinational corporations based in Ireland.

    Beginning in the early 1990s, the country experienced unprecedented economic growth fuelled by a dramatic rise in consumer spending, construction and investment, which 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...

     period. The pace of growth slowed during 2007 and led to the burst of a major property bubble which had developed over time. The dramatic fall in property prices has highlighted the over-exposure of the economy to construction, and has contributed to the ongoing Irish banking crisis. Ireland officially entered a recession
    Recession
    In economics, a recession is a business cycle contraction, a general slowdown in economic activity. During recessions, many macroeconomic indicators vary in a similar way...

     in 2008 following consecutive months of economic contraction.

    The economy contracted by −1.7% in 2008, −7.1% in 2009 and −1% in 2010. The country officially exited recession in 2010, which was helped by a strong growth in exports of 6.9% during the first quarter. However, due to a significant rise in the cost of borrowing and bank recapitalisation, Ireland accepted an €85 billion programme of assistance from the EU, International Monetary Fund
    International Monetary Fund
    The International Monetary Fund is an organization of 187 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world...

     (IMF) and bilateral loans from the United Kingdom, Sweden and Denmark. Some forecasts predict Ireland to grow by 0.9% in 2011 and 2.2% in 2012. However, economic forecasting has proven highly unreliable in the country during this turbulent period and it is not uncommon for figures to be revised on an almost monthly basis.

    Trade and energy



    Although multinational corporations dominate Ireland's export sector, exports contribute significantly to the national income. The country is one of the largest exporters of pharmaceutical and software-related goods and services in the world, the seventh largest producer of zinc concentrates, and the twelfth largest producer of lead concentrates. The country also has significant deposits of gypsum
    Gypsum
    Gypsum is a very soft sulfate mineral composed of calcium sulfate dihydrate, with the chemical formula CaSO4·2H2O. It is found in alabaster, a decorative stone used in Ancient Egypt. It is the second softest mineral on the Mohs Hardness Scale...

    , limestone
    Limestone
    Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

    , and smaller quantities of copper, silver, gold, barite
    Barite
    Baryte, or barite, is a mineral consisting of barium sulfate. The baryte group consists of baryte, celestine, anglesite and anhydrite. Baryte itself is generally white or colorless, and is the main source of barium...

    , and dolomite
    Dolomite
    Dolomite is a carbonate mineral composed of calcium magnesium carbonate CaMg2. The term is also used to describe the sedimentary carbonate rock dolostone....

    .

    Other exports include agri-food, cattle, beef, dairy products, and aluminum. Ireland's major imports include data processing equipment, chemicals, petroleum and petroleum products, textiles, and clothing. The difference between exports (€89.4 billion) and imports (€45.5 billion) resulted an annual trade surplus of €43.9 billion in 2010, which is the highest trade surplus relative to GDP achieved by any EU member state.

    The EU is by far the country's largest trading partner, accounting for 57.9% of exports and 60.7% of imports. The United Kingdom is the most important trading partner within the EU, accounting for 15.4% of exports and 32.1% of imports. Outside the EU, the United States accounted for 23.2% of exports and 14.1% of imports in 2010.

    ESB, Bord Gáis
    Bord Gáis
    Bord Gáis Éireann , normally branded as Bord Gáis, is the main supplier and distributor of pipeline natural gas in the Republic of Ireland. The company has built an extensive network across Ireland. The company supplies gas to domestic and industrial customers on a fully regulated basis...

     and Airtricity
    Airtricity
    Airtricity was founded in 1997 in the Republic of Ireland and now is a renewable energy company owned by Scottish and Southern Energy...

     are the three main electricity and gas suppliers in Ireland. Natural gas extraction occurs at the Kinsale Head
    Kinsale Head gas field
    The Kinsale Head gas field is an offshore natural gas field off the southern coast of Ireland discovered in 1973 near Old Head of Kinsale, in the Celtic Sea and met Ireland's gas need until 1996...

     and Corrib
    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...

     gas fields in the southern and western counties, where there is 19.82 billion cubic metres of proven reserves. There have been significant efforts to increase the use of renewable and sustainable forms of energy in Ireland, particularly in 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....

    , with a large number wind farms being constructed along coastal areas.

    Transport


    The Republic of Ireland's three main international airports at Dublin
    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...

    , Shannon
    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 Cork serve many European and intercontinental routes with scheduled and chartered flights. The London and Dublin route is the busiest international air route in Europe, with 4.5 million people flying between the two cities in 2006. 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...

     is the flag carrier of Ireland, although 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....

     is the country's largest airline. Ryanair is Europe's largest low-cost carrier, the 2nd-largest in terms of passenger numbers, and the world's largest in terms of international passenger numbers.
    Railway services are provided 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...

    , which operates all internal intercity, commuter and freight railway services in the country. Dublin is the centre of the network with two main stations, Heuston station
    Dublin Heuston railway station
    Dublin Heuston , commonly called Heuston Station , is one of Ireland's main railway stations, serving the south, southwest and west. It is operated by Iarnród Éireann , the national railway operator...

     and Connolly station
    Dublin Connolly railway station
    Dublin Connolly, commonly called Connolly station , is one of the main railway stations in Dublin, Ireland, and is a focal point in the Irish route network. Opened in 1844 as Amiens Street Station, the ornate facade has a distinctive Italianate tower at its centre...

    , linking to the country's cities and main towns. The Enterprise service, which runs jointly with 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...

    , connects Dublin and 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...

    . Dublin has a steadily improving public transport network including the DART
    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...

    , 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...

    , 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...

    , and dublinbikes.

    Motorways
    Motorways in the Republic of Ireland
    In Ireland, the highest category of road is a Motorway , indicated by the prefix M followed by one or two digits...

    , national primary road
    National primary road
    A national primary road is a road classification in the Republic of Ireland. National primary roads form the major routes between the major urban centres. There are over 2,700km of national primary roads. This category of road has the prefix "N" followed by one or two digits...

    s and national secondary road
    National secondary road
    A national secondary road is a category of road in Ireland. These roads form an important part of the national route network, but are secondary to the main arterial routes which are classified as national primary roads. National secondary roads are designated with route numbers higher than those...

    s are managed by the National Roads Authority
    National Roads Authority
    The National Roads Authority is a state body in the Republic of Ireland, responsible for the national road network. The NRA was established as part of the Roads Act 1993 and commenced operations on 23 December 1993 in accordance with S.I. 407 of 1993.County councils remain responsible for local...

    , while regional road
    Regional road
    A regional road in Ireland is a class of road not forming a major route , but nevertheless forming a link in the national route network. There are over 11,600 kilometres of regional roads. Regional roads are numbered with three digit route numbers, prefixed by "R" A regional road in Ireland is a...

    s and local roads
    Local Roads in Ireland
    A Local Road in Ireland is a class of public road not classified as a National road or as a Regional road but nevertheless forming a link in the national network of roads...

     are managed by the local authorities in each of their respective areas. The road network is primarily focused on the capital, but motorways are currently being extended to other cities as part of the 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....

    capital investment programme, which aims to significantly expand and improve Ireland's transport network over the period 2006–2015.

    Dublin has been the focus of major projects such as the East-Link
    East-Link (Dublin)
    The East-Link is a toll bridge in Dublin, Ireland, on the River Liffey, owned by Dublin City Council and operated by NTR plc. The lifting bridge, which links North Wall to Ringsend, is the last bridge on the Liffey, which opens out into Dublin Port and then Dublin Bay just beyond...

     and West-Link
    West-Link
    The West-Link is a toll bridge on the M50 motorway to the west of Dublin, Ireland, operated by BetEire Flow Limited for the National Roads Authority.- Structure :...

     toll-bridges, as well as the Dublin Port Tunnel
    Dublin Port Tunnel
    The Dublin Port Tunnel is a road traffic tunnel in Dublin, Ireland, that forms part of the M50 motorway....

    . The Jack Lynch Tunnel
    Jack Lynch Tunnel
    The Jack Lynch Tunnel is an immersed tube tunnel and an integral part of the N25 southern ring road of Cork in Ireland. It is named after former Taoiseach, Jack Lynch, a native of Cork....

    , under the River Lee
    River Lee (Ireland)
    The Lee is a river in Ireland. It rises in the Shehy Mountains on the western border of County Cork and flows eastwards through Cork City, where it splits in two for a short distance, creating an island on which Cork's city centre is built, and empties into the Celtic Sea at Cork Harbour on the...

     in Cork, and the Limerick Tunnel
    Limerick Tunnel
    The Limerick Tunnel is a 675m long, twin-bore road tunnel underneath the River Shannon on the outskirts of Limerick City. The tunnel forms part of the N18 Limerick Southern Ring Road. The tunnel is tolled....

    , under 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...

    , were two major projects outside Dublin. Several by-pass projects are underway at other urban areas.

    Demographics


    Genetic research suggests that the first settlers of Ireland migrated from Iberia
    Iberia
    The name Iberia refers to three historical regions of the old world:* Iberian Peninsula, in Southwest Europe, location of modern-day Portugal and Spain** Prehistoric Iberia...

     following the most recent 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...

    . After the 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....

    , the 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...

     and 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...

    , migrants introduced Celt
    Celt
    The Celts were a diverse group of tribal societies in Iron Age and Roman-era Europe who spoke Celtic languages.The earliest archaeological culture commonly accepted as Celtic, or rather Proto-Celtic, was the central European Hallstatt culture , named for the rich grave finds in Hallstatt, Austria....

    ic language and culture. Migrants from the Neolithic to Bronze Age still represent the genetic heritage of most Irish people
    Irish people
    The Irish people are an ethnic group who originate in Ireland, an island in northwestern Europe. Ireland has been populated for around 9,000 years , with the Irish people's earliest ancestors recorded having legends of being descended from groups such as the Nemedians, Fomorians, Fir Bolg, Tuatha...

    . 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....

     tradition expanded throughout the island and became the dominant form. Irish people are mainly of Gaelic ancestry, and some of Norse, Anglo-Norman, English, Scottish, French, and Welsh ancestry. Irish Traveller
    Irish Traveller
    Irish Travellers are a traditionally nomadic people of ethnic Irish origin, who maintain a separate language and set of traditions. They live predominantly in the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States.-Etymology:...

    s are classified as a "social group" in Ireland, but are an "ethnic minority group
    Minority group
    A minority is a sociological group within a demographic. The demographic could be based on many factors from ethnicity, gender, wealth, power, etc. The term extends to numerous situations, and civilizations within history, despite the misnomer of minorities associated with a numerical statistic...

    " in the United Kingdom, politically linked with Roma and Gypsy groups.

    Ireland had one of the fastest growing populations in Europe from 2004–2006, with annual growth rates exceeding 2%. This can be attributed to low death rates, high birth rates and immigration. The birth rate is currently over double the death rate, which is highly unusual among western European countries. As of April 2011 the population of Ireland stands at 4,581,269.

    In the 2006 census, the total population was 4,239,848, an increase of 322,645 since 2002. The country had 419,733 foreign nationals, not including 1,318 people with 'no nationality
    Statelessness
    Statelessness is a legal concept describing the lack of any nationality. It is the absence of a recognized link between an individual and any state....

    ' and 44,279 with no stated nationality. 89% of the population was Irish, followed by British (112,548), Polish
    Polish minority in Ireland
    The Polish minority in the Republic of Ireland numbered approximately 63,276 according to 2006 census figures, making it the largest minority in the country excluding those born in the United Kingdom. However, the census that year was believed by the government to have underestimated the number of...

