Ireland (Eire in Irish) is situated in western Europe and is a key location on the major sea and air routes between northern Europe and North America. The island of Ireland is split into 2 countries - Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland in the South. The Republic of Ireland, or Ireland, is divided into four provinces - Connacht, Leinster, Munster & Ulster and those 4 provinces are split into 26 counties, with Dublin being the capital of Ireland.
Ireland enjoys a long history going back 33,000 years but the arrival of Celtic Tribes to the island around 600 B.C. drastically changed Irish society. In 1921, the 26 counties in the south of Ireland achieved independence from the United Kingdom and the Irish Free State was born. After a short number of years, in 1937, Ireland was declared a Republic. In 1948, Ireland removed itself from the British Commonwealth and then in 1973, joined the European Community (currently the European Union).
The Republic of Ireland is predominantly a catholic country, whereas Northern Ireland is primarily protestant. The official languages of Ireland are English and Irish, with English being the first and spoken language. Irish remains a spoken language in ‘Gaeltacht’ areas in the west of the island.
Ireland is in the Greenwich Mean Time zone and in March, clocks go forward by one hour and back by an hour in October, to facilitate daylight saving time. Irish weather is mixed, with rain being the main feature on a regular basis - having four seasons in one day would not be uncommon! As a result of this humid climate, Ireland is famous for its beautiful green scenery and leads to the nickname ‘The Emerald Isle’.
Ireland is one of the most progressive and fastest growing European economies, attracting a huge level of inward people and financial investment.
Irish people are very sociable, naturally polite and go out of their way to welcome visitors to the country, and famous for their ‘Cead Mile Failte’ (‘One Hundred Thousand Welcomes’). Irish history and identity are a source of pride for Irish people and a huge influence on their makeup and how they treat others. Compared to other parts of western Europe, life in Ireland is slightly more relaxed. The Irish value family and friends and enjoy spending time with them and both are very important to their quality of life. In the evenings & weekends, local pubs, cafes & restaurants are full of people socialising over some food & drinks.
Some websites that might be helpful in learning about Irish culture are: