Ireland is an island which lies in the Atlantic Ocean. It is separated from England by the Irish Sea, from Scotland by the North Channel, and from Wales by St. George’s Channel. It lies north of the Celtic Sea, and it is the westernmost British Isle. The island of Ireland is made up of 4 provinces: Ulster, Munster, Leinster, and Connacht. Together, they make up 32 counties. 6 counties of Ulster belong to the United Kingdom, making up Northern Ireland, and the rest is the Republic of Ireland. The island is made up mainly of coastal mountains such as the Wicklow Mountains and Glendalough known as “The Garden of Ireland.” The mountains surround central plains and an extensive lake system. It has lush green vegetation mainly due to its mild coastal climate of soft but frequent rainfall. Thus it has also earned the name “Emerald Isle.”
The Republic of Ireland is a parliamentary democracy where a president is elected by direct vote of the people for a 7-year term. Their first president was Eamon de Valera. The flag of the Republic of Ireland is a tricolor of green, orange, and white vertical stripes. To pay, they use the Irish pound which is dividable into 100 pence. The population consists of about 3.5 million people who speak mainly English. Ireland is one of the least populated countries in Europe and has always been. A contributing factor was a great famine in 1848 resulting from a failed potato crop. Although Irish was the first official language, it is now spoken only in the west though it is still taught in schools and English dominates. In fact, many young people travel from Europe to Ireland to practice their English skills. These students can be met by very friendly Irish, though they may encounter some exaggerated nationalism.
The capital city of the Republic of Ireland is Dublin, located in the center of the east coast at the mouth of the river Liffey. It is a city founded by the Vikings. It’s full of elegant hotels, restaurants, pubs, and famous shops. You can admire historic Georgian architecture from the 12th century there. Unfortunately, it is disappearing to make way for new and modern architecture.
The history of Ireland goes back to the Celts in 5000 B.C. Becoming Christianized, they built a lot of monasteries of which you can see the remains of. Later, Ireland became the subject of Norman and English conquest. As a result, Gaelic eventually disappeared. Scottish and English colonization continued, especially under the rule of Oliver Cromwell. Ireland became a British colony after the Battle of Boyne in 1690. In the 19th century, the first emancipation movements led by Daniel O’Connel took place and in 1916, the southern part of Ireland became a republic.
Northern Ireland was created as an administrative division of the United Kingdom by the Government of Ireland Act 1920. It has long been the site of a bitter ethno-political conflict between Protestants and Catholics. As in the Republic of Ireland, English dominates but Irish Gaelic can still be heard in some remote areas. The capital city is Belfast, located on the eastern coast at the mouth of the river Lagan. It attracts many tourists and has many public parks. Its architecture ranges from Edwardian to modern.
Ireland has also significantly contributed to culture. It has produced four winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature: George Bernard Shaw, William Butler Yeats, Samuel Beckett and Seamus Heaney. It is also the home of the famous author James Joyce. Poetry in Irish represents the oldest vernacular poetry in Europe with the earliest examples dating from the 6th century. The Irish tradition of folk music and dance is also widely known. An Irish well-known, River dance is a theatrical show consisting of traditional Irish step dancing, notable for its rapid leg movements while body and arms are kept largely stationary. As for music, the Irish mix their Celtic music with modern genres to form new and unique sounds. Founder of modern chemistry Robert Boyle was an Anglo-Irish natural philosopher, chemist, physicist, inventor and early gentleman scientist, noted for his work in physics and chemistry. He is best known for the formulation of Boyle's law. The most popular sport in Ireland is football, closely followed by rugby. Other popular sports are greyhound racing, horse racing, boxing, golf, angling, cricket, scuba diving, and even surfing. Ireland is surely not behind in sports.