This article is about the island in Europe.
For the sovereign state of the same name, see Republic of Ireland.
For the part of the United Kingdom, see Northern Ireland.
For other uses, see Ireland (disambiguation).
|Adjacent bodies of water||Atlantic Ocean|
|Area||84,421 km (32,595 sq mi)|
|Coastline||6,226 km (3868.7 mi)|
|Highest elevation||1,041 m (3415 ft)|
|Largest city||Dublin (pop. 553,165)|
|Largest city||Belfast (pop. 333,000)|
|Pop. density||77.8/km (201.5/sq mi)|
|Languages||English, Irish, Ulster Scots, Shelta|
|Patron saints||Saint Patrick|
As of 2016, 4.8 million live in the Republic of Ireland, and 1.8 million live in Northern Ireland.
Its lush vegetation is a product of its mild but changeable climate which is free of extremes in temperature.
Much of Ireland was woodland until the end of the Middle Ages.
Today, woodland makes up about 10% of the island, compared with a European average of over 33%, and most of it is non-native conifer plantations.
There are twenty-six extant land mammal species native to Ireland.
The Irish climate is influenced by the Atlantic Ocean and thus very moderate, 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 is dated at 10,500 BC.
Gaelic Ireland had emerged by the 1st century AD.
The island was Christianised from the 5th century onward.
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 joined the European Economic Community while the United Kingdom, and Northern Ireland, as part of it, did the same.
The etymology of Ériu is disputed but may derive from the Proto-Indo-European root *h2uer, referring to flowing water.
Main article: History of Ireland
Main article: Prehistoric Ireland
During the last glacial period, and until about 10,000 BC, most of Ireland was periodically covered in ice.
Sea levels were lower and Ireland, like Great Britain, formed part of continental Europe.
By 16,000 BC, rising sea levels caused by ice melting caused Ireland to become separated from Great Britain.
Later, around 6000 BC, Great Britain became separated from continental Europe.
The earliest evidence of human presence in Ireland is dated at 10,500 BC, demonstrated by a butchered bear bone found in a cave in County Clare.
By about 8000 BC, more sustained occupation of the island has been shown, with evidence for Mesolithic communities around the island.
The fields were farmed for several centuries between 3500 BC and 3000 BC.
Wheat and barley were the principal crops.
The Bronze Age 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.
Emergence of Celtic Ireland
How and when the island became Celtic has been debated for close to a century, with the migrations of the Celts being one of the more enduring themes of archaeological and linguistic studies.
The most recent genetic research strongly associates the spread of Indo-European languages (including Celtic) through Western Europe with a people bringing a composite Beaker culture, with its arrival in Britain and Ireland dated to around the middle of the third millennium BC.
According to John T. Koch and others, Ireland in the Late Bronze Age was part of a maritime trading-network culture called the Atlantic Bronze Age that also included Britain, western France and Iberia, and that this is where Celtic languages developed.
This contrasts with the traditional view that their origin lies in mainland Europe with the Hallstatt culture.
This theory draws on the Lebor Gabála Érenn, a medieval Christian pseudo-history of Ireland, along with the presence of Celtic culture, language and artifacts found in 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.
Later, Laighin tribes from Armorica (present-day Brittany) were said to have invaded Ireland and Britain more or less simultaneously.
It was claimed that a second wave named the Euerni, belonging to the Belgae people of northern Gaul, began arriving about the sixth century BC.
They were said to have given their name to the island.
The theory was advanced in part because of lack of archaeological evidence for large-scale Celtic immigration, though it is accepted that such movements are notoriously difficult to identify.
Historical linguists are skeptical that this method alone could account for the absorption of Celtic language, with some saying that an assumed processional view of Celtic linguistic formation is 'an especially hazardous exercise'.
Genetic lineage investigation into the area of Celtic migration to Ireland has led to findings that showed no significant differences in mitochondrial DNA between Ireland and large areas of continental Europe, in contrast to parts of the Y-chromosome pattern.
When taking both into account, a study concluded that modern Celtic speakers in 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.
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 of 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.
This conclusion is supported by recent research carried out by the geneticist David Reich, who says: “British and Irish skeletons from the Bronze Age that followed the Beaker period had at most 10 percent ancestry from the first farmers of these islands, with other 90 percent from people like those associated with the Bell Beaker culture in the Netherlands.” He suggests that it was Beaker users who introduced an Indo-European language, represented here by Celtic (i.e. a new language and culture introduced directly by migration and genetic replacement).
Late antiquity and early medieval times
Main article: History of Ireland (800–1169)
The earliest written records of Ireland come from classical Greco-Roman geographers.
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.
Ptolemy records sixteen nations inhabiting every part of Ireland in 100 AD.
The relationship between the Roman Empire and the kingdoms of ancient Ireland is unclear.
Ireland continued as a patchwork of rival kingdoms; however, 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 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.
All of the Irish kingdoms had their own kings but were nominally subject to the high king.
The concept did not become a political reality until the Viking Age and even then was not a consistent one.
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.
There is continued debate over the missions of Palladius and Patrick, but the consensus is that they both took place and that the older druid tradition collapsed in the face of the new religion.
Irish Christian scholars excelled in the study of Latin and Greek learning and Christian theology.
In the monastic culture that followed the Christianisation of Ireland, Latin and Greek learning was preserved in Ireland during the Early Middle Ages in contrast to elsewhere in Western Europe, where the Dark Ages followed the Fall of the Western Roman Empire.
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 that still dot the island today.
A mission founded in 563 on Iona by the Irish monk Saint Columba began a tradition of Irish missionary work that spread Celtic Christianity and learning to Scotland, England and the Frankish Empire on continental Europe after the fall of Rome.
These missions continued until the late Middle Ages, establishing monasteries and centres of learning, producing scholars such as Sedulius Scottus and Johannes Eriugena and exerting much influence in Europe.
From the 9th century, waves of Viking raiders plundered Irish monasteries and towns.
These raids added to a pattern of raiding and endemic warfare that was already deep-seated in Ireland.
Norman and English invasions
See also: Bruce campaign in Ireland
It was led by Richard de Clare, known as 'Strongbow' owing to his prowess as an archer.
In 1171, Henry arrived in Ireland in order to review the general progress of the expedition.
He wanted to re-exert royal authority over the invasion which was expanding beyond his control.
Henry successfully re-imposed his authority over Strongbow and the Cambro-Norman warlords and persuaded many of the Irish kings to accept him as their overlord, an arrangement confirmed in the 1175 Treaty of Windsor.
The bull encouraged Henry to take control in Ireland in order to oversee the financial and administrative reorganisation of the Irish Church and its integration into the Roman Church system.
Some restructuring had already begun at the ecclesiastical level following the Synod of Kells in 1152.
There has been significant controversy regarding the authenticity of Laudabiliter, and there is no general agreement as to whether the bull was genuine or a forgery.
In 1172, 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 as a voluntary donation.
This defined the Irish state as the Lordship of Ireland.
When Henry's successor died unexpectedly in 1199, John inherited the crown of England and retained the Lordship of Ireland.
Over the century that followed, Norman feudal law gradually replaced the Gaelic Brehon Law so that by the late 13th century the Norman-Irish 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 (the Great Charter of Ireland), substituting Dublin for London and the Irish Church for, the English church at the time, the Catholic Church, was published in 1216 and the Parliament of Ireland was founded in 1297.
From the mid-14th century, after the Black Death, Norman settlements in Ireland went into a period of decline.
The Norman rulers and the Gaelic Irish elites intermarried and the areas under Norman rule became Gaelicised.
In some parts, a hybrid Hiberno-Norman culture emerged.
These were a set of laws designed to prevent the assimilation of the Normans into Irish society by requiring English subjects in Ireland to speak English, follow English customs and abide by English law.
By the end of the 15th century, central English authority in Ireland had all but disappeared, and a renewed Irish culture and language, albeit with Norman influences, was dominant again.
English Crown control remained relatively unshaken in an amorphous foothold around Dublin known as The Pale, and under the provisions of Poynings' Law of 1494, the Irish Parliamentary legislation was subject to the approval of the English Privy Council.
The Kingdom of Ireland
Main article: Kingdom of Ireland
English rule was reinforced and expanded in Ireland during the latter part of the 16th century, leading to the Tudor conquest of Ireland.
