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Coordinates: 53°N 7°W / 53°N 07°W / 53; -07

Native name: Éire / Ireland
Ireland from space edit.jpg
True colour image of Ireland, captured by a NASA satellite on 4 January 2003, with the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Irish Sea to the east.
Ireland (island) in Europe.png
Location Northern Europe or Western Europe[1]
Area 84,421 km2 (32,595.1 sq mi)[2] (20th)
Coastline 3,700 km (2,300 mi)
Highest point Carrauntoohil (1,041 m (3,415 ft))
Largest city Dublin
Constituent country Northern Ireland
Largest city Belfast
Population 6,197,100[3] (as of 2008)
Density 73.4 /km2 (190 /sq mi)
Ethnic groups Irish, Ulster Scots, Irish Travellers[4]

Ireland (pronounced [ˈaɾlənd]( listen),; Irish: Éire, pronounced [ˈeːɾʲə]  ( listen); Ulster Scots: Airlann) is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island in the world.[5] It lies to the north-west of continental Europe and is surrounded by hundreds of islands and islets. To the east of Ireland is the island of Great Britain, separated from it by the Irish Sea. The Republic of Ireland covers five-sixths of the island. Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom, covers the remainder and is located in the northeast of the island.

The population of Ireland is estimated to be 6.2 million. Slightly fewer than 4.5 million are estimated to live in the Republic of Ireland and slightly fewer than 1.8 million are estimated to live in Northern Ireland.[3] This is a significant increase from a modern historical low of 4.2 million in the 1960s but still much lower than the peak population of over 8 million in the mid-19th century prior to the Great Famine.[6]

Relatively low-lying mountains surrounding a central plain epitomise Ireland's geography with several navigable rivers extending inland. The island has lush vegetation, a product of its mild but changeable oceanic climate, which avoids extremes in temperature. Thick woodlands covered the island until the 1600s. Today, it is the most deforested area in Europe. Twenty-six mammal species are native to Ireland, with some, such as the red fox, hedgehog and badger, being very common. Others, like the Irish hare, red deer and pine marten are less so.

A Norman invasion in the Middle Ages gave way to English domination by the 1500s. In the 1700s, a system of Protestant English rule was designed to materially disadvantage the Roman Catholic majority and Protestant dissenters. In 1801, Ireland became a part of the United Kingdom. A war of independence in the early 20th century led to the partition of the island, creating the Irish Free State, which became increasingly sovereign over the following decades. Northern Ireland remained a part of the United Kingdom and saw much civil unrest from the late 1960s until the 1990s. This subsided following a political agreement in 1998. In 1973, both parts of Ireland joined the European Community. The Republic of Ireland experienced unprecedented economic growth from the mid-1990s until the 2008–2010 Irish financial crisis.[7]

Irish culture has had a significant influence on culture world-wide, particularly in the fields of literature and, to a lesser degree, science and learning. A strong indigenous culture exists, as expressed for example through native sports and the Irish language, alongside a common Western culture, such as contemporary music and drama, and sports such as rugby and golf.


Political geography

County Kerry County Antrim County Londonderry County Down County Armagh County Louth County Tyrone County Wexford County Dublin County Wicklow County Monaghan County Donegal County Fermanagh County Waterford County Cork County Limerick County Clare County Carlow County Kilkenny County Laois County Tipperary County Meath County Kildare County Cavan County Leitrim County Sligo County Roscommon County Galway County Longford County Westmeath County Offaly County Mayo County Mayo A map of Ireland showing traditional county borders and names with Northern Ireland counties colored tan, all other counties colored green
A map of the 32 traditional counties of Ireland, showing the 26 counties of the Republic of Ireland (dark green) and the 6 counties of Northern Ireland (light green). Each of the counties on the map are a clickable link to the article on that county.

Ireland is occupied by two political entities:

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,[8] 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, although the two are not coterminous.

