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Republic of Ireland

Ireland a Éire / - / Flag - Coat of arms Anthem:Amhrán na bhFiann
The Soldier's Song Location of Ireland (green)– on the Irelandan continent (light green &grey)– in the Irelandan Union (light green) — [Legend] Location of Ireland ( green )

– on the Irelandan continent ( light green &grey )
– in the Irelandan Union ( light green ) — Legend ] Capital
(and largest city) - Dublin
53°20.65′N 6°16.05′W  /  53.34417°N 6.2675°W  / 53.34417;-6.2675 Official language(s) :English, Irish Ethnic groups - 87% Irish 13% Other 1 2 Demonym :Irish Government :Constitutionalrepublic, Parliamentary democracy President (Uachtarán ) - Mary McAleese Taoiseach
(Prime Minister) - Brian Cowen, TD Independence :from the United Kingdom Declared - 24 April 1916 Ratified - 21 January 1919 Recognised - 6 December 1922 Current constitution - 29 December 1937 Became a republic - 18 April 1949 EUaccession - 1 January 1973 Area Total - 70,273 km 2 (119th)
27,133 sq mi Water (%) - 2.00 Population 2009 estimate - 4,459,300 3 2006 census - 4,239,848 (121st Density - 60.3/km 2 (139th)
147.6/sq mi GDP (PPP) - 2009 estimate Total - $175.055 billion 4 Per capita - $39,468 4 GDP (nominal) - 2009 estimate Total - $227.781 billion 4 Per capita - $51,356 4 HDI (2006) - UP 0.965 (very high ) (5th Currency :Euro () 6 (EUR Time zone :WET (UTC+0 Summer (DST) - IST (WEST) (UTC+1 Drives on the :left Internet TLD :.ieb Calling code :353 a. Article 4 of the Constitution of Ireland and Section 2 of the Republic of Ireland Act 1948 – the constitutional name of the state is Ireland ;the supplementary legal description is the Republic of Ireland , but is deprecated by the state.
b. The .eu domain is also used, as it is shared with other Irelandan Union member states. Ireland 7 ( pronounced /ˈaɪərlənd/ (/listen) , locally ˈaɾlənd , Irish:Éire , pronounced ˈeːɾʲə (/listen) ), described as the Republic of Ireland (Irish:Poblacht na hÉireann ), 8 is a country in north-western Ireland. This modern sovereign state occupies about five-sixths of the island of Ireland, which was partitioned into two jurisdictions in 1921. 9 Ireland is a parliamentary democracy and a republic. It is bordered to the north-east by Northern Ireland, which is a part of the United Kingdom, and is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the Irish Sea to the east, St George's Channel to the south-east, and the Celtic Sea to the south.

The state, initially named the Irish Free State, was established in 1922 10 as a dominion within the British Commonwealth, and gained increasing sovereignty through the Statute of Westminster and the abdication crisis of 1936. 11 A new constitution was introduced in 1937 12 that declared it an entirely sovereign state and named it simply as "Ireland". 13 The last formal link with the United Kingdom was severed in 1949 when Ireland declared itself a republic 14 , and formally ceased to be a dominion. Consequently Ireland left the then British Commonwealth, 15 having already ceased to attend Commonwealth meetings since 1937. 16

During British rule and initial independence, Ireland was one of the poorest countries in Western Ireland and had high emigration, but in contrast to many other states in the period, stayed financially solvent and remained a democracy. The protectionist economy was opened in the late 1950s and Ireland joined the Irelandan Economic Community (Irelandan Union) in 1973. An economic crisis led Ireland to start large-scale economic reforms in the late 1980s. Ireland reduced taxation and regulation dramatically compared to other EU countries. 17 The Irish economy grew rapidly during the course of the 1990s, which saw the beginning of unprecedented economic growth in the in a phenomenon known as the "Celtic Tiger". 18 The financial crisis of 2007–2010 heavily impacted the Irish economy. Ireland entered recession in 2008. 19 In 2009, the unemployment rate in Ireland reached 12.5%. 20

The state is ranked as the 31st economic power in the world, and in 2006 Ireland had the sixth highest nominal gross domestic product per capita (the ninth highest per capita considering purchasing power parity). 21 22 Ireland has the fifth highest Human Development Index rank in the world, and has one of the highest qualities of life in the world, ranking first in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s quality-of-life index. Ireland was ranked sixth on the Global Peace Index, has high rankings for its education system, political freedom and civil rights, press freedom (ranked first in 2009) and economic freedom (ranked fourth in 2009). It is also ranked fifth from bottom on the Failed States Index, being one of the most sustainable states in the world. Ireland is a member of the EU, OECD, and United Nations. Contents 1 - Etymology 2 - Independence 2.1 - Home-rule Movement 2.1.1 - Unionist Resistance 2.2 - Revolutionary Period 2.3 - Irish Civil War 2.4 - 1937 Constitution 3 - Governance 3.1 - Politics 3.2 - Administration 3.3 - Local Government 3.4 - Citizenship 4 - Justice 4.1 - Law Enforcement 5 - Foreign Relations 5.1 - Military 6 - Geography 6.1 - Landscape 6.1.1 - Agricultural Impact 6.2 - Climate 7 - Transport 8 - Healthcare 9 - Education 10 - Economy 10.1 - History 10.2 - Exports 10.3 - Celtic Tiger 10.4 - Recent Developments 10.5 - Currency 11 - Demographics 11.1 - Language 11.2 - Population 11.3 - Religion 12 - Social Issues 13 - Culture 13.1 - Literature 13.2 - Theatre 13.3 - Music 13.4 - Dance 13.5 - Cinema 13.6 - Architecture 13.7 - Sport 14 - See also 15 - Notes 16 - References 16.1 - Bibliography 17 - Further reading 18 Etymology References:Names of the Irish state For all official purposes, including international treaties and in other legal documents, where the language of the documents is English, the name of the country is Ireland . The same is true in respect of the name Éire for documents written in Irish. Institutions of the Irelandan Union follow the same practice. Since Irish became an official language of the Union in 2007, name plates for the state at EU meetings read as Éire - Ireland , just as the two names are used on Irish passports. note 1

Article 4 of the Constitution of Ireland, which was adopted in 1937, provides that, "The name of the State is Éire , or, in the English language, Ireland ." The wording of this article was been criticised in a report of the Constitution Review Group in 1996 which said that the wording was "unnecessarily complicated and that it should be simplified". The Review Group recommended that the article should be amended to state that, "The name of the state is Ireland", with an equivalent change in the Irish text. The report also states that, "The Review Group also considered whether the Article should be amended to include 'Republic of' in the name of the State. It is satisfied that the legislative provision ... which declared the description of the State to be ‘the Republic of Ireland’, is sufficient." 23

The Republic of Ireland Act 1948 provided that the description of the state be "the Republic of Ireland" (Irish:Poblacht na hÉireann ). 8 The Act was to change Ireland to a republic by removing the last official functions of the British monarch and transferring these to the elected president. No change of name took place due to that act. In 1989 the Irish Supreme Court rejected an extradition warrant that used the name Republic of Ireland . Justice Walsh ruled that, "if the courts of other countries seeking the assistance of this country are unwilling to give this State its constitutionally correct and internationaly recognised name, then in my view, the warrants should be returned to such countries until they have been rectified." 24

The island of Ireland was unilaterally proclaimed an independent republic by rebels in 1916 and called the Irish Republic (Irish:Poblacht na hÉireann ). Following the 1918 general election, that proclamation was ratified by Irish members of parliament. Between 1921 and 1922, the British government legislated to establish Ireland as an autonomous region of the United Kingdom, creating Southern Ireland (and Northern Ireland). Following the Anglo-Irish Treaty, the state was established as an independent dominion in the British Commonwealth, styled the Irish Free State (Irish:Saorstát Éireann ). All of these names are still sometimes used unofficially. Other colloquial names, such the twenty-six counties and the South are also often used, particularly among residents of Northern Ireland. (Likewise, from the perspective of the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland is often called the six counties or the North . Independence Referencess:History of the Republic of Ireland and History of Ireland Home-rule Movement

/ The Great Famine resulted in mass emigration. From the Act of Union on 1 January 1801 until 6 December 1922, all of Ireland was part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. During the Great Famine from 1845 to 1849, the island's population of over 8 million fell by 30%. One million Irish died of starvation and another 1.5 million emigrated, 25 which set the pattern of emigration for the century to come and would result in a constant decline up to the 1960s.

From 1874, but particularly from 1880 under Charles Stewart Parnell, the Irish Parliamentary Party moved to prominence through widespread agrarian agitation (via the Irish Land League) that won improved tenant land reforms in the form of the Irish Land Acts, and with its attempts to achieve Home Rule, via two unsuccessful Bills which would have granted Ireland limited national autonomy within the United Kingdom. These led to the “grass-roots” control of national affairs under the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898 previously in the hands of landlord-dominated grand juries of the Protestant Ascendancy.