     (63,276), and Lithuanian (24,628). 94.8% was recorded as having a 'White' ethnic or cultural background. 1.1% had a 'Black or Black Irish' background, 1.3% had an 'Asian or Asian Irish' background, and 1.7% of the population's background was 'not stated'.

    The average annual growth rate of 2% was the highest on record. The population of 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...

     and 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...

     grew by 8.9% and 6.5% respectively, while the population decline of the 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...

     region and Donegal
    Donegal
    Donegal or Donegal Town is a town in County Donegal, Ireland. Its name, which was historically written in English as Dunnagall or Dunagall, translates from Irish as "stronghold of the foreigners" ....

    , Cavan
    Cavan
    Cavan is the county town of County Cavan in the Republic of Ireland. The town lies in the north central part of Ireland, near the border with Northern Ireland...

    , Monaghan
    Monaghan
    Monaghan is the county town of County Monaghan in Ireland. Its population at the 2006 census stood at 7,811 . The town is located on the main road, the N2 road, from Dublin north to both Derry and Letterkenny.-Toponym:...

     counties halted. The most populous urban areas in Ireland 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 )
    • 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 )
    • 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)
    • 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)


    Language


    Irish is the "national language" according to the Constitution, but English is the dominant language. In the 2006 census, 39% of the population regarded themselves as competent in Irish. Irish is spoken as a community language only in a small number of rural areas mostly in the west of the country, collectively known as the Gaeltacht
    Gaeltacht
    is the Irish language word meaning an Irish-speaking region. In Ireland, the Gaeltacht, or an Ghaeltacht, refers individually to any, or collectively to all, of the districts where the government recognises that the Irish language is the predominant language, that is, the vernacular spoken at home...

    . Apart from in Gaeltacht regions, road signs are usually bilingual. Most public notices and print media are in English only. Most Government publications are available in both languages, and citizens have the right to deal with the state in Irish. Media in Irish exist on TV (TG4
    TG4
    TG4 is a public service broadcaster for Irish language speakers. The channel has been on-air since 31 October 1996 in the Republic of Ireland and since April 2005 in Northern Ireland....

    ), radio (e.g. RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta
    RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta
    RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta , abbreviated RnaG, is the Irish-language radio service of the public-service broadcaster Raidió Teilifís Éireann. The station is available on FM in Ireland and via satellite and on the Internet.- History :...

    ) and print (e.g. Foinse
    Foinse
    -History:Foinse was first published in October 1996 as a weekly Saturday newspaper. It was published in Carraroe, County Galway and printed in Tralee. It was first published in October 1996....

    ). In the Irish Defence Forces
    Irish Defence Forces
    The armed forces of Ireland, known as the Defence Forces encompass the Army, Naval Service, Air Corps and Reserve Defence Force.The current Supreme Commander of the Irish Defence forces is His Excellency Michael D Higgins in his role as President of Ireland...

    , all foot and arms drill commands are given in the Irish language.

    As a result of immigration, Polish is one of the most widely spoken languages in Ireland after English and Irish. Several other Central and Eastern European languages are also spoken on a day-to-day basis. Other languages spoken in Ireland include Shelta, spoken by Irish Travellers, and a dialect of Scots
    Ulster Scots language
    Ulster Scots or Ulster-Scots generally refers to the dialects of Scots spoken in parts of Ulster in Ireland. Some definitions of Ulster Scots may also include Standard English spoken with an Ulster Scots accent...

     is spoken by some descendants of Scottish settlers
    Ulster-Scots
    The Ulster Scots are an ethnic group in Ireland, descended from Lowland Scots and English from the border of those two countries, many from the "Border Reivers" culture...

     in Donegal. Most secondary school students choose to learn one or two foreign languages. Languages available for the Junior Certificate and the Leaving Certificate include French, German, Italian and Spanish; Leaving Certificate students can also study Arabic, Japanese and Russian. Some secondary schools also offer Ancient Greek
    Ancient Greek
    Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

    , Hebrew
    Hebrew language
    Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

     and 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...

    . The study of Irish is compulsory for Leaving Certificate students, but some may qualify for an exemption in some circumstances, such as learning difficulties or entering the country after age 11.

    Healthcare


    The Minister for Health has responsibility for setting overall health service policy. Every individual resident in Ireland is entitled to receive health care through the public health care system, which is managed by the Health Service Executive
    Health Service Executive
    The Health Service Executive is responsible for the provision of healthcare providing health and personal social services for everyone living in Ireland, with public funds. The Executive was established by the Health Act, 2004 and came into official operation on January 1, 2005...

     and funded by general taxation. A person may be required to pay a subsidised fee for certain health care received; this depends on income, age, illness or disability. All maternity services are provided free of charge and children up to the age of 6 months. Emergency care is provided free of charge to any person admitted through the casualty department. However, visitors to Accident and Emergency departments in non-emergency situations who are not referred by their GP
    General practitioner
    A general practitioner is a medical practitioner who treats acute and chronic illnesses and provides preventive care and health education for all ages and both sexes. They have particular skills in treating people with multiple health issues and comorbidities...

     may incur a fee of €100. In some circumstances this fee is not payable or may be waived.

    Anyone holding a European Health Insurance Card
    European Health Insurance Card
    The European Health Insurance Card is issued free of charge and allows anyone who is insured by or covered by a statutory social security scheme of the EEA countries and Switzerland to receive medical treatment in another member state for free or at a reduced cost, if that treatment becomes...

     is entitled to free maintenance and treatment in public beds in Health Service Executive and voluntary hospitals. Outpatient services are also provided for free. However, the majority of patients on median incomes or above are required to pay subsidised hospital charges. Private health insurance is available to the population for those who want to avail of it.

    The average life expectancy
    Life expectancy
    Life expectancy is the expected number of years of life remaining at a given age. It is denoted by ex, which means the average number of subsequent years of life for someone now aged x, according to a particular mortality experience...

     in Ireland is 79.2 years, with 76.8 years for men and 81.6 years for women. It has the highest birth rate in the EU (16.8 births per 1,000 inhabitants, compared to an EU average of 10.7) and a very low infant mortality rate (3.5 per 1,000 live births).

    Education



    Ireland has three levels of education: primary, secondary and higher education. The education systems are largely under the direction of the Government via the Minister for Education and Skills. Recognised primary and secondary schools must adhere to the curriculum established by the relevant authorities. Education is compulsory between the ages of six and fifteen years, and all children up to the age of eighteen must complete the first three years of secondary, including one sitting of the Junior Certificate
    Junior Certificate
    The Junior Certificate is an educational qualification awarded in Ireland by the Department of Education to students who have successfully completed the junior cycle of secondary education, and achieved a minimum standard in their Junior Cert. examinations...

     examination.
    The Leaving Certificate
    Leaving Certificate
    The Leaving Certificate Examinations , commonly referred to as the Leaving Cert is the final examination in the Irish secondary school system. It takes a minimum of two years preparation, but an optional Transition Year means that for those students it takes place three years after the Junior...

    , which is taken after two years of study, is the final examination in the secondary school system. Those intending to pursue higher education normally take this examination, with access to third-level courses generally depending on results obtained from the best six subjects taken, on a competitive basis. Third-level education awards are conferred by more than 38 Higher Education Institutions including University College Dublin
    University College Dublin
    University College Dublin ) - formally known as University College Dublin - National University of Ireland, Dublin is the Republic of Ireland's largest, and Ireland's second largest, university, with over 1,300 faculty and 17,000 students...

    , University of Dublin
    University of Dublin
    The University of Dublin , corporately designated the Chancellor, Doctors and Masters of the University of Dublin , located in Dublin, Ireland, was effectively founded when in 1592 Queen Elizabeth I issued a charter for Trinity College, Dublin, as "the mother of a university" – this date making it...

    , Dublin City University
    Dublin City University
    Dublin City University is a university situated between Glasnevin, Santry, Ballymun and Whitehall on the Northside of Dublin in Ireland...

    , Dublin Institute of Technology
    Dublin Institute of Technology
    Dublin Institute of Technology was established officially in 1992 under the but had been previously set up in 1978 on an ad-hoc basis. The institution can trace its origins back to 1887 with the establishment of various technical institutions in Dublin, Ireland...

    , Higher Education and Training Awards Council
    Higher Education and Training Awards Council
    The Higher Education and Training Awards Council , the legal successor to the National Council for Educational Awards , grants higher education awards in Ireland in the extra-university system...

    , National University of Ireland
    National University of Ireland
    The National University of Ireland , , is a federal university system of constituent universities, previously called constituent colleges, and recognised colleges set up under the Irish Universities Act, 1908, and significantly amended by the Universities Act, 1997.The constituent universities are...

    , Cork Institute of Technology
    Cork Institute of Technology
    Cork Institute of Technology , formerly the Regional Technical College, Cork, is an Institute of Technology in Ireland, located in Cork, Ireland opened in 1973. The institute has 17,000 students in art, business, engineering, music and science disciplines...

    , Waterford Institute of Technology
    Waterford Institute of Technology
    Waterford Institute of Technology is a state funded third-level educational institution situated in the city of Waterford, Ireland. The Institute has six Schools and 16 Departments....

    , and University of Limerick
    University of Limerick
    The University of Limerick is a university in Ireland near the city of Limerick on the island's west coast. It was established in 1972 as the National Institute for Higher Education, Limerick and became a university by statute in 1989 in accordance with the University of Limerick Act 1989...

    . These are the degree-awarding authorities approved by the Government and can grant awards at all academic levels.

    The Programme for International Student Assessment
    Programme for International Student Assessment
    The Programme for International Student Assessment is a worldwide evaluation in OECD member countries of 15-year-old school pupils' scholastic performance, performed first in 2000 and repeated every three years...

    , coordinated by the OECD, currently ranks Ireland's education as the 20th best among participating countries in science, being statistically significantly higher than the OECD average. In 2006, Irish students aged 15 years had the second highest levels of reading literacy in the EU. Ireland also has 0.747 of the World's top 500 Universities per capita, which ranks the country in 8th place in the world. Primary, secondary and higher (University/College) level education are all free in Ireland for all EU citizens. There are charges to cover student services and examinations.

    Religion



    Religious freedom is constitutionally provided for in Ireland. Christianity
    Christianity in Ireland
    Christianity is and has been the largest religion in Ireland, both in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Irish Christianity is dominated by the Roman Catholic Church which has 86.8% of the Republic's population as followers. Most churches are organized on an all-Ireland basis which...

     is the predominant religion, with the Roman Catholic Church
    Roman Catholic Church
    The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

     as the largest church. In 2006, 86.8% of the population identified themselves as Roman Catholic, 4.8% as Protestant or another Christian religion, 2% as non-Christian, and 1.6% did not state their religion. According to the 2006 census, the non-religious group has now become the second largest group after Roman Catholic. According to a Georgetown University
    Georgetown University
    Georgetown University is a private, Jesuit, research university whose main campus is in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Founded in 1789, it is the oldest Catholic university in the United States...

     study, the country has one of the highest rates of regular Mass attendance in the Western World.
    While daily attendance was 13% in 2006, there was a reduction in weekly attendance from 81% in 1990 to 48% in 2006, although the decline was reported as stabilising. In 2011, it was reported that weekly Mass attendance in Dublin was just 18%, with it being even lower among younger generations.

    The 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...

     is the second largest Christian denomination. Membership declined throughout the twentieth century, but has recently experienced an increase, as have other small Christian denominations. Significant Protestant denominations are the Presbyterian Church
    Presbyterian Church in Ireland
    The Presbyterian Church in Ireland , is the largest Presbyterian denomination in Ireland, and the largest Protestant denomination in Northern Ireland...

     and Methodist Church
    Methodist Church in Ireland
    The Methodist Church in Ireland is a Wesleyan Methodist church that operates across both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland on an all Ireland basis, It is the 4th largest Christian denomination in both jurisdictions and on the island as a whole...

    . Immigration has contributed to a growth in Hindu
    Hinduism in Ireland
    The 2006 Irish Census reports 6,082 Hindus resident in Ireland, almost double the count in 2000 where 3,099 Hindus were recorded. The following is a list of known Hindu temples in Ireland, alphabetically listed by countyBelfast...

     and Muslim populations. In percentage terms, Orthodox Christianity
    Eastern Orthodox Church
    The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

     and Islam were the fastest growing religions, with increases of 100% and 70% respectively.

    Ireland's patron saints are 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....

    , Saint Bridget
    Brigid of Kildare
    Saint Brigit of Kildare, or Brigit of Ireland , nicknamed Mary of the Gael is one of Ireland's patron saints along with Saints Patrick and Columba...

     and 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...

    . Saint Patrick is the only one commonly recognised as the patron saint. Saint Patrick's Day
    Saint Patrick's Day
    Saint Patrick's Day is a religious holiday celebrated internationally on 17 March. It commemorates Saint Patrick , the most commonly recognised of the patron saints of :Ireland, and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. It is observed by the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion , the Eastern...

     is celebrated on 17 March in Ireland and abroad as the Irish national day, with parades and other celebrations.

    As with other predominantly Catholic European states, Ireland underwent a period of legal secularisation in the late twentieth century. In 1972, the article of the Constitution naming specific religious groups was deleted by the Fifth Amendment
    Fifth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland
    The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland removed from the constitution a controversial reference to the "special position" of the Roman Catholic Church as well as recognition of certain other named religious denominations...

     in a referendum. Article 44 still remains in the Constitution: The State acknowledges that the homage of public worship is due to Almighty God. It shall hold His Name in reverence, and shall respect and honour religion. The article also establishes freedom of religion, prohibits endowment of any religion, prohibits the state from religious discrimination, and requires the state to treat religious and non-religious schools in a non-prejudicial manner.

    Religious studies
    Religious studies
    Religious studies is the academic field of multi-disciplinary, secular study of religious beliefs, behaviors, and institutions. It describes, compares, interprets, and explains religion, emphasizing systematic, historically based, and cross-cultural perspectives.While theology attempts to...

     was introduced as an optional Junior Certificate subject in 2001. Despite many schools being run by religious organisations, a secularist trend is occurring among younger generations. Religious schools cannot discriminate against pupils concerning religion. A sanctioned system of preference does exist, where students of a particular religion may be accepted before those who do not share the ethos of the school, in a case where a school's quota has already been reached.

    Literature




    Ireland has made a significant contribution to world literature in both the English and Irish languages. Modern Irish fiction
    Irish fiction
    Although the epics of Celtic Ireland were written in prose and not verse, most people would probably consider that Irish fiction proper begins in the 18th century. However, there are aspects of Early Irish prose that appear to have had some influence on the Irish novel: the use of exaggeration for...

     began with the publishing of the 1726 novel 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...

    by Jonathan Swift
    Jonathan Swift
    Jonathan Swift was an Irish satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer , poet and cleric who became Dean of St...

    . Other writers of importance during the 18th century and their most notable works include Laurence Sterne
    Laurence Sterne
    Laurence Sterne was an Irish novelist and an Anglican clergyman. He is best known for his novels The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, and A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy; but he also published many sermons, wrote memoirs, and was involved in local politics...

     with the publication of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman
    The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman
    The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman is a novel by Laurence Sterne. It was published in nine volumes, the first two appearing in 1759, and seven others following over the next 10 years....

    and Oliver Goldsmith
    Oliver Goldsmith
    Oliver Goldsmith was an Irish writer, poet and physician known for his novel The Vicar of Wakefield , his pastoral poem The Deserted Village , and his plays The Good-Natur'd Man and She Stoops to Conquer...

    's The Vicar of Wakefield
    The Vicar of Wakefield
    The Vicar of Wakefield is a novel by Irish author Oliver Goldsmith. It was written in 1761 and 1762, and published in 1766, and was one of the most popular and widely read 18th-century novels among Victorians...

    . Numerous Irish novelists emerged during the 19th century, including Maria Edgeworth
    Maria Edgeworth
    Maria Edgeworth was a prolific Anglo-Irish writer of adults' and children's literature. She was one of the first realist writers in children's literature and was a significant figure in the evolution of the novel in Europe...

    , John Banim
    John Banim
    John Banim , was an Irish novelist, short story writer, dramatist, poet and essayist, sometimes called the "Scott of Ireland." He also studied art, working as a painter of minatures and portraits, and as a drawing teacher, before dedicating himself to literature.-Early life:John Banim was born in...

    , Gerald Griffin
    Gerald Griffin
    Gerald Griffin was an Irish novelist, poet and playwright.-Biography:He was born in Limerick, Ireland, the son of a brewer. He went to London in 1823 and became a reporter for one of the daily papers, and later turned to writing fiction...

    , Charles Kickham
    Charles Kickham
    Charles Joseph Kickham was an Irish revolutionary, novelist, poet, journalist and one of the most prominent members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood.-Early life:...

    , William Carleton
    William Carleton
    William Carleton was an Irish novelist.Carleton's father was a Roman Catholic tenant farmer, who supported fourteen children on as many acres, and young Carleton passed his early life among scenes similar to those he later described in his books...

    , George Moore, and Somerville and Ross
    Somerville and Ross
    Somerville and Ross were an Anglo-Irish writing team, perhaps most famous for their series of books that were made into the TV series The Irish R.M.....

    . Bram Stoker
    Bram Stoker
    Abraham "Bram" Stoker was an Irish novelist and short story writer, best known today for his 1897 Gothic novel Dracula...

     is best known as the author of the 1897 novel Dracula
    Dracula
    Dracula is an 1897 novel by Irish author Bram Stoker.Famous for introducing the character of the vampire Count Dracula, the novel tells the story of Dracula's attempt to relocate from Transylvania to England, and the battle between Dracula and a small group of men and women led by Professor...

    .

    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...

     (1882–1941) published his most famous work 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,...

    in 1922, which is an interpretation of the Odyssey
    Odyssey
    The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon, and is the second—the Iliad being the first—extant work of Western literature...

    set in Dublin. Edith Somerville
    Edith Anna Somerville
    Edith Anna Œnone Somerville was an Irish novelist who habitually signed herself as "E. Œ. Somerville". She wrote in collaboration with her cousin "Martin Ross" under the pseudonym "Somerville and Ross"...

     continued writing after the death of her partner Martin Ross
    Violet Florence Martin
    Violet Florence Martin was an Irish author who co-wrote a series of novels with cousin Edith Somerville under the pen name of Martin Ross in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.- Early life :...

     in 1915. Dublin's Annie M. P. Smithson
    Annie M. P. Smithson
    Annie Mary Patricia Smithson was an Irish novelist, poet and Nationalist.Smithson was born into a Protestant family in Sandymount, Dublin. She was christened Margaret Anne Jane, but took the names Anne Mary Patricia on her conversion to Catholicism. Her mother and father were first cousins and...

     was one of several authors catering for fans of romantic fiction in the 1920s and 1930s. After the Second World War, popular novels were published by, among others, Brian O'Nolan, who published as Flann O'Brien
    Flann O'Brien
    Brian O'Nolan was an Irish novelist, playwright and satirist regarded as a key figure in postmodern literature. Best known for novels such as At Swim-Two-Birds, The Third Policeman and An Béal Bocht and many satirical columns in The Irish Times Brian O'Nolan (5 October 1911 – 1 April 1966) was...

    , Elizabeth Bowen
    Elizabeth Bowen
    Elizabeth Dorothea Cole Bowen, CBE was an Irish novelist and short story writer.-Life:Elizabeth Bowen was born on 7 June 1899 at 15 Herbert Place in Dublin, Ireland and was baptized in the nearby St Stephen's Church on Upper Mount Street...

    , and Kate O'Brien
    Kate O'Brien
    Kate O'Brien , was an Irish novelist and playwright.-Biography:Kathleen "Kate" Mary Louie O'Brien was born in Limerick City at the end of the 19th century. Following the death of her mother when she was five, she became a boarder at Laurel Hill convent...

    . During the final decades of the 20th century, Edna O'Brien
    Edna O'Brien
    Edna O'Brien is an Irish novelist and short story writer whose works often revolve around the inner feelings of women, and their problems in relating to men and to society as a whole.-Life and career:...

    , 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:...

    , Maeve Binchy
    Maeve Binchy
    Maeve Binchy is an Irish novelist, newspaper columnist and speaker. Educated at University College Dublin, she worked as a teacher then a journalist at The Irish Times and later became a writer of novels and short stories.Many of her novels are set in Ireland, dealing with the tensions between...

    , Joseph O'Connor
    Joseph O'Connor
    Joseph Victor O'Connor is an Irish novelist. He is known for his 2002 historical novel Star of the Sea. Before success as an author he was a journalist with the Sunday Tribune newspaper and Esquire magazine...

    , Roddy Doyle
    Roddy Doyle
    Roddy Doyle is an Irish novelist, dramatist and screenwriter. Several of his books have been made into successful films, beginning with The Commitments in 1991. He won the Booker Prize in 1993....

    , Colm Tóibín
    Colm Tóibín
    Colm Tóibín is a multi-award-winning Irish novelist, short story writer, essayist, playwright, journalist, critic, and, most recently, poet.Tóibín is Leonard Milberg Lecturer in Irish Letters at Princeton University in New Jersey and succeeded Martin Amis as professor of creative writing at the...

    , and John Banville
    John Banville
    John Banville is an Irish novelist and screenwriter.Banville's breakthrough novel The Book of Evidence was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and won the Guinness Peat Aviation award. His eighteenth novel, The Sea, won the Man Booker Prize in 2005. He was awarded the Franz Kafka Prize in 2011...

     came to the fore as novelists.

    Patricia Lynch
    Patricia Lynch
    Patricia Lynch was an Irish author of children's literature and journalist. She was the author of some 48 novels and 200 short stories. She is best known for blending Irish rural life and fantasy as in The Turf-Cutter's Donkey....

     (1898–1972) was a prolific children's author, while Eoin Colfer
    Eoin Colfer
    Eoin Colfer is an Irish author. He is most famous as the author of the Artemis Fowl series, but he has also written other successful books. His novels have been compared to the works of J. K. Rowling...

     has been particularly successful in this genre in recent years. In the genre of the short story, which is a form favoured by many Irish writers, the most prominent figures include Seán Ó Faoláin
    Seán Ó Faoláin
    Seán Proinsias Ó Faoláin was an Irish short story writer. He was elected Saoi of Aosdána in 1986.Born as John Francis Whelan in Cork City, County Cork, Ireland, Sean Ó Faoláin wrote his first stories in the 1920s. Through 90 stories, written over a period of 60 years, Ó Faoláin charts the...

    , Frank O'Connor
    Frank O'Connor
    Frank O’Connor was an Irish author of over 150 works, best known for his short stories and memoirs.-Early life:...

     and William Trevor
    William Trevor
    William Trevor, KBE is an Irish author and playwright. He is considered one of the elder statesman of the Irish literary world and widely regarded as the greatest contemporary writer of short stories in the English language....

