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Ireland is a beautiful and relatively small island nation in the northwestern part of Europe. It is located just to the west of the United Kingdom, across the Irish Sea.
The country has a population of over 4.7 million people, and its largest city is Dublin, which has over 540,000 inhabitants.
Quick Facts about Ireland
- It is known as "The Emerald Isle", as the ample amounts of rain and sunshine the island receives gives the grass and foliage a green hue that is unparalleled.
- It remained neutral in World War 2, but many of its citizens still volunteered to fight with the Allies.
- Ireland has an extensive and somewhat tumultuous history with England. It was invaded and conquered on a number of occasions, but gained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1922.
- Queenstown, now called Cobh, was the RMS Titanic's last port of call before its tragic and terrible accident in the Atlantic.
- Mythology and folklore are an integral part of Irish culture. Some people believe that fairy circles, leprechauns and banshees are found along the Irish countryside.
Ireland is completely surrounded by water that has been geographically divided into three bodies of water. As noted, the Irish Sea is to its east, and separates it from the United Kingdom. The Celtic Sea is to its southeast, and the mighty Atlantic Ocean makes up its western border.
The area of Ireland is about 32,595 square miles, or 84,420 square kilometers.
Irish, also known as Gaelige or Gaelic, is the official language of Ireland. About one-third of the nation's residents currently speak Gaelic, but this ancient language has made a strong comeback in recent years here. The other most commonly spoken language is English, which is spoken by almost all residents.
Ireland is known for its wonderfully topsy-turvy weather. People there may experience alternating periods of sunshine and rain on any given day. The Atlantic Ocean's currents bring just enough warm water to the nation's coast to avoid receiving very much snow during the winter season, and keeps the island nation relatively mild year round.
The ample amounts of rain and sunshine keep everything lush and green, giving Ireland the moniker of "The Emerald Isle". They also combine to create beautiful rainbows along the rolling hills of the Irish countryside.
Ireland is a member of the European Union. It is a Republic, and citizens vote for representatives to represent them in a governing body called parliament. The head of parliament in Ireland is called the Taoiseach, which is similar to a prime minister or speaker of a house or senate.
- Dublin - Dublin is the capital of Ireland, and is located on the east coast just about halfway between its northern and southern coasts. It is well known for its Guinness Brewery, but is quickly becoming a major cultural hub and also a major technological center.
- Cork - Cork is found a few kilometers inland from the island's southern border with the Celtic Sea. Cork is connected to the sea by several lakes, rivers and harbors.
- Limerick - Limerick is a city found on the lower western coast of Ireland. It has magnificent old churches and steeples. It could be considered a gateway to southwestern Ireland, which has attractions such as the Dingle Peninsula, the Blarney Castle and the antiquated town of Adare. If you happen to be in the area, swing by Dolan's for some incredible dancing, company and a pint of beer!
- Waterford - Waterford is located in southeast Ireland and is very famous for its crystal glassware.
- Galway - Galway is an amazing city where you can really experience Irish culture. Street performers play music along Shop Street, and you can drop in to McDonagh's for some fish and chips to eat by the river. Galway is also the center of the revival of Gaelic.
- The Blarney Castle - The Blarney Castle is located northwest of Cork, and many tourists flock there to try and kiss the Blarney Stone for some Irish luck. It's not an easy task though - you will have to do it upside down and a tad over the side of a castle wall.
- The Leprechaun Museum - This wonderful little museum is located in the heart of Dublin. Here, you can find out all about the myths and history of the Little People, one of Ireland's most famous icons.
- Guinness Brewery - Take a tour of Ireland's most famous beer company, and learn about Arthur Guinness's famous lease with the city of Dublin while enjoying some of his incredible stout.
- Cliffs of Moher - Majestic, tall cliffs on the mid-western coast of Ireland that tower 213 meters, or 702 feet, above the ocean below.
- The Dingle Peninsula - A peninsula on the southwestern part of the country where many tourists head to see beautiful Irish mountains and crags along the Irish coast.
- Shop Street - A hub of Irish culture in Galway where performers play beautiful Irish tunes while tourists stroll and visit the shops.
- Adare Village - A small village south of Limerick, where homes with thatched roofs line the main thoroughfare.
- The Burren - A series of rocky mountains in western Ireland with scant amounts of grass and foliage. An ancient tomb still stands here and is a draw for many tourists.