Ireland is an island located to the west of the United Kingdom. It is separated from the UK by the Irish Sea and from Scotland by the North Channel. To the west is the Atlantic Ocean. It has been occupied since roughly 6000BC, and the Neolithic sites can be visited even today. Its unusual lunar landscapes, complex cave systems and sparkling clear waterways are a major draw.
It is hard to believe that its most famous saint, Saint Patrick, wasn’t even Irish! He was actually a prisoner of the Irish raiders, brought back from Britain to work as a shepherd. Saint Patrick managed to escape to Britain, but then he had a vision from God and returned to Ireland as a missionary. Relics from St. Patrick’s era can be seen scattered all over Ireland.
Ireland passed through a major tragedy in the last part of the nineteenth century when it was engulfed by the Great Famine due to potato blight. More than one million people died of starvation and many others fell prey to typhus. Millions of people emigrated to countries like United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Australia between the years of 1848-1950. Thanks to a vibrant economy, today’s Ireland sees more immigration and less emigration.
National Name: Eire
Official Languages: English & Irish (Gaelic)
Religion: Christianity, predominantly Roman Catholic
Currency: The Euro (previously Irish pount, the punt)
Land area: 26,598 sq mi (68,889 sq km)
Climate: Temperate with winters being mild and summers cool. It is usually humid and overcast approximately half of the time.