Saturday, January 19, 2013

Introduction to Ireland

It is important to avoid confusion about what is and what is not Ireland. The island of Ireland has both the Republic of Ireland and territory of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland. See the map below. Ireland was under British rule for hundreds of years, regaining its independence from Britain in 1921.
For this article, I will be referring to the Republic of Ireland. Dublin is the capital of the Republic of Ireland and its largest city.

The Irish are a proud people, know to have strong opinions which they share loudly in their local pubs over strong dark beer and Irish whiskey. The people speak English with a heavy brogue and some Gaelic, the ancient language of Ireland. You may hear some refer to Ireland as Erin, a romanticized version of Erie (pronounced AIR uh). That is the Gaelic name for the county.  Ireland also has long been known as the Emerald Isle, because of the rolling green countryside and pastures for sheep.

The 6.4 million people in Ireland are spread across 26 counties. Some Counties are famous in their own right such as Waterford, known for its delicate cut glass and Done-gal, famous for its tweed cloth.

The Irish also have a reputation as warm, friendly people, skill as writers and storytellers. Population is 6.4 million.

The Irish have a long history that includes many hardships and struggles. In the 1840's, a potato blight and the starvation and disease that followed caused the deaths of about a million people and at least as many people left their homeland. After this famine, a shortage of jobs and other problems caused emigration to continue. As a result, little more than half as many people live in Ireland today as lived there in 1845. This is a great little book to guide you around Ireland.

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