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Ireland Facts

Ireland Facts

Ireland is a beautiful island filled with green countryside and softly flowing rivers. It is sometimes called the Emerald Isle. A very interesting country, full of folk lore and music, but it was not always a peaceful place.

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Quick Facts

Capital: Dublin

Population: 6 572 728 9 (In 2016)

Key Cities: Cork, Sligo, Limerick, Galway.

Official Language: English, Irish, Ulster Scots

Major religions: Roman Catholic and Protestant

Geography

Bordering countries: Ireland is an island. It is situated on the west of Great Britain and that is Irelands nearest country.

Size: 84 421 km2(32 595 sq. mi)

Lowest Point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m

Highest Point: Carrauntoohit 1 041m

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Geography

Ireland is made of low-lying mountains surrounding a central plain. There are many slow flowing rivers in Ireland including the River Shannon that rises in the plateau country near Sligo and flows slowly south-southeast for 160 miles (260 kms) to the sea at Limerick.

Ireland is a combination of counties, geographical regions. The biggest part of Ireland is called The Republic of Ireland and it has twenty-six counties. Northern Ireland has six counties and Ulster that belongs to England has nine counties.

Ireland is separated from Great Britain by the Irish sea, The North Channel and St George’s Channel.

History

Ireland has had a history of conflicts and unrest. The first inhabitants arrived as early as 700BC. They were mainly the Celts who arrived from Gaul and Britain.

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In 350 AD Ireland turned to Christianity and St Patrick arrived to spread the gospel throughout Ireland. He had to persuade King Laoghaire to allow him to do this. Although Ireland was now following a Christian way of life there were still battles with Vikings and other powerful kings until King Henry II of England was made a lord of Ireland by the pope. A statute was issued preventing the marriage of Irish and English people. The English wanted to stop the Gaelic culture but were unsuccessful at that time

Henry VIII, another English king, claimed to be king of Ireland in 1541. A campaign to take away land from the Irish began. It was called the Plantation of Ireland.

The failed uprising of Hugh O’Neil ended in defeat at the Battle of Kinsale and this put an end to the Gaelic order in Ireland. The earls of Ireland took flight and went into exile. When King Charles came to the throne his policies caused uprisings in Ulster and a civil war in England.

Ireland was then invaded by Oliver Cromwell. Anyone opposing Cromwell was stripped of their land by an Act of Settlement. More laws were put in place preventing Catholics from voting, having an education or joining the army. This was a terrible act of discrimination.

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The American War of Independence made the Irish feel restless and in 1782 Grattan’s parliament persuade the English to give Ireland her independence. This was agreed, but by name only. Eventually the Irish were made part of Britain under the Act of Union.

In 1829 the Catholic Emancipation act was passed when Daniel O’Connell was elected, but this peace did not last as Ireland was hit by the Great Famine. A million people died at this time and this started the emigration of Ireland and people left to go and live in America.

There were more efforts on the part of the Irish to gain their independence. Some Irishmen were executed for their part in the Easter Rising. Then Michael Collins planned the War of Independence against Britain.

Ireland was not involved in the Second World war and finally in 1948 Ireland was declared a Republic. This has not necessarily restored peace in Ireland and there have been riots between Protestants and Catholics. A peace declaration was signed, this helped Ireland begin to prosper.

Economy

After such a long history of war and oppression Ireland started to grow economically. The country was exporting their goods, but unfortunately in 2008 financial problems caused an economic crisis and the International Monetry fund had to help Ireland financially.

Ireland is dependent on agriculture for their economy and this did not bring enough wealth into the country. When times were difficult many more people decided to leave the country and go and live abroad looking for a better life.

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Culture

The Irish people are very friendly. They love their folklore and Irish music is popular. The Irish have some interesting instruments that they play. The Irish bouzoukis, the fiddle and the uilleamm pipes are part of their musical culture. The harp is a very important instrument as it is part of the Irish national symbols and can be found on the Irish money.

The Irish enjoy a special kind of country dancing and wear shoes with wooden taps on them that make a noise as they dance. The River Dance made Irish dancing very famous.

The Irish enjoy their myths and folk tales and the Leprechaun is a well-known character who is dressed in green. If you catch him, he has to give you three wishes.

Sport is important in Ireland especially the Gaelic athletics. The GAA association ensures games like hurling continue to be part of the culture.

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Famous People

Pierce Brosnan an actor who played the part of James Bond in the 007 movies came from Ireland.

Oscar Wilde the well-known playwright, novelist, poet and essayist was born in Dublin.

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C.S. Lewis was born in Belfast and was a pioneer of children’s fantasy books. He wrote the Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Ernest Shackleton was the heroic explorer who led a team of men to cross the Antarctic, but the expedition was a failure.

George Best  talented football player played for Northern Ireland and Manchester United.

Bono the musician and humanitarian, who is part of global charities, came from Ireland.

Fun Facts

Green was not always the colour remembered on St Patrick’s Day. Green became a popular colour during the 1798 rebellion when the shamrock became the symbol of the nation.

Muckanaghederdauhaulia is the name of a small village in Connemara in the county Galway. It has the longest place name in the country with twenty-two letters.

Ireland won the Eurovision contest seven times more than any other country.

The Cliffs of Moher can be seen in several movies including Harry Potter.