    . Well known Irish poets include Patrick Kavanagh
    Patrick Kavanagh
    Patrick Kavanagh was an Irish poet and novelist. Regarded as one of the foremost poets of the 20th century, his best known works include the novel Tarry Flynn and the poems Raglan Road and The Great Hunger...

    , Thomas McCarthy
    Thomas McCarthy (poet)
    Thomas McCarthy is an Irish poet, novelist, and critic, born in Cappoquin, Co. Waterford, Ireland. He attended University College Cork where he was part of a resurgence of literary activity under the inspiration of John Montague...

    , Dermot Bolger
    Dermot Bolger
    Dermot Bolger is an Irish novelist, playwright and poet born in Finglas, a suburb of Dublin.His work is often concerned with the articulation of the experiences of working-class characters who, for various reasons, feel alienated from society. Bolger questions the relevance of traditional...

    , and Nobel Prize in Literature
    Nobel Prize in Literature
    Since 1901, the Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded annually to an author from any country who has, in the words from the will of Alfred Nobel, produced "in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction"...

     laureates William Butler Yeats 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...

     (born in Northern Ireland but resides in Dublin). Prominent writers in the Irish language are Pádraic Ó Conaire
    Pádraic Ó Conaire
    Pádraic Ó Conaire was an Irish writer and journalist whose production was primarily in the Irish language.-Life:Ó Conaire was born in Galway in 1882. His father was a publican, who owned two premises in the town...

    , Máirtín Ó Cadhain
    Máirtín Ó Cadhain
    Máirtín Ó Cadhain was one of the most prominent Irish language writers of the twentieth century.-Career:Born in Connemara, he became a schoolteacher but was dismissed due to his IRA membership. In the 1930s he served as an IRA recruiting officer, enlisting fellow writer Brendan Behan...

    , Séamus Ó Grianna
    Séamus Ó Grianna
    Séamus Ó Grianna was an Irish writer, who used the pen name Máire. Born into a family of poets and storytellers in Ranafast, County Donegal, he attended local primary school until the age of 14. He spent several years at home and as a seasonal worker in Scotland. He attended an Irish language...

    , and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill
    Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill
    Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill is an Irish poet.Born in Lancashire, England in 1952, of Irish parents, she moved to Ireland at the age of 5, and was brought up in the Dingle Gaeltacht and in Nenagh, County Tipperary. Her uncle is Monsignor Pádraig Ó Fiannachta of An Daingean, the leading authority alive on...

    .

    The history of Irish theatre
    Irish theatre
    The history of Irish theatre begins with the Gaelic Irish tradition. Much of the literature in that Celtic language was destroyed by conquest, except for a few manuscripts and fragments, such as the Book of Fermoy...

     begins with the expansion of the English administration in Dublin during the early 17th century, and since then, Ireland has significantly contributed to English drama. In its early history, theatrical productions in Ireland tended to serve political purposes, but as more theatres opened and the popular audience grew, a more diverse range of entertainments were staged. Many Dublin-based theatres developed links with their London equivalents, and British productions frequently found their way to the Irish stage. However, most Irish playwrights went abroad to establish themselves. In the 18th century, Oliver Goldsmith
    Oliver Goldsmith
    Oliver Goldsmith was an Irish writer, poet and physician known for his novel The Vicar of Wakefield , his pastoral poem The Deserted Village , and his plays The Good-Natur'd Man and She Stoops to Conquer...

     and Richard Brinsley Sheridan
    Richard Brinsley Sheridan
    Richard Brinsley Butler Sheridan was an Irish-born playwright and poet and long-term owner of the London Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. For thirty-two years he was also a Whig Member of the British House of Commons for Stafford , Westminster and Ilchester...

     were two of the most successful playwrights on the London stage at that time. At the beginning of the 20th century, theatre companies dedicated to the staging of Irish plays and the development of writers, directors and performers began to emerge, which allowed many Irish playwrights to learn their trade and establish their reputations in Ireland rather than in Britain or the United States. Following in the tradition of Nobel Prize in Literature laureates George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde
    Oscar Wilde
    Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish writer and poet. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London's most popular playwrights in the early 1890s...

     and 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...

    , 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....

    , Brendan Behan
    Brendan Behan
    Brendan Francis Behan was an Irish poet, short story writer, novelist, and playwright who wrote in both Irish and English. He was also an Irish republican and a volunteer in the Irish Republican Army.-Early life:...

    , 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...

     have gained popular success. Other Irish playwrights of the 20th century include Denis Johnston
    Denis Johnston
    Denis Johnston was an Irish writer. He wrote mostly plays, but also works of literary criticism, a book-length biographical essay of Jonathan Swift, a memoir and an eccentric work of philosophy. He also worked as a war correspondent, and as both a radio and television producer for the BBC...

    , Thomas Kilroy
    Thomas Kilroy
    Thomas F. Kilroy is an Irish playwright and novelist.He was born in Green Street, Callan, County Kilkenny and studied at University College, Dublin. In his early career he was play editor at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin...

    , Tom Murphy
    Tom Murphy (playwright)
    Tom Murphy is an Irish dramatist who has worked closely with the Abbey Theatre in Dublin and with Druid Theatre, Galway. He was born in Tuam, County Galway, Ireland...

    , Hugh Leonard
    Hugh Leonard
    Hugh Leonard was an Irish dramatist, television writer and essayist. In a career that spanned 50 years, Leonard wrote more than 18 plays, two volumes of essays and two autobiographies, one novel and numerous screenplays and teleplays, as well as writing a regular newspaper column.-Life and...

    , Frank McGuinness
    Frank McGuinness
    Professor Frank McGuinness is an award-winning Irish playwright and poet. As well as his own works, which include Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme, he is recognised for a "strong record of adapting literary classics, having translated the plays of Racine, Sophocles, Ibsen and...

    , and John B. Keane
    John B. Keane
    John Brendan Keane was an Irish playwright, novelist and essayist from Listowel, County Kerry.-Life and career:...

    .

    Music and dance



    Irish traditional music
    Folk music of Ireland
    The folk music of Ireland is the generic term for music that has been created in various genres in Ireland.-History:...

     has remained vibrant, despite globalising cultural forces, and retains many traditional aspects. It has influenced various music genres, such as American country and roots music, and to some extent modern rock. It has occasionally been blended with styles such as rock and roll and punk rock. Well known artists include 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...

    , Altan, Clannad
    Clannad
    Clannad are an Irish musical group, from Gaoth Dobhair, County Donegal. Their music has been variously described as bordering on folk and folk rock, Irish, Celtic and New Age, often incorporating elements of an even broader spectrum of smooth jazz and Gregorian chant...

    , 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:...

    , 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 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...

    , 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...

    , Mary Black
    Mary Black
    Mary Black is an Irish singer. She is well known as an interpreter of both folk and contemporary material which has made her a major recording artist in her native Ireland, and in many other parts of the world....

    , ensembles such as Anúna
    Anúna
    Anúna is an Irish choral group. In 1987 Dublin composer Michael McGlynn founded An Uaithne, a name which describes the three ancient types of Celtic music, Suantraí , Geantraí and Goltraí . One of the group's stated aims is to explore and redefine this music...

     and Celtic Woman
    Celtic Woman
    Celtic Woman is an all-female musical ensemble conceived and assembled by Sharon Browne and David Downes, a former musical director of the Irish stage show Riverdance...

    , and cross-over artists such as 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...

     and 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"....

    .
    Ireland has also produced many internationally known artists in other genres, such as rock, pop, jazz, and blues, including 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...

    , 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...

    , 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...

    , U2
    U2
    U2 are an Irish rock band from Dublin. Formed in 1976, the group consists of Bono , The Edge , Adam Clayton , and Larry Mullen, Jr. . U2's early sound was rooted in post-punk but eventually grew to incorporate influences from many genres of popular music...

    , Chris de Burgh
    Chris de Burgh
    Chris de Burgh is a British/Irish singer-songwriter. He is most famous for his 1986 love song "The Lady in Red".-Early life:...

    , Laura Izibor
    Laura Izibor
    Laura Elizabeth Arabosa Izibor is an Irish recording artist, musician and producer. She won the RTÉ 2fm song contest while still in secondary school. She went on to win an award at the 2006 Meteor Music Awards. She also performed at that year's Electric Picnic music festival and Music Ireland 2007...

    , Damien Rice
    Damien Rice
    Damien Rice is an Irish singer-songwriter, musician and record producer who plays guitar, piano, clarinet and percussion....

    , guitarist Rory Gallagher
    Rory Gallagher
    William Rory Gallagher, ; 2 March 1948  – 14 June 1995, was an Irish blues-rock multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and bandleader. Born in Ballyshannon, County Donegal, Ireland, and raised in Cork, Gallagher recorded solo albums throughout the 1970s and 1980s, after forming the band Taste...

    , and Academy Award winner Glen Hansard
    Glen Hansard
    Glen Hansard is the Academy Award–winning principal songwriter and vocalist/guitarist for Irish group The Frames and one half of folk rock duo, The Swell Season...

     of The Frames
    The Frames
    The Frames are an Irish band based in Dublin. Founded in 1990 by Glen Hansard, the band has been influential in the Dublin rock music scene. The group has released six albums...

    . Contemporary artists include Bell X1, Fight Like Apes
    Fight Like Apes
    Fight Like Apes are an Irish alternative rock band formed in Dublin in 2006.Their current members are Mary-Kate "MayKay" Geraghty , Jamie "Pockets" Fox and Tom Ryan , while original member Adrian Mullan left the band in 2010 due to creative differences...

    , Jape
    Jape (band)
    Jape are an Irish electronic–rock band from Dublin. Formed as a side project by Richie Egan whilst part of The Redneck Manifesto, they have released four albums to date; Cosmosphere , The Monkeys in the Zoo Have More Fun Than Me , Ritual and Ocean of Frequency...

    , Lisa Hannigan
    Lisa Hannigan
    Lisa Margaret Hannigan is an Irish singer, songwriter, and musician. For several years she was a member of Damien Rice's band before beginning her solo career in 2008. She has been the recipient of various award nominations and critical praise both in Ireland and the USA...

    , Mick Flannery
    Mick Flannery
    Mick Flannery is an Irish singer-songwriter from Blarney, County Cork.His debut album Evening Train resulted from his time spent studying music and management at Coláiste Stiofáin Naofa in Cork...

    , Westlife
    Westlife
    Westlife are an Irish boy band established on 3 July 1998. They are to disband in 2012. The group's line-up was Nicky Byrne, Kian Egan, Mark Feehily, Shane Filan, and Brian McFadden . The group are the only act in British and Irish history to have their first seven singles peak at number one...

    , My Bloody Valentine, Republic of Loose
    Republic of Loose
    Republic of Loose are an Irish funk rock band from Dublin. Formed in 2001, the band currently consists of lead vocalist Mick Pyro, bass guitarist and vocalist Benjamin Loose, keyboardist Darragh, guitarists and vocalists Dave Pyro and Darach O' Laoire and drummers and percussionists Andre Lopes...

    , The Blizzards
    The Blizzards
    The Blizzards are an Irish band from Mullingar in County Westmeath. They were formed by Niall Breslin in late 2004, and also feature Dec Murphy , Justin Ryan, Anthony Doran and Aidan Lynch...

    , The Coronas
    The Coronas
    The Coronas are an Irish rock and indie band. They have released three studio albums, Heroes or Ghosts , Tony Was An Ex-Con and "Closer to You"...

    , The Script, Cathy Davey
    Cathy Davey
    Cathy Davey is an Irish singer-songwriter. She has released one extended play, "Come Over" , and three albums, Something Ilk , Tales of Silversleeve and The Nameless...