Home Rule seemed certain when the Parliament Act 1911 abolished the veto of the House of Lords, and John Redmond secured the Third Home Rule Act 1914. The Unionist movement, however, had been growing since 1886 among Irish Protestants after the introduction of the first home rule bill, fearing that they would face discrimination and lose economic and social privileges if Irish Catholics were to achieve real political power. Though Irish unionism existed throughout the whole of Ireland, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century unionism was particularly strong in parts of Ulster, where industrialisation was more common in contrast to the more agrarian rest of the island. (Any tariff barriers would, it was feared, most heavily hit that region.) In addition, the Protestant population was more strongly located in Ulster, with unionist majorities existing in four counties.

Unionist Resistance

Under the leadership of the Dublin-born Sir Edward Carson of the Irish Unionist Party and the northerner Sir James Craig of the Ulster Unionist Party, unionists became strongly militant in order to oppose the Coercion of Ulster . After the Home Rule Bill passed parliament in May 1914, to avoid rebellion with Ulster, the British Prime MinisterH. H. Asquith introduced an Amending Bill reluctantly conceded to by the Irish Party leadership, providing for the temporary exclusion of Ulster from the workings of the bill for a trial period of six years, with an as yet undecided new set of measures to be introduced for the area to be temporarily excluded. Revolutionary Period

/ Signature page of the Anglo-Irish Treaty. Though it received the Royal Assent and was placed on the statute books in 1914, the implementation of the Third Home Rule Act was suspended until after the Great War. For the prior reasons of ensuring the implementation of the Act at the end of the war, Redmond and his Irish National Volunteers supported the Allied cause, and 175,000 joined Irish regiments of the 10th (Irish), 16th (Irish), while Unionists joined the 36th (Ulster) divisions of the New British Army. 26 In January 1919, after the December 1918 general election, 73 of Ireland's 106 MPs elected were Sinn Féin members who refused to take their seats in the British House of Commons. Instead, they set up an Irish parliament called Dáil Éireann. This Dáil in January 1919 issued a Declaration of Independence and proclaimed an Irish Republic. The Declaration was mainly a restatement of the 1916 Proclamation with the additional provision that Ireland was no longer a part of the United Kingdom. The new Irish Republic was recognised internationaly only by the Russian Soviet Republic. 27 The Republic's Aireacht (ministry) sent a delegation under Ceann ComhairleSeán T. O'Kelly to the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, but it was not admitted.

After the War of Independence and truce called in July 1921, representatives of the British government and the Irish treaty delegates, led by Arthur Griffith, Robert Barton and Michael Collins, negotiated the Anglo-Irish Treaty in London from 11 October to 6 December 1921. The Irish delegates set up headquarters at Hans Place in Knightsbridge and it was here in private discussions that the decision was taken on 5 December to recommend the Treaty to Dáil Éireann. The Second Dáil Éireannnarrowly ratified the Treaty.

In accordance with the Treaty, on 6 December 1922 the entire island of Ireland became a self-governing British dominion called the Irish Free State (Irish:Saorstát Éireann ). Under the Constitution of the Irish Free State, the Parliament of Northern Ireland had the option to leave the Irish Free State exactly one month later and return to the United Kingdom. During the intervening period, the powers of the Parliament of the Irish Free State and Executive Council of the Irish Free State did not extend to Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland exercised its right under the Treaty to opt out of the new dominion and rejoined the United Kingdom on 8 December 1922. It did so by making an Address to the King requesting, "that the powers of the Parliament and Government of the Irish Free State shall no longer extend to Northern Ireland." 28 The Treaty was not entirely satisfactory to either side. The Irish Free State was a constitutional monarchy over which the British monarch reigned. The Irish Free State had a Governor-General, a bicameral parliament, a cabinet called the "Executive Council" and a prime minister called the President of the Executive Council. Irish Civil War

/ Éamon de Valera The Irish Civil War was the consequence of the creation of the Irish Free State. Anti-Treaty forces, led by Éamon de Valera, objected to the fact that acceptance of the Treaty abolished the Irish Republic of 1919 to which they had sworn loyalty, arguing in the face of public support for the settlement that the "people have no right to do wrong". They objected most to the fact that the state would remain part of the British Commonwealth and that members of the Free State Parliament would have to swear, what the Anti-Treaty side saw as, an oath of fidelity to the British King. Pro-Treaty forces, led by Michael Collins, argued that the Treaty gave "not the ultimate freedom that all nations aspire to and develop, but the freedom to achieve it".

At the start of the war, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) split into two opposing camps:a pro-treaty IRA and an anti-treaty IRA. The pro-Treaty IRA disbanded and joined the new Irish Army. However, through the lack of an effective command structure in the anti-Treaty IRA, and their defensive tactics throughout the war, Collins and his pro-treaty forces were able to build up an army with many tens of thousands of WWI veterans from the 1922 disbanded Irish regiments of the British Army, capable of overwhelming the anti-Treatyists. British supplies of artillery, aircraft, machine-guns and ammunition boosted pro-treaty forces, and the threat of a return of Crown forces to the Free State removed any doubts about the necessity of enforcing the treaty. The lack of public support for the anti-treaty forces (often called the Irregulars ) and the determination of the government to overcome the Irregulars contributed significantly to their defeat.

In the Northern Ireland question, Irish governments started to seek a peaceful reunification of Ireland and have usually cooperated with the British government in the violent conflict involving many paramilitaries and the British Army in Northern Ireland known as "The Troubles". A peace settlement for Northern Ireland, the Belfast Agreement, was approved in 1998 in referendums north and south of the border. As part of the peace settlement, Ireland dropped its territorial claim to Northern Ireland. The peace settlement is currently being implemented. 1937 Constitution

On 29 December 1937, a new constitution, the Constitution of Ireland (Bunreacht na hÉireann), came into force. It replaced the Constitution of the Irish Free State and called the state "Ireland", or, in the Irish language, "Éire". 13 The former Irish Free State government had taken steps to formally abolish the Office of Governor-General some months before the new Constitution came into force. 29 Although the Constitution of Ireland established the office of President of Ireland, between 1937 and 1949 Ireland was not technically a republic. This was because the principal key role possessed by a head of state, that of symbolically representing Ireland internationaly remained vested under statutory law , in the British king as an organ of the Irish government. The King's title in the Irish Free State was exactly the same as it was elsewhere in the British Empire, being: 1922-1927 – By the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India . 1927–1937 – By the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India . Ireland remained neutral during World War II, a period it described as The Emergency. The position of King ceased with the passage of the Republic of Ireland Act 1948, which came into force on 18 April 1949 when the office of President of Ireland replaced that of the King. The Act declared that the state could be described as a republic. Later, the Crown of Ireland Act was formally repealed in Ireland by the Statute Law Revision (Pre-Union Irish Statutes) Act, 1962.

Ireland was technically a member of the British Commonwealth after independence until the declaration of a republic on 18 April 1949. Under the Commonwealth rules at the time, a declaration of a republic automatically terminated membership of the Commonwealth (this rule was changed 10 days after Ireland declared itself a republic, with the London Declaration of 28 April 1949). Ireland therefore immediately ceased to be a member and did not subsequently reapply for membership when the Commonwealth later changed its rules to allow republics to join the Commonwealth. Ireland joined the United Nations in 1955. Governance Politics / President Mary McAleese References:Politics of the Republic of Ireland Ireland is a republic, with a parliamentary system of government. The President of Ireland, who serves as head of state, is elected for a seven-year term and can be re-elected only once. The president is largely a figurehead, but is entrusted with certain constitutional powers and functions, aided by an advisory body, the Council of State. The Taoiseach (prime minister) is appointed by the president on the nomination of parliament. Most Taoisigh have been the leader of the political party which wins the most seats in the national elections. It has become normal for coalitions to form a government, and there has not been a single-party government since 1989. / Government Buildings The Oireachtas (bicameralparliament) consists of the President of Ireland, the Senate (Seanad Éireann ), being the upper House, and the House of Representatives (Dáil Éireann ), being the lower House. 30 The Seanad is composed of sixty members, with eleven nominated by the Taoiseach , six elected by two universities, and 43 elected by public representatives from panels of candidates established on a vocational basis. The Dáil has 166 members (Teachtaí Dála ) elected to represent multi-seat constituencies under the system of proportional representation by means of the Single Transferable Vote. Under the constitution, parliamentary elections must be held at least every seven years, though a lower limit may be set by statute law. The current statutory maximum term is five years. / Leinster House (Seat of the Oireachtas The Government is constitutionally limited to fifteen members. No more than two members of the Government can be selected from the Seanad , and the Taoiseach , Tánaiste (deputy prime minister) and Minister for Finance must be members of the Dáil . The current government consists of a coalition of two parties;Fianna Fáil under Taoiseach Brian Cowen and the Green Party under leader John Gormley, along with numerous independents. The last general election to the Dáil took place on 24 May 2007, after it was called by the Taoiseach on 29 April. The opposition parties in the current Dáil are Fine Gael under Enda Kenny, the Labour Party under Eamon Gilmore, and Sinn Féin led by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin. A number of independent deputies also sit in Dáil Éireann though less in number than before the 2007 election.

Ireland joined the Irelandan Union in 1973 along with the United Kingdom and Denmark, and has chosen to remain outside the Schengen Area. Citizens of the United Kingdom can freely enter Ireland without a passport due to the Common Travel Area. The Common Travel Area is a passport-free zone that comprises the islands of Ireland, Great Britain, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. However, some form of identification is required at airports and seaports. Administration References:Counties of Ireland The Irish state consists of twenty-six traditional counties which are still used in cultural and sporting contexts, and for postal purposes. However, these are no longer always coterminous with administrative divisions. Several traditional counties have been restructured into new administrative divisions. County Dublin was divided into three separate administrative counties in the 1990s and County Tipperary was divided into two in the 1890s. This gives a present-day total of twenty-nine administrative counties and five cities. The five cities (Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway, Waterford) are administered separately from the remainder of their respective counties. Five boroughs (Clonmel, Drogheda, Kilkenny, Sligo, Wexford) have a level of autonomy within the county. 31 While Kilkenny is a borough, it is has retained the legal right to be referred to as a city. 32

Dáil constituencies are required by statute to follow county boundaries, as far as possible. Hence counties with greater populations have multiple constituencies (e.g. Limerick East/West) and some constituencies consist of more than one county (e.g. Sligo-North Leitrim), but by and large, the actual county boundaries are not crossed. The counties are grouped into eight regions for statistical purposes.

/ 26 traditional counties.
/ 29 administrative counties and 5 cities. No. - County - Main City/Town - No. - County - Main City/Town 1 - Dublin - Dublin - 14 - Kilkenny - Kilkenny 2 - Wicklow - Wicklow - 15 - Waterford - Waterford 3 - Wexford - Wexford - 16 - Cork - Cork 4 - Carlow - Carlow - 17 - Kerry - Tralee 5 - Kildare - Naas - 18 - Limerick - Limerick 6 - Meath - Navan - 19 - Tipperary - Clonmel 7 - Louth - Dundalk - 20 - Clare - Ennis 8 - Monaghan - Monaghan - 21 - Galway - Galway 9 - Cavan - Cavan - 22 - Mayo - Castlebar 10 - Longford - Longford - 23 - Roscommon - Roscommon 11 - Westmeath - Mullingar - 24 - Sligo - Sligo 12 - Offaly - Tullamore - 25 - Leitrim - Carrick-on-Shannon 13 - Laois - Portlaoise - 26 - Donegal - Letterkenny Local Government References:Local government in the Republic of Ireland Local government is governed by the Local Government Acts , the most recent of which (Local Government Act 2001) established a two-tier structure of local government. The Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898 is the founding document of the present system of local government. The Twentieth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland (1999) provided for constitutional recognition of local government for the first time in Ireland. Local government bodies are responsibile for such matters as planning, local roads, sanitation, and libraries. The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government has responsibility for local authorities and related services.

The top tier of the structure consists of 29 county councils and five city councils. Twenty-four of the 26 traditional counties have had county councils since 1898;County Tipperary has had two (for North Tipperary and South Tipperary), also since 1898;and since 1994 the traditional County Dublin has had three, for the administrative counties of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, Fingal, and South Dublin). The five cities of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Waterford, and Galway have city councils, which have the same status as county councils.

The second tier of local government consists of town councils. The city of Kilkenny and four towns which had borough corporation status before 2001 (Sligo, Drogheda, Clonmel, and Wexford), are allowed to use the title of "Borough Council" instead of "Town Council", but they have no additional responsibilities. There are 75 other town councils in addition to these five borough councils. Outside the towns the county councils are solely responsible for local services. Citizenship

Ireland's citizenship laws relate to "the island of Ireland" (incl. islands and seas), thereby extending them to Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK. Therefore, anyone born in Northern Ireland who meets the requirements for being an Irish citizen, such as birth on the island of Ireland, may exercise an entitlement to Irish citizenship, such as an Irish passport. 33 Justice / Criminal Court of Justice in Dublin. Referencess:Law of the Republic of Ireland and Courts of the Republic of Ireland Ireland has a common lawlegal system with a written constitution that provides for a parliamentary democracy.

The court system consist of the Supreme Court, the Court of Criminal Appeal, the High Court, the Circuit Court and the District Court. The courts apply the laws of Ireland. Ireland is a common law jurisdiction and trials for serious offences must usually be held before a jury. The High Court and the Supreme Court have authority, by means of judicial review, to determine the compatibility of laws and activities of other institutions of the state with the constitution and the law. Except in exceptional circumstances, court hearings must occur in public.

The Criminal Court of Justice is the principle courts building for the criminal courts in Ireland. 34 35 It is on Parkgate Street, near the Phoenix Park in Dublin. 34 35 The court building replaced the Four Courts and other buildings as the location for criminal trials. 34 Among the courts meeting in the building are the District CourtCourt of Criminal Appeal, the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court and Central Criminal Court. 34 In a change from previous older courts buildings in Ireland, the building has facilities to hold up to 100 prisoners in the basement, with separate entrances for each court. 34 Jurors are also based in a separate part of the building with their own court entrances after being empanelled. 34 Law Enforcement References:Law enforcement in Ireland The state's civilian police force, Garda Síochána na hÉireann ( Guardians of the Peace of Ireland ), is responsible for all aspects of civil policing, both in terms of territory and infrastructure. The service is headed by the Garda Commissioner who is appointed by the Irish Government. Its headquarters are located in the Phoenix Park in Dublin. Most uniformed members of An Garda Síochána do not routinely carry firearms. It is tradition that standard policing should be carried out in both rural and urban areas by uniformed officers equipped only with a baton.

The Póilíní Airm (Army Police) is the corps of the Irish Army responsible for the provision of policing service personnel and providing a military police presence to forces while on exercise and deployment. Its tasks increase during wartime to include traffic control organisation and POW and refugee control. ] Foreign Relations / Embassy of the United States in Dublin. References:Foreign relations of the Republic of Ireland The foreign relations of Ireland are substantially influenced by its membership of the Irelandan Union, although bilateral relations with the United States and United Kingdom are also important. Ireland is consistently the most pro-Irelandan of EU member states, with 77% of the population approving of EU membership according to a Eurobarometer poll in 2006. 36 Ireland was a founding member of the euro single currency. In May 2004, Ireland was one of only three countries to open its borders to workers from the 10 new member states.

Ireland tends towards independence in foreign policy, thus it is not a member of NATO and has a longstanding policy of military neutrality. This policy has helped the Irish Defence Forces to be successful in their contributions to UN peace-keeping missions since 1960 (in the Congo Crisis) and subsequently in Cyprus, Lebanon and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Military References:Irish Defence Forces

/ Emblem of Irish Defence Forces. Ireland's military are organised as the Irish Defence Forces (Óglaigh na hÉireann ). The Irish Army is small compared to other armies in the region, but is well equipped, with 8,500 full-time military personnel (13,000 in the reserve army). 37 This is mainly due to Ireland's policy of neutrality, 38 and its "triple-lock" rules governing participation in conflicts whereby approval must be given by the UN, the Government and the Dáil before any Irish troops are deployed into a conflict zone. 39 Deployments of Irish soldiers cover UN peace-keeping duties, protection of Ireland's territorial waters (Irish Naval Service) and Aid to Civil Power operations in the state. Over 40,000 Irish servicemen have served in UN peacekeeping missions around the world.

There is also an Irish Air Corps, Irish Naval Service and Reserve Defence Forces (Irish Army Reserve and Naval Service Reserve) under the Defence Forces. The Irish Army Rangers is a special forces branch which operates under the aegis of the army.

Ireland's air facilities were used by the U.S. military for the delivery of military personnel involved in the 2003 invasion of Iraq through Shannon Airport;previously the airport had been used for the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, as well as the First Gulf War. 40 This is part of a longer history of use of Shannon for controversial military transport, under Irish military policy which, while ostensibly neutral, was biased towards NATO during the Cold War. 41 During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Seán Lemass authorised the search of Cuban and Czechoslovak aircraft passing through Shannon and passed the information to the CIA. 42 During the Second World War, although officially neutral, Ireland supplied similar, though more extensive, support for the Allied Forces (see Irish neutrality during World War II ). Since 1999, Ireland has been a member of NATO's Partnership for Peace program. 43 44 Geography References:Geography of Ireland Landscape / Cliffs of Moher on the west coast.

/ Topography of Ireland. The island of Ireland extends over 84,421 km 2 (32,595 sq mi), of which 83% belong to the Irish state (70,280 km 2 /27,135 sq mi), while the remainder constitutes Northern Ireland. It is bounded to the north and west by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the northeast by the North Channel. To the east is found the Irish Sea which reconnects to the ocean via the southwest with St George's Channel and the Celtic Sea. The west coast of Ireland mostly consists of cliffs, hills and low mountains (the highest point being Carrauntoohil at 1,038 m or 3,406 ft).

The interior of the country is relatively flat land, traversed by rivers such as the River Shannon and several large lakes or loughs . The centre of the country is part of the River Shannon watershed, containing large areas of bogland used for peat extraction and production. Ireland also has off-shore deposits of oil and gas. 45

Chief city conurbations are the capital Dublin (1,045,769) on the east coast, Cork (190,384) in the south, Limerick (110,458) in the mid-west, Galway (72,729) on the west coast, and Waterford (49,213) on the south east coast (see Cities in Ireland).

Agricultural Impact

/ Lough Lene, County Westmeath. The long history of agricultural production coupled with modern agricultural methods (such as pesticide and fertiliser use) has placed pressure on biodiversity in Ireland. Agriculture is the main factor determining land use patterns in Ireland, leaving limited land to preserve natural habitats (also forestry and urban development to a lesser extent), 46 in particular for larger wild mammals with greater territorial requirements.

With no top predator in Ireland, populations of animals that cannot be controlled by smaller predators (such as the fox) are controlled by annual culling, i.e. semi-wild populations of deer. 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. Their ecosystems stretch across the countryside and act as a network of connections to preserve remnants of the ecosystem that once covered the island.

Pollution from agricultural activities is one of the principal sources of environmental damage. Runoff of contaminants into streams, rivers and lakes impacts the natural fresh-water ecosystems. 47 Subsidies under the Common Agricultural Policy which supported these agricultural practices and contributed to land-use distortions are undergoing reforms. 48 The CAP still subsidises some potentially destructive agricultural practices, however, the recent reforms have gradually decoupled subsidies from production levels and introduced environmental and other requirements. 48

Forest covers about 10% of the country, with most designated for commercial production. 46 Forested areas typically consist of monocultureplantations of non-native species which may result in habitats that are not suitable for supporting a broad range of native species of invertebrates. Remnants of native forest can be found scattered around the country, in particular in the Killarney National Park. Natural areas require fencing to prevent over-grazing by deer and sheep that roam over uncultivated areas. This is one of the main factors preventing the natural regeneration of forests across many regions of the country. 49 Climate References:Climate of Ireland Ireland has a temperateoceanic climate meaning that it is mild with temperatures not much lower than −3 °C (26.6 °F) in winter and not much higher than 22 °C (72 °F) in summer. 50 The Atlantic Ocean is the main force shaping Ireland's weather and there is a warming influence due to the Gulf Stream. 51 It can be quite variable and differs from region to region, with the middle and east tending to be more extreme throughout the year compared to other parts of the country. Sunshine duration is highest in the south-east. 51 Ireland rainfall patterns are highest in the winter and lowest during the early months of summer. 51

Determined by the south-westerly Atlantic winds, geographically the northwest, west and southwest of the country receives the most substantial rainfall;Dublin is the driest part of the country. 51 The far-north and west of Ireland are two of the windiest regions in Ireland with substantial potential for wind energy generation. 52 The highest temperature recorded in Ireland was 33.3 °C (91.9 °F) on 26 June 1887 at Kilkenny Castle in Kilkenny, 53 while the lowest was −19.1 °C (−2 °F) on 16 January 1881 at Markree Castle, Sligo. 53 Climate data for Ireland Month - Jan - Feb - Mar - Apr - May - Jun - Jul - Aug - Sep - Oct - Nov - Dec - Year Average high °C (°F) - 8.2
(46.8) - 8.5
(47.3) - 10.5
(50.9) - 12.7
(54.9) - 15.3
(59.5) - 17.9
(64.2) - 19.4
(66.9) - 19.2
(66.6) - 17.2
(63) - 14.2
(57.6) - 10.4
(50.7) - 8.9
(48) - 13.5
(56.3 Average low °C (°F) - 2.6
(36.7) - 2.7
(36.9) - 3.6
(38.5) - 4.8
(40.6) - 7.3
(45.1) - 10.1
(50.2) - 12
(54) - 11.7
(53.1) - 10.1
(50.2) - 8.0
(46.4) - 4.5
(40.1) - 3.6
(38.5) - 6.75
(44.15 Precipitation mm (inches) - 108
(4.25) - 65
(2.56) - 104
(4.09) - 52
(2.05) - 91
(3.58) - 76
(2.99) - 58
(2.28) - 115
(4.53) - 114
(4.49) - 132
(5.2) - 107
(4.21) - 124
(4.88) - 1,146
(45.12) Source:Ireland Logue (examples used are Shannon and Galway) 54 55 22 October 2009 Transport / Dublin's light rail system, the Luas. Referencess:Transport in Ireland, Rail transport in Ireland, and Roads in Ireland The state has three main international airports (Dublin, Shannon, Cork) that serve a wide variety of Irelandan and intercontinental routes with scheduled and chartered flights. The national airline is Aer Lingus, although low cost airline Ryanair is the largest airline. The route between London and Dublin is the busiest international air route in Ireland, with 4.5 million people flying between the two cities in 2006. 56 57

Railway services are provided by Iarnród Éireann. Dublin is the centre of the network, with two main stations (Heuston and Connolly) linking to the main towns and cities. The Enterprise service, run jointly with Northern Ireland Railways, connects Dublin with Belfast. Dublin has a steadily improving public transport network of varying quality including the DART, Luas, Bus service and an expanding rail network. / This section of the M7/M8 motorways opened in May 2010, completing the M8 and extending the M7. The road network is focused on Dublin, and motorways are currently being extended to other major cities as part of the Transport 21 programme, which aims to have a world-class motorway network in place by the end of 2010. By then most of Ireland's main cities (Cork, Limerick, Galway, Waterford, Belfast) will be connected to Dublin with motorways or with near-motorway standard roads. Dublin has been the focus of some other major projects, such as the East-Link and West-Link toll-bridges, as well as the Dublin Port Tunnel. Major by-pass projects are underway at other cities and towns;most of these are under construction as of 2009. The Jack Lynch Tunnel under the River Lee in Cork was a major project outside Dublin, and a fourth crossing at Limerick under the River Shannon (known as the Limerick Tunnel) commenced construction in 2006. The motorways and national routes (national primary roads and national secondary roads) are managed by the National Roads Authority. The rest of the roads (regional roads and local roads) are managed by the local authorities in each of their areas.

Ireland still has a canal network, however this is mainly used for leisure boating rather than freight.

Regular ferry services operate between Ireland and Britain, the Isle of Man and France. Healthcare / Beaumont Hospital is one of Ireland's largest and busiest general hospitals. References:Healthcare in the Republic of Ireland The Minister for Health and Children has responsibility for setting overall policy with regard to the health service. Every individual resident in Ireland is entitled to receive health care through the public health care system, which is managed by the Health Service Executive and funded by general taxation. A person may be required to pay a subsidised fee for certain health care received;this depends on income, age, illness or disability. All maternity services are provided free of charge and children up to the age of 6 months . Emergency care is provided at a cost of €100 for a visit to the Accident and Emergency department.

Anyone holding a Irelandan Health Insurance Card are entitled to free maintenance and treatment in public beds in Health Service Executive and voluntary hospitals. Outpatient services are also provided for free. However the majority of patients on median incomes or above, are required to pay subsidised hospital charges. Private health insurance is available to the population for those who want to avail of it. Vhi Healthcare (government owned), Quinn Healthcare, and Aviva provide health insurance, among other services. Education / University College Cork References:Education in the Republic of Ireland The education systems are largely under the direction of the government via the Minister for Education and Science. Recognised primary and secondary schools must adhere to the curriculum established by authorities that have power to set them.

Third-level education awards are conferred by more than 38 Higher Education Institutions including University of Dublin (Trinity College), Dublin City University, Dublin Institute of Technology, Higher Education and Training Awards Council, National University of Ireland,Cork Institute of Technology, Waterford Institute of Technology, University of Limerick and Mary Immaculate College, Limerick. These are the degree-awarding authorities approved by the Irish Government and can grant awards at all academic levels.

The Programme for International Student Assessment, coordinated by the OECD, currently ranks Ireland's education as the 20th best among participating countries in science, being statistically significantly higher than the OECD average. 58 Primary, Secondary and Tertiary (University/College) level education are all free in Ireland for all EU citizens. Economy References:Economy of the Republic of Ireland History / International Financial Services Centre From the 1920s Ireland had high trade barriers such as high tariffs, particularly during the Economic War with Britain in the 1930s, and a policy of import substitution. In the 1950s 400,000 people emigrated from Ireland. 59 It became increasingly clear that economic nationalism was unsustainable. While other Irelandan countries enjoyed fast growth, Ireland suffered economic stagnation. 59 The policy changes were drawn together in Economic Development , an official paper published in 1958 that advocated free trade, foreign investment, productive investment, and growth rather than fiscal restraint as the prime objective of economic management. 59

In the 1970s, the population increased by 15% for the first time since independence. National income increased at an annual rate of about 4%. Employment increased by around 1% per year, but the state sector amounted to a large part of that. Public sector employment was a third of the total workforce by 1980. Budget deficits and public debt increased, leading to the crisis in the 1980s. 59 During the 1980s, underlying economic problems became pronounced. Middle income workers were taxed 60% of their marginal income, 60 unemployment had risen to 20%, and annual overseas emigration reached over 1% of population. Public deficits reached 15% of GDP.

Fianna Fáil was elected in 1987 and announced a swing toward small government. Public spending was reduced, taxes were cut, and competition was promoted. Ryanair used Ireland's deregulated aviation market and helped Irelandan regulators to see benefits of competition in transport markets. Intel invested in 1989 and was followed by a number of technology companies such as Microsoft and Google, who found Ireland a good investment location. A consensus exists among all government parties about the sustained economic growth. 59 In less than a decade, the GDP per capita in the OECD prosperity ranking rose from 21st in 1993 to 4th in 2002. 61 Between 1985 and 2002, private sector jobs increased 59%. 17 The economy shifted from an agriculture to a knowledge economy, focusing on services and high-tech industries. Economic growth in Ireland averaged 10% from 1995 to 2000, and 7% from 2001 to 2004. Industry, which accounts for 46% of GDP and about 80% of exports, has replaced agriculture as the country's leading economic sector. Exports

/ Dublin Port Exports play an important role in Ireland's economic growth. Over the last 40 years, a series of significant discoveries of base metal deposits have been made, including the giant ore deposit at Tara Mine. Zinc-lead ores are also currently mined from two other underground operations in Lisheen and Galmoy. Ireland now ranks as the seventh largest producer of zinc concentrates in the world, and the twelfth largest producer of lead concentrates. The combined output from these mines make Ireland the largest zinc producer in Ireland and the second largest producer of lead. 62 Subsidiaries of US multinationals have located in Ireland for low taxation. Ireland is the world's most profitable country for US corporations, according to the US tax journal Tax Notes 63 Ireland is one of the largest exporters of pharmaceuticals and software-related goods and services in the world. 64

Bord Gáis was established under the Gas Act, and charged with the responsibility for the supply, transmission and distribution of natural gas which was first brought ashore in 1976 from the Kinsale Head Gas Field. New sources of supply are expected to come on stream after 2009/10, including the Corrib gas field and potentially the Shannon Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal. 65 Added to gas supplies, energy exports have the potential to transform Ireland's economy. 66 Celtic Tiger

The economy benefited from a rise in consumer spending, construction, and business investment. A key part of economic policy, since 1987, has been Social Partnership which is a neo-corporatist set of voluntary 'pay pacts' between the Government, employers and trades unions. These usually set agreed pay rises for three-year periods. The 1995 to 2000 period of high economic growth led many to call the country the Celtic Tiger. 67 GDP growth continued to be relatively robust, with a rate of about 6% in 2001 and 2002. Growth for 2004 was over 4%, and for 2005 was 4.7%. With high growth came high inflation. Prices in Dublin were considerably higher than elsewhere in the country, especially in the property market. 68 However, property prices are falling following the recent downturn in the world economy. At the end of July 2008, the annual rate of inflation was at 4.4% (as measured by the CPI) or 3.6% (as measured by the HICP) 69 70 and inflation actually dropped slightly from the previous month.

In terms of GDP per capita, Ireland is ranked as one of the wealthiest countries in the OECD and the EU-27 at 4th in the OECD-28 rankings. In terms of GNP per capita, a better measure of national income, Ireland ranks below the OECD average, despite significant growth in recent years, at 10th in the OECD-28 rankings. GDP (national output) is significantly greater than GNP (national income) due to the large amount of multinational firms based in Ireland. 71 A study by The Economist found Ireland to have the best quality of life in the world. 72 This study employed GDP per capita as a measure of income rather than GNI per capita.

The positive reports and economic statistics masked several underlying imbalances. The construction sector, which was inherently cyclical in nature, accounted for a significant component of Ireland's GDP. A recent downturn in residential property market sentiment has highlighted the over-exposure of the Irish economy to construction, which now presents a threat to economic growth. 73 74 75 Despite several successive years of economic growth and significant improvements since 2000, Ireland's population is marginally more at risk of poverty than the EU-15 average. 71 Figures show that 6.8% of Ireland's population suffer "consistent poverty". 76 Recent Developments

Ireland is currently ranked as the world's third most economically free economy in an index created by the Wall Street Journal and Heritage Foundation, the Index of Economic Freedom. Ireland was the first country in the EU to officially enter a recession as declared by the Central Statistics Office. 77 Ireland was stripped of its AAA credit ranking and downgraded to AA+ by Standard &Poor's ratings agency, due to Ireland`s heavy government debt. 78 Ireland now has the second-highest level of household debt in the world (190% of household income). 79 / The Irelandan Single Currency, the euro. Economic growth has slowed after the construction boom of the last decade. The construction crash and the global recession has impacted Ireland significantly. However, the Irish economy is showing signs of stability. There has been a significant fall in house prices and the cost of living is beginning to stabilise. During the boom, Ireland had developed a reputation as one of the most expensive countries in Ireland. The Irish Economy contracted by -1.7% in 2008 and -7.1% in 2009 (4.7% growth in 2007). The Irelandan Commission is forecasting that the Irish economy will grow by 3% in 2011, which is one of the fastest rates of economic growth Brussels is predicting for any EU member state. Currency

Before the introduction of the euro notes and coins in January 2002, Ireland used the Irish pound or punt . In January 1999 Ireland was one of eleven Irelandan Union member states which launched the Irelandan Single Currency, the euro. Euro banknotes are issued in €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500 denominations and share the common design used across Ireland, however like other countries in the eurozone, Ireland has its own unique design on one face of euro coins. 80 The government decided on a single national design for all Irish coin denominations, which show a Celtic harp, a traditional symbol of Ireland, decorated with the year of issue and the word Éire . Demographics
International rankings
Indicator - Rank - Measure
GDP (PPP) per capita - 8/7 th - $44,087
GNP - 7 th - $41,140
Unemployment rate (2009) - 28 th - 11%
CO2 emissions - 30 th - 10.3 t
Electricity consumption - 61 st - 22.79 GWh
Economic Freedom - 3 rd - 1.58
Human Development Index - 5 th - 0.959
Political freedom - 1 st * - 1
Press freedom - 4 th * - 2.00
Corruption (A higher score means less (perceived) corruption.) - ↓17 th - 7.5
Global Peace Index - 4 th - 1.396
Democracy Index - 11 th - 9.01
Failed States Index - ↓ 4 th - 19.5
Literacy rate - 18 th * - 99.0%
Quality-of-life index - 1 st - 8.333 (out of 10
Broadband penetration - — - 30.5% (2009)
Mobile phone penetration - — - 121.5%
Alcohol consumption - 2 nd - 13.7 L
3.0 imp gal
3.6 US gal
Beer consumption - 2 nd - 131.1 L
28.8 imp gal
34.6 US gal †
International Property Rights Index - 14 th - 7.4
Life expectancy - 29 th - 78.4
Birth rate - 129 th - 15.2
Fertility rate - 133 rd - 1.96 ††
Infant mortality - 172 th - 4.9 ‡‡
Death rate - 126 th - 6.5
Suicide rate - 51 st - ♂ 16.3 †‡
♀ 3.2 †‡
HIV/AIDS rate - 123 rd - 0.10%
↓ indicates rank is in reverse order (e.g. 1 st is lowest)
* joint with one or more other countries
† per capita
‡ per 1000 people
†† per woman
‡‡ per 1000 live births
†‡ per 100,000 people
♂ indicates males, ♀ indicates females
References:Demographics of the Republic of Ireland
Genetic research suggests that the first settlers of Ireland came through migrations from Iberia following the end of the most recent ice age. 81 After the Mesolithic, the Neolithic and Bronze Age, migrants introduced Celtic culture and languages to Ireland. These later migrants from the Neolithic to Bronze Age still represent a majority of the genetic heritage of Irish people. 82 83 Culture spread throughout the island, and the Gaelic tradition became the dominant form in Ireland.

Today, Irish people are mainly of Gaelic ancestry, and some of Norse, Anglo-Norman, English, Scottish, French and Welsh ancestry. Gaelic culture forms an important part of national identity. In the UK Irish Travellers are a recognised ethnic minority group, politically (not ethnically) linked with Irelandan Roma and Gypsy groups, 84 although in Ireland they are classified as a "social group". 85

Ireland has one of the fastest growing populations in Ireland. From 2004 to 2006 the growth rate in 2006 was above 2%. This growth is due to falling death rates, rising birth rates and high immigration levels. 86 Ireland also has the youngest population in Ireland, with only 11.2% over the age of 65, Ireland is forecast to have the least proportion of the 65+ age group in Ireland until 2035. 87

Referencess:Languages of Ireland, Irish language, Hiberno-English, and Mid Ulster English
English and Irish are the official languages. They are compulsory in primary and secondary level schools recognised by the state. Some students may be exempt from the requirement to receive instruction in either language. English is the dominant language throughout the country. People in dominantly Irish-speaking communities, Gaeltacht regions, are limited to the low tens of thousands in isolated areas mostly on the western seaboard. Road signs are usually bilingual, except in Gaeltacht regions. 88

The legal status of place names has been the subject of controversy, with an order made in 2005 under the Official Languages Act changing the official name of certain locations from English back to Irish. Dingle had its name changed to An Daingean despite local opposition and a local plebiscite requesting that the name be changed to a bilingual version:Dingle Daingean Uí Chúis . Most public notices and print media are in English only. Most Government publications are available in both languages, and citizens have the right to deal with the state in Irish. Media in Irish exist on TV (TG4), radio (e.g. RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta), and in print (e.g. Foinse).

According to the 2006 census, 1,656,790 people (39%) in the Republic regard themselves as competent in Irish;though no figures are available for English-speakers, it is thought to be almost 100%. However, one will very rarely ever hear the Irish language being spoken casually outside of Gaeltacht regions.

The Polish language is one of the most widely spoken languages in Ireland after English:there are over 63,000 Poles resident in Ireland according to the 2006 census. Central and Eastern Irelandan languages such as Polish, can be heard spoken on a day-to-day basis across Ireland. Other languages spoken in Ireland include Shelta, spoken by the Irish Traveller population and a dialect of Scots is spoken by some descendants of Scottish settlers in Ulster.

Most students at second level choose one or two foreign languages to learn. Languages available for the Junior Certificate and the Leaving Certificate include French, German, Italian and Spanish;Leaving Certificate students can also study Arabic, Japanese and Russian. Some schools also offer Ancient Greek, Hebrew Studies and Latin at second level.


Ireland's population has increased significantly in recent years. Much of this population growth can be attributed to the arrival of immigrants and the return of Irish people (often with their foreign-born children) who emigrated in large numbers in earlier years during periods of high unemployment. In addition the birth rate in Ireland is currently over double the death rate, which is highly unusual among Western Irelandan countries. 89 Approximately 10% of Ireland's population is now made up of foreign citizens.

The CSO has published preliminary findings based on the 2006 Census of Population. These indicate:

The total population of Ireland on Census Day, 23 April 2006, was 4,234,925, an increase of 317,722, or 8.1% since 2002.
Allowing for births (245,000) and deaths (114,000), the derived net immigration of people between 2002 and 2006 was 186,000.
The total number of foreign citizens resident in Ireland is 419,733, or around 10% (plus 1,318 people with 'no nationality', and 44,279 people whose nationality is not stated).
The single largest group of immigrants comes from the United Kingdom (112,548) followed by Poland (63,267), Lithuania (24,628), Nigeria (16,300), Latvia (13,319), the United States (12,475), China (11,161), and Germany (10,289).
94.8% of the population was recorded as having a 'White' ethnic or cultural background. 1.1% had a 'Black or Black Irish' background, 1.3% had an 'Asian or Asian Irish' background and 1.7% of the population's background was 'not stated'.
The average annual rate of increase, 2%, is the highest on record (1.3% from 1996 to 2002 and 1.5% from 1971 to 1979).
The 2006 population was last exceeded in the 1861 Census when the population then was 4.4 million. The lowest population of Ireland was recorded in the 1961 Census, 2.8 million.
All provinces of Ireland recorded population growth. The population of Leinster grew by 8.9%;Munster by 6.5%;and the population decline of the ConnachtUlster 90 region halted.
The ratio of males to females has declined in each of the four provinces between 1979 and 2006. Leinster is the only province where the number of females exceeds the number of males. Males predominate in rural counties such as Cavan, Leitrim, and Roscommon while there are more females in cities and urban areas.
A more detailed breakdown of these figures is available online. Census 2006 Principal Demographic Results - PDF (894 KB)

Detailed statistics into the population of Ireland since 1841 are available at Irish Population Analysis.

Forcasted Ireland population growth are the second highest in Ireland, with a projected 53% growth by 2060 and an increase to 6,057,000 by 2035. 87

Religion in Ireland
Religion - Percent -
Roman Catholic -
Protestant -
Non-religion -
Other -
Islam -
Christian (unspecified) -
Orthodox -
Jewish -
Referencess:Religion in the Republic of Ireland and Christianity in Ireland
Christianity is the predominant religion in Ireland, and is dominated by the Roman Catholic Church. Ireland's constitution states that the state may not endorse any particular religion and guarantees freedom of religion. In 2006, 86.8% of the population identified themselves as Roman Catholic, 1.4% less than 4 years earlier, although the number of Catholics increased by 218,800. 91 According to a Georgetown University study, the country also has one of the highest rates of regular Mass attendance in the Western World. 92 Between 1996 and 2001, regular Mass attendance (that is monthly or more often), declined further from 60% to 48% 93 (it had been above 90% before 1973), and all but two of its major seminaries have closed (St Patrick's College, Maynooth and St Malachy's College, Belfast). A number of theological colleges continue to educate both ordained and lay people.
Saint Patrick, shown here preaching to kings, was a Romano-BritonChristianmissionary and is the most generally recognised patron saint of Ireland.
Other significant Protestant denominations are the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, followed by the Methodist Church in Ireland. The second largest Christian denomination, the Church of Ireland (Anglican), declined in membership for most of the twentieth century, but has more recently experienced an increase, as have other small Christian denominations. The country's Hindu and Muslim populations have experienced significant growth in recent years, due chiefly to immigration. The very small Jewish community in Ireland also recorded a marginal increase (see History of the Jews in Ireland) in the same period. In percentage terms, Orthodoxy and Islam were the fastest growing religions, up by 100% and 70% respectively. 94

The patron saints of Ireland are Saint Patrick, Saint Bridget and Saint Columba. Saint Patrick is the only one of the three who is commonly recognised as the patron saint. Saint Patrick's Day, March 17, is celebrated in Ireland and abroad as the Irish national day, with parades and other celebrations. The 2006 census recorded 186,318 people (4.4% of the population) who described themselves as having "no religion." An additional 1,515 people described themselves as agnostic and 929 as atheist. A further 70,322 (1.7%) did not respond to the question. 95

Originally, the 1937 Constitution of Ireland gave the Catholic Church a "special position" as the church of the majority, but also recognised other Christian denominations and Judaism. As with other predominantly Catholic Irelandan states, the Irish state underwent a period of legal secularisation in the late twentieth century. In 1972, the article of the Constitution naming specific religious groups, including the Catholic Church, was deleted by the fifth amendment of the constitution in a referendum. Article 44 remains in the Constitution.

It begins:The State acknowledges that the homage of public worship is due to Almighty God. It shall hold His Name in reverence, and shall respect and honour religion.

St Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin
The article also establishes freedom of religion (for belief, practice, and organisation without interference), prohibits endowment of any religion, prohibits the state from religious discrimination, and requires the state to treat religious and non-religious schools in a non-prejudicial manner.

Despite a large number of schools in Ireland being run by religious organisations, a general trend of secularism is occurring within the Irish population, particularly in the younger generations. 96 Many efforts have been made by secular groups to eliminate the rigorous study in the second and sixth classes, to prepare for the sacraments of Holy Communion and confirmation in Catholic schools. Parents can ask for their children to be excluded from religious study if they wish. However, religious studies as a subject was introduced into the state administered Junior Certificate in 2001;it is not compulsory and deals with aspects of different religions, not focusing on one particular religion.

Schools run by religious organisations, but receiving public money and recognition, are not allowed to discriminate against pupils based upon, or lack of, religion. A sanctioned system of preference does exist, where students of a particular religion may be accepted before those who do not share the ethos of the school, in a case where a school's quota has already been reached.

Social Issues
Abortion in the Republic of Ireland and LGBT rights in the Republic of Ireland
The prohibition on divorce in the 1937 Constitution was repealed in 1995 under the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution. The 1983 Eighth Amendment to the Constitution recognised "the right to life of the unborn", subject to qualifications concerning the "equal right to life" of the mother. The case of Attorney General v. X subsequently prompted passage of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments, guaranteeing the right to have an abortion performed abroad, and the right to learn about "services" that are illegal in Ireland but legal abroad.

Contraception was illegal in Ireland until 1979. 97 The legislation which outlawed homosexual acts was repealed in 1993, though before this it was generally only enforced when dealing with under-age sex. 98 99 Discrimination based on age, gender, sexual orientation, maritial or familial status, religion, race or membership of the travelling community is illegal. Same-sex civil partnerships legislation was published in June 2008 (though not yet enshrined in law). A poll carried out in 2008 showed that 84% of Irish people supported civil marriage or civil partnerships for gay and lesbian couples, with 58% supporting full marriage rights in registry offices. 100 A later Irish Times poll put support for same-sex marriage at 63%. 101

In 2002, Ireland became the first country to have an environmental levy for all plastic shopping bags;while in 2004 the country became the first in the world to ban smoking in all workplaces. The country was also the first in Ireland to ban incandescent lightbulbs in 2008. 102 The death penalty is constitutionally banned in Ireland, and the country was one of the main nations involved in the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, which was formally endorsed in Dublin. Ireland became the first country in the Irelandan Union (and third in the world, after Canada and Iceland) to ban in-store tobacco advertising and displays of tobacco products on 1 July 2009. 103 Ireland ranks eighth in the world in terms of gender equality. 104

References:Culture of Ireland
James Joyce
References:Irish literature
James Joyce published his most famous work Ulysses , an interpretation of the Odyssey set in Dublin, in 1922. Edith Somerville continued writing after the death of her partner Martin Ross in 1915. Dublin's Annie M. P. Smithson was one of several authors catering for fans of romantic fiction in the 1920s and 1930s. After the war popular novels were published by, among others, Brian O'Nolan, who published as Flann O'Brien, Elizabeth Bowen, Kate O'Brien. In the last few decades of the 20th century Edna O'Brien, John McGahern, Maeve Binchy, Joseph O'Connor, Roddy Doyle, Colm Tóibín and John Banville came to the fore as novelists.

Patricia Lynch (1898–1972) was a prolific children's author, while recently Eoin Colfer has been particularly successful in this genre. In the genre of the short story, a form favoured by Irish writers, Seán Ó Faoláin, Frank O'Connor and William Trevor are prominent. Poets include W.B. Yeats, Patrick Kavanagh, Seamus Heaney (Nobel Literature laureate), Thomas McCarthy and Dermot Bolger. Prominent writers in the Irish language are Pádraic Ó Conaire, Máirtín Ó Cadhain, Séamus Ó Grianna and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill. Following in the tradition of Shaw, Wilde and Samuel Beckett, playwrights such as Seán O'Casey, Brian Friel, Sebastian Barry, Brendan Behan, Conor McPherson and Billy Roche have gained popular success. 105

Grand Canal Theatre in Dublin.
References:Irish theatre
The history of Irish theatre in the familiar sense begins with the rise of the English administration in Dublin at the start of the 17th century. Over the following 400 years Ireland made a disproportionate contribution to drama in English.

In the early days of its history, theatrical productions in Ireland tended to serve the political purposes of the administration, but as more theatres opened and the popular audience grew, a more diverse range of entertainments were staged. Many Dublin-based theatres developed links with their London equivalents and performers and productions from the British capital frequently found their way to the Irish stage. However, most Irish playwrights from William Congreve to George Bernard Shaw found it necessary to leave their native island to establish themselves. At the beginning of the 20th century, theatres and theatre companies dedicated to the staging of Irish plays and the development of indigenous writers, directors and performers began to emerge. This allowed many of the most significant Irish dramatists to learn their trade and establish their reputations in Ireland rather than in Great Britain or the United States.

References:Irish music
Ireland is known for its traditional music and song. It has remained vibrant despite globalizing cultural forces. Irish music has kept many of its traditional aspects and has itself influenced many forms of music, such as country and roots music in the USA, which in turn have had some influence on modern rock music. It has occasionally been fused with rock and roll, punk rock and other genres. Among the best-known modern performers are groups such as The Dubliners, The Chieftains, Clannad, The Saw Doctors and Altan, singers such as Christy Moore and Mary Black, ensembles such as Anúna and Celtic Woman and cross-over artists such as singers Enya and Sinéad O'Connor.

Ireland has produced internationaly influential artists in other musical genres such as rock, pop, jazz and blues including The Pogues, U2, Boyzone, Westlife, Chris de Burgh, Ronan Keating, Thin Lizzy, The Corrs, The Cranberries, Damien Rice, Blues guitarist Rory Gallagher and Academy Award winner Glen Hansard of The Frames. Contemporary artists include the highly popular rock band The Script, as well as The Coronas, Bell X1 and The Blizzards.

There are a number of classical music ensembles around the country, 106 such as the RTÉ Performing Groups. Opera lovers are catered for by three organizations, Opera Ireland, which produces large-scale operas in Dublin, Opera Theatre Company, which is also based in Dublin, and tours its chamber-style operas throughout the Republic and Northern Ireland, and the third being the annual Wexford Opera Festival, which in the autumn promotes lesser-known operas and is located in Wexford city.

References:Irish dance
Traditional Irish dancing can broadly be divided into social dance and performance dances. Irish social dances can be divided further into céilí and set dancing. Irish set dances are quadrilles, danced by 4 couples arranged in a square, while céilí dances are danced by varied formations (ceili) of couples of 2 to 16 people. In addition to their formation, there are significant stylistic differences between these two forms of social dance. Irish social dance is a living tradition, and variations in particular dances are found across the Irish dance community;in some places, dances are deliberately modified and new dances are choreographed.

Irish performance dancing is traditionally referred to as stepdance. Irish stepdance, popularized in 1994 by the world-famous show "Riverdance," is notable for its rapid leg movements, body and arms being kept largely stationary. Most competitive stepdances are solo dances, though many stepdancers also perform and compete using céilí dances. The solo stepdance is generally characterized by a controlled but not rigid upper body, straight arms, and quick, precise movements of the feet. The solo dances can either be in "soft shoe" or hard shoe".

References:Irish cinema
The flourishing Irish film industry, state-supported by Bord Scannán na hÉireann, helped launch the careers of directors Neil Jordan and Jim Sheridan, and supported Irish films such as John Crowley'sIntermission , Neil Jordan's Breakfast on Pluto , and others. A policy of tax breaks and other incentives has also attracted international film to Ireland, including Mel Gibson's Braveheart and Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan .

Maureen O'Sullivan is considered by many to be Ireland's first film star. 107 Other Irish actors who have made it to Hollywood include Maureen O'Hara, Barry Fitzgerald, Richard Harris, Evanna Lynch, Peter O'Toole, Liam Neeson, Pierce Brosnan, Gabriel Byrne, Brendan Gleeson, Daniel Day Lewis (by citizenship), Colm Meaney, Colin Farrell, Brenda Fricker, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Saoirse Ronan, Stuart Townsend, Michael Gambon, and Cillian Murphy.

Poulnabrone dolmen, County Clare, was built during the neolithic period.
References:Architecture of Ireland
Some architectural features in Ireland date back to the prehistoric period, including standing stones and tombs. The best known example is the World Heritage Site, Brú na Bóinne (Palace of the Boyne), as well as the Poulnabrone dolmen, Castlestrange stone, Turoe stone and Drombeg circle. 108 Due to the Roman Empire never conquering the island, ancient architecture of Greco-Roman origin is extremely rare, though Drumanagh is a possible example. Ireland instead had an extended, though developing, period of Iron Age architecture. 109 The Irish round tower acting as a belfry is a building type originating from the island during the Early Medieval period. The other building types unique to ireland are the handball alley and the now almost unknown combined bar and shop outlet.

With the introduction of Christianity, simple monastic houses constructed from stone were built—Clonmacnoise, Skellig Michael and Scattery Island are examples. Some academics have remarked a stylistic similarity between these early double monastery buildings and those of the Copts of Egypt. 110 Gaelic kings and aristocrats lived in ringforts on top of hills or crannógs on lakes. 111 After Viking invasions the first significantly built up urban areas were created, 111 the Viking longphorts located on the coast such as Dublin, Cork, Waterford, Wexford and Limerick. 12th century Church reforms via the Cistercians stimulated continental influence as abbeys;Mellifont, Boyle and Tintern were built in a Romanesque style. 112 With the Norman invasion in parts of the island, castles were built, such as Dublin Castle, Kilkenny Castle and Ashford Castle. 113 More importantly the Normans introduced the concept of the planned walled trading town owned by the Castle dwelling landlord (the only previous settlements were Monastic proto-towns and the five major Hiberno-Norse ports) which with the later plantation towns constitute the majority of present day Irish towns. Examples of still surviving Norman founded planned towns include Drogheda, Arklow and Youghal whilst an example of the plantation towns is Portlaoise.

Dublin Custom House is an example of neoclassical architecture in Ireland.
Gothic cathedrals with high-pointed arches and clustered columns such as St Patrick's were also introduced by the Normans. 114 Franciscans were dominant in directing the abbeys by the Late Middle Ages, while elegant tower houses were built by the Gaelic and Norman aristocracy—Bunratty Castle is perhaps the best preserved. 115 After the Tudor conquest many religious buildings were ruined with the Dissolution of the Monasteries. 116 Following the Restoration, palladianism and rococo, particularly country houses, swept through Ireland under the initiative of Edward Lovett Pearce—the Irish Parliament House being the most significant. 117 With the erection of buildings such as the Custom House, Four Courts, General Post Office and King's Inns, the neoclassical and Georgian styles flourished, especially in the capital Dublin. 117 The Georgian townhouses, with a more complex section than their London antecedents, combined to produce streets of singular distinction, and to a large extent still survive, mainly in Dublin but also in Limerick and Cork, and continue to contribute greatly to the streetscape, urban character and sense of place in the central parts of those cities.

