Ireland is an island lying to the west of Britain and it is separated from Britain by the Irish Sea. The island is divided into two national jurisdictions: The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The official name of the Republic is Poblacht Na h’Éireann, or short Éire.
The capital of the Republic is Dublin, Northern Ireland has Belfast.
The island’s area is 84,421 sq km. Ireland is divided into 32 counties (The Republic of Ireland consists of 26 counties, Northern Ireland of 6).
Ireland’s population is approximately 5½ million, about 4 in the Republic and about 1½ in the North. Ireland’s population is still less than it was before the famine, when it was around 8½ million. Over a million people died and more than a million had left by 1851. The population only began to grow again in the 1960s, so now over 50% of the people are under 28 and the population of Ireland is relatively young. In 1996 23.9% was less than 15 years old, the highest percentage in any EU country (1988 EU average = 18.6%). Only 11.5% of Ireland’s population was more than 65 years old (1988 EU average = 14.1%).
Dublin’s population is over 1 million but the Greater Dublin area contains at least 1½ million.
The density of population is 55 per square kilometre.
The economy of Ireland is modern and trade-dependent with growth averaging a robust 10% in 1995–2000. Agriculture, once the most important sector, is now dwarfed by industry, which accounts for 46% of GDP, about 80% of exports, and employs 29% of the labour force. Although exports remain the primary engine for Ireland’s robust growth, the economy is also benefiting from a rise in consumer spending and recovery in both construction and business investment. The annual rate of inflation stands at 5.1% as of 2007, up from recent rates of between 3% and 4%. On the EU HICP inflation index, inflation is 2.7%, against an EU average of 1.8%. House price inflation has been a particular economic concern (average house price was €251,281 in February 2005). Unemployment is low but is rising and up to 30,000 jobs may be lost between 2007 and 2008 much of which is attributed to a slowdown in house building. Incomes have been rising rapidly as well as service charges - utilities, insurance, healthcare, legal representation, etc. Dublin ranked 16th in a worldwide cost of living survey in 2006 (up from 22nd in 2004 and 24th in 2003).
Ireland has the second highest per capita income of any country in the EU next to Luxembourg and fourth highest in the world based on measurements of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita. The Gross National Income is $41,140, the seventh highest in the world. The unusually large divergence between GDP and GNI is due to the repatriation of profits by multinational companies.
In the Stone and Bronze Ages, Ireland was inhabited by Picts in the north and a people called the Erainn in the south, the same stock, apparently, as in all the isles before the Anglo-Saxon invasion of Britain. About the 4th century B.C., tall, red-haired Celts arrived from Gaul or Galicia. They subdued and assimilated the inhabitants and established a Gaelic civilization. By the beginning of the Christian era, Ireland was divided into five kingdoms—Ulster, Connacht, Leinster, Meath, and Munster. Saint Patrick introduced Christianity in 432, and the country developed into a centre of Gaelic and Latin learning. Irish monasteries, the equivalent of universities, attracted intellectuals as well as the pious and sent out missionaries to many parts of Europe and, some believe, to North America.
Norse depredations along the coasts, starting in 795, ended in 1014 with Norse defeat at the Battle of Clontarf by forces under Brian Boru. In the 12th century, the pope gave all of Ireland to the English Crown as a papal fief. In 1171, Henry II of England was acknowledged "Lord of Ireland," but local sectional rule continued for centuries, and English control over the whole island was not reasonably absolute until the 17th century. In the Battle of the Boyne (1690), the Catholic King James II and his French supporters were defeated by the Protestant King William III (of Orange). An era of Protestant political and economic supremacy began.
|Battle of the Boyne source|
By the Act of Union (1801), Great Britain and Ireland became the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland." A steady decline in the Irish economy followed in the next decades. The population had reached 8.25 million when the great potato famine of 1846–1848 took many lives and drove more than 2 million people to immigrate to North America.
In the meantime, anti-British agitation continued along with demands for Irish home rule. The advent of World War I delayed the institution of home rule and resulted in the Easter Rebellion in Dublin (April 24–29, 1916), in which Irish nationalists unsuccessfully attempted to throw off British rule. Guerrilla warfare against British forces followed proclamation of a republic by the rebels in 1919. The Irish Free State was established as a dominion on Dec. 6, 1922, with six northern counties remaining as part of the United Kingdom. A civil war ensued between those supporting the Anglo-Irish Treaty that established the Irish Free State and those repudiating it because it led to the partitioning of the island. The Irish Republican Army (IRA), led by Eamon de Valera, fought against the partition but lost. De Valera joined the government in 1927 and became prime minister in 1932. In 1937 a new constitution changed the nation’s name to Éire. Ireland remained neutral in World War II.