    , Villagers
    Villagers (band)
    Villagers are an Irish band fronted by Conor J. O'Brien.They have performed at several music festivals and toured with Tracy Chapman, Bell X1, Tindersticks and Elbow. They have one EP, titled Hollow Kind...

    , and Imelda May
    Imelda May
    Imelda Mary Higham, Clabby , known as Imelda May, is an Irish vocalist and musician. She began her career in music at 15 and released her debut album in 2005. She also plays the bodhrán and guitar...

    .

    There are a number of classical music ensembles around the country, such as the RTÉ Performing Groups
    RTÉ Performing Groups
    RTÉ Performing Groups is a group of five classical ensembles, part of the Irish broadcaster RTÉ. All but the Vanbrugh Quartet are based in Dublin .- RTÉ Performing Groups :...

    . Ireland also has three opera organisations. Opera Ireland produces large-scale operas in Dublin, the Opera Theatre Company tours its chamber-style operas throughout the country, and the annual Wexford Opera Festival
    Wexford Festival Opera
    The Wexford Festival Opera is an opera festival that takes place in the town of Wexford in South-Eastern Ireland during the months of October and November.-Festival origins under Tom Walsh, 1951 to 1966:...

    , which promotes lesser-known operas, takes place during October and November.

    Irish dance can broadly be divided into social dance
    Social dance
    Social dance is a major category or classification of danceforms or dance styles, where sociability and socializing are the primary focuses of the dancing...

     and performance dance. Irish social dance can be divided into céilí and set dancing. Irish set dance
    Set dance
    Set dancing, sometimes called "country sets", are a popular form of folk dancing in Ireland. Set dances are based on quadrilles. The latter were court dances which were transformed by the Irish into a unique folk dance of the Irish rural communities...

    s are quadrilles, danced by 4 couples arranged in a square, while céilí dances
    Ceili dance
    Ceili dances, or true ceili dances are a popular form of folk dancing in Ireland. For the events at which Ceili dances are performed, see Céilidh....

     are danced by varied formations
    Formation dance
    Formation dance is a style of ballroom dancing. It is pattern or shadow team dancing by couples in a formation team. The choreography may be based on a particular dance or a medley of dances...

     of couples of 2 to 16 people. There are also many stylistic differences between these two forms. Irish social dance is a living tradition, and variations in particular dances are found across the country. In some places dances are deliberately modified and new dances are choreographed. Performance dance is traditionally referred to as stepdance
    Step dance
    Step dance is the generic term for dance styles where the footwork is the most important part of the dance. Body and arm movements and styling are either restricted or considered irrelevant.Step dance is one end of a spectrum of dance styles...

    . Irish stepdance
    Irish stepdance
    Irish stepdance is a type of performance dance originated in Ireland from traditional Irish dance, characterised by solo dancers who dance with hands by their sides and upper body stiff, making quick, intricate movements of the feet, often with a troupe. Irish stepdancing was popularized by the...

    , popularised by the show 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...

    , is notable for its rapid leg movements, with the body and arms being kept largely stationary. The solo stepdance is generally characterised by a controlled but not rigid upper body, straight arms, and quick, precise movements of the feet. The solo dances can either be in "soft shoe" or "hard shoe".

    Architecture




    Ireland has a wealth of structures, surviving in various states of preservation, from the 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...

     period, such as Brú na Bóinne
    Brú na Bóinne
    is a World Heritage Site in County Meath, Ireland and is the largest and one of the most important prehistoric megalithic sites in Europe.-The site:...

    , Poulnabrone dolmen
    Poulnabrone dolmen
    Poulnabrone Dolmen is a portal tomb in the Burren, County Clare, Ireland, dating back to the Neolithic period, probably between 4200 BC to 2900 BC. It is situated 8km south of Ballyvaughan in the parish of Carran, 9.6km north-west of Kilnaboy...

    , Castlestrange stone
    Castlestrange stone
    The Castlestrange stone is located in the grounds of "Castlestrange House" near Athleague in County Roscommon. It is a granite boulder decorated with flowing spirals in the La Tène style, dating from the Iron Age period between 500 BC and 100 AD....

    , Turoe stone
    Turoe stone
    The Turoe stone is a granite stone decorated in a Celtic style located in the village of Bullaun, County Galway, Ireland, 6 km north of Loughrea off the R350 regional road...

    , and Drombeg stone circle
    Drombeg stone circle
    Drombeg stone circle , is a Recumbent stone circle located east of Glandore, County Cork, Ireland. Drombeg is one of the most visited megalithic sites in Ireland...

    . As the Romans never conquered Ireland, architecture of Greco-Roman origin is extremely rare. The country instead had an extended period of 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...

     architecture. The Irish round tower
    Irish round tower
    Irish round towers , Cloigthithe – literally "bell house") are early medieval stone towers of a type found mainly in Ireland, with three in Scotland and one on the Isle of Man...

     originated during the Early Medieval period.

    Christianity introduced simple monastic houses, such as Clonmacnoise
    Clonmacnoise
    The monastery of Clonmacnoise is situated in County Offaly, Ireland on the River Shannon south of Athlone....

    , 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 Scattery Island
    Scattery Island Cathedral and Monastery
    -Cathedral and monastery:Scattery Island Cathedral and monastery is an early Christian place of pilgrimage, where St Senan, Bishop and confessor, founded a monastery, in the Shannon estuary, 5 km southwest of Kilrush, County Clare, Ireland...

    . A stylistic similarity has been remarked between these double monasteries
    Double monastery
    A double monastery is an institution combining a separate monastery for monks and an abbey for nuns. Examples include Coldingham Monastery in Scotland, and Einsiedeln Abbey and Fahr Abbey in Switzerland, controlled by the abbot of Einsiedeln...

     and those of the Copts of Egypt. Gaelic kings and aristocrats occupied ringfort
    Ringfort
    Ringforts are circular fortified settlements that were mostly built during the Iron Age , although some were built as late as the Early Middle Ages . They are found in Northern Europe, especially in Ireland...

    s or crannóg
    Crannog
    A crannog is typically a partially or entirely artificial island, usually built in lakes, rivers and estuarine waters of Scotland and Ireland. Crannogs were used as dwellings over five millennia from the European Neolithic Period, to as late as the 17th/early 18th century although in Scotland,...

    s
    . Church reforms during the 12th century via the Cistercians stimulated continental influence, with the Romanesque
    Romanesque architecture
    Romanesque architecture is an architectural style of Medieval Europe characterised by semi-circular arches. There is no consensus for the beginning date of the Romanesque architecture, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 10th century. It developed in the 12th century into the Gothic style,...

     styled Mellifont
    Mellifont Abbey
    Mellifont Abbey , located in County Louth, was the first Cistercian abbey to be built in Ireland.-Origins:Founded in 1142 on the orders of Saint Malachy, Archbishop of Armagh, Mellifont Abbey sits on the banks of the River Mattock, some ten km north-west of Drogheda.By 1170, Mellifont had one...

    , Boyle
    Boyle Abbey
    Boyle Abbey was the first successful foundation in Connacht of the Cistercian order which had opened its first Irish house at Mellifont, County Louth, in 1142.-History:...

     and Tintern
    Tintern Abbey (County Wexford)
    Tintern Abbey was a Cistercian abbey located on the Hook peninsula, County Wexford, Ireland.The Abbey – which is today in ruins, some of which have been restored – was founded in the 13th century by William Marshall, Earl of Pembroke, as the result of a vow he had made when his boat was...

     abbeys. Gaelic settlement had been limited to the Monastic proto-towns, such as Kells
    Kells, County Meath
    Kells is a town in County Meath, Ireland. The town lies off the M3 motorway, from Navan and from Dublin. In recent years Kells has grown greatly with many Dublin commuters moving to the town....

    , where the current street pattern preserves the original circular settlement outline to some extent. Significant urban settlements only developed following the period of Viking invasions. The major Hiberno-Norse Longphort
    Longphort
    A longphort is a term used in Ireland for a Viking ship enclosure or shore fortress. Longphorts were originally built to serve as camps for the raiding parties in...

    s were located on the coast, but with minor inland fluvial settlements, such as the eponymous 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...

    .

    Castles were built by the 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...

     during the late 12th century, such as Dublin Castle
    Dublin Castle
    Dublin Castle off Dame Street, Dublin, Ireland, was until 1922 the fortified seat of British rule in Ireland, and is now a major Irish government complex. Most of it dates from the 18th century, though a castle has stood on the site since the days of King John, the first Lord of Ireland...

     and Kilkenny Castle
    Kilkenny Castle
    Kilkenny Castle is a castle in Kilkenny, Ireland built in 1195 by William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke to control a fording-point of the River Nore and the junction of several routeways...

    , and the concept of the planned walled trading town was introduced, which gained legal status and several rights by grant of a Charter
    Charter
    A charter is the grant of authority or rights, stating that the granter formally recognizes the prerogative of the recipient to exercise the rights specified...

     under the Feudal System. These charters specifically governed the design of these towns. Two significant waves of planned town formation followed, the first being the 16th and 17th century plantation towns, which were used as a mechanism for the Tudor
    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 kings to suppress local insurgency, followed by 18th century landlord towns. Surviving Norman founded planned towns include 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....

     and Youghal
    Youghal
    Youghal is a town in County Cork, Ireland. Sitting on the estuary of the River Blackwater, in the past it was militarily and economically important. Being built on the edge of a steep riverbank, the town has a distinctive long and narrow layout...

    ; plantation towns include Portlaoise and Portarlington; well-preserved 18th century planned towns include Westport
    Westport, County Mayo
    Westport is a town in County Mayo, Ireland. It is situated on the west coast at the south-east corner of Clew Bay, an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean....

     and Ballinasloe. These episodes of planned settlement account for the majority of present day towns throughout the country.
    Gothic
    Gothic architecture
    Gothic architecture is a style of architecture that flourished during the high and late medieval period. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture....

     cathedrals, such as St Patrick's, were also introduced by the Normans. Franciscan
    Franciscan
    Most Franciscans are members of Roman Catholic religious orders founded by Saint Francis of Assisi. Besides Roman Catholic communities, there are also Old Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, ecumenical and Non-denominational Franciscan communities....

    s were dominant in directing the abbeys by the Late Middle Ages, while elegant tower houses, such as 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...

    , were built by the Gaelic and Norman aristocracy. Many religious buildings were ruined with the Dissolution of the Monasteries
    Dissolution of the Monasteries
    The Dissolution of the Monasteries, sometimes referred to as the Suppression of the Monasteries, was the set of administrative and legal processes between 1536 and 1541 by which Henry VIII disbanded monasteries, priories, convents and friaries in England, Wales and Ireland; appropriated their...

    . Following the Restoration, palladianism and rococo
    Rococo
    Rococo , also referred to as "Late Baroque", is an 18th-century style which developed as Baroque artists gave up their symmetry and became increasingly ornate, florid, and playful...

    , particularly country houses, swept through Ireland under the initiative of Edward Lovett Pearce
    Edward Lovett Pearce
    Sir Edward Lovett Pearce was an Irish architect, and the chief exponent of palladianism in Ireland. He is thought to have initially studied as an architect under his father's first cousin, Sir John Vanbrugh. He is best known for the Irish Houses of Parliament in Dublin, and his work on Castletown...

    , with the Houses of Parliament
    Irish Houses of Parliament
    The Irish Houses of Parliament , also known as the Irish Parliament House, today called the Bank of Ireland, College Green due to its use as by the bank, was the world's first purpose-built two-chamber parliament house...

     being the most significant.

