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Ireland
Ireland
(/ˈaɪərlənd/ ( listen); Irish: Éire [ˈeːɾʲə] ( listen); Ulster-Scots: Airlann [ˈɑːrlən]) is an island in the North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain
Great Britain
to its east by the North Channel, the Irish Sea, and St George's Channel. Ireland
Ireland
is the third-largest island in Europe. Politically, Ireland
Ireland
is divided between the Republic of Ireland (officially named Ireland), which covers five-sixths of the island, and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. In 2011, the population of Ireland
Ireland
was about 6.6 million, ranking it the second-most populous island in Europe
Europe
after Great Britain. Just under 4.8 million live in the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
and just over 1.8 million live in Northern Ireland.[3] The island's geography comprises relatively low-lying mountains surrounding a central plain, with several navigable rivers extending inland. Its lush vegetation is a product of its mild but changeable climate which is free of extremes in temperature. It was covered by thick woodlands until the Middle Ages. As of 2013, the amount of land that is wooded in Ireland
Ireland
is about 11% of the total, compared with a European average of 35%.[6][7] There are twenty-six extant mammal species native to Ireland.[8] The Irish climate is influenced by the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
and thus very moderate,[9] and winters are milder than expected for such a northerly area, although summers are cooler than those in Continental Europe. Rainfall and cloud cover are abundant. The earliest evidence of human presence in Ireland
Ireland
is dated at 10,500 BC.[10] Gaelic Ireland
Gaelic Ireland
had emerged by the 1st century AD. The island was Christianised
Christianised
from the 5th century onward. Following the 12th century Norman invasion, the England
England
claimed sovereignty. However, English rule did not extend over the whole island until the 16th–17th century Tudor conquest, which led to colonisation by settlers from Britain. In the 1690s, a system of Protestant
Protestant
English rule was designed to materially disadvantage the Catholic majority and Protestant
Protestant
dissenters, and was extended during the 18th century. With the Acts of Union in 1801, Ireland
Ireland
became a part of the United Kingdom. A war of independence in the early 20th century was followed by the partition of the island, creating the Irish Free State, which became increasingly sovereign over the following decades, and Northern Ireland, which remained a part of the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland saw much civil unrest from the late 1960s until the 1990s. This subsided following a political agreement in 1998. In 1973 the Republic of Ireland
Ireland
joined the European Economic Community
European Economic Community
while the United Kingdom, and Northern Ireland, as part of it, did the same. Irish culture
Irish culture
has had a significant influence on other cultures, especially in the fields of literature. Alongside mainstream Western culture, a strong indigenous culture exists, as expressed through Gaelic games, Irish music
Irish music
and the Irish language. The island's culture shares many features with that of Great Britain, including the English language, and sports such as association football, rugby, horse racing, and golf.

Contents

1 Name 2 History

2.1 Prehistoric Ireland

2.1.1 Emergence of Celtic Ireland

2.2 Late antiquity and early medieval times 2.3 Norman and English invasions 2.4 The Kingdom of Ireland 2.5 Union with Great Britain 2.6 Partition

2.6.1 Independence 2.6.2 Northern Ireland

3 Politics

3.1 Republic of Ireland 3.2 Northern Ireland 3.3 All-island institutions

4 Economy

4.1 Tourism 4.2 Energy

5 Geography

5.1 Climate

6 Flora and fauna

6.1 Impact of agriculture

7 Demographics

7.1 Divisions and settlements 7.2 Migration 7.3 Languages

8 Culture

8.1 Arts

8.1.1 Literature 8.1.2 Music 8.1.3 Art

8.2 Science 8.3 Sports

8.3.1 Field sports 8.3.2 Other sports 8.3.3 Recreation

8.4 Food and drink

9 See also 10 Notes 11 References 12 Bibliography 13 External links

Name The name Ireland
Ireland
derives from Old Irish Eriu. This in turn comes from the Proto-Celtic *Iveriu (compare Welsh Iwerddon), which is also the source of Latin
Latin
Hibernia. Iveriu derives from a root meaning 'fat, prosperous'.[11][self-published source?] History

Part of a series on the

History of Ireland

Chronology

Prehistory Protohistory 400–800 800–1169 1169–1536 1536–1691 1691–1801 1801–1923 Timeline of Irish history

Peoples and polities

Gaelic Ireland Lordship of Ireland Kingdom of Ireland

United Kingdom
United Kingdom
of Great Britain
Great Britain
and Ireland

Irish Republic Irish Free State Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
and Northern Ireland

Topics

Conflicts Clans Kingdoms States Gaelic monarchs British monarchs Economic history History of the Irish language

Ireland
Ireland
portal

v t e

Main article: History of Ireland Prehistoric Ireland Main article: Prehistoric Ireland During the last glacial period, and up until about 10,000 BC, most of Ireland
Ireland
was periodically covered in ice. Sea levels
Sea levels
were lower and Ireland, like Great Britain, formed part of continental Europe. By 16,000 BC, rising sea levels due to ice melting caused Ireland
Ireland
to become separated from Great Britain.[12] Later, around 6000 BC, Great Britain itself became separated from continental Europe.[13] The earliest evidence of human presence in Ireland
Ireland
is dated at 10,500 BC, demonstrated by a butchered bear bone found in a cave in County Clare.[10] It is not until about 8000 BC, however, that more sustained occupation of the island has been shown, with evidence for Mesolithic communities around the island.[14] These Mesolithic
Mesolithic
communities lived as hunter-gatherers across the island until about 4000 BC. Some time before 4000 BC, Neolithic
Neolithic
settlers arrived introducing cereal cultivars, domesticated animals such as cattle and sheep, large timber building, and stone monuments.[15] The earliest evidence for farming in Ireland
Ireland
or Great Britain
Great Britain
is from Ferriter's Cove, Co.Kerry, where a flint knife, cattle bones and a sheep's tooth were carbon-dated to c. 4350 BC.[16] Field systems were developed in different parts of Ireland, including at the Céide Fields, that has been preserved beneath a blanket of peat in present-day Tyrawley. An extensive field system, arguably the oldest in the world,[17] consisted of small divisions separated by dry-stone walls. The fields were farmed for several centuries between 3500 BC and 3000 BC. Wheat and barley were the principal crops. The Bronze Age – defined by the use of metal – began around 2500 BC, with technology changing people's everyday lives during this period through innovations such as the wheel; harnessing oxen; weaving textiles; brewing alcohol; and skilful metalworking, which produced new weapons and tools, along with fine gold decoration and jewellery, such as brooches and torcs. According to John T. Koch and others, Ireland
Ireland
in the Late Bronze Age
Bronze Age
was part of a maritime trading-network culture called the Atlantic Bronze Age
Bronze Age
that also included Britain, western France and Iberia, and that this is where Celtic languages
Celtic languages
developed.[18][19][20][21] This contrasts with the traditional view that their origin lies in mainland Europe
Europe
with the Hallstatt culture. Emergence of Celtic Ireland During the Iron Age, a Celtic language and culture emerged in Ireland. How and when the island became Celtic has been debated for close to a century, with the migrations of the Celts
Celts
being one of the more enduring themes of archaeological and linguistic studies. Today, there is more than one school of thought on how this occurred.[citation needed]

The Uragh Stone Circle, a Neolithic
Neolithic
stone circle in Tuosist, close to Gleninchaquin Park, County Kerry

The long-standing traditional view, once widely accepted,[by whom?] is that the Celtic language, Ogham
Ogham
script and culture were brought to Ireland
Ireland
by waves of invading or migrating Celts
Celts
from mainland Europe. This theory draws on the Lebor Gabála Érenn, a medieval Christian pseudo-history of Ireland
Ireland
along with the presence of Celtic culture, language and artefacts found in Ireland
Ireland
such as Celtic bronze spears, shields, torcs and other finely crafted Celtic associated possessions. The theory holds that there were four separate Celtic invasions of Ireland. The Priteni were said to be the first, followed by the Belgae from northern Gaul and Britain. Later, Laighin tribes from Armorica (present-day Brittany) were said to have invaded Ireland
Ireland
and Britain more or less simultaneously. Lastly, the Milesians (Gaels) were said to have reached Ireland
Ireland
from either northern Iberia or southern Gaul.[22] It was claimed that a second wave named the Euerni, belonging to the Belgae
Belgae
people of northern Gaul, began arriving about the sixth century BC. They were said to have given their name to the island.[23][24] A more recent theory, with broad support among archaeologists, is that Celtic culture and language arrived in Ireland
Ireland
as a result of cultural diffusion. This theory proposes that the Celticisation of Ireland
Ireland
may have been the culmination of a long process of social and economic interaction between Ireland, Britain and adjacent parts of Continental Europe.[citation needed] The theory was advanced in part because of lack of archeological evidence for large-scale Celtic immigration, though it is accepted that such movements are notoriously difficult to identify. Some proponents of this theory hold that it is likely that there was migration of smaller groups of Celts
Celts
to Ireland, with sufficiently regular traffic to constitute a "migration stream," but that this was not the fundamental cause of Insular Celticisation.[citation needed] Historical linguists are sceptical that this method alone could account for the absorption of the Celtic language, with some saying that an assumed processional view of Celtic linguistic formation is 'an especially hazardous exercise'.[25][26] Genetic lineage investigation into the area of Celtic migration to Ireland
Ireland
has led to findings that showed no significant differences in mitochondrial DNA between Ireland
Ireland
and large areas of continental Europe, in contrast to parts of the Y-chromosome pattern. When taking both into account a study drew the conclusion that modern Celtic speakers in Ireland
Ireland
could be thought of as European "Atlantic Celts" showing a shared ancestry throughout the Atlantic zone from northern Iberia to western Scandinavia rather than substantially central European.[27] In 2012, research showed that occurrence of genetic markers for the earliest farmers was almost eliminated by Beaker-culture immigrants: they carried what was then a new Y-chromosome R1b marker, believed to have originated in Iberia about 2500 BC. The prevalence amongst modern Irish men for this mutation is a remarkable 84%, the highest in the World, and closely matched in other populations along the Atlantic fringes down to Spain. A similar genetic replacement happened with lineages in mitochondrial DNA. The implication of this evidence is a series of migrations and the arrival of the early Irish language, giving some credence to the tales in Lebor Gabála Érenn.[16][28] Late antiquity and early medieval times Main article: History of Ireland
History of Ireland
(800–1169)

The Scoti were Gaelic-speaking people from Ireland
Ireland
who settled in western Scotland
Scotland
in the 6th century or before.