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,[9] but, as in the Republic, their traditional boundaries are still used for informal purposes such as sports leagues and in cultural or tourism contexts as well as in addresses.[10]

City status in Ireland is decided by legislative or royal charter. Dublin, with just over 1 million residents in the Greater Dublin Area,[11] is the largest city on the island. Other cities are:[12][13]

Kilkenny (pop. 22,179), while strictly no longer a city, is entitled by law to describe itself as such. Several towns have larger populations than some of these cities but are not recognised as cities because they lack historic charters or legal status.

Province Population[12] Area (km²)[15] Density (p/km²)[15] Largest city
Connacht 503,083 17,713 28 Galway
Leinster 2,292,939 19,801 100 Dublin
Munster 1,172,170 24,608 48 Cork
Ulster 2,008,333 22,300 90 Belfast

All-island institutions

Despite the political partition, the island of Ireland continues to act as a single entity in a number of areas that transcend governmental agencies. The two jurisdictions share a transport, telecommunications, energy and water systems. With a few notable exceptions, this island is the main organisational unit for major religious, cultural and sporting organizations. The island fields a single international team in most sports, for example, and March 17 is celebrated throughout Ireland as the traditional Irish holiday of St. Patrick's Day. One notable exception to this is Association football, although both associations continued to field international teams under the name "Ireland" until the 1950s. An all-Ireland club competition for soccer, the Setanta Cup, was created in 2005.

The 1998 Belfast Agreement provides for political co-operation between the two jurisdictions. The North-South Ministerial Council, established under the agreement, is an institution through which ministers from the Government of Ireland and the Northern Ireland Executive can formulate all-island policies in twelve "areas of co-operation" such as agriculture, the environment and transport. Six of these policy areas have associated all-island "implementation bodies". For example, food safety is managed by the Food Safety Promotion Board and Tourism Ireland markets the island as a whole. Three major political parties, Sinn Féin, the Irish Green Party and, most recently, Fianna Fáil, are organised on an all-island basis. However, only the former two of these has contested elections and hold legislative seats in both jurisdictions.

Despite the two jurisdictions using two distinct currencies (the euro and pound sterling), a growing amount of commercial activity is carried out on an all-island basis. This has in part been facilitated by the two jurisdictions' shared membership of the European Union. Calls for the creation of an "all-island economy" have been made from members of the business community and policymakers so as to benefit from economies of scale and boost competitiveness.[16] One area in which the island already operates largely as a single market is electricity[17] and there are plans for the creation of an all-island gas market.[18] Support for such initiatives comes from the Irish government and nationalist parties in the Northern Ireland Assembly.[19]

Physical geography

Physical features of Ireland

A ring of coastal mountains surround low plains at the centre of the island. The highest of these is Carrauntoohil (Irish: Corrán Tuathail) in County Kerry, which rises to 1,038 m (3,406 ft) above sea level.[20] The most arable land lies in the province of Leinster.[21] Western areas can be mountainous and rocky with green panoramic vistas. The River Shannon, the island's longest river at 386 km (240 mi) long, rises in County Cavan in the north west and flows 113 kilometres (70 mi) to Limerick city in the mid west.[22]

The island's lush vegetation, a product of its mild climate and frequent rainfall, earns it the sobriquet the Emerald Isle. Overall, Ireland has a mild but changeable oceanic climate with few extremes. The climate is typically insular and is temperate avoiding the extremes in temperature of many other areas in the world at similar latitudes.[23] This is a result of the moderating moist winds which ordinarily prevail from the South-Western Atlantic.

Precipitation falls throughout the year but is light overall, particularly in the east. The west tends to be wetter on average and prone to Atlantic storms, especially in the late autumn and winter months. These occasionally bring destructive winds and higher total rainfall to these areas, as well as sometimes snow and hail. The regions of north County Galway and east County Mayo have the highest incidents of recorded lightning annually for the island, with lightening occurring approximately five to ten days per year in these areas.[24] Munster, in the south, records the least snow whereas Ulster, in the north, records the most.

Inland areas are warmer in summer and colder in winter. Usually around 40 days of the year are below freezing 0 °C (32 °F) at inland weather stations, compared to 10 days at coastal stations. Ireland is sometimes affected by heat waves, most recently in 1995, 2003 and 2006. In common with the rest of Europe, Ireland experienced unusually cold weather during the winter of 2009-2010. Temperatures fell as low as -13°C (9°F) in some parts and up to a metre (3 feet) of snow in mountainous areas.