Following Catholic Emancipation cathedrals and churches, such as St Colman's and St Finbarre's, influenced by the French Gothic Revival sprung up. 117 Ireland has long been associated with thatched roof cottages, though these are nowadays considered quaint. 118 In many Irish towns, colourfully painted shop fronts are to be found, sometimes extended to houses. Since the 20th century, starting with the American designed art deco church at Turner's Cross in 1927, 119 various modernist forms have been created. The best known examples include Busáras and the Spire of Dublin, sometimes proving controversial in public reception. 120 121 Traditional projects are still undertaken, such as Galway Cathedral in 1958. 122 Modern developments in Urban Design would include the regeneration of Ballymun and an Urban Extension of Dublin at the new town for 25,000 people at Adamstown.

References:Sport in Ireland
Croke Park is the headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association and is the third largest stadium in Ireland.
Ireland's national sports are Gaelic football 123 and hurling, 124 which are organised on an all-Ireland basis. Hurling along with Gaelic football are administered by the Gaelic Athletic Association. By attendance figures Gaelic football and hurling are by far the most popular sports in Ireland, 34% of total attendances at sports events being to football and 24% to hurling. 125 126 Golf and soccer are the most played at 17% of the population each. 127 Notable former Gaelic games players include the now retired pair of DJ Carey and Seamus Moynihan. The former TaoiseachJack Lynch was a noted hurler and All-Ireland winner before entering politics. Well-known current players include Henry Shefflin, Sean Cavanagh and Colm Cooper.
Ireland rugby union team players during the 2007 Rugby World Cup.
In rugby union the all-Ireland national team has produced world class players such as Brian O'Driscoll, Ronan O'Gara, Paul O'Connell and Keith Wood and most recent achievements include winning the RBS Six Nations and Grand Slam 2009. In athletics, Sonia O'Sullivan, Eamonn Coghlan, Catherina McKiernan, Ronnie Delaney, John Treacy, David Gillick and Derval O'Rourke have won medals at international events. In cricket, the Ireland national cricket team represents all-Ireland. The team is an associate member of the International Cricket Council with One Day International status. Ken Doherty is a former World Champion (1997) snooker player.

Ireland's national football league is the League of Ireland, but most well-known players play in the English Premier League and Scottish Premier League. Notable Irish internationals include former players Roy Keane, Johnny Giles, Liam Brady, Denis Irwin, Packie Bonner, Niall Quinn and Paul McGrath, and current players Steve Finnan, Shay Given, Damien Duff, John O'Shea, Aiden McGeady and Robbie Keane.

John L. Sullivan, born 1858 in the United States to Irish immigrant parents, was the first modern world heavyweight champion. Barry McGuigan and Steve Collins were also world champion boxers, while Bernard Dunne was a Irelandan super bantamweight champion and is current WBA Super Bantamweight champion. Michael Carruth is also an Olympic gold medallist having won at welterweight at the Barcelona Olympic Games in 1992. Current prospects in the middleweight division are the undefeated John Duddy, and Andy Lee who has one defeat. Both fighters are aiming for world championship fights. At the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing in China, the Irish team won 3 medals, with Kenneth Egan winning silver and Darren Sutherland and Paddy Barnes earning bronzes.

In motor sport, during the 1990s Jordan Grand Prix became the only independent team to win multiple Formula One races. Rallying also has a measure of popularity as a spectator sport, and in 2007 the Rally of Ireland (which was held in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland) became a qualifying round of the FIA World Rally Championship and attracted an estimated attendance of some 200,000 spectators. 128 In cycling, Ireland produced Stephen Roche, the first and only Irishman to win the Tour de France in 1987, and the prolific Seán Kelly. In clay pigeon shooting Derek Burnett, David Malone and Philip Murphy are notable for their silver and gold medals in ISSF World Cup competitions, as well as Malones single gold medal in a world cup. Malone and Burnett are also notable for their appearances in the Summer Olympics, with Malone competing in Sydney in 2000, and Burnett competing in Sydney, Athens and Beijing, from 2000 to 2008. In golf, the 2008 USPGA champion was Irishman Pádraig Harrington, which was his third major win. In 2002, Dermott Lennon became the first Irish rider to win a Show Jumping World Championship gold medal.

See also
Four Provinces Flag.svg - Ireland portal
References:Outline of the Republic of Ireland
Island of Ireland
List of Ireland-related topics
Ireland joined the EU (then EEC) in 1973 under a treaty drawn up in several languages including Irish and English. Since then, its two names have been used in the EU. For further consideration of the practice applied by the Irelandan Union, see Clause 7.2.4 of the Inter Institutional Style Guide of the Irelandan Union.
CIA World Factbook:Ireland. CIA . /Phones/ .
CSO Ireland - April 2009 Population Estimates (PDF). April 2008 . .
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Prior to 1999, the Republic of Ireland used the punt (Irish pound) as its circulated currency. In 2002, the punt ceased to be legal tender.
Government of Ireland (1937). Article 4. Constitution of Ireland . Dublin:Stationary Office . . "The name of the State is Éire , or, in the English language, Ireland ."
ab Government of Ireland (1948). Article 2. Republic of Ireland Act, 1948 . Dublin:Government of Ireland . . "It is hereby declared that the description of the State shall be the Republic of Ireland."
Statutory Rules &Orders published by authority, 1921 (No. 533);Additional source for 3 May 1921 date:Alvin Jackson, Home Rule - An Irish History , Oxford University Press, 2004, p198.
For example:
Eire, as Southern Ireland has been called since 1937, was founded, under the name of the Irish Free State..." - CF Strong, Modern political constitutions , Sidgwick and Jackson:London, 1972
The present state of the Republic of Ireland was established in 1922." - Encyclopedia Americana , Vol 15, New York:Americana Corporation, 1965
The Irish Republic is a sovereign state comprising about three-quarters of the island of Ireland, with a population of about 3,500,000. The state was established in 1922 and has a written constitution ...." - D Reynolds, World class schools:international perspectives on school effectiveness , Roudledge:London, 2003
For a more detailed discussion of the constitutional transition see J Coakley et al, 2005, Politics in the Republic of Ireland, Routledge:London:
Ireland's constitution (Bunreacht na hÉireann) dates from 1937 and, despite significant innovations, marked a development of previous constitutional experience rather than a decisive break with it. ... In any case, for Fianna Fáil the Irish Free State constitution was inherently illegitimate no matter how it read. Eamon de Valera in particular felt the need for the state to have an entirely new constitution, and to this end he initiated the process of drafting one in 1935. ... Although legally and constitutionally this new constitution could have been enacted by the Oireachtas as one long amendment to the existing constitution, that would have defeated the whole point of the exercise;it was vital symbolically to seem to make a new beginning, and to have the Irish people confer the new constitution on themselves.

Or Chubb in PJ Drudy (ed), 1986, Ireland and Britain since 1922, Cambridge University Press:Cambridge

The Irish government today is carried on with the framework laid down in the Constitution, Bunreach na hÉireann, that dates from 1937. That Constitution is the successor of two previous constitutions, the Constitution of the Irish Free State (1922) and the Constitution of Dáil Éireann (1919) which was created by Sinn Féinn as part of the political struggle for independence. All three are best viewed as the products of a process of emancipation from British domination and the emergence from the British political system. They were milestones in the evolution of the country's relationship with the United Kingdom and marked stages in the transition from a province of an essentially English state to a sovereign republic.
DW Hollis, 2001, The history of Ireland ‎, Greenwood:Connecticut
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"In April 1936 de Valera had announced that he was preparing to draft a new constitution to replace that of 1922. Drafting was in progress when the abdication of King Edward VIII in December 1936 gave de Valera the opportunity to make further constitutional changes and introduce the External Relations Bill. In London, the cabinet's Irish Situation Committee had been told by [Malcolm] MacDonald in November 1936 to expect such legislation in the near future, so its introduction was not a shock to the British. Even so, de Valera was concerned about the possible British reaction, and he was able to use the abdication crisis to implement a further revision of the Treaty, safe in the knowledge that British politicians had other matters on their minds.
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Further reading
Bunreacht na hÉireann (the 1937 constitution) (PDF version - PDF
The Irish Free State Constitution Act, 1922
J. Anthony Foley and Stephen Lalor (ed), Gill &Macmillan Annotated Constitution of Ireland (Gill &Macmillan, 1995) (ISBN 0-7171-2276-X
FSL Lyons, Ireland Since the Famine
Alan J. Ward, The Irish Constitutional Tradition:Responsible Government and Modern Ireland 1782–1992 (Irish Academic Press, 1994) (ISBN 0-7165-2528-3
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