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About Ireland

For a small country, Ireland has made a big impact. We've given the world saints and scholars, artists and entrepreneurs, scientists and sporting heroes. We've built a reputation for innovation, hard work and determination but we've still kept our inimitable outlook on life. Ireland is unique - let us show you why...

Ireland at a glance

  • Name: Ireland (Éire in Irish)
  • Capital: Dublin
  • Population: 4.6 million
  • Languages: English and Irish
  • Government: Republic
  • Head of government: An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
  • Head of state: President Michael D Higgins
  • Currency: Euro
  • Flag: Tricolour of green, white and orange
  • Emblem: Harp
  • National Day: Saint Patrick's Day, 17 March

 

Our History

From passage tombs older than the pyramids to cities founded by Vikings, crumbling castles to grand country estates, Ireland's history is etched on our landscape. In the 7,000 years that this country has been inhabited, we've been invaded and settled by the Celts, the Vikings, the Normans, the English and the Scots and they have all left their mark on our history, geography, culture, language and people.

Did you know? Saint Patrick is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland in the fifth century.

Long-Room-Old-Library-Trinity-College-Dublin (c) Failte Ireland

A new state

When the Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed in 1921, Ireland entered a new chapter in its history. The Treaty saw an end to the War of Independence, and the establishment of an Irish state made up of 26 counties, with six Ulster counties administered by a devolved Government within the United Kingdom. The Constitution of Ireland of 1937, provides that Ireland (or Éire in Irish) is the official name of the State and following the enactment of the Republic of Ireland Act of 1948, in 1949, Ireland became a Republic.

Did you know? Ireland became a member of the United Nations in 1955 and joined what is now the European Union in 1973.

Northern Ireland

After the War of Independence in 1921, Northern Ireland had its own devolved government, controlled by the Unionist majority until 1972. However, discrimination against Nationalists in voting, housing and employment and the repression of Nationalist civil rights campaigners led to civil unrest and was followed by the period of sustained conflict known as the Troubles.

From the 1980s onwards, the Irish and British governments began to work closer together to achieve peace, culminating in the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. The Agreement set out a framework for both communities in Northern Ireland to resolve their differences and ended decades of violence.

Did you know? The Good Friday Agreement was overwhelmingly approved by the people of Ireland in referendums both North and South in 1998.

 

Ireland's rapid economic growth from 1993 to 2007 saw it become one of the world's most dynamic economies. However, the global economic downturn, a lengthy property market boom and problems within the Irish banking system led to recession from which the country is still recovering. The good news is that the Irish economy returned to growth in 2011 and is continuing to expand.

Did you know? Irish food and drink exports for 2014 were worth almost €10.5 billion a year representing an expansion of 45% or €3.2 billion since 2009.

Ireland's International Business and Economic Rankings - 29 October 2014

 

Our Culture

Our unique culture and heritage feed our creativity and make us what we are. We tell the story of Ireland and her people through our music, poetry, art, literature and film. Sometimes it's joyous, sometimes tragic. It can make us laugh and it can force us to face uncomfortable truths but it is always, always inspiring.

Did you know? Ireland has produced four winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature: George Bernard Shaw, William Butler Yeats, Samuel Beckett and Seamus Heaney.

 

Our Language

Given the Irish reputation for eloquence, it should come as no surprise that we have two official languages: Irish and English. While everyone speaks English, Irish is also spoken by many including those living in Gaeltacht (Irish speaking) areas. Irish has always been taught in schools. Today, around 41% of people living here can speak at least some Irish.

Did you know? The Blarney Stone in Co. Cork is one of our top tourist destinations. Visitors come to kiss the stone to apparently gain the Irish gift of eloquence!