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Information about Ireland

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Information about Ireland

Facts about Ireland

The (national) flag
Official name De officiële naam van de republiek is Poblacht Na h'Éireann, Éire in het kort
Surface 70.280 km2 of which 2% water (almost 2x as big as the Netherlands)
Inhabitants 4.59 million (2016) of which de meerderheid in stedelijke gebieden.
Population density 71 people per km²
Capital Dublin (Belfast is de hoofdstad van Noord-Ierland)
Currency The euro since 2002. 1 € is about $1.17 (2017)
Road network Most roads are small and one can't travel fast. But that isn't necessary in this beautiful country. The roads in Northern Ireland are much better.
Fuel prices For actual fuel prices in all European countries see Autotraveler.ru.
Code licence plate IRL
Telephone countrycode 353
Internet countrycode .ie
Time difference GMT, 1 hour earlier than in the Netherlands

Geographic data

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 is 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.
What is now four provinces was probably in ancient times five, as is indicated by the Irish word for the provinces, cóiceda (which means fifths). These are Ulster (Ulaid), Connacht, Munster (Mumu), Leinster (Lagin) and Meath (Mide).

PopulationNaar boven

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.
More detailed information can be found on this website: www.enfo.ie.

LanguagesNaar boven

For over a 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.

HistoryNaar boven

This is only a short survey on Irish history. For more information, have a look at one of the websites mentioned at the end of this section. A failed 1916 Easter Monday Rebellion touched off several years of guerrilla warfare that in 1921 resulted in independence from the UK for the 26 southern counties; the six northern counties (Ulster) remained part of Great Britain. In 1948 Ireland withdrew from the British Commonwealth; it joined the European Community in 1973. Irish governments have sought the peaceful unification of Ireland and have cooperated with Britain against terrorist groups. A peace settlement for Northern Ireland, known as the Good Friday Agreement and approved in 1998, is currently being implemented.

Prehistory, until 6000 BC.
At the end of the Ice Age (100,000 to 15,000 years ago), Ireland and England were attached to the European mainland. Central Europe was covered with ice and it was too cold for trees to grow. Although hunters with stone tools hunted on bison and deer and followed the land link into England, there is no evidence that they reached Ireland before 9,000 BC.
Around 10,000 BC the climate got warmer and the ice in Europe started to melt. Trees and bushes started to grow.
The earliest archeological prove of habitation date back to 8700 BC: a fortress and a camp at Mount Sandel (near Coleraine, Northern Ireland).

Middle Stone Age, 6000 - 3000 BC.
Because of the rising sea level, Ireland had become an island around 6000 BC. Settlers now arrived via England by boat, probably looking for food. A lot of the bigger animals (like the giant deer) had not survived the change in climate and fish and birds became an important food supply. According to Irish mythology these settlers were FirBolgs (or 'bag men'), the Tuatha Da Dananns and the Milesians. The Fir Bolg build complicated crypts and seemed to have much respect for their deceased. They were probably nomads and were hunters and fishermen.
They seemed to prefer the north-eastern part of the country where there were more lakes and consequently more food. Because of his total dependence on nature, these people had to cover a lot of land just to feed a small group of people.

New Stone Age, 3000 - 2000 BC.
The new stone age and the settling down of the nomads was introduced in Ireland much later than in the Middle East where cities had already been established. The population slowly increased by the cultivation of the land and a more assured food supply and, consequently, people in the Middle East started to travel west in search of further land to till. About 3000 BC. the first Neolithic people reached Ireland and they left large monuments, called megalithic tombs, that they built for their deceased. A lot of social organisation was required to build graves of this size. Several different types of these tombs have been found all over Europe. Some of the tombs were built so that the rising sun shines on the entrance, so they may have worshiped the sun. Most tombs are decorated elaborately.

Bronze Age, 2000 - 500 BC.
The Bronze Age, in which men discovers the complex process of melting and moulding metal objects from ore, reached Ireland around 2000 BC. The earliest metal pieces were made from gold and copper but they soon realised how to make bronze from an alloy of copper and tin. Many bronze objects, such as axes, knife-daggers and awls, were made. These, along with crescent-shaped gold collars called lunulae, were exported throughout Europe.
Another people arrived in Ireland, the Beaker people, called after the beakers they made. They were miners and had other beliefs. People were now buried in single graves and not always cremated. A pottery vessel, presumably for food, was placed next to the body and the tombs were simpler (standing stones, covered with a deck stone). Stone circles built in places such as Grange, County Limerick were presumably used for religious ceremonies.
These people were farmers and build permanent settlements. They grew crops of wheat and barley and herded their own cattle. They also practised an export trade in bronze weapons and gold ornaments. The discovery of materials such as faience (an artificial gemstone) and amber in graves prove that Ireland traded with countries as far as Egypt and the Baltic.
As the Bronze Age continued in Ireland, another metal was being manufactured in Europe. Iron was more difficult to work with than bronze but tribes in eastern Europe discovered how to smelt iron ore around 600 BC. These tribes were linked together by a communal Celtic language which was an ancestor of today's Irish. They also had a similar appearance and lifestyle. Their superior iron weapons enabled them to move out from the plains of central Europe and spread west, east and north.

Iron Age & Celts, 500 BC. - 400 AD.
The Celts (Gaels) were the next conquerors of Ireland and they arrive around 500 BC. or maybe a bit earlier. With their iron weapons they found little difficulty in defeating the Beakers who relied on copper weapons and their cult of magic. The Celts came from Germany, France and Spain and conquered Ireland in a short time period. There are many legends about the Celts throughout history and the Irish are still very proud of their Celtic ancestry.
Because the Romans left Ireland alone the Celts could develop their own culture, unlike many other European countries and tribes. Ireland was an agricultural country, fragmented into about 150 small kingdoms or tuatha. The population of the entire country was about half a million. The Irish nobleman was primarily a farmer, living in a ring-fort or crannog on his farm. There were no towns or villages and monasteries were the only places where people lived communally.
The Celts spend a lot of their time raiding and robbing cattle and women, who also served as currency. The fall of Emain Macha to the Connachta in 450 AD marked the end of the Celtic heroic age as well as the end of the Five Fifths of Ireland. The Five Fifths was the prehistoric political division of the country into areas called Ulaid, Laigin, Mumu, Connachta and Mide. The sons of the Connachta prince known as Niall of the Nine Hostages consolidated their hold on the land by founding new dynastic kingdoms in the midlands and north west. The Ulaid gradually retreated East of the Bann, although this move was not fully completed until the late seventh century. By the sixth century the descendants of Niall had monopolised Tara and acquired the dynastic name of Uí Néill.
One of the most important aspects of Irish Society was the áes dána which included poets, brehons, historians and genealogists. These men were able to travel throughout Ireland as their authority was not limited to their own tuatha. Their privileged position was derived from their druidic forebearers. Although Christianity brought an end to the pagan functions of druids, they retained their learning and status. The áes dána worked with the Christian monks to produce an Irish history. This compromise between the church and the learned secular elite meant that learning was not exclusive to the religious orders.

Prehistory in Ireland ended with Ogham. Ogham dates from the overlapping period between paganism and Christianity. It was developed around the fourth century AD from the Latin alphabet. Letters were represented by single or grouped lines which placed in relation to a baseline which was usually the edge of a standing stone. Ogham was used for carving inscriptions in an early form of Irish. Its use was in decline by the seventh century.

Early Christianity, 400-600 AD
Christians were so numerous by 431 that a bishop, Palladius, was appointed by Pope Celestine to minister to them. Armagh was founded as the chief church in Ireland in 444 AD. Palladius was succeeded by Patrick who became known as Ireland's national saint because of his missionary work.
The earliest known Irish documents are those written by Patrick in the fifth century. He left an eye witness account of the conversion of the Irish which he wrote in Latin. These documents also contain an account of how he originally came to Ireland. Patrick was a native of Roman Britain. Aged sixteen he was captured by a band of Irish raiders, one of whom may have been Niall of the Nine Hostages. While enslaved and working alone as a herdsman he turned to God and developed a very strong faith. After six years he escaped and made his way home. He was subsequently compelled to return to Ireland as a result of a vision that he had where the Irish people implored him to return. The exact dates of St Patrick's mission are not known but it is believed that he arrived either in 432 or 456. He traveled throughout Ireland for about thirty years, preaching to the people, baptising converts and ordaining priests. St Patrick originally introduced the Episcopal system of church government to Ireland. This was the same system as used in Britain and Gaul, where the bishop held the most important ecclastical position. Monastic life was also introduced to Ireland by St Patrick and it was embraced by his Irish followers to the extent that it replaced the ecclesiastical system. By the eight century, the important administrative role that had belonged to the bishops was taken over by the heads of monasteries. A uniquely Irish monastic hierarchy developed where the monks ruled the churches. Monasteries became the most important centres of religion and education.
Sint Patrick's Day (March 17) has become the national holiday. The shamrock (a three-leaved clover) he used to explain the mystery of the Holy Trinity, is one of the symbols of Ireland.

Golden Age, 600-795
After the rapid spread of Christianity and the establishment of monasteries in Ireland and abroad there was a period of consolidation which became known as the Golden Age. Irish society was relatively prosperous at this time and the country had not been invaded since prehistoric times. The learning and artistry which developed in Ireland spread far beyond the boundaries of the country.

Education in the clerical and secular schools was very different in terms of subject matter and method. By the seventh century the two approaches were beginning to unite. The poets and lawyers learned to write and started to apply their new knowledge to the traditional learning and language. This collusion between oral Irish and written Latin meant that written records of the old traditions and stories were kept.
By the end of the eighth century Ireland was united in language, culture, religion and law. This unification did not extend to political matters as Ireland was still divided into many petty kingdoms. The Uí Néill, with their political centre in Tara, dominated the northern half of the country while the Eóganachta had control over the southern half from their base in Cashel. At this time there was little direct conflict between the Uí Néill and the Eóganachta. A third province was in the south east where the Laigin had their lands. The Laigin only grudgingly accepted the overlordship of the other dynasties. The power vacuum that existed meant that there was no one dynasty strong enough to defend Ireland.

Viking Age, 795-900
Viking raids began in 795 when ships from Norway attacked Lambay, off the Dublin coast, and Iona. The monastery on this Scottish island was founded by St Colum Cille in the sixth century. Monasteries were wealthy communities and were the obvious places to raid for valuables and slaves. Repeated attacks in 802 and 805 drove the monks from Iona to Ireland where they founded a new monastery at Kells. Over the next forty years the coastal monasteries all around Ireland were attacked and plundered for their wealth. Although these Viking attacks were very destructive they were confined to coastal regions.
The Vikings were pagan farmers and seamen who originated from Norway. They were exceptionally skilled carpenters who were able to build vessels capable of tackling the Atlantic Ocean. Large fleets of Viking ships arrived in Ireland in 837 to establish permanent bases and trading stations. Parts of Ireland which had been exempt from the Viking attacks were now raided from these bases as the Vikings used lakes and rivers, including the Shannon, to penetrate deep into the country. The Vikings built their first fortified settlements around 841. One of these, at the mouth of the Liffey, was the beginning of what became Dublin. The other was on the Louth coast at Linn Duachaill, now called Annagassan.

The Vikings were the founders of the first Irish cities. These were trading ports with markets at home and abroad. This had a major impact on the Irish economy. Previously an agricultural, non-rural society, the establishment of trading settlements meant a move towards the new world of commerce. This move is evident in the introduction of money to Ireland. Silver coins were minted in Dublin even before the battle of Clontarf. Dublin was the richest of the Viking cities and an important commercial centre.

High kings, 900-1169
The tyranny of the Vikings was ended in 1014 in the battle of Contarf. One of the most celebrated kings, Brian Boru, defeated the Vikings, although he was killed himself in the battle, praying for victory.
The next 150 years was a time of great instability as the provincial kings contested the high kingship. Ireland was divided into seven provinces - Munster, Leinster, Connacht, Meath, Ailech, Airgialla and Ulaid - and between one and two hundred petty kingdoms which varied in size and power. Several powerful provincial kingdoms had emerged during the Viking wars. Brian Boru destroyed the Uí Néill monopoly of the high kingship and it became a prize fought over by the provincial kings. The rivalry that developed over the high-kingship meant that there was continuous conflict and unrest in the country. During this time a new term came into use - rí co fresabra - king with opposition. These rí co fresabra were provincial kings who attempted to become high king but they were not powerful enough to control the other kings.

Normans, 1169-1513
The Normans were descendants of Viking raiders who had settled in France in the ninth century and had become French in language and custom. A restless and land hungry people who enjoyed war, they were the greatest race of conquerors in medieval Europe. They battled against their French neighbours, attacked Italy and made their way to England, defeating the English at the battle of Hastings in 1066. From there they spread throughout Scotland and Wales, eventually making their way to Ireland in 1169.
They came on request of fighting Irish kings (the story started with king Dermot McMurrough of Leinster abducting princess Devorgilla, the wife of king Tiernan O'Rourke, just like the start of the Trojan War) and within a few years the Norman Strongbow (Richard, second count of Pembroke) became king of Leinster and rapidly expanded his kingdom. King Henry II of England then turned to Ireland and subjected the Norman kings to his throne because he thought they had become too successful and therefore could be a threat to him. But the Normans hadn't conquered all of Ireland and here lies the beginning of the dividing wall between Ireland and the Anglo-Norman part of it.
But Ireland became an English colony and great parts were conquered. The Normans introduced feudalism to the areas of Ireland where they settled. This was a continental system of government and landholding. Under feudal law the king owned all the land and was entitled to divide it between his own lords. These men swore oaths of loyalty to their king, paid a monetary tribute and supplied knights to him when necessary. In return, the king granted them estates of land. Estates or manors were divided into the demesne, which was held by the lord himself; and small holdings which were given to tenant farmers in return for rent and services.
In the 13th century there was an attempt to restore a Gaelic kingdom and drive off the Engli h. In 1216 Edward Bruce, the brother of King Robert of Scotland, was crowned high king and after his death in 1219 the Irish managed to regain much of the conquered land, but never regained all of it.

Tudor conquest, 1509-1603
King Henry VIII (also known as Bluebird) crowned himself as King of all Ireland after rebellions of the Anglo-Normans against the English throne. This was the beginning of the battle between the protestant English and the catholic Irish, a battle which still continues. Edward VI, who succeeded Henry VIII in 1547, attempted to introduce doctrinal change to Ireland but this was resisted. When Mary I, a devout Catholic, came to power in 1553, she restored the Catholic religion. Elizabeth, the last of the Tudors, reversed this decision and restored Episcopal Protestantism by an act of the Irish Parliament in 1560. A division in Ireland along religious grounds became apparent. The Anglo Irish and Gaelic people united together under the old religion while the English colonists and officials embraced Protestantism.
War broke out in 1595 but the Irish lost because they were not as well armed or experienced as the English, and the Spanish help they has asked for, arrived too late.
The roots of the conflict between the catholics and protestants originate in the 16th century.

Plantations, 1603-1660
English, Scottish (who were not allowed to have Irish tenants) and Servitors (men who had served in the English army in Ireland) were brought into Ireland to live in plantations. In this way, the English hoped, Ireland would be easier to control. The Ulster settlement was the most successful of the plantations. Its success helped to give the area the Protestant character it has today.
In 1641, the Irish rebelled, and for 10 years war raged throughout the country. The Irish Catholics fought for independence. The Old English joined them, but all through the war they declared that they were loyal to the king and were fighting only for religious freedom. The Protestants were also divided into two groups: those who supported the king and those who supported Parliament.
In 1649, Oliver Cromwell arrived in Ireland with a large army. He fought a cruel war and left Ireland in ruins. Its population was halfed and most of the leaders were dead or in exile.

Restoration, 1660-1691
The Irish were glad with the accession of King James II to the English throne in 1685, since he was a Roman Catholic, and the Irish hoped that he would allow them to recover their lands. But in 1688, the English people deposed James and offered the throne to William of Orange, a Dutch prince. James fled to France, but, in the following year, he went to Ireland with French support, in the hope that the Roman Catholics would help him to recover his throne.
In 1690, James was defeated at the Boyne after a short war, and returned to France. The Irish and their French allies continued the fight. But they were again defeated.
On Oct. 13, 1691, the Treaty of Limerick was signed. One clause of the treaty seemed to promise that Roman Catholics would be free to practise their religion, but this promise was not kept.

Penal laws, 1691-1779
By 1704, roman catholics owned no more than one-seventh of the land, although they outnumbered the protestants. Even this amount was later reduced by the operation of the extremely harsh religious laws, known as the Penal Laws, that were passed between 1692 and 1727 in violation of the Treaty of Limerick. The government hoped that Roman Catholicism would die out.
Other laws aimed to keep Roman Catholics poor and without power. When a Roman Catholic landowner died, his estate had to be divided equally among his sons. No Roman Catholic could purchase land or lease land for more than 31 years. A Roman Catholic could not carry arms or own a horse worth more than five pounds. Roman Catholics could not teach in a school or send their children abroad to be educated. No Roman Catholic could sit in Parliament or vote in a parliamentary election. Also, they could not take part in local government, or serve on a jury, hold any government office, or become a lawyer or army officer.
The religious laws could not be enforced, but the other penal laws were. By the 1770's, Roman Catholics held only one-twentieth of the land. A few prospered in trade, but most of them were tenant farmers, paying high rent to their Protestant landlords and tithes to the Protestant state church, or landless labourers, living in great poverty. As the population grew, competition for land increased. More poor people had to eat potatoes as their only food. After the Irish aristocracy lost their lands, a decline in Gaelic learning set in and the poets and chroniclers were reduced to poverty. But Irish was still spoken by poor people, though the ruling class and the Protestants in Ulster used English.

Protestant nation, 1775-1803
When the American War of Independence broke out in 1775, the government withdrew troops from Ireland to serve abroad. The Protestant landlords formed companies of Volunteers to defend the country. The Patriots gained control of the Volunteers, and, with their help, Henry Grattan was able to force the British government to remove the restrictions on Irish trade and on the Irish Parliament. In 1782 the Whigs came to power in England and granted parliamentary independence to Ireland.
In 1782, the Irish Parliament began its 18 years of independence. These were prosperous years for Ireland. Industry was expanding, and there was a demand in Britain for Irish wheat, beef, and butter. Parliament tried to increase prosperity by giving bounties and subsidies. But most of the Irish people had little share in this prosperity.
The Irish Parliament was still corrupt. The lord lieutenant of Ireland was able to control its decisions by distributing titles, posts, and pensions among its members. It was also unrepresentative. By this time, most of the penal laws had been repealed.
Roman Catholics got the right to vote vote in 1793, but they could not become Members of Parliament. Grattan tried to get Parliament to reform. After the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789, a radical movement began to advocate more extreme reforms. It was particularly strong among the Presbyterians of Ulster. In 1791, a young Dublin lawyer, Theobald Wolfe Tone, founded the Society of United Irishmen. The United Irishmen wanted to unite Irish people of all religious beliefs and to make Parliament representative of all the people. Later, they decided to establish an Irish republic with French help.
A French force landed in County Mayo in 1798, but the French and United Irishmen were both soon defeated. William Pitt (prime minister of the UK) believed that it was necessary to unite Ireland to Britain in order to maintain the Protestant ascendancy and avoid further rebellion. The British Government's proposed this to the Irish Parliament in January 1799. After parliamentary debates in which Henry Grattan of the Patriot party strongly emphasised Ireland's national identity, it was narrowly defeated by a majority of five votes. Through a programme of bribery and propaganda, the Chief Secretary, Lord Castlereagh, set about getting the result the government wanted. By ousting opponents of the union from government offices and giving jobs and peerages to others in return for their support, the government secured a majority. The Act of Union was passed by the Irish Parliament in January 1800 despite Grattan's fierce opposition. Five centuries of Irish Parliamentary operations ended when the act came into force on 1 January 1801. Ireland was joined to Britain and became part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. It would be represented by 28 peers and four bishops in the House of Lords and 100 members in the House of Commons. The Church of Ireland and the Church of England were united into a single established church. Although existing laws in Ireland remained valid, Westminster had the option of altering or revoking them.

Under the Union, 1800-1848
After the Act of Union and the failure of Robert Emmet's rebellion (1803), Ireland entered a deceptively peacefully period although there were many problems throughout the country. Ireland's future was no longer decided by Irishmen; agrarian unrest and Catholic agitation were common; Irish land was insufficient to feed the growing population; Irish industry was declining and no provision was being made for the growing numbers of destitute paupers in the countryside and towns.
A remarkable initiative came from Daniel O'Connell, who had much success with a Catholic Emancipation movement, demonstrating how a peaceful mass movement could pressurise the government into changing policy. O'Connell's long term aim was to get the Act of Union repealed. But in the end he failed.
The success of the 1848 French revolution led the Young Irelanders (an offspring group of O'Connell's movement) to believe that the time was right for an Irish insurrection. But the revolt was unplanned and unsupported, and quickly was put to an end.

The famine, 1845-1851
Between 1800 and 1845 the population had been rapidly growing, from 5 million to over 8 million. In 1845, the potato blight attacked the crops for the first time and it was not the last attack. Accompanied by milk, potatoes provided most of the important nutrients for ther Irish, and they were very important for the economy. It is estimated one and a half million died of starvation and disease during The Great Famine and almost one million left Ireland hoping for a better life in Canada and the US. The rapid growth of the population now became a rapid decline.

Late 19th century, 1850-1891
The years after the Irish famine were marked by the prominence of the land question and the struggle for independence. The country was in recovery from the horrific distress and destruction of the preceding years.

To independance, 1891-1922
In the late 19th century, the twin issues of land reform and a desire for political self-rule led to the emergence of an independence movement in the South of the country. In 1916, an Easter Uprising was put down by the English and the leaders of that revolt were shot. Their martyrdom galvanised the Irish populace as nothing else could, and guerrilla warfare eventually succeeded in dislodging the British. An independent Free State emerged from a bitter war of independence in 1922. But, the price of British exit from 26 counties of Ireland was the retention of 6 of Ulster's counties where the majority of the people were Protestant. The majority Protestant population in the North resisted this development and succeeded in retaining Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom (UK).
The political party Sinn Fein was founded in 1905 and played an important role in gaining independance.

A new nation, 1920-1968
Despite the fact independance had been gained and the Irish Free State had been established on Dec. 6, 1922, the civil war, which began in June 1922 lasted until April 1923, and again many people died.
On Dec. 29, 1937, a new Constitution was introduced, which described Ireland as "a sovereign, independent, democratic state," with the name Eire. The head of the state was to be a president, and the Prime Minister was to be called An Taoiseach. The Constitution was accepted by the people in a referendum. In 1938, the British government restored the Irish ports that were held under the Treaty of 1921.
In 1948, a coalition government under the Fine Gael leader John A. Costello repealed the External Relations Act, severing the only remaining link between Britain and Eire. The Republic of Ireland was formally declared on April 18, 1949, and the Republic received international recognition.
All the political parties in the Republic of Ireland support the reunification of the country by peaceful means. But the Irish Republican Army has tried to end the partition of the country by launching guerrilla attacks in Northern Ireland from time to time since the 1930's.

The present, 1968-now
During the late 1960's, and through the 1970's and 1980's, guerrilla activities in Northern Ireland were often intense. A considerable amount of related violence occurred in the Republic of Ireland. The partition of Ireland remained an important issue. In 1985, the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom signed an agreement that established an advisory council for Northern Ireland. The council gave the Republic an advisory role, but no direct powers, in the government of Northern Ireland. The Anglo-Irish Agreement was eventually widely accepted by all parties in the Republic, but was bitterly opposed by Unionists in Northern Ireland.
In 1973 Ireland joined the European Economic Community, which is now the European Union. The result has been dramatic. A lackluster, agricultural economy has transformed into the "Celtic Tiger," the most rapidly growing economy in Europe. A mostly rural populace has become mostly urban, and an island on the periphery of Europe has become the largest exporter of software in the world. Ahead of Japan, Britain, Germany, the U.S.! Ireland has entered the unified European Monetary Unit (EMU) with its single European currency - the Euro.
As for the future: talks between all parties in the Irish conflict are continuing but the outcome is still unclear. We hope that peace will once be an intrinsic part of Ireland. All people want the same: peace, prosperity and happiness. Why try to dominate over other people? Why are people so stubborn and/or egocentric?
What happens in Ireland is not an exception, we have seen it in most countries we have visited: always there are minorities (or as in Ireland, majorities) who suffer the domination of other human beings. Will there ever be an end to that? As more and more young adults earn an education through universities and colleges or achieve their degrees hopefully they will be able to lead a discussion of hope and change and through understanding peace can be given a chance to succeed.

More information
Sources of this information: jimkelley.com/irishhistory and rte.ie/millennia/history/index. Another good reference is utexas.edu/~jdana/irehist. Other links can be found on our Ireland linkpage.

ClimateNaar boven

The climate of Ireland is temperate maritime: mild winters and cool summers. It is consistently humid and overcast about half the time, but there is no truth in the stories that it rains every day. The North Atlantic Current moderates the weather and the temperatures, so there are no really cold winters and in summer it can be very nice. And, even though there can be lots of clouds and sometimes rain, the weather can change fast in Ireland, like in the mountain ranges: one moment there is a lot of fog and the next the sun is shining brightly. This fast changing weather belongs to Ireland. Just go there for the country, not for the weather and you will always enjoy your visit. We had a fantastic time and more sun and dry weather than we had expected.

Flora and faunaNaar boven

Ireland was largely covered in desiduous forests until 5,000 years ago when, with the arrival of cattle, systematic deforestation began. In fact it is now the case that Ireland is one of the least forested countries in Europe and that the bulk of those forests that do exist are state managed, are coniferous and are comprised of foreign species.
More information on flora and fauna can be found on these sites: www.local.ie or www.irishcultureguide.com. If you have information we might use, please mail us.

EconomyNaar boven

Ireland is a small, modern, trade-dependent economy with growth averaging a robust 9% in 1995-2001. Agriculture, once the most important sector, is now dwarfed by industry, which accounts for 38% of GDP, about 80% of exports, and employs 28% of the labor 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. Over the past decade, the Irish government has implemented a series of national economic programs designed to curb inflation, reduce government spending, increase labor force skills, and promote foreign investment. Ireland has substantially reduced its external debt since 1987, to 40% of GDP in 1994. Over the same period, inflation has fallen sharply and chronic trade deficits have been transformed into annual surpluses. Unemployment remains a serious problem, however, and job creation is the main focus of government policy. To ease unemployment, Dublin aggressively courts foreign investors and recently created a new industrial development agency to aid small indigenous firms. Government assistance is constrained by Dublin's continuing deficit reduction measures.
Ireland joined in launching the euro currency system in January 1999 along with 10 other EU nations. The economy felt the impact of the global economic slowdown in 2001, particularly in the high-tech export sector; the growth rate was cut by nearly half. Growth in 2002 is expected to fall in the 3%-5% range.
More information about Ireland's economy can be found on these websites: motherearthtravel.com and irelandeconomy.html. Also have a look at the CIA world factbook with the latest information.

The actual weather

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