    With the erection of buildings such as The Custom House
    The Custom House
    The Custom House is a neoclassical 18th century building in Dublin, Ireland which houses the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government...

    , Four Courts
    Four Courts
    The Four Courts in Dublin is the Republic of Ireland's main courts building. The Four Courts are the location of the Supreme Court, the High Court and the Dublin Circuit Court. The building until 2010 also formerly was the location for the Central Criminal Court.-Gandon's Building:Work based on...

    , General Post Office
    General Post Office (Dublin)
    The General Post Office ' in Dublin is the headquarters of the Irish postal service, An Post, and Dublin's principal post office...

     and King's Inns
    King's Inns
    The Honorable Society of King's Inns , is the institution which controls the entry of barristers-at-law into the justice system of Ireland...

    , the 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 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...

     styles flourished, especially in Dublin
    Georgian Dublin
    Georgian Dublin is a phrase used in the History of Dublin that has two interwoven meanings,# to describe a historic period in the development of the city of Dublin, Ireland, from 1714 to the death in 1830 of King George IV...

    . Georgian townhouses produced streets of singular distinction, particularly in 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...

     and 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...

    . Following 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...

    , cathedrals and churches influenced by the French Gothic Revival
    Gothic Revival architecture
    The Gothic Revival is an architectural movement that began in the 1740s in England...

     emerged, such as St Colman's
    Cobh Cathedral
    St. Colman’s Cathedral is a Roman Catholic Cathedral located in Cobh, Ireland. It is the cathedral church of the Diocese of Cloyne.-Schedule of Mass and other services:MassWeekdays: 8am & 10amSaturday: 6pmSunday: 8am, 10am, 12noon & 7pm...

     and St Finbarre's
    Saint Finbarre's Cathedral
    Saint Fin Barre's Cathedral, is a cathedral of the Church of Ireland in Cork city, Ireland. It is in the ecclesiastical province of Dublin.It was featured on the Irish postcard before the Irish entry of the Eurovision Song Contest 2009 held in Moscow, Russia....

    . Ireland has long been associated with thatched roof cottages, though these are nowadays considered quaint.

    Beginning with the American designed art deco
    Art Deco
    Art deco , or deco, is an eclectic artistic and design style that began in Paris in the 1920s and flourished internationally throughout the 1930s, into the World War II era. The style influenced all areas of design, including architecture and interior design, industrial design, fashion and...

     church at Turner's Cross
    Turners Cross, Cork
    Turner's Cross is a ward on the south side of Cork City, and home to the Roman Catholic parish of the same name.Largely residential, one of the key features of the area is the iconic church created by architect Barry Byrne and sculptor John Storrs, the Church of Christ The King. It was...

     in 1927, Irish architecture followed the international trend towards modern and sleek building styles since the 20th century. Recent developments include the regeneration of Ballymun
    Ballymun
    Ballymun is an area on Dublin's Northside close to Dublin Airport, Ireland. It is infamous for the Ballymun flats, which became a symbol of poverty, drugs, alienation from the state and social problems in Ireland from the 1970s...

     and an urban extension of Dublin at Adamstown
    Adamstown, Dublin
    Adamstown is the first new town planned in Ireland since Shannon Town in 1982. The new settlement is being developed 16 km from Dublin city centre, on a 220 hectare site just south of Lucan, west of the Griffeen River and north of the Grand Canal. No date has been set for the official...

    . Since the establishment of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority
    Dublin Docklands Development Authority
    The Dublin Docklands Development Authority was created by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority Act 1997 to lead a major project of physical, social and economic regeneration in the East side of Dublin along both banks of the River Liffey....

     in 1997, the Dublin Docklands
    Dublin Docklands
    Dublin Docklands is the area of the city of Dublin, Ireland, on both sides of the River Liffey, roughly from Talbot Memorial Bridge eastwards to the Point Depot.It is currently undergoing a large amount of development.-Projects:...

     area underwent large-scale redevelopment, which included the construction of the Convention Centre Dublin and Grand Canal Theatre
    Grand Canal Theatre
    The Grand Canal Theatre is a 2,111 capacity world class theatre in Dublin, Ireland which opened on 18 March 2010. Designed by Daniel Libeskind of New York and RHWL Architects of London, it is located in the Grand Canal Dock area and the concept of the theatre was created by Mike Adamson of Live...

    . Completed in 2008, the Elysian
    The Elysian
    The Elysian is a mixed-use celtic tiger-era building at Eglinton Street in Cork City, Ireland. Construction of the building was completed in early September 2008....

     tower in Cork is the tallest storeyed building in Ireland, at a height of 71 metres (233 ft), surpassing Cork County Hall
    Cork County Hall
    The County Hall is a 17-storey office block, owned by Cork County Council and housing its administrative headquarters. The building is located on Carrigrohane Road in the City of Cork...

    . The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland
    Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland
    The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland founded in 1839, is the competent authority for architects and professional body for Architecture in the Republic of Ireland....

     regulates the practice of architecture in the state.

    Media



    Raidió Teilifís Éireann
    Raidió Teilifís Éireann
    Raidió Teilifís Éireann is a semi-state company and the public service broadcaster of Ireland. It both produces programmes and broadcasts them on television, radio and the Internet. The radio service began on January 1, 1926, while regular television broadcasts began on December 31, 1961, making...

     (RTÉ) is the public service broadcaster of Ireland and is funded by a licence fee and advertising. RTÉ operates two national television channels, RTÉ One
    RTÉ One
    RTÉ One is the flagship television channel of Raidió Teilifís Éireann , and it is the most popular and most watched television channel in Ireland. It was launched as Telefís Éireann on 31 December 1961, it was renamed RTÉ Television in 1966, and it was renamed as RTÉ One upon the launch of RTÉ...

     and RTÉ Two
    RTÉ Two
    RTÉ Two is a free-to-air general entertainment channel operated by Irish state broadcaster Raidió Teilifís Éireann. RTÉ Two is available throughout the island of Ireland through digital terrestrial service Saorview, VHF and UHF bands, and is also available via satellite to Irish subscribers of...

    . The other independent national television channels are TV3 and sister channel 3e
    3E
    3E or 3-E may refer to:*3e, general entertainment channel operated in Ireland*3rd meridian east*Third edition in the Editions of Dungeons & Dragons*NY 3E, alternate name for New York State Route 104*OK-3E, abbreviation for Oklahoma State Highway 3...

    . TG4
    TG4
    TG4 is a public service broadcaster for Irish language speakers. The channel has been on-air since 31 October 1996 in the Republic of Ireland and since April 2005 in Northern Ireland....

     is a public service broadcaster for speakers of the Irish language. All of these channels are available on Saorview
    Saorview
    Saorview is the national free-to-air digital terrestrial television service in Republic of Ireland.The service began operation on 29 October 2010 on a trial basis with full launch on 26 May 2011. By legislation it was required to be available to approximately 90% of the population by end of...

    , the national free-to-air
    Free-to-air
    Free-to-air describes television and radio services broadcast in clear form, allowing any person with the appropriate receiving equipment to receive the signal and view or listen to the content without requiring a subscription or one-off fee...

     digital terrestrial television
    Digital terrestrial television
    Digital terrestrial television is the technological evolution of broadcast television and advance from analog television, which broadcasts land-based signals...

     service. Additional channels included in the service are RTÉ Two HD, RTÉ News Now
    RTÉ News Now
    RTÉ News Now is a 24-hour news television network in the Republic of Ireland operated byIrish public service broadcaster RTÉ. The channel launched as RTÉ News Now available exclusively online on June 12, 2008. The channel began broadcasting as a free-to-air channel on October 29, 2010 on...

    , RTÉjr
    RTÉjr
    RTÉjr is a children's channel operated by Ireland's national broadcaster RTÉ Television, which targets a demographic between 2 – 6 years of age. The channel launched as part of Saorview's line-up on May 26, 2011. The channel broadcasts daily between 06:00 to 19:00, sharing broadcasting space with...

    , and RTÉ One +1. Subscription to multichannel networks, with Sky being the most popular, allow for hundreds of British and other international channels to be available in Ireland.

    Supported by An Bord Scannán na hÉireann
    Irish Film Board
    The Irish Film Board is Ireland’s national film agency and major film funding body. It was recommended for abolition by the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes in 2009.-Formative years:...

    , the Irish film industry grew significantly since the 1990s, with the promotion of indigenous films such as Intermission
    Intermission (film)
    Intermission is a 2003 Irish comedy crime film directed by John Crowley which tells a story of a young couple and people surrounding them. The film is set in Dublin, Ireland and is filmed in a TV drama style with several storylines crossing over one another during the course of the film.Mark O'Rowe...

    and Breakfast on Pluto
    Breakfast on Pluto (film)
    Breakfast on Pluto is a 2005 comedy-drama film directed by Neil Jordan and based on the novel of the same name by Patrick McCabe, as adapted by Jordan and McCabe...

    , as well as the attraction of international productions like Braveheart
    Braveheart
    Braveheart is a 1995 epic historical drama war film directed by and starring Mel Gibson. The film was written for the screen and then novelized by Randall Wallace...

    and Saving Private Ryan
    Saving Private Ryan
    Saving Private Ryan is a 1998 American war film set during the invasion of Normandy in World War II. It was directed by Steven Spielberg, with a screenplay by Robert Rodat. The film is notable for the intensity of its opening 27 minutes, which depicts the Omaha Beach assault of June 6, 1944....

    . Reputable Irish film makers include Jim Sheridan
    Jim Sheridan
    Jim Sheridan is an Irish film director. A six-time Academy Award nominee, Sheridan is perhaps best known for his films My Left Foot, In the Name of the Father, Get Rich or Die Tryin and In America.-Life and career:...

    , Neil Jordan
    Neil Jordan
    Neil Patrick Jordan is an Irish filmmaker and novelist. He won an Academy Award for The Crying Game.- Early life :...

    , 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...

    , Martin McDonagh
    Martin McDonagh
    Martin McDonagh is an Irish-British playwright, filmmaker, and screenwriter. Although he has lived in London his entire life, he is considered one of the most important living Irish playwrights.-Life:...

    , Damien O'Donnell
    Damien O'Donnell
    Damien O'Donnell is an Irish film director and writer.He has directed East is East , Heartlands and Inside I'm Dancing , amongst others....

    , Paddy Breathnach
    Paddy Breathnach
    Paddy Breathnach is an award-winning Irish film director and producer. He directed Man About Dog, Blow Dry and Shrooms. He was also involved in the production of The Mighty Celt and Ape....

    , and Thaddeus O'Sullivan
    Thaddeus O'Sullivan
    Thaddeus O'Sullivan is an Irish director, cinematographer, writer.-Filmography:-Awards:*1990 won the Silver Rosa Camuna at the Bergamo Film Meeting for December Bride...

    , while famous Irish actors include Maureen O'Sullivan
    Maureen O'Sullivan
    Maureen Paula O’Sullivan was an Irish actress.-Early life:O'Sullivan was born in Boyle, County Roscommon, Ireland, the daughter of Roman Catholic parents Mary Lovatt and Charles Joseph O'Sullivan, an officer in The Connaught Rangers who served in The Great War...

    , Maureen O'Hara
    Maureen O'Hara
    Maureen O'Hara is an Irish film actress and singer. The famously red-headed O'Hara has been noted for playing fiercely passionate heroines with a highly sensible attitude. She often worked with director John Ford and longtime friend John Wayne...

    , Barry Fitzgerald
    Barry Fitzgerald
    Barry Fitzgerald was an Irish stage, film and television actor.-Life:He was born William Joseph Shields in Walworth Road, Portobello, Dublin, Ireland. He is the older brother of Irish actor Arthur Shields. He went to Skerry's College, Dublin, before going on to work in the civil service, while...

    , Richard Harris
    Richard Harris
    Richard St John Harris was an Irish actor, singer-songwriter, theatrical producer, film director and writer....

    , Peter O'Toole
    Peter O'Toole
    Peter Seamus Lorcan O'Toole is an Irish actor of stage and screen. O'Toole achieved stardom in 1962 playing T. E. Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia, and then went on to become a highly-honoured film and stage actor. He has been nominated for eight Academy Awards, and holds the record for most...

    , Pierce Brosnan
    Pierce Brosnan
    Pierce Brendan Brosnan, OBE is an Irish actor, film producer and environmentalist. After leaving school at 16, Brosnan began training in commercial illustration, but trained at the Drama Centre in London for three years...

    , Gabriel Byrne
    Gabriel Byrne
    Gabriel James Byrne is an Irish actor, film director, film producer, writer, cultural ambassador and audiobook narrator. His acting career began in the Focus Theatre before he joined Londo's Royal Court Theatre in 1979. Byrne's screen debut came in the Irish soap opera The Riordans and the...

    , Brendan Gleeson
    Brendan Gleeson
    Brendan Gleeson is an Irish actor. His best-known films include Braveheart, Gangs of New York, In Bruges, 28 Days Later, the Harry Potter films, The Guard and the role of Michael Collins in The Treaty...

    , Colm Meaney
    Colm Meaney
    Colm J. Meaney is an Irish actor widely known for playing Miles O'Brien in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. He is second only to Michael Dorn in most appearances in Star Trek episodes. He has guest-starred on many TV shows from Law & Order to The Simpsons...

    , Colin Farrell
    Colin Farrell
    Colin James Farrell is an Irish actor, who has appeared in such film as Tigerland, Miami Vice, Minority Report, Phone Booth, The Recruit, Alexander and S.W.A.T....

    , Brenda Fricker
    Brenda Fricker
    Brenda Fricker is an Irish actress of theatre, film and television. She had appeared in more than 30 films and television roles...

    , Jonathan Rhys-Meyers
    Jonathan Rhys-Meyers
    Jonathan Rhys Meyers is an Irish actor and model.He is best known for his roles in the films Velvet Goldmine, Mission Impossible III, Bend It Like Beckham, Match Point and his television roles as Elvis Presley in the biographical miniseries Elvis, which earned him a Golden Globe for Best Actor,...

    , Saoirse Ronan
    Saoirse Ronan
    Saoirse Una Ronan is an Irish film actress. She began her career as a child and came to international prominence in 2007 after co-starring in the film Atonement, which gained her nominations for a BAFTA, a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.Ronan has since appeared in...

    , Stuart Townsend
    Stuart Townsend
    Stuart Townsend is an Irish actor and director. His most notable portrayals are of the characters Lestat de Lioncourt in the 2002 film adaptation of Anne Rice's Queen of the Damned, and Dorian Gray in the 2003 film adaptation of Alan Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.-Early life and...

    , Michael Gambon
    Michael Gambon
    Sir Michael John Gambon, CBE is an Irish actor who has worked in theatre, television and film. A highly respected theatre actor, Gambon is recognised for his roles as Philip Marlowe in the BBC television serial The Singing Detective, as Jules Maigret in the 1990s ITV serial Maigret, and as...

    , and Cillian Murphy
    Cillian Murphy
    Cillian Murphy is an Irish film and theatre actor. He is often noted by critics for his chameleonic performances in diverse roles and distinctive blue eyes and general sex appeal....

    . Successful Irish films include The Field
    The Field (film)
    The Field is Jim Sheridan's 1990 film adaptation of John B. Keane's 1965 play of the same title.-Production:The Field starred Richard Harris as Bull McCabe, Sean Bean as Bull's son Tadhg, Brenda Fricker as Bull's wife Maggie, and John Hurt as Bird O'Donnell...

    , The Commitments
    The Commitments (film)
    The Commitments , the soundtrack for the film, was released on 13 Aug 1991. "Mustang Sally" was released as a single. Most of the songs on the album are performed by the cast band, but two are by Irish singer Niamh Kavanagh.-Track listing:-Chart positions:-The Commitments, Vol...

    , Michael Collins
    Michael Collins (film)
    Michael Collins is a 1996 historical biopic written and directed by Neil Jordan and starring Liam Neeson as General Michael Collins, the Irish patriot and revolutionary who died in the Irish Civil War. It won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival....

    , Angela's Ashes
    Angela's Ashes (film)
    Angela's Ashes is a 1999 Irish-American drama film based on the memoir of the same title by Frank McCourt. It was directed by Alan Parker and starred Emily Watson, Robert Carlyle, Joe Breen, Ciaran Owens, and Michael Legge .-Plot:Angela's Ashes tells the story of Frank McCourt and his childhood...

    , The Wind That Shakes the Barley
    The Wind That Shakes the Barley (film)
    The Wind That Shakes the Barley is a 2006 Irish war drama film directed by Ken Loach, set during the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War...

    , and Once
    Once (film)
    Once is a 2006 Irish musical film written and directed by John Carney. Set in Dublin, this naturalistic drama stars musicians Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová as musicians...

    .

    A large number of regional and local radio stations are available countrywide. A survey showed that a consistent 85% of adults listen to a mixture of national, regional and local stations on a daily basis. RTÉ Radio
    RTÉ Radio
    RTÉ Radio is a department of Irish national broadcaster Raidió Teilifís Éireann. RTÉ Radio broadcasts four analogue channels and five digital channels....

     operates four national stations, Radio 1
    RTÉ Radio 1
    RTÉ Radio 1 is the principal radio channel of Irish public-service broadcaster Raidió Teilifís Éireann and is the direct descendant of Dublin radio station 2RN, which began broadcasting on a regular basis on 1 January 1926...

    , 2fm
    RTÉ 2fm
    RTÉ 2fm, or 2FM as it is more commonly referred to, is Raidió Teilifís Éireann's second national radio station. It broadcasts popular music programming aimed at a young Irish audience.- History :...

    , Lyric fm
    RTÉ lyric fm
    RTÉ lyric fm is an Irish classical music radio station, owned by the public-service broadcaster Raidió Teilifís Éireann. The station, which is based in Limerick, was launched in 1999 and is available on FM in Ireland, on satellite, on Sky Digital in Ireland and United Kingdom and via the...

    , and RnaG
    RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta
    RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta , abbreviated RnaG, is the Irish-language radio service of the public-service broadcaster Raidió Teilifís Éireann. The station is available on FM in Ireland and via satellite and on the Internet.- History :...

    , along with two independent national stations, Today FM
    Today FM
    Radio Ireland Ltd, trading as 100-102 Today FM is an Irish commercial FM radio station which is available nationally. The station, which commenced broadcasting on Saint Patrick's Day in 1997, can be received nationally and carries a mix of music and talk...

     and Newstalk.

    Ireland has a traditionally competitive print media, which is divided into daily national newspapers and weekly regional newspapers, as well as national Sunday editions. The strength of the British press is a unique feature of the Irish print media scene, with the availability of a wide selection of British published newspapers and magazines.

    Cuisine




    Irish cuisine was traditionally based on meat and dairy, supplemented with vegetables and seafood. 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...

     eventually formed the basis of many traditional Irish dishes after its introduction in the 16th century. Examples of popular Irish cuisine include 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...

    , 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:...

    , 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....

    , stew
    Irish stew
    Irish stew is a traditional stew made from lamb, or mutton, as well as potatoes, carrots, onions, and parsley....

    , and 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...

    . Ireland is famous for the full Irish breakfast
    Full breakfast
    A full breakfast is a meal that consists of several courses, traditionally a starter , a main course, tea with milk, toast and marmalade or other preserves. Many variations are possible....

    , which involves a fried or grilled meal generally consisting of bacon, egg, sausage, pudding, and fried tomato. Apart from the significant influence by European and international dishes, there has been a recent emergence of a new Irish cuisine based on traditional ingredients handled in new ways. This cuisine is based on fresh vegetables, fish, oysters, mussels and other shellfish, and the wide range of hand-made cheeses that are now being produced across the country. Shellfish have increased in popularity, especially due to the high quality shellfish available from the country's coastline. The most popular fish include 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 cod
    Cod
    Cod is the common name for genus Gadus, belonging to the family Gadidae, and is also used in the common name for various other fishes. Cod is a popular food with a mild flavor, low fat content and a dense, flaky white flesh. Cod livers are processed to make cod liver oil, an important source of...

    . Traditional breads include soda bread
    Soda bread
    Soda bread is a variety of quick bread traditionally made in a variety of cuisines in which sodium bicarbonate is used as a raising agent rather than the more common yeast. The ingredients of traditional soda bread are flour, bread soda, salt, and buttermilk...

     and wheaten bread. Barmbrack
    Barmbrack
    Barmbrack is a yeasted bread with added sultanas and raisins.Usually sold in flattened rounds, it is often served toasted with butter along with a cup of tea in the afternoon. The dough is sweeter than sandwich bread, but not as rich as cake, and the sultanas and raisins add flavour and texture to...

     is a yeast
    Yeast
    Yeasts are eukaryotic micro-organisms classified in the kingdom Fungi, with 1,500 species currently described estimated to be only 1% of all fungal species. Most reproduce asexually by mitosis, and many do so by an asymmetric division process called budding...

    ed bread
    Bread
    Bread is a staple food prepared by cooking a dough of flour and water and often additional ingredients. Doughs are usually baked, but in some cuisines breads are steamed , fried , or baked on an unoiled frying pan . It may be leavened or unleavened...

     with added sultana
    Sultana (grape)
    The sultana is a type of white, seedless grape assumed to originate from the Turkish, Greek, or Iranian area...

    s and raisin
    Raisin
    Raisins are dried grapes. They are produced in many regions of the world. Raisins may be eaten raw or used in cooking, baking and brewing...

    s.

    Popular everyday beverages among the Irish include tea
    Irish Breakfast tea
    Irish breakfast tea is a blend of several black teas, most often Assam teas and, less often, other types of black tea. Many tea producers make Irish breakfast tea blends specifically for the US market. In Ireland, it is not referred to as "Irish breakfast tea", but simply as "tea", being the...

     and 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...

    . Alcoholic drinks associated with Ireland include Poitín
    Poitín
    Poitín , anglicised as poteen, is a traditional Irish distilled, highly alcoholic beverage . Poitín was traditionally distilled in a small pot still and the term is a diminutive of the Irish word pota, meaning "pot"...

     and the world famous 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...

    , which is a dry stout that originated in the brewery of Arthur Guinness
    Arthur Guinness
    Arthur Guinness was an Irish brewer and the founder of the Guinness brewery business and family.He was also an entrepreneur, visionary and philanthropist....

     at St. James's Gate
    St. James's Gate
    St. James's Gate, located off the south quays of Dublin, on James Street, was the western entrance to the city during the Middle Ages. During this time it was the traditional starting point for the Dublin pilgrimage Camino to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Now central to a industrial area, St...

     in Dublin. 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...

     is also popular throughout the country, and comes in various forms, including single malt, single grain and blended whiskey.

    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...

     and 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...

     are the traditional sports of Ireland as well as most popular spectator sports. They are administered by the Gaelic Athletics Association on an all-Ireland basis. Other 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...

     organised by the association include Gaelic 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...

     and rounders
    Rounders
    Rounders is a game played between two teams of either gender. The game originated in England where it was played in Tudor times. Rounders is a striking and fielding team game that involves hitting a small, hard, leather-cased ball with a round wooden, plastic or metal bat. The players score by...

    . Soccer
    Association football in the Republic of Ireland
    Association football, more usually known as football or soccer, is the team sport with the highest level of participation in the Republic of Ireland ....

     is the third most popular spectator sport and has the highest level of participation. Although the League of Ireland
    League of Ireland
    The League of Ireland is the national association football league of the Republic of Ireland. Founded in 1921, as a league of eight clubs, it has expanded over time into a two-tiered league of 22 clubs. It is currently split into the League of Ireland Premier Division and the League of Ireland...

     is the national league, the English Premier League is the most popular among the public. The Republic of Ireland national football team
    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....

     plays at international level and is administered by 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...

    .

    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...

     is the governing body of rugby union
    Rugby union in Ireland
    Rugby union is a popular team sport played in Ireland. The sport is organised on an all-Ireland basis with one team, governing body and league for both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland...

    , which is played at local and international levels on an all-Ireland basis, and has produced players such as Brian O'Driscoll
    Brian O'Driscoll
    Brian O'Driscoll is an Irish professional rugby union player. He is the current captain of the Ireland Rugby team and captained Leinster Rugby until the start of 2008 season. He also captained the British and Irish Lions for their 2005 tour of New Zealand...

     and Ronan O’Gara. The success of the Irish Cricket Team
    Irish cricket team
    The Ireland cricket team is the cricket team representing all of Ireland. Because of political difficulties, the Irish Cricket Union was not elected to the International Cricket Council until 1993, and qualified for the World Cup for the first time in 2007. The Irish Cricket Union is the...

     in 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...

     has led to an increase in the popularity of cricket
    Cricket in Ireland
    Cricket is a long established sport in Ireland. Cricket is governed by Cricket Ireland, which maintains the Ireland Cricket team and Ireland women's cricket team. Following the team's success in 2007 Cricket World Cup, the sport increased its fanbase in Ireland...

    , which is also administered on an all-Ireland basis by the Irish Cricket Union
    Irish Cricket Union
    Cricket Ireland, officially the Irish Cricket Union , is the governing body for cricket in Ireland , and oversees the Ireland cricket team and Ireland women's cricket team...

    .

    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....

     is another popular sport in Ireland, with over 300 courses countrywide. The country has produced several internationally successful golfers, such as 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:...

     and Paul McGinley
    Paul McGinley
    Paul McGinley is an Irish golfer who plays on the European Tour. He is most famous for holing the winning putt for the European team in the 2002 Ryder Cup. He currently resides in Sunningdale, England....

    .

    Some of Ireland's highest performers in athletics have competed at the Olympic Games
    Olympic Games
    The Olympic Games is a major international event featuring summer and winter sports, in which thousands of athletes participate in a variety of competitions. The Olympic Games have come to be regarded as the world’s foremost sports competition where more than 200 nations participate...

    , such as Eamonn Coghlan
    Eamonn Coghlan
    Eamonn Christopher Coghlan is an Irish Senator and former athlete, who specialised in middle distance track events and the 5000 metres...

     and Sonia O’Sullivan. The annual Dublin Marathon
    Dublin Marathon
    The Dublin Marathon is an annual marathon in Dublin, Ireland, normally held on the last Monday in October, which is a public holiday in Ireland. Held each year since 1980, in 2007 there were about 11,000 race participants, half of whom were from overseas....

     and Dublin Women's Mini Marathon
    Dublin Women's Mini Marathon
    The Dublin Women's Mini Marathon is an annual charity road race that occurs each June bank holiday Monday in Ireland...

     are two of the most popular athletics events in the country.

    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...

     is represented by the Irish national rugby league team and administered 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...

     (who are full member of the Rugby League European Federation
    Rugby League European Federation
    The Rugby League European Federation is the umbrella body for nations playing the sport of rugby league football across Europe and the Northern Hemisphere. It supports the Rugby League International Federation . The RLEF "oversees and co-ordinates the development of the sport in all its member...

    ) on an all-Ireland basis. The team compete in the European Cup (rugby league) and the Rugby League World Cup
    Rugby League World Cup
    The Rugby League World Cup is an international rugby league competition contested by members of the Rugby League International Federation . It has been held nearly once every 4 years on average since its inaugural tournament in France in 1954...

    . 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...

    . 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...

     is a domestic competition for rugby league teams in Ireland.

    The profile of Australian rules football has increased in Ireland due to the International rules series that take place annually between Australia and Ireland. 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...

     has also gained in popularity as a result of the international success of boxers such as Bernard Dunne
    Bernard Dunne
    Bernard Dunne is a retired Irish professional boxer and a former WBA, and European super bantamweight champion.On Saturday 21 March 2009, Dunne waged the war that he would be best remembered for and defeated Ricardo Cordoba in the 11th round to become the WBA super bantamweight champion in a fight...

     and Andy Lee
    Andy Lee (boxer)
    Andy Lee , is an Irish professional boxer from Limerick, Ireland who fights in the Middleweight division.-Background:Lee was born in Bow, London, England to Irish parents...

    . Baseball
    Baseball in Ireland
    Baseball Ireland is the governing body of baseball in Ireland, covering both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.Although the existence of baseball in Ireland is not widely known, the game has been played there since the early 1990s...

     and 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...

     are also emerging sports in Ireland, both of which have an international team representing the island of Ireland. Other sports which retain a strong following in Ireland include cycling
    Cycling
    Cycling, also called bicycling or biking, is the use of bicycles for transport, recreation, or for sport. Persons engaged in cycling are cyclists or bicyclists...

    , 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....

    , horse riding, motorsport
    Motorsport
    Motorsport or motorsports is the group of sports which primarily involve the use of motorized vehicles, whether for racing or non-racing competition...

    , and softball
    Softball in Ireland
    Softball is governed in Ireland by the Softball Ireland, itself a member of the International Softball Federation.-History:The year 1982 marked the first softball league in Ireland, the Dublin Softball League. The Irish Softball Association was formed in 1989...

    .

    Society



    The receding influence of the Catholic Church has led to Ireland becoming an increasingly secularised
    Secularism
    Secularism is the principle of separation between government institutions and the persons mandated to represent the State from religious institutions and religious dignitaries...

     society. Contraception was controlled in Ireland until 1979. In 1983, the Eighth Amendment
    Eighth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland
    The Eighth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland introduced a constitutional ban on abortion. It was effected by the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution Act, 1983, which was approved by referendum on 7 September 1983 and signed into law on the 7 October of the same year.-Changes to the...

     recognised "the right to life of the unborn", subject to qualifications concerning the "equal right to life" of the mother. The case of Attorney General v. X
    Attorney General v. X
    Attorney General v. X was a 1992 Irish Supreme Court case which established the right of Irish women to an abortion if a pregnant woman's life was at risk because of pregnancy, including the risk of suicide....

    subsequently prompted passage of the Thirteenth
    Thirteenth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland
    The Thirteenth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland specified that the prohibition of abortion would not limit freedom of travel in and out of the state...

     and Fourteenth
    Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland
    The Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland specified that the prohibition of abortion would not limit the right to distribute information about abortion services in foreign countries...

     Amendments, guaranteeing the right to have an abortion performed abroad, and the right to learn about "services" that are illegal in Ireland but legal abroad. The prohibition on divorce in the 1937 Constitution was repealed in 1995 under the Fifteenth Amendment
    Fifteenth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland
    The Fifteenth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland repealed the constitutional prohibition of divorce. It was effected by the Fifteenth Amendment of the Constitution Act, 1995, which was approved by referendum on 24 November 1995 and signed into law on 17 June 1996.-Changes to the...

    .

    Discrimination based on age, gender, sexual orientation, marital or familial status, religion, race or membership of the travelling community is illegal in Ireland. The legislation which outlawed homosexual acts was repealed in 1993. The Dáil and the Seanad passed the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act
    Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010
    The Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010 is an Act of the Oireachtas which allows civil partnerships. The act also provides rights for participants in long-term cohabiting relationships who have not entered into a civil partnership or marriage...

     in 2010, which recognised civil partnerships between same-sex couples. It permits same-sex couples to register their relationship before a registrar. A Sunday Times poll carried out in March 2011 showed that 73% of people believe that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, while 60% believe that same-sex couples should be allowed to adopt children.

    Ireland became the first country in the world to introduce an environmental levy for plastic shopping bag
    Plastic shopping bag
    Plastic shopping bags, carrier bags or plastic grocery bags are a type of shopping bag made from various kinds of plastic, and are common worldwide. These bags are sometimes called single-use bags, referring to carrying items from a store to a home...

    s in 2002 and a public smoking ban
    Smoking ban
    Smoking bans are public policies, including criminal laws and occupational safety and health regulations, which prohibit tobacco smoking in workplaces and/or other public spaces...

     in 2004. It was also the first European country to ban incandescent lightbulbs
    Banning of incandescent lightbulbs
    Some governments around the world have passed measures to phase out incandescent light bulbs for general lighting. The aim is to encourage the use and technological development of more energy-efficient lighting alternatives, such as compact fluorescent lamp and LED lamps...

     in 2008 and in-store tobacco advertising and product display in 2009. Capital punishment
    Capital punishment
    Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

     is constitutionally banned, and Ireland was one of the main nations involved in the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions
    Convention on Cluster Munitions
    The Convention on Cluster Munitions is an international treaty that prohibits the use, transfer and stockpile of cluster bombs, a type of explosive weapon which scatters submunitions over an area. The convention was adopted on 2008 in Dublin, and was opened for signature on 2008 in Oslo...

    , formally endorsed in Dublin. Ireland ranks sixth
    Global Gender Gap Report
    The Global Gender Gap Report was first published in 2006 by the World Economic Forum. The 2010 report covers 134 major and emerging economies....

     in the world in terms of gender equality
    Gender equality
    Gender equality is the goal of the equality of the genders, stemming from a belief in the injustice of myriad forms of gender inequality.- Concept :...

    .

    See also


    • Celtic languages
      Celtic languages
      The Celtic languages are descended from Proto-Celtic, or "Common Celtic"; a branch of the greater Indo-European language family...

    • Celts
    • Ethnic groups in Europe

    Further reading


    (the 1937 constitution)
    • The Irish Free State Constitution Act, 1922
    • J. Anthony Foley and Stephen Lalor (ed), Gill & Macmillan Annotated Constitution of Ireland (Gill & Macmillan, 1995) (ISBN 0-7171-2276-X)
    • FSL Lyons, Ireland Since the Famine
    • Alan J. Ward, The Irish Constitutional Tradition: Responsible Government and Modern Ireland 1782–1992 (Irish Academic Press, 1994) (ISBN 0-7165-2528-3)
    • Michael J. Geary, An Inconvenient Wait: Ireland's Quest for Membership of the EEC, 1957–73 (Institute of Public Administration, 2009) (ISBN 978-1-904541-83-7)


    External links


    Government
    General information
    • Ireland information from the United States Department of State
      United States Department of State
      The United States Department of State , is the United States federal executive department responsible for international relations of the United States, equivalent to the foreign ministries of other countries...

    • Portals to the World from the United States Library of Congress
      Library of Congress
      The Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, de facto national library of the United States, and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. Located in three buildings in Washington, D.C., it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and...

    • Ireland at UCB Libraries GovPubs