The earliest written records of Ireland
Ireland
come from classical Greco-Roman geographers. Ptolemy
Ptolemy
in his Almagest
Almagest
refers to Ireland
Ireland
as Mikra Brettania (Little Britain), in contrast to the larger island, which he called Megale Brettania (Great Britain).[29] In his later work, Geography, Ptolemy
Ptolemy
refers to Ireland
Ireland
as Iouernia and to Great Britain as Albion. These "new" names were likely to have been the local names for the islands at the time. The earlier names, in contrast, were likely to have been coined before direct contact with local peoples was made.[30] The Romans would later refer to Ireland
Ireland
by this name too in its Latinised
Latinised
form, Hibernia,[citation needed] or Scotia.[31] Ptolemy records sixteen nations inhabiting every part of Ireland
Ireland
in 100 AD.[32] The relationship between the Roman Empire and the kingdoms of ancient Ireland
Ireland
is unclear. However, a number of finds of Roman coins have been made, for example at the Iron Age
Iron Age
settlement of Freestone Hill near Gowran
Gowran
and Newgrange.[33] Ireland
Ireland
continued as a patchwork of rival kingdoms but, beginning in the 7th century, a concept of national kingship gradually became articulated through the concept of a High King of Ireland. Medieval Irish literature
Irish literature
portrays an almost unbroken sequence of High Kings stretching back thousands of years but modern historians believe the scheme was constructed in the 8th century to justify the status of powerful political groupings by projecting the origins of their rule into the remote past.[34] All of the Irish kingdoms had their own kings but were nominally subject to the High King. The High King was drawn from the ranks of the provincial kings and ruled also the royal kingdom of Meath, with a ceremonial capital at the Hill of Tara. The concept didn't become a political reality until the Viking
Viking
Age and even then was not a consistent one.[35] Ireland
Ireland
did have a culturally unifying rule of law: the early written judicial system, the Brehon Laws, administered by a professional class of jurists known as the brehons.[36]

Gallarus Oratory, one of the earliest churches built in Ireland

The Chronicle of Ireland
The Chronicle of Ireland
records that in 431, Bishop Palladius arrived in Ireland
Ireland
on a mission from Pope Celestine I
Pope Celestine I
to minister to the Irish "already believing in Christ".[37] The same chronicle records that Saint Patrick, Ireland's best known patron saint, arrived the following year. There is continued debate over the missions of Palladius and Patrick, but the consensus is that they both took place[38] and that the older druid tradition collapsed in the face of the new religion.[39] Irish Christian scholars excelled in the study of Latin
Latin
and Greek learning and Christian theology. In the monastic culture that followed the Christianisation of Ireland, Latin
Latin
and Greek learning was preserved in Ireland
Ireland
during the Early Middle Ages
Middle Ages
in contrast to elsewhere in Europe, where the Dark Ages followed the Fall of the Western Roman Empire.[39][40] The arts of manuscript illumination, metalworking and sculpture flourished and produced treasures such as the Book of Kells, ornate jewellery and the many carved stone crosses[41] that still dot the island today. A mission founded in 563 on Iona
Iona
by the Irish monk Saint Columba
Columba
began a tradition of Irish missionary work that spread Celtic Christianity
Christianity
and learning to Scotland, England
England
and the Frankish Empire on Continental Europe
Europe
after the fall of Rome.[42] These missions continued until the late Middle Ages, establishing monasteries and centres of learning, producing scholars such as Sedulius Scottus and Johannes Eriugena
Johannes Eriugena
and exerting much influence in Europe. From the 9th century, waves of Viking
Viking
raiders plundered Irish monasteries and towns.[43] These raids added to a pattern of raiding and endemic warfare that was already deep-seated in Ireland. The Vikings
Vikings
also were involved in establishing most of the major coastal settlements in Ireland: Dublin, Limerick, Cork, Wexford, Waterford, as well as other smaller settlements.[44] Norman and English invasions Main articles: Norman invasion of Ireland, History of Ireland (1169–1536), and Tudor conquest of Ireland See also: Bruce campaign in Ireland

Remains of the 12th-century Trim Castle
Trim Castle
in County Meath, the largest Norman castle in Ireland

On 1 May 1169, an expedition of Cambro-Norman knights with an army of about six hundred landed at Bannow
Bannow
Strand in present-day County Wexford. It was led by Richard de Clare, called Strongbow due to his prowess as an archer.[45] The invasion, which coincided with a period of renewed Norman expansion, was at the invitation of Dermot Mac Murrough, the king of Leinster.[46] In 1166, Mac Murrough had fled to Anjou, France, following a war involving Tighearnán Ua Ruairc, of Breifne, and sought the assistance of the Angevin king, Henry II, in recapturing his kingdom. In 1171, Henry arrived in Ireland
Ireland
in order to review the general progress of the expedition. He wanted to re-exert royal authority over the invasion which was expanding beyond his control. Henry successfully re-imposed his authority over Strongbow and the Cambro-Norman warlords and persuaded many of the Irish kings to accept him as their overlord, an arrangement confirmed in the 1175 Treaty of Windsor. The invasion was legitimised by the provisions of the Papal Bull Laudabiliter, issued by Adrian IV in 1155. The bull encouraged Henry to take control in Ireland
Ireland
in order to oversee the financial and administrative reorganisation of the Irish Church and its integration into the Roman Church system.[47] Some restructuring had already begun at the ecclesiastical level following the Synod of Kells in 1152.[48] There has been significant controversy regarding the authenticity of Laudabiliter,[49] and there is no general agreement as to whether the bull was genuine or a forgery.[50][51] In 1172, the new pope, Alexander III, further encouraged Henry to advance the integration of the Irish Church with Rome. Henry was authorised to impose a tithe of one penny per hearth as an annual contribution. This church levy, called Peter's Pence, is extant in Ireland
Ireland
as a voluntary donation. In turn, Henry accepted the title of Lord of Ireland
Lord of Ireland
which Henry conferred on his younger son, John Lackland, in 1185. This defined the Irish state as the Lordship of Ireland.[citation needed] When Henry's successor died unexpectedly in 1199, John inherited the crown of England
England
and retained the Lordship of Ireland.

Irish soldiers, 1521 – by Albrecht Dürer

Over the century that followed, Norman feudal law gradually replaced the Gaelic Brehon Law so that by the late 13th century the Norman-Irish had established a feudal system throughout much of Ireland. Norman settlements were characterised by the establishment of baronies, manors, towns and the seeds of the modern county system. A version of the Magna Carta
Magna Carta
(the Great Charter of Ireland), substituting Dublin
Dublin
for London
London
and Irish Church for Church of England, was published in 1216 and the Parliament of Ireland
Parliament of Ireland
was founded in 1297. From the mid-14th century, after the Black Death, Norman settlements in Ireland
Ireland
went into a period of decline. The Norman rulers and the Gaelic Irish elites intermarried and the areas under Norman rule became Gaelicised. In some parts, a hybrid Hiberno-Norman
Hiberno-Norman
culture emerged. In response, the Irish parliament passed the Statutes of Kilkenny
Kilkenny
in 1367. These were a set of laws designed to prevent the assimilation of the Normans
Normans
into Irish society by requiring English subjects in Ireland
Ireland
to speak English, follow English customs and abide by English law.[52] By the end of the 15th century central English authority in Ireland had all but disappeared and a renewed Irish culture
Irish culture
and language, albeit with Norman influences, was dominant again. English Crown control remained relatively unshaken in an amorphous foothold around Dublin
Dublin
known as The Pale, and under the provisions of Poynings' Law of 1494, the Irish Parliamentary legislation was subject to the approval of the English Parliament.[53] The Kingdom of Ireland Main article: Kingdom of Ireland

A scene from The Image of Irelande (1581) showing a chieftain at a feast

The title of King of Ireland
King of Ireland
was re-created in 1542 by Henry VIII, then King of England, of the Tudor dynasty. English rule was reinforced and expanded in Ireland
Ireland
during the latter part of the 16th century, leading to the Tudor conquest of Ireland. A near complete conquest was achieved by the turn of the 17th century, following the Nine Years' War and the Flight of the Earls. This control was consolidated during the wars and conflicts of the 17th century, including the English and Scottish colonisation in the Plantations of Ireland, the Wars of the Three Kingdoms
Wars of the Three Kingdoms
and the Williamite War. Irish losses during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms (which, in Ireland, included the Irish Confederacy
Irish Confederacy
and the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland) are estimated to include 20,000 battlefield casualties. 200,000 civilians are estimated to have died as a result of a combination of war-related famine, displacement, guerrilla activity and pestilence over the duration of the war. A further 50,000[Note 1] were sent into indentured servitude in the West Indies. Some historians estimate that as much as half of the pre-war population of Ireland
Ireland
may have died as a result of the conflict.[56] The religious struggles of the 17th century left a deep sectarian division in Ireland. Religious allegiance now determined the perception in law of loyalty to the Irish King and Parliament. After the passing of the Test Act 1672, and the victory of the forces of the dual monarchy of William and Mary over the Jacobites, Roman Catholics and nonconforming Protestant
Protestant
Dissenters were barred from sitting as members in the Irish Parliament. Under the emerging Penal Laws, Irish Roman Catholics and Dissenters were increasingly deprived of various and sundry civil rights even to the ownership of hereditary property. Additional regressive punitive legislation followed 1703, 1709 and 1728. This completed a comprehensive systemic effort to materially disadvantage Roman Catholics and Protestant
Protestant
Dissenters, while enriching a new ruling class of Anglican conformists.[57] The new Anglo-Irish ruling class became known as the Protestant
Protestant
Ascendancy.

Half-hanging
Half-hanging
of suspected United Irishmen

The "Great Frost" struck Ireland
Ireland
and the rest of Europe
Europe
between December 1739 and September 1741, after a decade of relatively mild winters. The winters destroyed stored crops of potatoes and other staples and the poor summers severely damaged harvests.[58] This resulted in the famine of 1740. An estimated 250,000 people (about one in eight of the population) died from the ensuing pestilence and disease.[59] The Irish government halted export of corn and kept the army in quarters but did little more.[59][60] Local gentry and charitable organisations provided relief but could do little to prevent the ensuing mortality.[59][60] In the aftermath of the famine, an increase in industrial production and a surge in trade brought a succession of construction booms. The population soared in the latter part of this century and the architectural legacy of Georgian Ireland
Ireland
was built. In 1782, Poynings' Law was repealed, giving Ireland
Ireland
legislative independence from Great Britain for the first time since 1495. The British government, however, still retained the right to nominate the government of Ireland
Ireland
without the consent of the Irish parliament. Union with Great Britain Main article: United Kingdom
United Kingdom
of Great Britain
Great Britain
and Ireland In 1798, members of the Protestant
Protestant
Dissenter tradition (mainly Presbyterian) made common cause with Roman Catholics in a republican rebellion inspired and led by the Society of United Irishmen, with the aim of creating an independent Ireland. Despite assistance from France the rebellion was put down by British and Irish government and yeomanry forces. In 1800, the British and Irish parliaments both passed Acts of Union that, with effect from 1 January 1801, merged the Kingdom of Ireland
Kingdom of Ireland
and the Kingdom of Great Britain
Great Britain
to create a United Kingdom of Great Britain
Great Britain
and Ireland.[61] The passage of the Act in the Irish Parliament was ultimately achieved with substantial majorities, having failed on the first attempt in 1799. According to contemporary documents and historical analysis, this was achieved through a considerable degree of bribery, with funding provided by the British Secret Service Office, and the awarding of peerages, places and honours to secure votes.[61] Thus, the parliament in Ireland
Ireland
was abolished and replaced by a united parliament at Westminster in London, though resistance remained, as evidenced by Robert Emmet's failed Irish Rebellion of 1803. Aside from the development of the linen industry, Ireland
Ireland
was largely passed over by the industrial revolution, partly because it lacked coal and iron resources[62][63] and partly because of the impact of the sudden union with the structurally superior economy of England,[64] which saw Ireland
Ireland
as a source of agricultural produce and capital.[65][66]

Emigrants Leave Ireland
Ireland
engraving by Henry Doyle depicting the emigration to America following the Great Famine in Ireland