Carrauntoohil the highest peak in Ireland at Macgillycuddy's Reeks

The island consists of varied geological provinces. In the far west, around County Galway and County Donegal, is a medium to high grade metamorphic and igneous complex of Caledonide affinity, similar to the Scottish Highlands. Across southeast Ulster and extending southwest to Longford and south to Navan is a province of Ordovician and Silurian rocks, with similarities to the Southern Uplands province of Scotland. Further south, along the County Wexford coastline, is an area of granite intrusives into more Ordovician and Silurian rocks, like that found in Wales.[25][26] In the southwest, around Bantry Bay and the mountains of Macgillicuddy's Reeks, is an area of substantially deformed, but only lightly metamorphosed, Devonian-aged rocks.[27] This partial ring of "hard rock" geology is covered by a blanket of Carboniferous limestone over the centre of the country, giving rise to a comparatively fertile and lush landscape. The west-coast district of the Burren around Lisdoonvarna has well developed karst features.[28] Significant stratiform lead-zinc mineralization is found in the limestones around Silvermines and Tynagh.

Hydrocarbon exploration is ongoing following the first major find at the Kinsale Head gas field off Cork in the mid-1970s.[29][30] More recently, in 1999, economically significant finds of natural gas were made in the Corrib Gas Field off the County Mayo coast. This has increased activity off the west coast in parallel with the "West of Shetland" step-out development from the North Sea hydrocarbon province. The Helvick oil field, estimated to contain over 28 million barrels (4,500,000 m3) of oil, is another recent discovery.[31]

Places of interest

There are three World Heritage Sites on the island: the Brú na Boinne, Skellig Michael and the Giant's Causeway.[32] A number of other places are on the tentative list, for example the Burren and Mount Stewart.[33]

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.[34] Historically important monastic sites include Glendalough and Clonmacnoise, which are maintained as national monuments in the Republic of Ireland.[35]

Dublin is the most heavily touristed region[34] and home to several of the most popular attractions such as the Guinness Storehouse and Book of Kells.[34] The west and south west, which includes the Lakes of Killarney and the Dingle peninsula in County Kerry and Connemara and the Aran Islands in County Galway, are also popular tourist destinations.[34] Stately homes, built during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries in Palladian, Neoclassical and neo-Gothic styles, such as, Castle Ward, Castletown House, Bantry House, are also of interest to tourists. Some have been converted into hotels, such as Ashford Castle, Castle Leslie and Dromoland Castle.

Flora and fauna

The red deer (Cervus elaphus) Ireland's largest wild mammal in Killarney National Park

Because Ireland was isolated from mainland Europe by rising sea levels after the ice age, it has less diverse animal and plant species than either Great Britain or mainland Europe. Only 26 land mammal species are native to Ireland. Some species, such as the red fox, hedgehog and badger, are very common, whereas others, like the Irish hare, red deer and pine marten are less so. Aquatic wildlife, such as species of turtle, shark, whale, and dolphin, are common off the coast. About 400 species of birds have been recorded in Ireland. Many of these are migratory, including the Barn Swallow. Most of Ireland's bird species come from Iceland, Greenland and Africa.

Several different habitat types are found in Ireland, including farmland, open woodland, temperate broadleaf and mixed forests, conifer plantations, peat bogs and a variety of coastal habitats. However, agriculture drives current land use patterns in Ireland, limiting natural habitat preserves,[36] particularly for larger wild mammals with greater territorial needs. With no top predator in Ireland, populations of animals, such as semi-wild deer, that cannot be controlled by smaller predators, such as the fox, are controlled by annual culling.

Famously, there are no snakes in Ireland and only one reptile (the common lizard) is native to the island. Extinct species include the great Irish elk, the Irish wolf and the great auk. Some previously extinct birds, such as the Golden Eagle, have recently been reintroduced after decades of extirpation.