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 and the Williamite War.
200,000 civilians are estimated to have died as a result of a combination of war-related famine, displacement, guerrilla activity and pestilence throughout the war.
Physician-general William Petty estimated that 504,000 Catholic Irish and 112,000 Protestant settlers died, and 100,000 people were transported, as a result of the war.
If a prewar population of 1.5 million is assumed, this would mean that the population was reduced by almost half.
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 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 in 1703, 1709 and 1728.
This completed a comprehensive systemic effort to materially disadvantage Roman Catholics and Protestant Dissenters, while enriching a new ruling class of Anglican conformists.
The new Anglo-Irish ruling class became known as the Protestant Ascendancy.
The "Great Frost" struck Ireland and the rest of Europe between December 1739 and September 1741, after a decade of relatively mild winters.
The winters destroyed stored crops of potatoes and other staples, and the poor summers severely damaged harvests.
This resulted in the famine of 1740.
An estimated 250,000 people (about one in eight of the population) died from the ensuing pestilence and disease.
The Irish government halted export of corn and kept the army in quarters but did little more.
Local gentry and charitable organisations provided relief but could do little to prevent the ensuing mortality.
In the aftermath of the famine, an increase in industrial production and a surge in trade brought a succession of construction booms.
The population soared in the latter part of this century and the architectural legacy of Georgian Ireland was built.
In 1782, Poynings' Law was repealed, giving 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 without the consent of the Irish parliament.
Union with Great Britain
Main article: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
In 1798, members of the 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 and the Kingdom of Great Britain to create a United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
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.
Aside from the development of the linen industry, Ireland was largely passed over by the industrial revolution, partly because it lacked coal and iron resources and partly because of the impact of the sudden union with the structurally superior economy of England, which saw Ireland as a source of agricultural produce and capital.
The Great Famine of 1845–1851 devastated Ireland, as in those years Ireland's population fell by one-third.
In the century that followed, an economic depression caused by the famine resulted in a further million people emigrating.
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.
The population has never returned to this level since.
The population continued to fall until 1961; County Leitrim was the final Irish county to record a population increase post-famine, in 2006.
The 19th and early 20th centuries saw the rise of modern Irish nationalism, primarily among the Roman Catholic population.
The pre-eminent Irish political figure after the Union was Daniel O'Connell.
O'Connell spearheaded a vigorous campaign that was taken up by the Prime Minister, the Irish-born soldier and statesman, the Duke of Wellington.
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 to be in conflict with the Act of Settlement 1701.
Daniel O'Connell led a subsequent campaign, for the repeal of the Act of Union, which failed.
Unionists, especially those located in Ulster, were strongly opposed to Home Rule, which they thought would be dominated by Catholic interests.
After several attempts to pass a Home Rule bill through parliament, it looked certain that one would finally pass in 1914.
The Act was passed but with the "temporary" exclusion of the six counties of Ulster that would become Northern Ireland.
Before it could be implemented, however, the Act was suspended for the duration of the First World War.
The Irish Volunteers split into two groups.
A minority, approximately 13,000, retained the Irish Volunteers' name and opposed Ireland's involvement in the war.
The British response, executing fifteen leaders of the Rising over a period of ten days and imprisoning or interning more than a thousand people, turned the mood of the country in favour of the rebels.
The pro-independence republican party, Sinn Féin, 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 (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).
Main article: Partition of Ireland
It gave Ireland complete independence in its home affairs and practical independence for foreign policy, but an opt-out clause allowed Northern Ireland to remain within the United Kingdom, which (as expected) it immediately exercised.
Additionally, Members of the Free State Parliament were required to swear an oath of allegiance to the Constitution of the Irish Free State and make a statement of faithfulness to the King.
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 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.
During its first decade, the newly formed Irish Free State was governed by the victors of the civil war.
The oath was abolished and in 1937 a new constitution was adopted.
This completed a process of gradual separation from the British Empire that governments had pursued since independence.
However, it was not until 1949 that the state was declared, officially, to be the Republic of Ireland.
Despite their country's neutrality, approximately 50,000 volunteers from independent Ireland joined the British forces during the war, four being awarded Victoria Crosses.
The German intelligence was also active in Ireland.
Its operations ended in September 1941 when police made arrests based on surveillance carried out on the key diplomatic legations in Dublin.
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.
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.
The Republic's real GDP grew by an average of 9.6% per annum between 1995 and 1999, 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.
Historian R. argues the cause was a combination of a new sense of initiative and the entry of American corporations. F. Foster
He concludes the chief factors were low taxation, pro-business regulatory policies, and a young, tech-savvy workforce.
For many multinationals, the decision to do business in Ireland was made easier still by generous incentives from the Industrial Development Authority.
In addition European Union membership was helpful, giving the country lucrative access to markets that it had previously reached only through the United Kingdom, and pumping huge subsidies and investment capital into the Irish economy.
Modernisation brought secularisation in its wake.
The traditionally high levels of religiosity have sharply declined.
Foster points to three factors: Irish feminism, largely imported from America with liberal stances on contraception, abortion, and divorce undermined the authority of bishops and priests.
Second, the mishandling of the pedophile scandals humiliated the Church, whose bishops seemed less concerned with the victims and more concerned with covering up for errant priests.
Third, prosperity brought hedonism and materialism that undercut the ideals of saintly poverty.
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).
The state has since experienced deep recession, with unemployment, which doubled during 2009, remaining above 14% in 2012.
Northern Ireland resulted from the division of the United Kingdom by the Government of Ireland Act 1920, and until 1972 was a self-governing jurisdiction within the United Kingdom with its own parliament and prime minister.
Northern Ireland, as part of the United Kingdom, was not neutral during the Second World War, and Belfast suffered four bombing raids in 1941.
Conscription was not extended to Northern Ireland, and roughly an equal number volunteered from Northern Ireland as volunteered from the south.
Although Northern Ireland was largely spared the strife of the civil war, in decades that followed partition there were sporadic episodes of inter-communal violence.
Nationalists, mainly Roman Catholic, wanted to unite Ireland as an independent republic, whereas unionists, mainly Protestant, wanted Northern Ireland to remain in the United Kingdom.
The Protestant and Catholic communities in Northern Ireland voted largely along sectarian lines, meaning that the government of Northern Ireland (elected by "first-past-the-post" from 1929) was controlled by the Ulster Unionist Party.
Over time, the minority Catholic community felt increasingly alienated with further disaffection fuelled by practices such as gerrymandering and discrimination in housing and employment.
In the late 1960s, nationalist grievances were aired publicly in mass civil rights protests, which were often confronted by loyalist counter-protests.
The government's reaction to confrontations was seen to be one-sided and heavy-handed in favour of unionists.
Law and order broke down as unrest and inter-communal violence increased.
In 1969, the paramilitary Provisional IRA, which favoured the creation of a united Ireland, emerged from a split in the 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.
Owing to the civil unrest during the Troubles, the 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 of 1973.
In 1998, following a ceasefire by the Provisional IRA and multi-party talks, the 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 on the basis of power-sharing in a regional Executive drawn from the major parties in a new Northern Ireland Assembly, with entrenched protections for the two main communities.
The Executive is jointly headed by a 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.
The Assembly and power-sharing Executive were suspended several times but were restored again in 2007.
In that year the British government officially ended its military support of the police in Northern Ireland (Operation Banner) 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.
Main article: Politics of Ireland
The Republic of Ireland is a member of the European Union while the United Kingdom is a former member, having both acceded to its precursor entity, the European Economic Community [EEC], in 1973, and as a consequence there is free movement of people, goods, services and capital across the border.
Republic of Ireland
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 and in 2015 was ranked the sixth most developed nation in the world by the United Nations' Human Development Index.
A period of rapid economic expansion from 1995 onwards became known as the Celtic Tiger period, was brought to an end in 2008 with an unprecedented financial crisis and an economic depression in 2009.
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 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 and Wales and with Scotland, Northern Ireland forms one of the three separate legal jurisdictions of the UK, all of which share the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom as their court of final appeal.
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 is an institution through which ministers from the Government of Ireland and the 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 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 and the Government of the United Kingdom on all matters 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 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.
See also: International Financial Services Centre
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 economy" to take advantage of economies of scale and boost competitiveness.
There are two multi-city regions on the island of Ireland:
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||€142 bn (Dublin €72.4bn)||€43.4 bn (Belfast €20.9 bn)|
|€23,700 per person||€39,900 per person||€21,000 per person|
|Area||Population||Country||City||2012 GDP €||GDP per person €||2014 GDP €||GDP per person €|
|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|
The GDP of the Republic of Ireland as of 2018 was $382.754 billion (nominal), and in Northern Ireland as of 2016 it was €43 billion (nominal).
The GDP per capita in the Republic of Ireland was $78,335 (nominal) as of 2018, and in Northern Ireland (as of 2016) was €23,700.
Main article: Tourist destinations in Ireland
Stately homes, built during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries in Palladian, Neoclassical and neo-Gothic styles, such as Castle Ward, Castletown House, Bantry House, and Glenveagh Castle are also of interest to tourists.
- World Heritage Sites
Ireland has an ancient industry based on peat (known locally as "turf") as a source of energy for home fires.
However, because of the ecological importance of peatlands in storing carbon and their rarity, the EU is attempting to protect this habitat by fining Ireland for digging up peat.
The island operates as a single market for electricity.
For much of their existence, electricity networks in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland were entirely separate.
Both networks were designed and constructed independently post-partition.
However, they are now connected with three interlinks and also connected through Great Britain to mainland Europe.
The situation in Northern Ireland is complicated by the issue of private companies not supplying Northern Ireland Electricity 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.
The County Mayo field faces 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 clean-technology investment in the 2014 Global Green Economy Index.
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 regard the wind turbines as 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 facility is the only power-storage facility in the state.
Main article: Economic history of Ireland
Prior to partition in 1921, Ireland had a long history as an economic colony - first of the Norse (9th to 10th centuries CE), and later of England.
Though the climate and soil favoured certain forms of agriculture, trade barriers frequently hobbled its development.
Salient events in the economic history of Ireland include:
- 16th and 17th centuries: confiscation and redistribution of land in the Plantations of Ireland
- 1845-1849: The Great Famine occasioned depopulation and mass emigration.
- 1846: Westminster's repeal of the Corn Laws disrupted Irish agriculture.
Main article: Geography of Ireland
Ireland has a total area of 84,421 km (32,595 sq mi), of which the Republic of Ireland occupies 83 percent.
Ireland and Great Britain, together with many nearby smaller islands, are known collectively as the British Isles.
As the term British Isles is controversial in relation to Ireland, the alternate term Britain and 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 most arable land lies in the province of Leinster.
Western areas can be mountainous and rocky with green panoramic vistas.
The island consists of varied geological provinces.
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.
In 2000, the Helvick oil field was discovered, which was estimated to contain over 28 million barrels (4,500,000 m) of oil.
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 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.
This is a result of the moderating moist winds which ordinarily prevail from the southwestern 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 and east 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.
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.
In common with the rest of Europe, Ireland experienced unusually cold weather during the winter of 2010-11.
Temperatures fell as low as −17.2 °C (1 °F) in County Mayo on 20 December and up to a metre (3 ft) of snow fell in mountainous areas.
Flora and fauna
Because Ireland became isolated from mainland Europe by rising sea levels before the last ice age had completely finished, it has fewer land animal and plant species than Great Britain or mainland Europe.
There are 55 mammal species in Ireland, and of them only 26 land mammal species are considered native to Ireland.
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.
However, agriculture drives current land use patterns in Ireland, limiting natural habitat preserves, particularly for larger wild mammals with greater territorial needs.
With no large apex predators in 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, and only one species of reptile (the common lizard) is native to the island.
Ireland is now one of the least forested countries in Europe.
In Europe, the average woodland cover is over 33%.
In the Republic, about 389,356 hectares (3,893.56 km) is owned by the state, mainly by the forestry service Coillte.
Remnants of native forest can be found scattered around the island, in particular in the Killarney National Park.
Much of the land is now covered with pasture and there are many species of wild-flower.
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.
The algal and seaweed flora is that of the cold-temperate variety.
The total number of species is 574 The island has been invaded by some algae, some of which are now well established.
The island can be subdivided into two ecoregions: the Celtic broadleaf forests and North Atlantic moist mixed forests.
Impact of agriculture
The long history of agricultural production, coupled with modern intensive agricultural methods such as pesticide and fertiliser use and runoff from contaminants into streams, rivers and lakes, has placed pressure on biodiversity in Ireland.
A land of green fields for crop cultivation and cattle rearing limits the space available for the establishment of native wild species.
Hedgerows, however, traditionally used for maintaining and demarcating land boundaries, act as a refuge for native wild flora.
This ecosystem stretches across the countryside and acts as a network of connections to preserve remnants of the ecosystem that once covered the island.
Subsidies under the Common Agricultural Policy, which supported agricultural practices that preserved hedgerow environments, are undergoing reforms.
The Common Agricultural Policy had in the past subsidised potentially destructive agricultural practices, for example by emphasising production without placing limits on indiscriminate use of fertilisers and pesticides; but reforms have gradually decoupled subsidies from production levels and introduced environmental and other requirements.
32% of Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions are correlated to agriculture.
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.
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.
People have lived in Ireland for over 9,000 years.
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 1,200 years, Vikings, Normans, Welsh, Flemings, Scots, English, Africans, Eastern Europeans and South Americans have all added to the population and have had significant influences on Irish culture.
The population of 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 the Great Famine of 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.
Ireland's largest religious group is Christianity.
The largest denomination is Roman Catholicism, representing over 73% for the island (and about 87% of the Republic of Ireland).
Most of the rest of the population adhere to one of the various Protestant denominations (about 48% of Northern 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.
The island has a small Jewish community.
About 4% of the Republic's population and about 14% of the Northern Ireland population describe themselves as of no religion.
In a 2010 survey conducted on behalf of the Irish Times, 32% of respondents said they went to a religious service more than once per week.
Divisions and settlements
In a system that developed between the 13th and 17th centuries, Ireland has 32 traditional counties.
Twenty-six of these counties are in the Republic of Ireland, and six are in Northern Ireland.
The six counties that constitute Northern Ireland are all in the province of Ulster (which has nine counties in total).
As such, Ulster is often used as a synonym for Northern Ireland, although the two are not coterminous.
In the Republic of Ireland, counties form the basis of the system of local government.
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 are no longer used for local governmental purposes, but, as in the Republic, their traditional boundaries are still used for informal purposes such as sports leagues and in cultural or tourism contexts.
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 and the Roman Catholic Primate of All 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.
The population of 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 caused by 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 in the 19th century contributed to the populations of England, the United States, Canada and Australia, in all of which a large Irish diaspora lives.
As of 2006, 4.3 million Canadians, or 14% of the population, were of Irish descent, while around one-third of the Australian population had an element of Irish descent.
As of 2013, there were 40 million Irish-Americans and 33 million Americans who claimed Irish ancestry.
With growing prosperity since the last decade of the 20th century, Ireland became a destination for immigrants.
Since the European Union expanded to include Poland in 2004, Polish people have made up the largest number of immigrants (over 150,000) from Central Europe.
There has also been significant immigration from Lithuania, Czech Republic and Latvia.
The Republic of Ireland in particular has seen large-scale immigration, with 420,000 foreign nationals as of 2006, about 10% of the population.
A quarter of births (24 percent) in 2009 were to mothers born outside Ireland.
Up to 50,000 eastern and central European migrant workers left Ireland in response to the Irish financial crisis.
Main article: Languages of Ireland
The two official languages of the Republic of Ireland are Irish and English.
Each language has produced noteworthy literature.
Irish, though now only the language of a minority, was the vernacular of the Irish people for thousands of years and was possibly introduced during the Iron Age.
The 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 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 of the early 20th century has had a long-term influence.
Irish is taught in mainstream Irish schools as a compulsory subject, but teaching methods have been criticised for their ineffectiveness, with the lack of level of ability after, typically, fourteen years of instruction cited.
There is now a network of urban Irish speakers in both the Republic and Northern Ireland, especially in Dublin and Belfast, with the children of such Irish speakers sometimes attending Irish-medium schools (Gaelscoil).
It has been argued that they tend to be more highly educated than monolingual English speakers.
Recent research suggests that urban Irish is developing in a direction of its own, both in pronunciation and grammar.
Traditional rural Irish-speaking areas, known collectively as the Gaeltacht, are in linguistic decline.
The main Gaeltacht areas are in the west, south-west and north-west.
English in 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 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.
Less than 10% of the population of the Republic of Ireland today speak Irish regularly outside of the education system and 38% of those over 15 years are classified as "Irish speakers".
In Northern Ireland, English is the de facto official language, but official recognition is afforded to 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 Scots dialects, which are spoken by roughly 2% of Northern Ireland residents, and also spoken by some in the Republic of Ireland.
Since the 1960s with the increase in immigration, many more languages have been introduced, particularly deriving from Asia and Eastern Europe.
Ireland's culture comprises elements of the culture of ancient peoples, later immigrant and broadcast cultural influences (chiefly Gaelic culture, Anglicisation, Americanisation and aspects of broader European culture).
These can be seen in the ornamentation of medieval religious and secular works.
The style is still popular today in jewellery and graphic art, as is the distinctive style of traditional Irish music and dance, and has become indicative of modern "Celtic" culture in general.
Religion 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).
These missions brought written language to an illiterate population of Europe during the Dark Ages that followed the fall of Rome, earning Ireland the sobriquet, "the island of saints and scholars".
Since the 20th century Irish pubs worldwide have become outposts of Irish culture, especially those with a full range of cultural and gastronomic offerings.
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.
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 modern literature in Irish.
The playwright and poet Oscar Wilde, noted for his epigrams, was born in Ireland.
Modern Irish literature is often connected with its rural heritage through English-language writers such as John McGahern and Seamus Heaney and Irish-language writers such as Máirtín Ó Direáin and others from the Gaeltacht.
Music has been in evidence in Ireland since prehistoric times.
Although in the early Middle Ages the church was "quite unlike its counterpart in continental Europe", there was considerable interchange between monastic settlements in Ireland and the rest of Europe that contributed to what is known as Gregorian chant.
Outside religious establishments, musical genres in early Gaelic Ireland are referred to as a triad of weeping music (goltraige), laughing music (geantraige) and sleeping music (suantraige).
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 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.
In the middle years of the 20th century, as Irish society was modernising, traditional music had fallen out of favour, especially in urban areas.
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 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.
The earliest known Irish graphic art and sculpture are Neolithic carvings found at sites such as Newgrange and is traced through Bronze Age artefacts and the religious carvings and illuminated manuscripts of the medieval period.
The Irish philosopher and theologian 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 is largely regarded as one of the founders of modern chemistry and is best known for the formulation of Boyle's law.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ireland has nine universities, seven in the Republic of Ireland and two in Northern Ireland, including Trinity College, 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.
Main article: Sport in Ireland
See also: List of Irish sports people
Gaelic football is the most popular sport in Ireland in terms of match attendance and community involvement, with about 2,600 clubs on the island.
The All-Ireland Football Final is the most watched event in the sporting calendar.
Soccer is the most widely played team game on the island and the most popular in Northern Ireland.
Other sporting activities with the highest levels of playing participation include swimming, golf, aerobics, cycling, and billiards/snooker.
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.
Northern Ireland has produced two World Snooker Champions.
Gaelic games are governed by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), with the exception of ladies' Gaelic football and camogie (women's variant of hurling), which are governed by separate organisations.
The headquarters of the GAA (and the main stadium) is located at the 82,500 capacity Croke Park in north Dublin.
During the redevelopment of the Lansdowne Road stadium in 2007–2010, international rugby and soccer were played there.
All GAA players, even at the highest level, are amateurs, receiving no wages, although they are permitted to receive a limited amount of sport-related income from commercial sponsorship.
The Irish Football Association (IFA) was originally the governing body for soccer across the island.
The game has been played in an organised fashion in Ireland since the 1870s, with Cliftonville F.C. in Belfast being Ireland's oldest club.
It was most popular, especially in its first decades, around Belfast and in Ulster.