The Great Famine of 1845–1851 devastated Ireland, as in those years Ireland's population fell by one-third. More than one million people died from starvation and disease, while an additional two million people emigrated, mostly to the United States and Canada.[67] By the end of the decade, half of all immigration to the United States was from Ireland. The period of civil unrest that followed until the end of the 19th century is referred to as the Land War. Mass emigration became deeply entrenched and the population continued to decline until the mid-20th century. Immediately prior to the famine the population was recorded as 8.2 million by the 1841 census.[68] The population has never returned to this level since.[69] The population continued to fall until 1961 and it was not until the 2006 census that the last county of Ireland
Ireland
(County Leitrim) to record a rise in population since 1841 did so. The 19th and early 20th centuries saw the rise of modern Irish nationalism, primarily among the Roman Catholic
Roman Catholic
population. The pre-eminent Irish political figure after the Union was Daniel O'Connell. He was elected as Member of Parliament for Ennis in a surprise result and despite being unable to take his seat as a Roman Catholic. O'Connell spearheaded a vigorous campaign that was taken up by the Prime Minister, the Irish-born soldier and statesman, the Duke of Wellington. Steering the Catholic Relief Bill through Parliament, aided by future prime minister Robert Peel, Wellington prevailed upon a reluctant George IV to sign the Bill and proclaim it into law. George's father had opposed the plan of the earlier Prime Minister, Pitt the Younger, to introduce such a bill following the Union of 1801, fearing Catholic Emancipation
Catholic Emancipation
to be in conflict with the Act of Settlement 1701. Daniel O'Connell
Daniel O'Connell
led a subsequent campaign, for the repeal of the Act of Union, which failed. Later in the century, Charles Stewart Parnell and others campaigned for autonomy within the Union, or "Home Rule". Unionists, especially those located in Ulster, were strongly opposed to Home Rule, which they thought would be dominated by Catholic interests.[70] After several attempts to pass a Home Rule bill through parliament, it looked certain that one would finally pass in 1914. To prevent this from happening, the Ulster Volunteers
Ulster Volunteers
were formed in 1913 under the leadership of Edward Carson.[71] Their formation was followed in 1914 by the establishment of the Irish Volunteers, whose aim was to ensure that the Home Rule Bill was passed. The Act was passed but with the "temporary" exclusion of the six counties of Ulster
Ulster
that would become Northern Ireland. Before it could be implemented, however, the Act was suspended for the duration of the First World War. The Irish Volunteers
Irish Volunteers
split into two groups. The majority, approximately 175,000 in number, under John Redmond, took the name National Volunteers
National Volunteers
and supported Irish involvement in the war. A minority, approximately 13,000, retained the Irish Volunteers' name, and opposed Ireland's involvement in the war.[71]

Sackville Street (now O'Connell Street), Dublin, after the 1916 Easter Rising

The Easter Rising
Easter Rising
of 1916 was carried out by the latter group together with a smaller socialist militia, the Irish Citizen Army. The British response, executing fifteen leaders of the Rising over a period of ten days and imprisoning or interning more than a thousand people, turned the mood of the country in favour of the rebels. Support for Irish republicanism increased further due to the ongoing war in Europe, as well as the Conscription
Conscription
Crisis of 1918.[72] The pro-independence republican party, Sinn Féin, received overwhelming endorsement in the general election of 1918, and in 1919 proclaimed an Irish Republic, setting up its own parliament (Dáil Éireann) and government. Simultaneously the Volunteers, which became known as the Irish Republican Army
Irish Republican Army
(IRA), launched a three-year guerrilla war, which ended in a truce in July 1921 (although violence continued until June 1922, mostly in Northern Ireland).[72] Partition Main article: Partition of Ireland In December 1921, the Anglo-Irish Treaty
Anglo-Irish Treaty
was concluded between the British Government and representatives of the Second Dáil. It gave Ireland
Ireland
complete independence in its home affairs and practical independence for foreign policy, but an opt-out clause allowed Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
to remain within the United Kingdom, which it immediately exercised as expected. Additionally, an oath of allegiance to the King was to be taken.[73] Disagreements over these provisions led to a split in the nationalist movement and a subsequent Irish Civil War between the new government of the Irish Free State
Irish Free State
and those opposed to the treaty, led by Éamon de Valera. The civil war officially ended in May 1923 when de Valera issued a cease-fire order.[74] Independence Main articles: History of the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
and Economy of the Republic of Ireland

Annotated page from the Anglo-Irish Treaty
Anglo-Irish Treaty
that established the Irish Free State and independence for 26 out of 32 Irish counties

During its first decade, the newly formed Irish Free State
Irish Free State
was governed by the victors of the civil war. When de Valera achieved power, he took advantage of the Statute of Westminster and political circumstances to build upon inroads to greater sovereignty made by the previous government. The oath was abolished and in 1937 a new constitution was adopted.[72] This completed a process of gradual separation from the British Empire
British Empire
that governments had pursued since independence. However, it was not until 1949 that the state was declared, officially, to be the Republic of Ireland. The state was neutral during World War II, but offered clandestine assistance to the Allies, particularly in the potential defence of Northern Ireland. Despite their country's neutrality, approximately 50,000[75] volunteers from independent Ireland
Ireland
joined the British forces during the war, four being awarded Victoria Crosses. The Abwehr
Abwehr
was also active in Ireland.[76] German intelligence operations effectively ended in September 1941 when police made arrests on the basis of surveillance carried out on the key diplomatic legations in Dublin, including that of the United States. To the authorities, counterintelligence was a fundamental line of defence. With a regular army of only slightly over seven thousand men at the start of the war, and with limited supplies of modern weapons, the state would have had great difficulty in defending itself from invasion from either side in the conflict.[76][77] Large-scale emigration marked most of the post-WWII period (particularly during the 1950s and 1980s), but beginning in 1987 the economy improved, and the 1990s saw the beginning of substantial economic growth. This period of growth became known as the Celtic Tiger.[78] The Republic's real GDP grew by an average of 9.6% per annum between 1995 and 1999,[79] in which year the Republic joined the euro. In 2000, it was the sixth-richest country in the world in terms of GDP per capita.[80] Social changes also occurred in this time, most markedly with the decline in authority of the Catholic Church. The financial crisis that began in 2008 dramatically ended this period of boom. GDP fell by 3% in 2008 and by 7.1% in 2009, the worst year since records began (although earnings by foreign-owned businesses continued to grow).[81] The state has since experienced deep recession, with unemployment, which doubled during 2009, remaining above 14% in 2012.[82] Northern Ireland Main articles: History of Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
and Economy of Northern Ireland Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
resulted from the division of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
by the Government of Ireland
Government of Ireland
Act 1920, and until 1972 was a self-governing jurisdiction within the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
with its own parliament and prime minister. Northern Ireland, as part of the United Kingdom, was not neutral during the Second World War and Belfast suffered four bombing raids in 1941. Conscription
Conscription
was not extended to Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
and roughly an equal number volunteered from Northern Ireland
Ireland
as volunteered from the south.

Edward Carson
Edward Carson
signing the Solemn League and Covenant in 1912, declaring opposition to Home Rule "using all means which may be found necessary"

Although Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
was largely spared the strife of the civil war, in decades that followed partition there were sporadic episodes of inter-communal violence. Nationalists, mainly Roman Catholic, wanted to unite Ireland
Ireland
as an independent republic, whereas unionists, mainly Protestant, wanted Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
to remain in the United Kingdom. The Protestant
Protestant
and Catholic communities in Northern Ireland voted largely along sectarian lines, meaning that the Government of Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
(elected by "first-past-the-post" from 1929) was controlled by the Ulster
Ulster
Unionist Party. Over time, the minority Catholic community felt increasingly alienated with further disaffection fuelled by practices such as gerrymandering and discrimination in housing and employment.[83][84][85] In the late 1960s, nationalist grievances were aired publicly in mass civil rights protests, which were often confronted by loyalist counter-protests.[86] The government's reaction to confrontations was seen to be one-sided and heavy-handed in favour of unionists. Law and order broke down as unrest and inter-communal violence increased.[87] The Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
government requested the British Army
British Army
to aid the police and protect the Irish Nationalist
Irish Nationalist
population. In 1969, the paramilitary Provisional IRA, which favoured the creation of a united Ireland, emerged from a split in the Irish Republican Army
Irish Republican Army
and began a campaign against what it called the "British occupation of the six counties". Other groups, on both the unionist side and the nationalist side, participated in violence and a period known as the Troubles began. Over 3,600 deaths resulted over the subsequent three decades of conflict.[88] Owing to the civil unrest during the Troubles, the British government
British government
suspended home rule in 1972 and imposed direct rule. There were several unsuccessful attempts to end the Troubles politically, such as the Sunningdale Agreement
Sunningdale Agreement
of 1973. In 1998, following a ceasefire by the Provisional IRA and multi-party talks, the Good Friday Agreement
Good Friday Agreement
was concluded as a treaty between the British and Irish governments, annexing the text agreed in the multi-party talks. The substance of the Agreement (formally referred to as the Belfast Agreement) was later endorsed by referendums in both parts of Ireland. The Agreement restored self-government to Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
on the basis of power-sharing in a regional Executive drawn from the major parties in a new Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Assembly, with entrenched protections for the two main communities. The Executive is jointly headed by a First Minister and deputy First Minister
First Minister and deputy First Minister
drawn from the unionist and nationalist parties. Violence had decreased greatly after the Provisional IRA and loyalist ceasefires in 1994 and in 2005 the Provisional IRA announced the end of its armed campaign and an independent commission supervised its disarmament and that of other nationalist and unionist paramilitary organisations.[89] The Assembly and power-sharing Executive were suspended several times but were restored again in 2007. In that year the British government officially ended its military support of the police in Northern Ireland
Ireland
(Operation Banner) and began withdrawing troops. On 27 June 2012, Northern Ireland's deputy first minister and former IRA commander, Martin McGuinness, shook hands with Queen Elizabeth II in Belfast, symbolising reconciliation between the two sides. Politics

Political map of Ireland, showing the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
and Northern Ireland

Main article: Politics of Ireland Politically, the island is divided between the Republic of Ireland, an independent state, and Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
(a constituent country of the United Kingdom). They share an open border and both are part of the Common Travel Area. Both the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
and the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
are members of the European Union, and as a consequence there is free movement of people, goods, services and capital across the border. Republic of Ireland Main article: Republic of Ireland

Áras an Uachtaráin, the official residence of the President of Ireland

The Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
is a parliamentary democracy based on the British model, with a written constitution and a popularly elected president who has mostly ceremonial powers. The government is headed by a prime minister, the Taoiseach, who is appointed by the President on the nomination of the lower house of parliament, the Dáil. Members of the government are chosen from both the Dáil and the upper house of parliament, the Seanad. Its capital is Dublin. The Republic today ranks amongst the wealthiest countries in the world in terms of GDP per capita[90] and in 2015 was ranked the sixth most developed nation in the world by the United Nations' Human Development Index.[91] A period of rapid economic expansion from 1995 onwards became known as the Celtic Tiger
Celtic Tiger
period, was brought to an end in 2008 with an unprecedented financial crisis and an economic depression in 2009. Northern Ireland Main article: Northern Ireland

Parliament Buildings, in Stormont Estate, seat of the Northern Ireland Assembly

Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
is a part of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
with a local executive and assembly which exercise devolved powers. The executive is jointly headed by the first and deputy-first minister, with the ministries being allocated in proportion with each party's representation in the assembly. Its capital is Belfast. Ultimately political power is held by the UK government, from which Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
has gone through intermittent periods of direct rule during which devolved powers have been suspended. Northern Ireland elects 18 of the UK House of Commons' 650 MPs. The Northern Ireland Secretary is a cabinet-level post in the British government. Along with England
England
and Wales
Wales
and Scotland, Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
forms one of the three separate legal jurisdictions of the UK, all of which share the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
as their court of final appeal. All-island institutions As part of the Good Friday Agreement, the British and Irish governments agreed on the creation of all-island institutions and areas of cooperation. The North/South Ministerial Council
North/South Ministerial Council
is an institution through which ministers from the Government of Ireland
Government of Ireland
and the Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Executive agree all-island policies. At least six of these policy areas must have an associated all-island "implementation bodies" and at least six others must be implemented separately in each jurisdiction. The implementation bodies are: Waterways Ireland, the Food Safety Promotion Board, InterTradeIreland, the Special
Special
European Union
European Union
Programmes Body, the North/South Language Body and the Foyle, Carlingford and Irish Lights Commission. The British–Irish Intergovernmental Conference provides for co-operation between the Government of Ireland
Government of Ireland
and the Government of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
on all matter of mutual interest, especially Northern Ireland. In light of the Republic's particular interest in the governance of Northern Ireland, "regular and frequent" meetings co-chaired by the ROI Minister for Foreign Affairs and the UK Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, dealing with non-devolved matters to do with Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
and non-devolved all-Ireland issues, are required to take place under the establishing treaty. The North/South Inter-Parliamentary Association is a joint parliamentary forum for the island of Ireland. It has no formal powers but operates as a forum for discussing matters of common concern between the respective legislatures. Economy Despite the two jurisdictions using two distinct currencies (the euro and pound sterling), a growing amount of commercial activity is carried out on an all- Ireland
Ireland
basis. This has been facilitated by the two jurisdictions' shared membership of the European Union, and there have been calls from members of the business community and policymakers for the creation of an "all- Ireland
Ireland
economy" to take advantage of economies of scale and boost competitiveness.[92] There are two multi-city regions on the island of Ireland:

Dublin- Belfast
Belfast
corridor - 3.3 m Cork-Limerick-Galway corridor
Cork-Limerick-Galway corridor
- 1 m

Below is a comparison of the Regional GDP on the island of Ireland.

Republic of Ireland: Border Midlands & West Republic of Ireland: Southern & Eastern United Kingdom: Northern Ireland

€30 bn[93] €142 bn ( Dublin
Dublin
€72.4bn)[93] €43.4 bn ( Belfast
Belfast
€20.9 bn)[94]

€23,700 per person[94] €39,900 per person[94] €21,000 per person[94]

Area Population Country City 2012 GDP € GDP per person € 2014 GDP € GDP per person €

Dublin
Dublin
Region 1,350,000 ROI Dublin €72.4 bn €57,200 €87.238 bn €68,208

South-West Region 670,000 ROI Cork €32.3 bn €48,500 €33.745 bn €50,544

Greater Belfast 720,000 NI Belfast €20.9 bn €33,550 €22.153 bn €34,850

West Region 454,000 ROI Galway €13.8 bn €31,500 €13.37 bn €29,881

Mid-West Region 383,000 ROI Limerick €11.4 bn €30,300 €12.116 bn €31,792

South-East Region 510,000 ROI Waterford €12.8 bn €25,600 €14.044 bn €28,094

Mid-East Region 558,000 ROI Bray €13.3 bn €24,700 €16.024 bn €30,033

Border Region 519,000 ROI Drogheda €10.7 bn €21,100 €10.452 bn €20,205

East of Northern Ireland 430,000 NI Ballymena €9.5 bn €20,300 €10.793 bn €24,100

Midlands Region 290,000 ROI Athlone €5.7 bn €20,100 €6.172 bn €21,753

West and South of Northern Ireland 400,000 NI Newry €8.4 bn €19,300 €5.849 bn €20,100

North of Northern Ireland 280,000 NI Derry €5.5 bn €18,400 €9.283 bn €22,000

Total 6.6 m

€216.7 bn

€241 bn

[95]

The BMW region of the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
(consisting of Connacht, Counties Laois, Offaly, Westmeath, Longford, Donegal, Monaghan, Cavan, Louth) The S&E region of the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
(consisting of Munster, Counties Dublin, Wicklow, Meath, Kildare, Kilkenny, Carlow, Wexford).

Tourism Main article: Tourist destinations in Ireland

Inisheer
Inisheer
(Inis Oírr), Aran Islands.

There are three World Heritage Sites on the island: the Brú na Bóinne, Skellig Michael
Skellig Michael
and the Giant's Causeway.[96] A number of other places are on the tentative list, for example the Burren, the Ceide Fields[97] and Mount Stewart.[98] Some of the most visited sites in Ireland
Ireland
include Bunratty Castle, the Rock of Cashel, the Cliffs of Moher, Holy Cross Abbey
Holy Cross Abbey
and Blarney Castle.[99] Historically important monastic sites include Glendalough and Clonmacnoise, which are maintained as national monuments in the Republic of Ireland.[100] Dublin
Dublin
is the most heavily touristed region[99] and home to several of the most popular attractions such as the Guinness Storehouse
Guinness Storehouse
and Book of Kells.[99] The west and south west, which includes the Lakes of Killarney and the Dingle peninsula
Dingle peninsula
in County Kerry
County Kerry
and Connemara
Connemara
and the Aran Islands
Aran Islands
in County Galway, are also popular tourist destinations.[99] Achill Island
Island
lies off the coast of County Mayo
County Mayo
and is Ireland's largest island. It is a popular tourist destination for surfing and contains 5 Blue Flag beaches and Croaghaun
Croaghaun
one of the worlds highest sea cliffs. Stately homes, built during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries in Palladian, Neoclassical and neo-Gothic styles, such as, Castle Ward, Castletown House, Bantry
Bantry
House, Glenveagh Castle
Glenveagh Castle
are also of interest to tourists. Some have been converted into hotels, such as Ashford Castle, Castle Leslie
Castle Leslie
and Dromoland Castle.

World Heritage Sites

Giant's Causeway, County Antrim

Skellig Michael, County Kerry

Newgrange, County Meath

Energy

Turf-cutting near Maam Cross
Maam Cross
by the road to Leenane, Co. Galway.

Ireland
Ireland
has an ancient industry based on peat (known locally as "turf") as a source of energy for home fires. A form of biomass energy, this source of heat is still widely used in rural areas. However, due to the ecological importance of peatlands in storing carbon and their rarity, the EU is attempting to protect this habitat by fining Ireland
Ireland
if they are dug up. In cities, heat is generally supplied by heating oil, although some urban suppliers distribute "sods of turf" as "smokeless fuel". An area in which the island operates as a single market is electricity.[101] For much of their existence electricity networks in the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
and Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
were entirely separate. Both networks were designed and constructed independently post partition. However, as a result of changes over recent years they are now connected with three interlinks[102] and also connected through Great Britain
Great Britain
to mainland Europe. The situation in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
is complicated by the issue of private companies not supplying Northern Ireland
Ireland
Electricity
Electricity
(NIE) with enough power. In the Republic of Ireland, the ESB has failed to modernise its power stations and the availability of power plants has recently averaged only 66%, one of the worst such rates in Western Europe. EirGrid
EirGrid
is building a HVDC transmission line between Ireland
Ireland
and Great Britain
Great Britain
with a capacity of 500 MW,[103] about 10% of Ireland's peak demand. As with electricity, the natural gas distribution network is also now all-island, with a pipeline linking Gormanston, County Meath, and Ballyclare, County Antrim.[104] Most of Ireland's gas comes through interconnectors between Twynholm
Twynholm
in Scotland
Scotland
and Ballylumford, County Antrim and Loughshinny, County Dublin. A decreasing supply is coming from the Kinsale gas field off the County Cork
County Cork
coast[105][106] and the Corrib Gas Field
Corrib Gas Field
off the coast of County Mayo
County Mayo
has yet to come on-line. The County Mayo
County Mayo
field is facing some localised opposition over a controversial decision to refine the gas onshore. The Republic has a strong commitment to renewable energy, and ranks as one of the top 10 markets for cleantech investment in the 2014 Global Green Economy Index.[107] Research and development in renewable energy such as wind power has increased since 2004. Large wind farms have been constructed in Cork, Donegal, Mayo and Antrim. The construction of wind farms has in some cases been delayed by opposition from local communities, some of whom consider the wind turbines to be unsightly. The Republic is hindered by an ageing network that was not designed to handle the varying availability of power that comes from wind farms. The ESB's Turlough Hill
Turlough Hill
facility is the only power-storage facility in the state.[108] Geography Main article: Geography
Geography
of Ireland

Physical features of Ireland

Ireland
Ireland
is located in the north-west of Europe, between latitudes 51° and 56° N, and longitudes 11° and 5° W. It is separated from Great Britain by the Irish Sea
Irish Sea
and the North Channel, which has a width of 23 kilometres (14 mi)[109] at its narrowest point. To the west is the northern Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
and to the south is the Celtic Sea, which lies between Ireland
Ireland
and Brittany, in France. Ireland
Ireland
has a total area of 84,421 km2 (32,595 sq mi),[1][2][110] of which the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
occupies 83 percent.[111] Ireland
Ireland
and Great Britain, together with many nearby smaller islands, are known collectively as the British Isles. As the term British Isles
British Isles
is controversial in relation to Ireland, the alternate term Britain and Ireland
Ireland
is often used as a neutral term for the islands. A ring of coastal mountains surround low plains at the centre of the island. The highest of these is Carrauntoohil
Carrauntoohil
(Irish: Corrán Tuathail) in County Kerry, which rises to 1,038 m (3,406 ft) above sea level.[112] The most arable land lies in the province of Leinster.[113] Western areas can be mountainous and rocky with green panoramic vistas. The River Shannon, the island's longest river at 386 km (240 mi) long, rises in County Cavan
County Cavan
in the north west and flows 113 kilometres (70 mi) to Limerick
Limerick
city in the mid west.[112][114] The island consists of varied geological provinces. In the west, around County Galway
County Galway
and County Donegal, is a medium to high grade metamorphic and igneous complex of Caledonide affinity, similar to the Scottish Highlands. Across southeast Ulster
Ulster
and extending southwest to Longford
Longford
and south to Navan
Navan
is a province of Ordovician and Silurian rocks, with similarities to the Southern Uplands
Southern Uplands
province of Scotland. Further south, along the County Wexford
Wexford
coastline, is an area of granite intrusives into more Ordovician and Silurian rocks, like that found in Wales.[115][116] In the southwest, around Bantry Bay
Bantry Bay
and the mountains of Macgillicuddy's Reeks, is an area of substantially deformed, but only lightly metamorphosed, Devonian-aged rocks.[117] This partial ring of "hard rock" geology is covered by a blanket of Carboniferous limestone over the centre of the country, giving rise to a comparatively fertile and lush landscape. The west-coast district of the Burren around Lisdoonvarna
Lisdoonvarna
has well-developed karst features.[118] Significant stratiform lead-zinc mineralisation is found in the limestones around Silvermines
Silvermines
and Tynagh. Hydrocarbon exploration
Hydrocarbon exploration
is ongoing following the first major find at the Kinsale Head gas field off Cork in the mid-1970s.[119][120] In 1999, economically significant finds of natural gas were made in the Corrib Gas Field
Corrib Gas Field
off the County Mayo
County Mayo
coast. This has increased activity off the west coast in parallel with the "West of Shetland" step-out development from the North Sea hydrocarbon province. The Helvick oil field, estimated to contain over 28 million barrels (4,500,000 m3) of oil, is another recent discovery.[121]

Landscapes

Dunluce Castle, County Antrim

Benbulbin, County Sligo

Connemara, County Galway

Glendalough, County Wicklow

Ardfert Cathedral, County Kerry

Glenbeg Lough, County Cork

Climate Main article: Climate of Ireland The island's lush vegetation, a product of its mild climate and frequent rainfall, earns it the sobriquet the Emerald Isle. Overall, Ireland
Ireland
has a mild but changeable oceanic climate with few extremes. The climate is typically insular and is temperate, avoiding the extremes in temperature of many other areas in the world at similar latitudes.[122] This is a result of the moderating moist winds which ordinarily prevail from the South-Western Atlantic. Precipitation falls throughout the year but is light overall, particularly in the east. The west tends to be wetter on average and prone to Atlantic storms, especially in the late autumn and winter months. These occasionally bring destructive winds and higher total rainfall to these areas, as well as sometimes snow and hail. The regions of north County Galway
County Galway
and east County Mayo
County Mayo
have the highest incidents of recorded lightning annually for the island, with lightning occurring approximately five to ten days per year in these areas.[123] Munster, in the south, records the least snow whereas Ulster, in the north, records the most. Inland areas are warmer in summer and colder in winter. Usually around 40 days of the year are below freezing 0 °C (32 °F) at inland weather stations, compared to 10 days at coastal stations. Ireland
Ireland
is sometimes affected by heat waves, most recently in 1995, 2003, 2006 and 2013. In common with the rest of Europe, Ireland experienced unusually cold weather during the winter of 2009/10. Temperatures fell as low as −17.2 °C (1 °F) in County Mayo on 20 December[124] and up to a metre (3 ft) of snow fell in mountainous areas.