|General Post Office - Centre of the Easter Rising. - source|
In 1948, De Valera was defeated by John A. Costello, who demanded final independence from Britain. The Republic of Ireland was proclaimed on April 18, 1949, and withdrew from the Commonwealth. From the 1960s onward two antagonistic currents dominated Irish politics. One sought to bind the wounds of the rebellion and civil war. The other was the effort of the outlawed Irish Republican Army and more moderate groups to bring Northern Ireland into the republic. The "troubles"—the violence and terrorist acts between Republicans and Unionists in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland—would plague the island for the remainder of the century and beyond.
|Irish Republican Army - source|
Under the First Programme for Economic Expansion (1958–1963), economic protection was dismantled and foreign investment encouraged. This prosperity brought profound social and cultural changes to what had been one of the poorest and least technologically advanced countries in Europe. Ireland joined the European Economic Community (now the EU) in 1973. In the 1990 presidential election, Mary Robinson was elected the republic’s first female president. The election of a candidate with socialist and feminist sympathies was regarded as a watershed in Irish political life, reflecting the changes taking place in Irish society. Irish voters approved the Maastricht Treaty, which paved the way for the establishment of the EU, by a large majority in a referendum held in 1992. In 1993, the Irish and British governments signed a joint peace initiative (the Downing Street Declaration), which affirmed Northern Ireland’s right to self-determination. A referendum on allowing divorce under certain conditions—hitherto constitutionally forbidden—was narrowly passed in Nov. 1995.
In 1998 hope for a solution to the troubles in Northern Ireland seemed palpable. A landmark settlement, the Good Friday Agreement of April 10, 1998, called for Protestants to share political power with the minority Catholics and gave the Republic of Ireland a voice in the affairs of Northern Ireland. The resounding commitment to the settlement was demonstrated in a dual referendum on May 22: the North approved the accord by a vote of 71% to 29%, and in the Irish Republic 94% favoured it. After numerous stops and starts, the new government in Northern Ireland was formed on Dec. 2, 2000, but it has been suspended four times since then (and has remained suspended since Oct. 2002) primarily because of Sinn Fein’s reluctance to disarm its military wing, the IRA. In 2005, however, the IRA renounced armed struggle, and peace again seemed possible.
Despite a number of recent corruption and bribery scandals, most of which involved the centrist Fianna Fáil Party of Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, the party won 81 of 166 seats in May 2002. Ahern became the first Irish prime minister in 33 years to be elected to a second successive term.
Once a country plagued with high unemployment, high inflation, slow growth, and a large public debt, Ireland has undergone an extraordinary economic transformation in the last 15 years. Formerly an agriculture-based economy, the "Celtic Tiger" has become a leader in high-tech industries. In some recent years its economy has grown as much as 10%.
On April 2, 2008, in the midst of corruption accusations, Prime Minister Bertie Ahern announced his resignation, effective as of May 6, 2008.
Politics of Ireland takes place in the framework of a parliamentary representative democratic republic. The president is the head of state. The Prime Minister is the head of government, and of a pluriform multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Oireachtas the bicameral national parliament, which consists of Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. While there are a number of important political parties, the political landscape is dominated by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, historically opposed and competing entities. The state is a member of the European Union.
Head of state
The head of state is the President of Ireland. In keeping with the state’s parliamentary system of government the President exercises a mainly ceremonial role but does possess certain reserve powers. The presidency is open to all Irish citizens who are at least 35. They are directly elected by secret ballot under the Alternative Vote also known as proportional representation. A candidate may be nominated for election as President by no less than 20 members of the Oireachtas or by four or more of the 29 County/County Borough Councils. A retiring President may nominate themselves as a candidate for re-election.
The parliament of the Republic of Ireland is the Oireachtas. The Oireachtas consists of the President and two houses: Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann (also known as the Senate). The Dáil is by far the dominant House of the legislature. The President may not veto bills passed by the Oireachtas, but may refer them to the Irish Supreme Court for a ruling on whether they comply with the constitution.
|Leinsterhouse - source|
The Republic of Ireland is a common law jurisdiction. The judiciary consists of the Supreme Court, the High Court and many lower courts established by law. Judges are appointed by the President after being nominated by the Government and can be removed from office only for misbehaviour or incapacity, and then only by resolution of both houses of the Oireachtas. The final court of appeal is the Supreme Court, which consists of the Chief Justice and seven other justices.
A number of political parties are represented in the Dáil and coalition governments are common. Neither of the two largest parties, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, strongly identifies itself as either a left or right-wing group. The third largest party in the state is the centre-left Labour Party. Labour is joined on the left by the Green Party and on the far-left by Sinn Féin and the Socialist Party. The Progressive Democrats who are classical neo-liberals with regard to economic policy but generally align themselves on the left on social issues. Independent TDs (MPs) also play an important role in Irish politics.