However, some clubs based outside Belfast thought that the IFA largely favoured Ulster-based 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 semi-final replay from Dublin to Belfast, Dublin-based clubs broke away to form the Football Association of the Irish Free State.
Today the southern association is known as the Football Association of Ireland (FAI).
However, both the IFA and FAI continued to select their teams from the whole of Ireland, with some players earning international caps for matches with both teams.
Both also referred to their respective teams as Ireland.
In 1950, FIFA directed the associations only to select players from within their respective territories and, in 1953, directed that the FAI's team be known only as "Republic of Ireland" and that the IFA's team be known as "Northern Ireland" (with certain exceptions).
The Irish rugby team have played in every Rugby World Cup, making the quarter-finals in six of them.
Irish rugby has become increasingly competitive at both the international and provincial levels since the sport went professional in 1994.
In addition to this, the Irish International side has had increased success in the Six Nations Championship against the other European elite sides.
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.
The horse racing sector is largely concentrated in the County Kildare.
Irish athletics has seen a heightened success rate since the year 2000, with 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.
Olive Loughnane won a silver medal in the 20k walk in the World Athletics Championships in Berlin in 2009.
Ireland has won more medals in boxing than in any other Olympic sport.
Boxing is governed by the Irish Athletic Boxing Association.
In 2008 Kenneth Egan won a silver medal in the Beijing Games.
Katie Taylor has won gold in every European and World championship since 2005.
In August 2012 at the Olympic Games in London, Taylor created history by becoming the first Irish woman to win a gold medal in boxing in the 60 kg lightweight.
Golf is very popular, and golf tourism is a major industry attracting more than 240,000 golfing visitors annually.
He successfully defended his title in July 2008 before going on to win the PGA Championship in August.
Harrington became the first European to win the PGA Championship in 78 years and was the first winner from Ireland.
Three golfers from Northern Ireland have been particularly successful.
In August 2012, McIlroy won his 2nd major championship by winning the USPGA Championship by a record margin of 8 shots.
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 has hosted European championship surfing.
Scuba diving is increasingly popular in Ireland with clear waters and large populations of sea life, particularly along the western seaboard.
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 is a popular angling destination.
The temperate Irish climate is suited to sport angling.
Coarse fishing continues to increase its profile.
Sea angling is developed with many beaches mapped and signposted, and the range of sea angling species is around 80.
Food and drink
Main article: Irish cuisine
Food and cuisine in Ireland takes its influence from the crops grown and animals farmed in the island's temperate climate and from the social and political circumstances of Irish history.
For example, whilst from the Middle Ages until the arrival of the potato in the 16th century the dominant feature of the Irish economy was the herding of cattle, the number of cattle a person owned was equated to their social standing.
Thus herders would avoid slaughtering a milk-producing cow.
For this reason, pork and white meat were more common than beef, and 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 since the Middle Ages.
The practice of bleeding cattle and mixing the blood with milk and butter (not unlike the practice of the Maasai) was common and black pudding, made from blood, grain (usually barley) and seasoning, remains a breakfast staple in Ireland.
All of these influences can be seen today in the phenomenon of the "breakfast roll".
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.
A typical family, consisting of a man, a woman and four children, would eat 18 stone (110 kg) of potatoes per week.
Consequently, dishes that are considered as national dishes represent a fundamental simplicity 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.
Since the last quarter of the 20th century, with a re-emergence of wealth in Ireland, a "New Irish Cuisine" based on traditional ingredients incorporating international influences has emerged.
This cuisine is based on fresh vegetables, fish (especially salmon, 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 Lawyer": lobster cooked in whiskey and cream.
The potato remains however a fundamental feature of this cuisine and the Irish remain the highest per capita consumers of potatoes in Europe.
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) and tariffs on Irish whiskey across the British Empire during the Anglo-Irish Trade War of the 1930s, sales of Irish whiskey worldwide fell to a mere 2% by the mid-20th century.
In 1953, an Irish government survey, found that 50% of whiskey drinkers in the United States had never heard of Irish 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 flying-boat station) is probably the best-known Irish cocktail.
Porter remains very popular, although it has lost sales since the mid-20th century to lager.
Red lemonade, a soft-drink, is consumed on its own and as a mixer, particularly with whiskey.
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ireland.