Until medieval times, Ireland was heavily forested with oak, pine and birch. Forests today cover only about 9% (4,450 km² or one million acres)[37] of Ireland, which makes it the most deforested area in Europe. Much of the land is now covered with pasture, and there are many species of wild-flower. Gorse (Ulex europaeus), a wild furze, is commonly found growing in the uplands and ferns are plentiful in the more moist regions, especially in the western parts. It is home to hundreds of plant species, some of them unique to the island, and has been "invaded" by some grasses, such as Spartina anglica.[38]

The algal and seaweed flora is that of the cold-temperate variety. The total number of species is 574 and can be divided as follows:

Rarer species include:[39]

The island has been invaded by some algae, some of which are now well established. For example:[40]

  • Asparagopsis armara Harvey, which originated in Australia and was first recorded by M. De Valera in 1939
  • Colpomenia peregrina Sauvageau, which is now locally abundant and first recorded in the 1930s
  • Sargassum muticum (Yendo) Fensholt, now well established in a number of localities on the south, west, and north-east coasts
  • Codium fragile ssp. fragile (formerly reported as ssp. tomentosum), now well established.

Codium fragile ssp. atlanticum has recently been established to be native, although for many years it was regarded as an alien species.

Because of its mild climate, many species, including sub-tropical species such as palm trees, are grown in Ireland. Phytogeographically, Ireland belongs to the Atlantic European province of the Circumboreal Region within the Boreal Kingdom. The island itself can be subdivided into two ecoregions: the Celtic broadleaf forests and North Atlantic moist mixed forests.

The impact of agriculture

The long history of agricultural production, coupled with modern intensive agricultural methods such as pesticide and fertiliser use, has placed pressure on biodiversity in Ireland.[41][42] "Runoff" from contaminants into streams, rivers and lakes impact the natural fresh-water ecosystems.

A land of green fields for crop cultivation and cattle rearing limits the space available for the establishment of native wild species. Hedgerows however, traditionally used for maintaining and demarcating land boundaries, act as a refuge for native wild flora. This ecosystem stretches across the countryside and act as a network of connections to preserve remnants of the ecosystem that once covered the island. Subsidies under the Common Agricultural Policy, which supported agricultural practices that preserved hedgerow environments, are undergoing reforms.[43] The Common Agricultural Policy, however, also subsidises some potentially destructive agricultural practices. Although recent reforms have gradually decoupled subsidies from production levels and introduced environmental and other requirements.[43]

Forest covers about 10% of the country, with most designated for commercial production.[36] Forested areas typically consist of monoculture plantations of non-native species, which may result in habitats that are not suitable for supporting native species of invertebrates. Remnants of native forest can be found scattered around the island, in particular in the Killarney National Park. Natural areas require fencing to prevent over-grazing by deer and sheep that roam over uncultivated areas. Grazing in this manner is one of the main factors preventing the natural regeneration of forests across many regions of the country.[44]


History of Ireland
Wenzel Hollar's historical map of Ireland
This article is part of a series
1919–present (Republic)
1921–present (Northern Ireland)
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Pre-history and medieval period

Most of Ireland was covered with ice until the end of the last ice age over 9,000 years ago. Sea-levels were lower and Ireland, as with its neighbour Britain, were a part of continental Europe rather than being islands. Mesolithic stone age inhabitants arrived some time after 8,000 BC and agriculture followed with the Neolithic Age around 4,500 to 4,000 BC when sheep, goats, cattle and cereals were imported from the Iberian peninsula. At the Céide Fields, preserved beneath a blanket of peat in present-day County Mayo, is an extensive field system, arguably the oldest in the world,[45] dating from not long after this period. Consisting of small divisions separated by dry-stone walls, the fields were farmed for several centuries between 3,500 and 3,000 BC. Wheat and barley were the principal crops. The Bronze Age – defined by the use of metal – began around 2,500 BC with technology changing people's everyday lives during this period through innovations such as the wheel, harnessing oxen, weaving textiles, brewing alcohol, and skillful metalworking, producing new weapons and tools, and fine gold decoration and jewellery, such as brooches and torcs.

The Iron Age in Ireland is traditionally associated with people known as the Celts. The Celts were commonly thought to have colonised Ireland in a series of invasions between the 8th and 1st centuries BC. The Gaels, the last wave of Celts, were said to have divided the island into five or more kingdoms after conquering it. However, academics now favour a view that emphasises the diffusion of culture from overseas as opposed to a military colonisation.[46][47] Finds, such as Clonycavan Man, given as evidence for this view.

The earliest written records of Ireland come from classical Greco-Roman geographers. Ptolemy in his Almagest refers to Ireland as Mikra Brettania (Lesser Britain), in contrast to the larger island, which he called Megale Brettania (Great Britain). In his later work, Geography, Ptolemy refers to Ireland as Iwernia and to Great Britain as Albion. These "new" names were likely to have been the native names for the islands at the time. The earlier names, in contrast, were likely to have been coined before direct contact with local peoples were made.[48] The Romans would later refer to Ireland by this name too in its Latinised form, Hibernia,[49] or Scotia.[50] Ptolemy records sixteen tribes inhabiting every part of Ireland in 100 AD.[51] The relationship between the Roman Empire and the tribes of ancient Ireland is unclear. Objective references that exist are from Roman writings whereas native accounts are confined to Irish poetry and myth. However, a number of finds of Roman coins have been found, for example at New Grange.[52]

Ireland continued as a patchwork of rival tribes but, beginning in the 7th century AD, a concept of national kingship gradually became articulated through the concept of a High King of Ireland. Medieval Irish literature portrays an almost unbroken sequence of High Kings stretching back thousands of years but modern historians believe the scheme was constructed in the 8th century to justify the status of powerful political groupings by projecting the origins of their rule into the remote past.[53] The High King was said to preside over the patchwork of provincial kingdoms that together formed Ireland. Each of these kingdoms had their own kings but were at least nominally subject to the High King. The High King was drawn from the ranks of the provincial kings and ruled also the royal kingdom of Meath, with a ceremonial capital at the Hill of Tara. The concept only became a political reality in the Viking Age and even then was not a consistent one.[54][55] However, Ireland did have a unifying rule of law: the early written judicial system, the Brehon Laws, administered by a professional class of jurists known as the brehons.

The Chronicle of Ireland records that in 431 AD Bishop Palladius arrived in Ireland on a mission from Pope Celestine I to minister to the Irish "already believing in Christ." The same chronicle records that Saint Patrick, Ireland's best known patron saint, arrived the following year. There is continued debate over the missions of Palladius and Patrick but consensus that they both took place[56] and certainty that the older druid tradition collapsed in the face of the new religion.[57] Irish Christian scholars excelled in the study of Latin and Greek learning and Christian theology. In the monastic culture that followed the Christianisation of Ireland, Latin and Greek learning was preserved in Ireland during the Early Middle Ages in contrast to elsewhere in Europe, where the Dark Ages followed the decline of the Roman Empire.[57][58] The arts of manuscript illumination, metalworking and sculpture flourished and produced treasures such as the Book of Kells, ornate jewellery and the many carved stone crosses that still dot the island today.

From the 9th century, waves of Viking raiders plundered Irish monasteries and towns. These raids added to a pattern of raiding and endemic warfare that was already deep seated in Ireland.

Norman and English invasions

Remains of the 11th-century Trim Castle in County Meath The largest Norman castle in Ireland.

On May 1, 1169, an expedition of Cambro-Norman knights with an army of about six-hundred landed at Bannow Strand in present-day County Wexford. It was led by Richard de Clare, called Strongbow due to his prowess as an archer.[59] The invasion, which coincided with a period of renewed Norman expansion, was at the invitation of Dermot Mac Murrough, king of Leinster.