Head of state: Mary McAleese (FF) - President, Head of Government: Brian Cowen (FF) - Taoiseach, Governing party: FF, GP, PD
Last national elections 2007
Last European Parliament election June 2009 See: • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Parliament_election,_2009_(Ireland) • http://www.europarl.europa.eu/parliament/archive/elections2009/en/ireland_en.html
Ireland has a Christian constitution; however, the state is forbidden from endowing any particular religion. Approximately 86.8% of the population are Roman Catholic and the country has one of the highest rates of regular and weekly church attendance in the Western World. However, there has been a major decline in this attendance among Irish Catholics in the course of the past 30 years. Between 1996 and 2001, regular Mass attendance, declined further from 60% to 48% (it had been above 90% before 1973), and all but two of its sacerdotal seminaries have closed (St Patrick’s College, Maynooth and St Malachy’s College, Belfast). A number of theological colleges continue to educate both ordained and lay people.
|Cavan Cathedral of Saints Patrick and Felim - source|
The second largest Christian denomination, the Church of Ireland (Anglican), having been declining in number for most of the twentieth century, but has more recently experienced an increase in membership, according to the 2002 census, as have other small Christian denominations, and Hinduism. The largest other Protestant denominations are the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, followed by the Methodist Church in Ireland. Eastern Orthodox, Salvation Army communities and several American gospel groups are represented as well as Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons. In addition to the Christian denominations there are centres for Buddhists, Hindus, Bahais and for people of the Islamic and Jewish faiths.
The patron saints of Ireland are Saint Patrick and Saint Bridget.
|Saint Patrick - source|
For more you can visit:
- Religion in the Republic of Ireland (see Republic of Ireland)
- Religion in Northern Ireland
For more information about traditional Irish folk music, modern pop and rock Irish music or famous writers such as Oscar Wilde and James Joyce, see:
A list of famous Irish composers:
|Seán Ó Riada - composer & musician|
This information is very useful to know because of international differences between countries. In this article you can read about Irish national holidays such as Christmas, Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, and Irish Funerals. If it is interesting for you, you can read more details here:
What is country famous for abroad?
St. Patrick’s Day - patron saint of Ireland: www.wilstar.com
The Potatoe famine: www.victoryseeds.com
Irish whisky: www.techpress.ie
The Blarney Stone - Blarney is a world renowned tourist attraction and should not be missed by anyone visiting the South West of Ireland: http://www.iol.ie/~discover/blarney.htm
Red hair - it’s characteristic for northern and western Europeans:
|The Blarney Stone - source|
Stereotypes about Irish men include: they love to drink (beer – Guinness, Irish red ale) or Bailey’s Irish Cream, eat potatoes, Irish deal with typical meal of corned beef and cabbage. Leprechaun – is the funny looking little guy, which brings good luck. Famous is Patrick’s Day. Other stereotypes are: Irish cops on TV, Notre Dame: the Fighting Irish, pubs advertising "green beer" and St. Patrick’s Day. There are also Irish consumer spending and shopping habits:
How to do business in Ireland
Shake hands with new or casual acquaintances when meeting and departing. Don’t go overboard — the Irish are not physically demonstrative.
Men should refrain from being too physically demonstrative with women
„How are you?" is a popular casual greeting, particularly between individuals who have already established a cordial acquaintance; as an answer just „hello" will do.
Be prompt, but give your Irish counterpart the leeway to be late.
Avoid appointments in July or August (vacations), and around holidays.
Many Irish are ambivalent about wealth. Excessive financial displays are frowned upon, except to charities. A favourite Irish pastime is to find out as much as possible about strangers while revealing little about oneself. Discussions tend to be lengthy. Short answers are interpreted as brusque. There is no shame for the Irish in missing a delivery date.
Most Irish look forward to chatting with friends and strangers alike over a pint of Guinness or a cup of tea. Be ready to buy a round.
Business lunches are more common than dinners.
On making appointments, topics suitable for conversation, gifts, you may consult:
The Irish value stylish behaviour. They prefer a cultured style, they like elegance and grace.
For tips on this, see:
If you consider studying or working in Ireland, visit:
Ireland is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean, west of the European mainland, divided into two countries: Ireland, occupying five-sixths of the island of Ireland, west of Great Britain, and Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom. This island has a strategic location on major air and sea routes between North America and northern Europe. Over 40% of the population resides within 100 km of Dublin. The coastline is about 1450 km.
The four provinces probably in ancient times have been five, as indicated by the Irish word for the provinces, cóiceda (which means fifths). These are Ulster (Ulaid), Connacht, Munster (Mumu), Leinster (Lagin) and Meath (Mide).
For over two thousand years, Ireland has been a host to a surprising variety of languages and cultures: Irish Gaelic, English, French, German, Ulster Scots, Ancient Greek and Latin.
Nowadays most people speak Irish English, or like some claim, English with an Irish accent. A minority still speaks Irish Gaelic, one of the six Gaelic left forms of language. About 30% of the population is able to speak Irish Gaelic.
When you arrive in Ireland, you should know some typical Irish phrases. A good place to start:
In this website one finds conversational Irish survival phrases:
Excellent page on the Irish language, many topics with words and phrases
- www.wikipedia.org - culture
- www.youtube.com - Irish national youth dance
- www.youtube.com - Irish national music
Irish proverbs and jokes: