By: Clare Slattery

Location and Landscape

The location of Ireland has affected numerous aspects of Irish culture and living both historically and presently. The Encyclopedia Britannica states that, "The republic of Ireland occupies the greater part of an island lying to the west of Great Britain, from which it is the North Channel, the Irish Sea, and St. George's Channel" (7). In terms of landscape, Ireland, when pictured, is illustrated by expansive, rolling, green hills topped by crumbling castles. In truth, Ireland offers a variety of landscape features. The central land of Ireland is flat and plain like, with the rocky mountainous regions contained to the coast, while lakes, valleys, and smaller hill areas are spread throughout the country (Encyclopedia Britannica 8).


The complex history of Ireland goes back thousands of years. The island of Ireland was first known to be inhabited around 6000 B.C. by a people who were known to hunt and fish (Grolier Online 41). Farming began around 3000 B.C., which helped Ireland to grow and prosper and led into the Golden Age, during which Christianity was introduced by the well-known St. Patrick. The Golden Age was ended when England invaded Ireland around 1170 (Grolier Online 43-44). English dominance in Ireland led to bloody war and the persecution of the native Irish, especially those of the Catholic religion (Grolier Online 45-48). A great famine hit Ireland in 1845, when the staple crop of potatoes was ravaged by a fungus, leading to the starvation of many Irish and also the emigration of many to America for survival. Ireland eventually freed themselves from England in 1948, but since then has still struggled with many internal conflicts (Grolier Online 49-54). Peace is still not prevalent in Ireland, and their past has certainly affected the way their nation functions in modern times. As Tom O'Neill wrote after a visit to Ireland, "The past still danced into the present..." (50).

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The Potato Famine

"'Whodunnit' of Irish Potato Famine Solved." N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Nov. 2013.


Ireland has many sources of income that define their purpose and place in the modern world. While agriculture was once the main source of income for the country, it has recently been replaced by industry and manufacturing as the largest business in Ireland (Grolier Online 31). Despite this, farming remains at the true heart of Ireland, and is still a large part of Ireland's economy. Ireland is also working to preserve the farms that once dotted the hills of Ireland in multitudes and have now grown more sparse. Many of the farms that still exist use old-fashioned and outdated forms of farming and little technology, and Ireland is working to boost Irish farming into modern times. As concluded by Grolier Online, "The government has done much to promote progressive farming..." (32).

Government and Politics

Ireland's government shares some similarities with American government, but also differs in many ways. Irish presidents are elected by the people, but serve for seven whole years, instead of four years, like in the U.S. Their government also has a Senate, called the Seanad Eireann, and a House of Representatives, called the Dáil Eireann (Encyclopedia Britannica 1). The Seanad Eireann and Dáil Eireann are parts of the nation's parliament called the Oireachtas (Grolier Online 40). Ireland still has aspects of government that are distinctly European, and not seen at all in American government. As Grolier Online states, "The prime minister is nominated by Dáil Eireann and appointed by the president" (40). This is very different from the United States, whose government does not include a prime minister at all.

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Michael D. Higgins, current president of Ireland

"Michael D. Higgins." N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Nov. 2013.


Not only does Ireland offer stunningly beautiful landscape, it also boasts some of the richest cultural aspects of the world. The Irish people claim two languages as their official languages in Ireland, both the native Irish language and English. They spoke their own Irish language up until around the 1900s, but English is now the most widely spoken language (Encyclopedia Britannica 2). The Irish people are also known to be devout followers of the Catholic faith, which is the most prominent religion in their country, and has also been the source of much controversy for hundreds of years (Encyclopedia Britannica 4). Ireland has also had a strong place in literature for ages (Grolier Online 15). According to Grolier Online, "The earliest known literature of Ireland dates from the 8th and 9th centuries" (15).

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Bilingual Street Signs

"Corpus Material in the Irish Language From 700 to the Present Day." Google. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Nov. 2013.

Works Cited

"Ireland." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2013.

"Ireland." Grolier Online. Scholastic, n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2013.