Climate data for Ireland

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year

Record high °C (°F) 18.5 (65.3) 18.1 (64.6) 23.6 (74.5) 25.8 (78.4) 28.4 (83.1) 33.3 (91.9) 32.3 (90.1) 31.5 (88.7) 29.1 (84.4) 25.2 (77.4) 20.1 (68.2) 18.1 (64.6) 33.3 (91.9)

Record low °C (°F) −19.1 (−2.4) −17.8 (0) −17.2 (1) −7.7 (18.1) −5.6 (21.9) −3.3 (26.1) −0.3 (31.5) −2.7 (27.1) −3 (27) −8.3 (17.1) −11.5 (11.3) −17.5 (0.5) −19.1 (−2.4)

Source #1: Met Éireann[125]

Source #2: The Irish Times
Irish Times
(November record high)[126]

Flora and fauna Main articles: Fauna of Ireland, Flora of Ireland, and Trees of Britain and Ireland

Red deer
Red deer
(Cervus elaphus) in Killarney National Park

Two red foxes (Vulpes vulpes). Photo taken in Gubbeen, County Cork, Republic of Ireland.

Because Ireland
Ireland
became isolated from mainland Europe
Europe
by rising sea levels before the last ice age had completely finished, it has fewer land animal and plant species than Great Britain, which separated later, or mainland Europe. There are 55 mammal species in Ireland
Ireland
and of them only 26 land mammal species are considered native to Ireland.[8] Some species, such as, the red fox, hedgehog and badger, are very common, whereas others, like the Irish hare, red deer and pine marten are less so. Aquatic wildlife, such as species of sea turtle, shark, seal, whale, and dolphin, are common off the coast. About 400 species of birds have been recorded in Ireland. Many of these are migratory, including the barn swallow. Several different habitat types are found in Ireland, including farmland, open woodland, temperate broadleaf and mixed forests, conifer plantations, peat bogs and a variety of coastal habitats. However, agriculture drives current land use patterns in Ireland, limiting natural habitat preserves,[127] particularly for larger wild mammals with greater territorial needs. With no large apex predators in Ireland
Ireland
other than humans and dogs, such populations of animals as semi-wild deer that cannot be controlled by smaller predators, such as the fox, are controlled by annual culling. There are no snakes in Ireland
Ireland
and only one species of reptile (the common lizard) is native to the island. Extinct species include the Irish elk, the great auk and the wolf. Some previously extinct birds, such as the golden eagle, been reintroduced in about the year 2000 after decades of extirpation.[128] Until medieval times Ireland
Ireland
was heavily forested with oak, pine and birch. Forests today cover about 12.6% of Ireland,[7] of which 4,450 km² or one million acres is owned by Coillte, the Republic's forestry service.[129][verification needed] As of 2012, the Republic is one of the least forested countries in Europe.[130][131] Much of the land is now covered with pasture and there are many species of wild-flower. Gorse (Ulex europaeus), a wild furze, is commonly found growing in the uplands and ferns are plentiful in the more moist regions, especially in the western parts. It is home to hundreds of plant species, some of them unique to the island, and has been "invaded" by some grasses, such as Spartina anglica.[132]

Furze
Furze
(Ulex europaeus)

The algal and seaweed flora is that of the cold-temperate variety. The total number of species is 574[133] and is distributed as follows:

264 Rhodophyta
Rhodophyta
(red algae) 152 Phaeophyceae
Phaeophyceae
(brown algae including kelps) 114 Chloropyta (green algae) 31 Cyanophyta
Cyanophyta
(Blue-green algae)

Rarer species include:[133]

Itonoa marginifera (J.Agardh) Masuda & Guiry Schmitzia hiscockiana Maggs & Guiry Gelidiella calcicola Maggs & Guiry Gelidium maggsiae Rico & Guiry Halymenia latifolia P.L.Crouan & H.M.Crouan ex Kützing.

The island has been invaded by some algae, some of which are now well established. For example:[134]

Asparagopsis armara Harvey, which originated in Australia and was first recorded by M. De Valera in 1939 Colpomenia peregrina
Colpomenia peregrina
Sauvageau, which is now locally abundant and first recorded in the 1930s Sargassum
Sargassum
muticum (Yendo) Fensholt, now well established in a number of localities on the south, west, and north-east coasts Codium fragile
Codium fragile
ssp. fragile (formerly reported as ssp. tomentosum), now well established.

Codium fragile
Codium fragile
ssp. atlanticum has been established to be native, although for many years it was regarded as an alien species. Because of its mild climate, many species, including sub-tropical species such as palm trees, are grown in Ireland. Phytogeographically, Ireland
Ireland
belongs to the Atlantic European province of the Circumboreal Region within the Boreal Kingdom. The island itself can be subdivided into two ecoregions: the Celtic broadleaf forests and North Atlantic moist mixed forests. Impact of agriculture

Bantry, County Cork

The long history of agricultural production, coupled with modern intensive agricultural methods such as pesticide and fertiliser use and runoff from contaminants into streams, rivers and lakes, impact the natural fresh-water ecosystems and have placed pressure on biodiversity in Ireland.[135][136] A land of green fields for crop cultivation and cattle rearing limits the space available for the establishment of native wild species. Hedgerows, however, traditionally used for maintaining and demarcating land boundaries, act as a refuge for native wild flora. This ecosystem stretches across the countryside and acts as a network of connections to preserve remnants of the ecosystem that once covered the island. Subsidies under the Common Agricultural Policy, which supported agricultural practices that preserved hedgerow environments, are undergoing reforms. The Common Agricultural Policy
Common Agricultural Policy
had in the past subsidised potentially destructive agricultural practices, for example by emphasising production without placing limits on indiscriminate use of fertilisers and pesticides; but reforms have gradually decoupled subsidies from production levels and introduced environmental and other requirements.[137] Forest covers about 12.6% of the country, most of it designated for commercial production.[127] Forested areas typically consist of monoculture plantations of non-native species, which may result in habitats that are not suitable for supporting native species of invertebrates. Remnants of native forest can be found scattered around the island, in particular in the Killarney National Park. Natural areas require fencing to prevent over-grazing by deer and sheep that roam over uncultivated areas. Grazing in this manner is one of the main factors preventing the natural regeneration of forests across many regions of the country.[138] 32.2% of all of Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions are due to agriculture.[139] Demographics Main articles: Irish people, Demographics of the Republic of Ireland, and Demography of Northern Ireland

A Population density
Population density
map of Ireland
Ireland
2002 showing the heavily weighted eastern seaboard and Ulster

Proportion of respondents to the Ireland
Ireland
census 2011 or the Northern Ireland
Ireland
census 2011 who stated they were Catholic. Areas in which Catholics are in the majority are blue. Areas in which Catholics are in a minority are red.

People have lived in Ireland
Ireland
for over 9,000 years. The different eras are termed mesolithic, neolithic, Bronze Age, and Iron Age. Early historical and genealogical records note the existence of major groups such as the Cruthin, Corcu Loígde, Dál Riata, Dáirine, Deirgtine, Delbhna, Érainn, Laigin, Ulaid. Slightly later major groups included the Connachta, Ciannachta, Eóganachta. Smaller groups included the aithechthúatha (see Attacotti), Cálraighe, Cíarraige, Conmaicne, Dartraighe, Déisi, Éile, Fir Bolg, Fortuatha, Gailenga, Gamanraige, Mairtine, Múscraige, Partraige, Soghain, Uaithni, Uí Maine, Uí Liatháin. Many survived into late medieval times, others vanished as they became politically unimportant. Over the past 1200 years, Vikings, Normans, Welsh, Flemings, Scots, English, Africans, Eastern Europeans
Eastern Europeans
and South Americans
South Americans
have all added to the population and have had significant influences on Irish culture. Ireland's largest religious group is Christianity. The largest denomination is Roman Catholicism
Roman Catholicism
representing over 73% for the island (and about 87% of the Republic of Ireland). Most of the rest of the population adhere to one of the various Protestant
Protestant
denominations (about 48% of Northern Ireland).[140] The largest is the Anglican Church of Ireland. The Muslim community is growing in Ireland, mostly through increased immigration, with a 50% increase in the republic between the 2006 and 2011 census.[141] The island has a small Jewish community. About 4% of the Republic's population and about 14% of the Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
population[140] describe themselves as of no religion. In a 2010 survey conducted on behalf of the Irish Times, 32% of respondents said they went to a religious service more than once a week. The population of Ireland
Ireland
rose rapidly from the 16th century until the mid-19th century, interrupted briefly by the Famine of 1740-41, which killed roughly two fifths of the island's population. The population rebounded and multiplied over the next century, but another devastating famine in the 1840s caused one million deaths and forced over one million more to emigrate in its immediate wake. Over the following century the population was reduced by over half, at a time when the general trend in European countries was for populations to rise by an average of three-fold. Divisions and settlements Further information: Provinces of Ireland, Counties of Ireland, and City status in Ireland Traditionally, Ireland
Ireland
is subdivided into four provinces: Connacht (west), Leinster
Leinster
(east), Munster
Munster
(south), and Ulster
Ulster
(north). In a system that developed between the 13th and 17th centuries,[142] Ireland
Ireland
has 32 traditional counties. Twenty-six of these counties are in the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
and six are in Northern Ireland. The six counties that constitute Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
are all in the province of Ulster
Ulster
(which has nine counties in total). As such, Ulster
Ulster
is often used as a synonym for Northern Ireland, although the two are not coterminous. In the Republic of Ireland, counties form the basis of the system of local government. Counties Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway, Waterford and Tipperary have been broken up into smaller administrative areas. However, they are still treated as counties for cultural and some official purposes, for example postal addresses and by the Ordnance Survey Ireland. Counties in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
are no longer used for local governmental purposes,[143] but, as in the Republic, their traditional boundaries are still used for informal purposes such as sports leagues and in cultural or tourism contexts.[144] City status in Ireland
City status in Ireland
is decided by legislative or royal charter. Dublin, with over 1 million residents in the Greater Dublin
Dublin
Area, is the largest city on the island. Belfast, with 579,726 residents, is the largest city in Northern Ireland. City status does not directly equate with population size. For example, Armagh, with 14,590 is the seat of the Church of Ireland
Church of Ireland
and the Roman Catholic
Roman Catholic
Primate of All Ireland
Ireland
and was re-granted city status by Queen Elizabeth II in 1994 (having lost that status in local government reforms of 1840). In the Republic of Ireland, Kilkenny, seat of the Butler dynasty, while no longer a city for administrative purposes (since the 2001 Local Government Act), is entitled by law to continue to use the description.