In 1166, Mac Morrough had fled to France following a war involving Tiernan O'Rourke, king of Breifne, and sought the assistance of the the Angevin king, Henry II, in recapturing his kingdom. In 1171, Henry arrived in Ireland in order to review the general progress of the expedition. He wanted to re-exert royal authority over the invasion which was expanding beyond his control. Henry successfully re-imposed his authority over Strongbow and the Cambro-Norman warlords and persuaded many of the Irish kings to accept him as their overlord, an arrangement confirmed in the 1175 Treaty of Windsor.

The invasion was legitimised by the provisions of Laudabiliter, a Papal bull, purportedly issued by Adrian IV in 1155 (co-incidentally, the only Englishman to have been elected Pope). The bull facilitated Henry to take Ireland in order to overhaul the financial and administrative reorganisation of the Irish Church along Roman lines. This restructuring was already in progress at the ecclesiastical level since the Synod of Kells in 1152. There is some controversy over the bull's authenticity. If real it granted King Henry II dominion over Ireland in the name of the papacy.[60] In 1172, the new pope, Alexander III, further encouraged Henry to advance the integration of the Irish Church with Rome. Henry was authorised to impose a tithe of one penny per hearth as an annual contribution. This church levy, called Peter's Pence, is still extant in Ireland as a voluntary donation. In turn, Henry accepted the title of Dominus Hiberniae (Lord of Ireland) which Henry granted to his younger son, John Lackland, in 1185. This defined the Irish state as the Lordship of Ireland, a feudal possession of the Papacy under the overlordship of the Lord of Ireland. When Henry's successor died unexpectedly in 1199, John inherited the crown of England and the Lord of Ireland and the King of England became one person.

Over the century that followed, Norman feudal law gradually replaced the native brehon law so that by the late 13th century the Norman-Irish had established a feudal system throughout much of Ireland. Normal settlements were characterised by the establishment of baronies, manors, towns and the seeds of the modern-day county system. A version of Magna Carta (the Great Charter of Ireland), substituting Dublin for London and Irish Church for Church of England, was published in 1216 and the Parliament of Ireland was founded in 1297.

However, from the mid-fourteenth century, after of the Black Death, Norman settlements in Ireland went into a period of decline. The Norman rulers and the native Irish elites intermarried and the areas under Norman rule became Gaelicised. In some parts, a hybrid Hiberno-Norman culture emerged. In response, the Irish parliament passed the Statutes of Kilkenny in 1367. These were a set of laws designed to prevent the assimilation of the Normans into Irish society by requiring English subjects in Ireland to speak English, follow English customs and abide by English law.[61] However, by the end of the 15th century central English authority in Ireland had all but disappeared and a renewed Irish culture and language, albeit with Norman influences, was dominant again. However, English Crown control remained relatively unshaken in an amorphous foothold around Dublin known as The Pale and under the provisions of Poynings' Law of 1494, the Irish Parliamentary legislation was subject to the approval of the English Parliament.

English rule of law was reinforced and expanded, however, in the sixteenth century leading to the Tudor reconquest of Ireland. A near complete conquest was achieved by the turn of the seventeenth century following the Nine Years' War and the Flight of the Earls. This control was further consolidated during the wars and conflicts of the seventeenth century, which witnessed English and Scottish colonisation in the Plantations of Ireland, the Wars of the Three Kingdoms and the Williamite War. Irish losses during the Wars of the three Kingdoms (which, in Ireland, included the Irish Confederacy and the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland) are estimated to include 20,000 battlefield casualties. 200,000 civilians are estimated to have died as a result of a combination of war related famine, displacement, guerilla activity and pestilence over the duration of the war. A further 16,000 were tried and sent to slavery in the West Indies. Some historians estimate that as much as half of the pre-war population of Ireland may have died as a result of the conflict.[62]

The religious struggles of the seventeenth century left a deep sectarian division in Ireland. Religious allegiance now determined the perception in law of loyalty to the Irish King and Parliament. After the passing of The Test Act 1673 and with the victory of the forces of the dual monarchy of William and Mary over the Jacobites, Roman Catholics and nonconforming Protestant Dissenters were barred sitting as members in the Irish Parliament. Under the emerging penal laws, recusant Irish Roman Catholics and Dissenters were increasingly deprived of various and sundry civil rights even to the ownership of hereditary property. Additional regressive punitive legislation followed 1703, 1709 and 1728. This completed a comprehensive systemic effort to materially disadvantage Roman Catholics and Protestant Dissenters, while enriching a new ruling class of Anglican conformists.[63] The new Anglo-Irish ruling class became known as the Protestant Ascendancy.

