Republic of Ireland
The Emerald Isle, The Island of Saints and Scholars!
Ireland, described as the Republic of Ireland (Irish: Poblacht na hÉireann), is a state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy, with an elected president serving as head of state.
The modern Irish state was established in 1922 as the Irish Free State, a dominion within the British Empire, following the Anglo-Irish Treaty which brought an end to the Irish War of Independence. The partition of Ireland had already been provided for in previous British legislation in 1921 in response to opposition to Irish Home Rule or independence by Unionists, who formed a majority in the north-eastern part of the country. Six of the nine counties in the northern province of Ulster were established under that legislation as Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom, with which the Irish state shares its only land border. The state is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the Celtic Sea to the south, St George’s Channel to the south east, and the Irish Sea to the east.
Other places and informational links for the Republic of Ireland:
Traditionally, Ireland is subdivided into four provinces: Connacht (west), Leinster (east), Munster (south), and Ulster (north). In a system that developed between the 13th and 17th centuries, Ireland has thirty-two traditional counties. Twenty-six of the counties are in the Republic of Ireland and six counties are in Northern Ireland. The six counties that constitute Northern Ireland are all in the province of Ulster (which has nine counties in total). As such, Ulster is often used as a synonym for Northern Ireland.
In the Republic of Ireland counties form the basis of the system of local government. Counties Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway, Waterford and Tipperary have been broken up into smaller administrative areas. However, they are still treated as counties for cultural and some official purposes, for example post and by the Ordnance Survey Ireland. Counties in Northern Ireland are no longer used for local governmental purposes, but, as in the Republic, their traditional boundaries are still used for informal purposes such as sports leagues and in cultural or tourism contexts.
There are three World Heritage Sites on the island: the Brú na Boinne, Skellig Michael and the Giant’s Causeway. Some of the most visited sites in Ireland include Bunratty Castle, the Rock of Cashel, the Cliffs of Moher, Holy Cross Abbey and Blarney Castle. Historically important monastic sites include Glendalough and Clonmacnoise, which are maintained as national monuments in the Republic of Ireland.
Ireland has five main international airports: Dublin Airport, Belfast International Airport (Aldergrove), Cork Airport, Shannon Airport and Ireland West Airport (Knock). All provide services to Great Britain and continental Europe, while Belfast International, Dublin and Shannon also offer transatlantic services.
Ireland has major ports in Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Rosslare, Derry and Waterford. There are also ferry connections to France, from Rosslare to Roscoff and Cherbourg, and also from Cork to Roscoff and Great Britain via the Irish Sea.
The railway network in Ireland was developed by various private companies during the 19th century, with some receiving government funding in the late 19th century. Long distance passenger trains in the Republic of Ireland are managed by Iarnród Éireann and connect most major towns and cities. In Northern Ireland all rail services are provided by Northern Ireland Railways.