Location: surrounded by Northern Ireland, the Irish Sea, and the Atlantic Ocean. Across the Irish Sea from Great Britain.

Capital: Dublin

Population: 4.5 million (comparable to Louisiana)

Size: 27,097 square miles (comparable to South Carolina)

Religion: Christianity

Language: English, Irish

Government: The government is a constitutional republic with a Prime Minister (currently Enda Kenny), a figurehead President (currently Michael Higgins), and two houses (congress and senate). It’s 26 counties are broken into 34 governing districts

Economy: Uses the euro. GNI is  US $41,000.

Fun Facts:  

  • Historically, Ireland was divided into 4 provinces- Leinster (eastern), Munster (southern), Connacht (western), and Ulster(northern). Now most of Ulster is Northern Ireland and the rest is the Republic of Ireland.
  • The saying “Kiss me, I’m Irish!” supposedly comes from the tradition of kissing the Blarney stone, a legendary tradition that is supposed to bring good luck by means of having the “gift of deceiving without offending.” In this tradition, people kiss a stone on the Blarney Castle in Ireland that they can only get to by climbing to the top of the castle and leaning precariously over the ledge on the top.  In return they get the gift of gab.  Since most are unable to kiss the Blarney Stone, they say that kissing the Irish people is the next best thing.
  • There are over 100 species of plants that are found only in Ireland.
  • No snakes inhabit the country, and the only reptile in the area is the common lizard.
  • Citizens of the United Kingdom can pass in and out of Ireland without a passport as part of the Common Travel Area, a passport-free zone made up of Ireland, Great Britain, Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands.
  •  Ireland got the nickname “Celtic Tiger” from an economic bust in the 1990’s.
  • It’s also nicknamed, the Emerald Isle
  • Dublin is the birthplace and headquarters of Guinness Beer.
  • All of Dublin’s national museums and galleries are free to visit.
  • Famous Irish are Patrick Dempsey, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Farrell, Liam Neeson, F. Scott Fitzgerald, George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, James Hoban (designed White House), U2, Enya, Van Morrison

Not So Fun Facts:

  • Ireland lost over half its population in decades following the 1840 Potato Famine.
  • Great Britain and Ireland battled for control of Ireland in the Anglo-Irish War from 1918-1922.  26 of the 32 Irish counties gained freedom, but Northern Ireland remained part of the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland remained an intense cultural battle ground for much of the 1900’s, with part wishing for a united Ireland and others wishing to remain in the UK.

In the News Lately:

Last year Ireland received a massive bailout from the European Union, now they are recovering.

Ireland is in the running- and has high hopes- for qualifying for the Euro football tournament. The game is on Tuesday.