Cities and towns by populations

Dublin

Cork

# Settlement Urban Area Population Metro population

Belfast

Derry

1 Dublin 1,173,179[145] 1,801,040 (Greater Dublin)

2 Belfast 333,000[146] 579,276[147] ( Belfast
Belfast
Metropolitan Area)

3 Cork 208,669[148] 300,0000 (Cork Metro)

4 Limerick 94,192[148]

5 Derry 93,512

6 Galway 79,934[148]

7 Lisburn 71,465[149]

8 Waterford 53,504[148]

9 Craigavon 57,651[146]

10 Drogheda 38,578

11 Dundalk 37,816

Migration

The population of Ireland
Ireland
since 1603 showing the consequence of the Great Famine (1845–52) (Note: figures before 1841 are contemporary estimates)

The population of Ireland
Ireland
collapsed dramatically during the second half of the 19th century. A population of over 8 million in 1841 was reduced to slightly more than 4 million by 1921. In part, the fall in population was due to death from the Great Famine of 1845 to 1852, which took about 1 million lives. However, by far the greater cause of population decline was the dire economic state of the country which led to an entrenched culture of emigration lasting until the 21st century. Emigration from Ireland
Ireland
in the 19th century contributed to the populations of England, the United States, Canada and Australia, where a large Irish diaspora
Irish diaspora
lives. As of 2006[update], 4.3 million Canadians, or 14% of the population, are of Irish descent.[150] As of 2013[update], a total of 34.5 million Americans claim Irish ancestry.[151] With growing prosperity since the last decade of the 20th century, Ireland
Ireland
became a destination for immigrants. Since the European Union expanded to include Poland
Poland
in 2004, Polish people
Polish people
have made up the largest number of immigrants (over 150,000)[152] from Central Europe. There has also been significant immigration from Lithuania, the Czech Republic and Latvia.[153] The Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
in particular has seen large-scale immigration, with 420,000 foreign nationals as of 2006, about 10% of the population.[154] A quarter of births (24 percent) in 2009 were to mothers born outside Ireland.[155] Chinese and Nigerians, along with people from other African countries, have accounted for a large proportion of the non– European Union
European Union
migrants to Ireland. Up to 50,000 eastern and central European migrant workers left Ireland
Ireland
in response to the Irish financial crisis.[156] Languages Main article: Languages of Ireland

Proportion of respondents who said they could speak Irish in the Ireland
Ireland
census in 2011 or the Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
census in 2011

The two official languages of the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
are Irish and English. Each language has produced a noteworthy literature. Irish, though now only the language of a minority, was the vernacular of the Irish people
Irish people
for over two thousand years and was possibly introduced during the Iron Age. It began to be written down after Christianisation in the 5th century and spread to Scotland
Scotland
and the Isle of Man
Isle of Man
where it evolved into the Scottish Gaelic
Scottish Gaelic
and Manx languages respectively. The Irish language
Irish language
has a vast treasury of written texts from many centuries, and is divided by linguists into Old Irish from the 6th to 10th century, Middle Irish from the 10th to 13th century, Early Modern Irish until the 17th century, and the Modern Irish spoken today. It remained the dominant language of Ireland
Ireland
for most of those periods, having influences from Latin, Old Norse, French and English. It declined under British rule but remained the majority tongue until the early 19th century, and since then has been a minority language. The Gaelic Revival
Gaelic Revival
of the early twentieth century has had a long-term influence. There is now an extensive network of urban Irish speakers (Gaeilgeoirí) in both the Republic and Northern Ireland, especially in Dublin
Dublin
and Belfast. They represent an expanding demographic, with their own schools (called Gaelscoileanna) and their own social media. It has been argued that they tend to be more highly educated than monolingual English speakers, with better employment prospects and higher social status.[157][158] Recent research suggests that urban Irish is developing in a direction of its own, both in pronunciation and grammar.[159] Irish is also taught in mainstream English-speaking schools as a compulsory subject, but has been criticised for its ineffectiveness.[160] Traditional rural Irish-speaking areas, known collectively as the Gaeltacht, are in linguistic decline. The main Gaeltacht
Gaeltacht
areas are in the west, south-west and north-west. They are to be found in Donegal, Mayo, Galway
Galway
and Kerry with smaller Gaeltacht
Gaeltacht
areas near Dungarvan
Dungarvan
in Waterford, Navan, in Meath.[161] English in Ireland
Ireland
was first introduced during the Norman invasion. It was spoken by a few peasants and merchants brought over from England, and was largely replaced by Irish before the Tudor conquest of Ireland. It was introduced as the official language with the Tudor and Cromwellian conquests. The Ulster
Ulster
plantations gave it a permanent foothold in Ulster, and it remained the official and upper-class language elsewhere, the Irish-speaking chieftains and nobility having been deposed. Language shift during the 19th century replaced Irish with English as the first language for a vast majority of the population.[162] Less than 10% of the population of the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
today speak Irish regularly outside of the education system[163] and 38% of those over 15 years are classified as "Irish speakers". In Northern Ireland, English is the de facto official language, but official recognition is afforded to Irish, including specific protective measures under Part III of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. A lesser status (including recognition under Part II of the Charter) is given to Ulster
Ulster
Scots dialects, which are spoken by roughly 2% of Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
residents, and also spoken by some in the Republic of Ireland.[164] Since the 1960s with the increase in immigration, many more languages have been introduced, particularly deriving from Asia and Eastern Europe. Shelta, the language of the nomadic Irish Travellers
Irish Travellers
is native to Ireland.[165] Culture Main articles: Culture of Ireland
Culture of Ireland
and Culture of Northern Ireland

Ardboe High Cross, County Tyrone

Ireland's culture comprises elements of the culture of ancient peoples, later immigrant and broadcast cultural influences (chiefly Gaelic culture, Anglicisation, Americanisation
Americanisation
and aspects of broader European culture). In broad terms, Ireland
Ireland
is regarded as one of the Celtic nations
Celtic nations
of Europe, alongside Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Isle of Man and Brittany. This combination of cultural influences is visible in the intricate designs termed Irish interlace or Celtic knotwork. These can be seen in the ornamentation of medieval religious and secular works. The style is still popular today in jewellery and graphic art,[166] as is the distinctive style of traditional Irish music and dance, and has become indicative of modern "Celtic" culture in general. Religion has played a significant role in the cultural life of the island since ancient times (and since the 17th century plantations, has been the focus of political identity and divisions on the island). Ireland's pre-Christian heritage fused with the Celtic Church following the missions of Saint Patrick
Saint Patrick
in the 5th century. The Hiberno-Scottish missions, begun by the Irish monk Saint Columba, spread the Irish vision of Christianity
Christianity
to pagan England
England
and the Frankish Empire. These missions brought written language to an illiterate population of Europe
Europe
during the Dark Ages that followed the fall of Rome, earning Ireland
Ireland
the sobriquet, "the island of saints and scholars". Since the 20th century the Irish pubs worldwide have become, especially those with a full range of cultural and gastronomic offerings, outposts of Irish culture. The Republic of Ireland's national theatre is the Abbey Theatre, which was founded in 1904, and the national Irish-language theatre is An Taibhdhearc, which was established in 1928 in Galway.[167][168] Playwrights such as Seán O'Casey, Brian Friel, Sebastian Barry, Conor McPherson and Billy Roche are internationally renowned.[169] Arts Main articles: Music of Ireland, Irish dance, Irish literature, Irish art, and Irish theatre

Illuminated page from Book of Kells

Literature Ireland
Ireland
has made a large contribution to world literature in all its branches, both in Irish and English. Poetry in Irish is among the oldest vernacular poetry in Europe, with the earliest examples dating from the 6th century. Irish remained the dominant literary language down to the nineteenth century, despite the spread of English from the seventeenth century on. Prominent names from the medieval period and later include Gofraidh Fionn Ó Dálaigh (fourteenth century), Dáibhí Ó Bruadair (seventeenth century) and Aogán Ó Rathaille (eighteenth century). Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill (c. 1743 – c. 1800) was an outstanding poet in the oral tradition. The latter part of the nineteenth century saw a rapid replacement of Irish by English. By 1900, however, cultural nationalists had begun the Gaelic revival, which saw the beginnings of a modern literature in Irish. This was to produce a number of notable writers, including Máirtín Ó Cadhain, Máire Mhac an tSaoi and others. Irish-language publishers such as Coiscéim
Coiscéim
and Cló Iar-Chonnacht
Cló Iar-Chonnacht
continue to produce scores of titles every year. In English, Jonathan Swift
Jonathan Swift
(30 November 1667 – 19 October 1745), often called the foremost satirist in the English language, gained fame for works such as Gulliver's Travels
Gulliver's Travels
and A Modest Proposal. Other notable eighteenth century writers of Irish origin included Oliver Goldsmith and Richard Brinsley Sheridan, though they spent most of their lives in England. The Anglo-Irish novel came to the fore in the nineteenth century, featuring such writers as Charles Kickham, William Carleton, and (in collaboration) Edith Somerville
Edith Somerville
and Violet Florence Martin. The playwright and poet Oscar Wilde, noted for his epigrams, was born in Ireland. In the 20th century, Ireland
Ireland
produced four winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature: George Bernard Shaw, William Butler Yeats, Samuel Beckett and Seamus Heaney. Although not a Nobel Prize
Nobel Prize
winner, James Joyce is widely considered to be one of the most significant writers of the 20th century. Joyce's 1922 novel Ulysses is considered one of the most important works of Modernist literature
Modernist literature
and his life is celebrated annually on 16 June in Dublin
Dublin
as "Bloomsday".[170] A comparable writer in Irish is Máirtín Ó Cadhain, whose novel Cré na Cille is regarded as a modernist masterpiece and has been translated into several languages. Modern Irish literature
Irish literature
is often connected with its rural heritage[171] through English-language writers such as John McGahern and Seamus Heaney
Seamus Heaney
and Irish-language writers such as Máirtín Ó Direáin and others from the Gaeltacht.

James Joyce
James Joyce
one of the most significant writers of the 20th century

Music Music has been in evidence in Ireland
Ireland
since prehistoric times.[172] Although in the early Middle Ages
Middle Ages
the church was "quite unlike its counterpart in continental Europe",[173] there was considerable interchange between monastic settlements in Ireland
Ireland
and the rest of Europe
Europe
that contributed to what is known as Gregorian chant. Outside religious establishments, musical genres in early Gaelic Ireland
Gaelic Ireland
are referred to as a triad of weeping music (goltraige), laughing music (geantraige) and sleeping music (suantraige).[174] Vocal and instrumental music (e.g. for the harp, pipes, and various string instruments) was transmitted orally, but the Irish harp, in particular, was of such significance that it became Ireland's national symbol. Classical music following European models first developed in urban areas, in establishments of Anglo-Irish rule such as Dublin Castle, St Patrick's Cathedral and Christ Church as well as the country houses of the Anglo-Irish ascendancy, with the first performance of Handel's Messiah (1742) being among the highlights of the baroque era. In the 19th century, public concerts provided access to classical music to all classes of society. Yet, for political and financial reasons Ireland
Ireland
has been too small to provide a living to many musicians, so the names of the better-known Irish composers of this time belong to emigrants. Irish traditional music and dance has seen a surge in popularity and global coverage since the 1960s. In the middle years of the 20th century, as Irish society was modernising, traditional music had fallen out of favour, especially in urban areas.[175] However during the 1960s, there was a revival of interest in Irish traditional music led by groups such as The Dubliners, The Chieftains, The Wolfe Tones, the Clancy Brothers, Sweeney's Men and individuals like Seán Ó Riada and Christy Moore. Groups and musicians including Horslips, Van Morrison and Thin Lizzy
Thin Lizzy
incorporated elements of Irish traditional music into contemporary rock music and, during the 1970s and 1980s, the distinction between traditional and rock musicians became blurred, with many individuals regularly crossing over between these styles of playing. This trend can be seen more recently in the work of artists like Enya, The Saw Doctors, The Corrs, Sinéad O'Connor, Clannad, The Cranberries and The Pogues
The Pogues
among others. Art The earliest known Irish graphic art and sculpture are Neolithic carvings found at sites such as Newgrange[176] and is traced through Bronze age
Bronze age
artefacts and the religious carvings and illuminated manuscripts of the medieval period. During the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, a strong tradition of painting emerged, including such figures as John Butler Yeats, William Orpen, Jack Yeats
Jack Yeats
and Louis le Brocquy. Contemporary Irish visual artists of note include Sean Scully, Kevin Abosch, and Alice Maher. Science

Robert Boyle
Robert Boyle
formulated Boyle's Law.

The Irish philosopher and theologian Johannes Scotus Eriugena
Johannes Scotus Eriugena
was considered one of the leading intellectuals of the early Middle Ages. Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton, an Irish explorer, was one of the principal figures of Antarctic exploration. He, along with his expedition, made the first ascent of Mount Erebus
Mount Erebus
and the discovery of the approximate location of the South Magnetic Pole. Robert Boyle
Robert Boyle
was a 17th-century natural philosopher, chemist, physicist, inventor and early gentleman scientist. He is largely regarded one of the founders of modern chemistry and is best known for the formulation of Boyle's law.[177] 19th century physicist, John Tyndall, discovered the Tyndall effect. Father Nicholas Joseph Callan, Professor of Natural Philosophy in Maynooth College, is best known for his invention of the induction coil, transformer and he discovered an early method of galvanisation in the 19th century. Other notable Irish physicists include Ernest Walton, winner of the 1951 Nobel Prize
Nobel Prize
in Physics. With Sir John Douglas Cockcroft, he was the first to split the nucleus of the atom by artificial means and made contributions to the development of a new theory of wave equation.[178] William Thomson, or Lord Kelvin, is the person whom the absolute temperature unit, the kelvin, is named after. Sir Joseph Larmor, a physicist and mathematician, made innovations in the understanding of electricity, dynamics, thermodynamics and the electron theory of matter. His most influential work was Aether and Matter, a book on theoretical physics published in 1900.[179] George Johnstone Stoney
George Johnstone Stoney
introduced the term electron in 1891. John Stewart Bell was the originator of Bell's Theorem
Bell's Theorem
and a paper concerning the discovery of the Bell-Jackiw-Adler anomaly and was nominated for a Nobel prize.[180] The astronomer Jocelyn Bell Burnell, from Lurgan, County Armagh, discovered pulsars in 1967. Notable mathematicians include Sir William Rowan Hamilton, famous for work in classical mechanics and the invention of quaternions. Francis Ysidro Edgeworth's contribution of the Edgeworth Box
Edgeworth Box
remains influential in neo-classical microeconomic theory to this day; while Richard Cantillon inspired Adam Smith, among others. John B. Cosgrave was a specialist in number theory and discovered a 2000-digit prime number in 1999 and a record composite Fermat number
Fermat number
in 2003. John Lighton Synge made progress in different fields of science, including mechanics and geometrical methods in general relativity. He had mathematician John Nash as one of his students. Kathleen Lonsdale, born in Ireland
Ireland
and most known for her work with crystallography, became the first female president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science.[181] Ireland
Ireland
has nine universities, seven in the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
and two in Northern Ireland, including Trinity College, Dublin
Dublin
and the University College Dublin, as well as numerous third-level colleges and institutes and a branch of the Open University, the Open University in Ireland. Sports Main article: Sport in Ireland See also: List of Irish sports people Gaelic football
Gaelic football
is the most popular sport in Ireland
Ireland
in terms of match attendance and community involvement, with about 2,600 clubs on the island. In 2003 it represented 34% of total sports attendances at events in Ireland
Ireland
and abroad, followed by hurling at 23%, soccer at 16% and rugby at 8%.[182] The All-Ireland
All-Ireland
Football Final is the most watched event in the sporting calendar.[183] Soccer is the most widely played team game on the island, and the most popular in Northern Ireland.[182][184] Other sporting activities with the highest levels of playing participation include swimming, golf, aerobics, cycling, and billiards/snooker.[185] Many other sports are also played and followed, including boxing, cricket, fishing, greyhound racing, handball, hockey, horse racing, motor sport, show jumping and tennis. The island fields a single international team in most sports. One notable exception to this is association football, although both associations continued to field international teams under the name "Ireland" until the 1950s. The sport is also the most notable exception where the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
and Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
field separate international teams. Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
has produced two World Snooker Champions. Field sports

Tyrone v Kerry in the 2005 All-Ireland
All-Ireland
Senior Football Championship Final

Gaelic football, hurling and handball are the best-known of the Irish traditional sports, collectively known as Gaelic games. Gaelic games are governed by the Gaelic Athletic Association
Gaelic Athletic Association
(GAA), with the exception of ladies' Gaelic football
Gaelic football
and camogie (women's variant of hurling), which are governed by separate organisations. The headquarters of the GAA (and the main stadium) is located at the 82,500[186] capacity Croke Park
Croke Park
in north Dublin. Many major GAA games are played there, including the semi-finals and finals of the All-Ireland
All-Ireland
Senior Football Championship and All-Ireland
All-Ireland
Senior Hurling
Hurling
Championship. During the redevelopment of the Lansdowne Road stadium in 2007–10, international rugby and soccer were played there.[187] All GAA players, even at the highest level, are amateurs, receiving no wages, although they are permitted to receive a limited amount of sport-related income from commercial sponsorship. The Irish Football Association
Irish Football Association
(IFA) was originally the governing body for soccer across the island. The game has been played in an organised fashion in Ireland
Ireland
since the 1870s, with Cliftonville F.C.
Cliftonville F.C.
in Belfast being Ireland's oldest club. It was most popular, especially in its first decades, around Belfast
Belfast
and in Ulster. However, some clubs based outside Belfast
Belfast
thought that the IFA largely favoured Ulster-based clubs in such matters as selection for the national team. In 1921, following an incident in which, despite an earlier promise, the IFA moved an Irish Cup
Irish Cup
semi-final replay from Dublin
Dublin
to Belfast,[188] Dublin-based clubs broke away to form the Football Association of the Irish Free State. Today the southern association is known as the Football Association of Ireland
Football Association of Ireland
(FAI). Despite being initially blacklisted by the Home Nations' associations, the FAI was recognised by FIFA
FIFA
in 1923 and organised its first international fixture in 1926 (against Italy). However, both the IFA and FAI continued to select their teams from the whole of Ireland, with some players earning international caps for matches with both teams. Both also referred to their respective teams as Ireland.

Paul O'Connell
Paul O'Connell
reaching for the ball during a line out against Argentina in 2007.

In 1950, FIFA
FIFA
directed the associations only to select players from within their respective territories and, in 1953, directed that the FAI's team be known only as "Republic of Ireland" and that the IFA's team be known as "Northern Ireland" (with certain exceptions). Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
qualified for the World Cup finals in 1958 (reaching the quarter-finals), 1982 and 1986 and the European Championship in 2016. The Republic qualified for the World Cup finals in 1990 (reaching the quarter-finals), 1994, 2002 and the European Championships in 1988, 2012 and 2016. Across Ireland, there is significant interest in the English and, to a lesser extent, Scottish soccer leagues. Unlike soccer, Ireland
Ireland
continues to field a single national rugby team and a single association, the Irish Rugby Football Union
Irish Rugby Football Union
(IRFU), governs the sport across the island. The Irish rugby team have played in every Rugby World Cup, making the quarter-finals in six of them. Ireland
Ireland
also hosted games during the 1991 and the 1999 Rugby World Cups (including a quarter-final). There are four professional Irish teams; all four play in the Pro14
Pro14
and at least three compete for the Heineken Cup. Irish rugby has become increasingly competitive at both the international and provincial levels since the sport went professional in 1994. During that time, Ulster
Ulster
(1999),[189] Munster (2006[190] and 2008)[189] and Leinster
Leinster
(2009, 2011 and 2012)[189] have won the Heineken Cup. In addition to this, the Irish International side has had increased success in the Six Nations Championship
Six Nations Championship
against the other European elite sides. This success, including Triple Crowns in 2004, 2006 and 2007, culminated with a clean sweep of victories, known as a Grand Slam, in 2009 and 2018.[191] Other sports

Horse racing
Horse racing
in Sligo

Horse racing
Horse racing
and greyhound racing are both popular in Ireland. There are frequent horse race meetings and greyhound stadiums are well-attended. The island is noted for the breeding and training of race horses and is also a large exporter of racing dogs.[192] The horse racing sector is largely concentrated in the County Kildare.[193] Irish athletics has seen a heightened success rate since the year 2000, with Sonia O'Sullivan
Sonia O'Sullivan
winning two medals at 5,000 metres on the track; gold at the 1995 World Championships and silver at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Gillian O'Sullivan won silver in the 20k walk at the 2003 World Championships, while sprint hurdler Derval O'Rourke
Derval O'Rourke
won gold at the 2006 World Indoor Championship in Moscow. Olive Loughnane won a silver medal in the 20k walk in the World Athletics Championships in Berlin in 2009. Ireland
Ireland
has won more medals in boxing than in any other Olympic sport. Boxing
Boxing
is governed by the Irish Athletic Boxing
Boxing
Association. Michael Carruth won a gold medal and Wayne McCullough
Wayne McCullough
won a silver medal in the Barcelona Olympic Games. In 2008 Kenneth Egan won a silver medal in the Beijing Games.[194] Paddy Barnes
Paddy Barnes
secured bronze in those games and gold in the 2010 European Amateur Boxing
Boxing
Championships (where Ireland
Ireland
came 2nd in the overall medal table) and 2010 Commonwealth Games. Katie Taylor
Katie Taylor
has won gold in every European and World championship since 2005. In August 2012 at the Olympic Games in London Katie Taylor
Katie Taylor
created history by becoming the first Irish woman to win a gold medal in boxing in the 60 kg lightweight.[195] Golf
Golf
is very popular, and golf tourism is a major industry attracting more than 240,000 golfing visitors annually.[196] The 2006 Ryder Cup was held at The K Club in County Kildare.[197] Pádraig Harrington became the first Irishman since Fred Daly in 1947 to win the British Open at Carnoustie
Carnoustie
in July 2007.[198] He successfully defended his title in July 2008[199] before going on to win the PGA Championship
PGA Championship
in August.[200] Harrington became the first European to win the PGA Championship in 78 years and was the first winner from Ireland. Three golfers from Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
have been particularly successful. In 2010, Graeme McDowell
Graeme McDowell
became the first Irish golfer to win the U.S. Open, and the first European to win that tournament since 1970. Rory McIlroy, at the age of 22, won the 2011 U.S. Open, while Darren Clarke's latest victory was the 2011 Open Championship
2011 Open Championship
at Royal St. George's. In August 2012, McIlroy won his 2nd major championship by winning the US PGA Championship
PGA Championship
by a record margin of 8 shots. Recreation The west coast of Ireland, Lahinch
Lahinch
and Donegal Bay
Donegal Bay
in particular, have popular surfing beaches, being fully exposed to the Atlantic Ocean. Donegal Bay
Donegal Bay
is shaped like a funnel and catches west/south-west Atlantic winds, creating good surf, especially in winter. Since just before the year 2010, Bundoran
Bundoran
has hosted European championship surfing. Scuba diving
Scuba diving
is increasingly popular in Ireland
Ireland
with clear waters and large populations of sea life, particularly along the western seaboard. There are also many shipwrecks along the coast of Ireland, with some of the best wreck dives being in Malin Head
Malin Head
and off the County Cork
County Cork
coast.[201] With thousands of lakes, over 14,000 kilometres (8,700 mi) of fish bearing rivers and over 3,700 kilometres (2,300 mi) of coastline, Ireland
Ireland
is a popular angling destination. The temperate Irish climate is suited to sport angling. While salmon and trout fishing remain popular with anglers, salmon fishing in particular received a boost in 2006 with the closing of the salmon driftnet fishery. Coarse fishing
Coarse fishing
continues to increase its profile. Sea angling is developed with many beaches mapped and signposted,[202] and the range of sea angling species is around 80.[203] Food and drink Main article: Irish cuisine

Gubbeen cheese, an example of the resurgence in Irish cheese making

Food and cuisine in Ireland
Ireland
takes its influence from the crops grown and animals farmed in the island's temperate climate and from the social and political circumstances of Irish history. For example, whilst from the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
until the arrival of the potato in the 16th century the dominant feature of the Irish economy was the herding of cattle, the number of cattle a person owned was equated to their social standing.[204] Thus herders would avoid slaughtering a milk-producing cow.[204] For this reason, pork and white meat were more common than beef and thick fatty strips of salted bacon (known as rashers) and the eating of salted butter (i.e. a dairy product rather than beef itself) have been a central feature of the diet in Ireland
Ireland
since the Middle Ages.[204] The practice of bleeding cattle and mixing the blood with milk and butter (not unlike the practice of the Maasai) was common[205] and black pudding, made from blood, grain (usually barley) and seasoning, remains a breakfast staple in Ireland. All of these influences can be seen today in the phenomenon of the "breakfast roll". The introduction of the potato in the second half of the 16th century heavily influenced cuisine thereafter. Great poverty encouraged a subsistence approach to food and by the mid-19th century the vast majority of the population sufficed with a diet of potatoes and milk.[206] A typical family, consisting of a man, a woman and four children, would eat 18 stone (110 kg) of potatoes a week.[204] Consequently, dishes that are considered as national dishes represent a fundamental unsophistication to cooking, such as the Irish stew, bacon and cabbage, boxty, a type of potato pancake, or colcannon, a dish of mashed potatoes and kale or cabbage.[204] Since the last quarter of the 20th century, with a re-emergence of wealth in Ireland, a "New Irish Cuisine" based on traditional ingredients incorporating international influences[207] has emerged.[208] This cuisine is based on fresh vegetables, fish (especially salmon, trout, oysters, mussels and other shellfish), as well as traditional soda breads and the wide range of hand-made cheeses that are now being produced across the country. An example of this new cuisine is " Dublin
Dublin
Lawyer": lobster cooked in whiskey and cream.[209] The potato remains however a fundamental feature of this cuisine and the Irish remain the highest per capita[204] consumers of potatoes in Europe. Traditional regional foods can be found throughout the country, for example coddle in Dublin
Dublin
or drisheen in Cork, both a type of sausage, or blaa, a doughy white bread particular to Waterford.

The Old Bushmills Distillery
Old Bushmills Distillery
in County Antrim

Ireland
Ireland
once dominated the world's market for whiskey, producing 90% of the world's whiskey at the start of the 20th century. However, as a consequence of bootleggers during the prohibition in the United States (who sold poor-quality whiskey bearing Irish-sounding names thus eroding the pre-prohibition popularity for Irish brands)[210] and tariffs on Irish whiskey
Irish whiskey
across the British Empire
British Empire
during the Anglo-Irish Trade War
Anglo-Irish Trade War
of the 1930s,[211] sales of Irish whiskey worldwide fell to a mere 2% by the mid-20th century.[212] In 1953, an Irish government survey, found that 50 per cent of whiskey drinkers in the United States had never heard of Irish whiskey.[213] Irish whiskey, as researched in 2009 by the CNBC American broadcaster, remains popular domestically and has grown in international sales steadily over a few decades.[214] Typically CNBC states Irish whiskey is not as smoky as a Scotch whisky, but not as sweet as American or Canadian whiskies.[214] Whiskey
Whiskey
forms the basis of traditional cream liqueurs, such as Baileys, and the "Irish coffee" (a cocktail of coffee and whiskey reputedly invented at Foynes
Foynes
flying-boat station) is probably the best-known Irish cocktail. Stout, a kind of porter beer, particularly Guinness, is typically associated with Ireland, although historically it was more closely associated with London. Porter remains very popular, although it has lost sales since the mid-20th century to lager. Cider, particularly Magners
Magners
(marketed in the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
as Bulmers), is also a popular drink. Red lemonade, a soft-drink, is consumed on its own and as a mixer, particularly with whiskey.[215] See also

Islands portal Europe
Europe
portal Ireland
Ireland
portal

Irish states since 1171 List of divided islands List of Ireland-related topics List of islands of Ireland List of Irish people

Notes

^ Numbers vary, from a low of 12,000.[54] Giovanni Battista Rinuccini wrote 50,000,[55] T. N. Burke said 80,000 to 100,000.[55]

References

^ a b Nolan, William. " Geography
Geography
of Ireland". Government of Ireland. Archived from the original on 24 November 2009. Retrieved 11 November 2009.  ^ a b Royle, Stephen A. (1 December 2012). "Beyond the boundaries in the island of Ireland". Journal of Marine and Island
Island
Cultures: 91–98. doi:10.1016/j.imic.2012.11.005. Retrieved 28 June 2017.  ^ a b The 2016 population of the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
was 4,761,865 and that of Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
in 2011 was 1,810,863. These are Census data from the official governmental statistics agencies in the respective jurisdictions:

Central Statistics Office, Ireland
Ireland
(April 2017). "Census 2016 Summary Results - Part 1" (PDF). Dublin: Central Statistics Office, Ireland. Retrieved 31 December 2017.  Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Statistics and Research Agency (2012). "2011 Census". Belfast: Department of Finance. Retrieved 31 December 2017. 

^ "This is Ireland: Highlights from Census 2011 Part 1". Central Statistics Office. March 2012. p. 94. Retrieved 28 May 2014.  ^ "Census 2011, Key Statistics for Northern Ireland" (PDF). Department of Finance and Personnel's Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
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in Ireland". Central and Regional Fisheries Boards. Retrieved 26 March 2010.  ^ a b c d e f Davidson, Alan; Jaine, Tom (2006). The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford University Press. pp. 407–408. ISBN 0-19-280681-5.  ^ Salaman, Redcliffe Nathan; Burton, William Glynn; Hawkes, John Gregory (1985). "The History and Social Influence of the Potato". Cambridge University Press: 218–219.  ^ Garrow, John (March 2002). "Feast and Famine: a History of Food and Nutrition in Ireland
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for Dummies. Hoboken: Wiley Publishing. p. 34. ISBN 0-470-10572-0.  ^ Davenport, Fionn (2008). Ireland. London: Lonely Planet. p. 65. ISBN 1-74104-696-3.  ^ Davenport, Fionn; Smith, Jonathan (2006). Dublin. London: Lonely Planet. p. 15. ISBN 1-74104-710-2.  ^ McCormack, W. J. (2001). The Blackwell Companion to Modern Irish Culture. Oxford: Blackwell. p. 170. ISBN 0-631-16525-8.  ^ Leavy, Brian; Wilson, David (1994). "Strategy and Leadership". London: Routledge: 63.  ^ O'Clery, Conor (25 February 2009). " Whiskey
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Resists the Downturn". GlobalPost. Public Radio International (PRI). Archived from the original on 3 January 2016. Retrieved 5 April 2010.  ^ Blocker, Jack; Fahey, David; Tyrrell, Ian (2003). Alcohol
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Bibliography

Arnold, Bruce (1977). Irish Art: A Concise History. London: Thames & Hudson. p. 180. ISBN 0-500-20148-X.  Becker, Annette; Wang, Wilfried (1997). 20th-century Architecture: Ireland. Munich: Prestel. p. 198. ISBN 3-7913-1719-9.  Collins, Neil; Cradden, Terry (2001). Irish Politics Today. Manchester University Press. p. 163. ISBN 0-7190-6174-1.  Cullinane, J.P. (1973). Phycology of the south coast of Ireland. University College Cork.  Dennison, Gabriel; Ni Fhloinn, Baibre (1994). Traditional Architecture in Ireland. Dublin: Environmental Institute, University College Dublin. p. 94. ISBN 1-898473-09-9.  Dooney, Sean; O'Toole, John (1992). Irish Government Today. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan. p. 247. ISBN 0-7171-1703-0.  Ellis, Steven G. (1921). The Story of the Irish Race: A Popular History of Ireland. Ireland: The Irish Publishing Co. p. 768. ISBN 0-517-06408-1.  Fairley, J.S. (1975). An Irish Beast Book. A Natural History of Ireland's Furred Wildlife. Blackstaff Press, Belfast. ISBN 0-85640-090-4.  Foster, Robert Fitzroy (1988). Modern Ireland, 1600–1972. Penguin Books. p. 688. ISBN 0-7139-9010-4.  Hackney, P. Ed. (1992). Stewart and Corry's Flora of the North-east of Ireland. Belfast: Institute of Irish Studies, The Queen's University. ISBN 0-85389-446-9.  Haigh, A.; Lawton, C. (2007). "Wild mammals of an Irish urban forest". The Irish Naturalists' Journal. Belfast: I.N.J. Committee. 28 (10): 395–403. ISSN 0021-1311.  Hardy, F. G.; Guiry, M. D. (2006). A Check-list and Atlas of the Seaweeds of Britain and Ireland
Ireland
(revised ed.). London: British Phycological Society. pp. x, 435. ISBN 3-906166-35-X.  Herm, Gerhard (2002). The Celts. Ireland: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-31343-8.  Knowles, M.C. (1929). "The Lichens of Ireland". Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. 38: 179–434.  Morton, O. (1994). Marine Algae
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of Northern Ireland. Ulster
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Museum. ISBN 0-900761-28-8.  Morton, O. (2003). "The marine algae macroalgae of County Donegal, Ireland". Bulletin Irish biogeog. Society. 27: 3–164.  Nunn, J.D. (2002). Marine Biodiversity in Ireland
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and Adjacent Waters. Proceedings of a Conference 26–27 April 2001. Belfast: Ulster Museum.  O'Croinin, Daibhi (2005). Prehistoric and Early Ireland. Oxford University Press. p. 1219. ISBN 0-19-821737-4.  Ó Gráda, Cormac (1997). A Rocky Road: The Irish Economy Since the 1920s. Manchester University Press. p. 246. ISBN 0-7190-4584-3.  Oppenheimer, Stephen (2006). Origins of the British: A Genetic Detective Story. New York: Carroll & Graf. p. 534. ISBN 0-7867-1890-0.  O'Rahilly, T. F. (1947). Early Irish History and Mythology. Medieval Academy of America.  Scannell, Mary J. P.; Synnott, Donal M. (1972). Census catalogue of the flora of Ireland. Dublin: Department of Agriculture & Fisheries.  Seaward, M. R. D. (1984). "Census Catalogue of Irish Lichens". Glasra. 8: 1–32.  Woodcock, N. H.; Strachan, Robin A. (2000). Geological History of Britain and Ireland. Hoboken: Blackwell Publishing. p. 423. ISBN 0-632-03656-7.  Wallis, Geoff; Wilson, Sue (2001). The Rough Guide to Irish Music. Rough Guides. p. 599. ISBN 1-85828-642-5. 

External links

Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Republic of Ireland.

Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Northern Ireland.

Wikiquote has quotations related to: Ireland

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ireland.

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