Union with Great Britain

Abnormal weather conditions, teamed with the arrival of a deadly potato mold from North America, caused the failure of the ubiquitous potato crop. This resulted in the famine in 1740. An estimated 400,000 people (about a quarter of the population) died from the ensuing pestilence and disease. The Irish government provided significant relief and contained the damage as much as possible. In the aftermath of the famine, an increase in industrial production and a surge in trade brought a succession of construction booms. The population soared in the latter part of this century and the architectural legacy of Georgian Ireland was built. In 1782, Poynings' Law was repealed giving Ireland virtual legislative independence from Great Britain for the first time since the Norman invasion. However, the British government still retained the right to nominate the government of Ireland above the consent of the Irish parliament.

In 1798, members of the Protestant Dissenter tradition (mainly Presbyterian) made common cause with Roman Catholics in a republican rebellion inspired and led by the Society of United Irishmen with the aim of creating an independent Ireland. Despite assistance from France the rebellion was put down by British and Irish government and yeomanry forces. In 1800, the British and Irish parliaments passed the Act of Union which, effective as of January 1, 1801, merged the Kingdom of Ireland and the Kingdom of Great Britain to create a United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The passage of the Act in the Irish Parliament was ultimately achieved with substantial majorities, having failed on the first attempt in 1799. According to contemporary documents and historical analysis, this was achieved through a considerable degree of bribery, with funding provided by the British Secret Service Office, and a the awarding of peerages, places and honours to secure votes.[64] Thus, Ireland became part of an extended United Kingdom, ruled directly by the parliament at Westminster in London. A Viceregal administration was established and under the government appointed the Chief Secretary at Dublin Castle.

Emigrants Leave Ireland engraving by Henry Doyle depicting the emigration to America following the Great Famine in Ireland

The Great Famine of the 1840s caused the deaths of one million Irish people and over a million more emigrated to escape it.[65] By the end of the decade, half of all immigration to the United States was from Ireland. Mass emigration became deeply entrenched and the population continued to decline until the mid 20th century. Immediately prior to the famine, the population was recorded as 8.2 million by the 1841 census.[66] The population has never returned to this level since.[67] The population continued to fall until 1961 and it was not until the 2006 census that the last county of Ireland (County Leitrim) to record a rise in population since 1841 did so.

The 19th and early 20th century saw the rise of modern Irish nationalism, primarily among the Roman Catholic population. Pre-eminent among these was Daniel O'Connell. He was elected as member of parliament for Ennis in a surprise result despite being unable to take his seat as a Roman Catholic. O'Connell spearheaded a vigorous campaign which was taken up by the Prime Minister, the Irish born soldier and statesman, the Duke of Wellington. Steering the Act through the Westminster parliament, aided by future prime minister Robert Peel, Wellington prevailed upon a reluctant George IV to sign the bill and proclaim it into law. George's father had opposed the earlier Prime Minister's, Pitt the Younger, plan to introduce such a bill following the Union in 1801 fearing Catholic Emancipation to be in conflict with the Act of Settlement 1701.

A subsequent campaign led by O'Connell for the repeal of the Act of Union failed. Later in the century, Charles Stewart Parnell and others campaigned for autonomy within the Union, or "Home Rule". Unionists, especially those located in the northern part of the island, were strongly opposed to Home Rule, which they felt would be dominated by Catholic interests.[68] After several attempts to pass a Home Rule bill through parliament, it looked certain that one would finally pass in 1914. To prevent this from happening, the Ulster Volunteers were formed in 1913 under the leadership of Lord Carson. Their formation was followed in 1914 by the establishment of the Irish Volunteers, whose aim was to ensure that the Home Rule Bill was passed. The Act was passed but with the "temporary" exclusion of the six counties of Ulster that would become Northern Ireland. However, before it could be implemented the Act was suspended for the duration of the Great War (World War I). The Irish Volunteers split into two groups. The majority, approximately 175,000 in number, under John Redmond, took the name National Volunteers and supported Irish involvement in the war. A minority, approximately 13,000, retained the name, the Irish Volunteers, and opposed Ireland's involvement in the war.[69]

The failed Easter Rising of 1916 was carried out by the latter group and the British response, executing the leaders of the Rising one by one over seven weeks, changed the national mood towards Home Rule. The pro-independence party, Sinn Féin, received overwhelming endorsement in the General Election of 1918 and in 1919 declared its own parliament and government. British authorities attempted to extinguish this challenge, sparking a guerilla war from 1919 to July 1921, ending in a truce.[70] In 1921, the Anglo-Irish Treaty was concluded between the British Government giving all of Ireland complete independence towards their home affairs and practical independence for foreign policy. However, an oath of allegiance to the British Crown had to be exercised. Northern Ireland was to form a home rule state within the new Irish Free State but held an opt-out clause, which it exercised immediately opted out as expected.[71] Disagreements over the provisions of the treaty led to a split in the nationalist movement and a subsequent civil war. The civil war officially ended in May 1923 when Éamon de Valera (the most prominent surviving member of the 1916 uprising) issued a cease-fire order.[72]


Independent Ireland

Annotated page from the Anglo-Irish Treaty that established the Irish Free State and independence for 26 out of 32 Irish counties.

During its first decade, the newly-formed Irish Free State state was governed by the victors of the civil war. When de Valera achieved power, he proceeded took advantage of the Statute of Westminister and political circumstances to build upon inroads to greater sovereignty made by the previous government. The oath was abolished and in 1937 a new constitution was adopted.[70] This completed a process of gradual separation from the British Empire that governments had pursued since independence. It was not, however, until 1949 that the state was declared, officially, to be a republic.

The state was a neutral during World War II but offered clandestine assistance to the Allies, particularly in the potential defence of Northern Ireland. Despite being neutral, approximately 50,000[73] volunteers from independent Ireland joined the British forces during the war, four being awarded the Victoria Crosses.

Ireland also had links to German Intelligence. Both the Abwehr (the German military intelligence service) and the SD (the Sicherheitsdienst, the intelligence service of the SS) sent agents to Ireland.[74] This chain of Irish-German intelligence was broken in September 1941 when the southern Irish police made arrests on the basis of electronic surveillance carried out on the key diplomatic legations in Ireland, including the United States. To the southern Irish, counterintelligence was more than mere luxury but a fundamental line of defense. With a regular army of only slightly over seven thousand men at the start of the war, and hopelessly devoid of modern weapons, a determined German attack with even just a few divisions would have meant certain occupation.[74]

Large-scale emigration marked the 1950s and 1980s but, beginning in 1987, the economy improved and the 1990s saw the beginning of unprecedented economic growth. The phenomenon became known as the Celtic Tiger.[75] By 2007, Ireland had become the fifth richest country in the world in terms of GDP per capita. Social changes followed quickly on the heels of economic prosperity ranging from the ‘modernization’ of the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin to the decline in authority of the Catholic Church.

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland was created as a division of the United Kingdom by the Government of Ireland Act 1920 and until 1972 it was a self-governing jurisdiction within the United Kingdom with its own parliament and prime minister. Northern Ireland, as part of the United Kingdom, was not neutral during the Second World War and Belfast suffered a bombing raid in1941. Conscription was not extended to Northern Ireland and roughly an equal number volunteered from Northern Ireland as volunteered from the south. One, James Joseph Magennis, receiving the Victoria Cross for valour.

Edward Carson signing the Solemn League and Covenant declaring opposition to Home Rule "using all means which may be found necessary"

Although Northern Ireland was largely spared the strife of the civil war, in decades that followed partition there were sporadic episodes of inter-communal violence. Nationalists, mainly Roman Catholic, wanted Northern Ireland to leave the United Kingdom, whereas unionists, mainly Protestant, wanted Northern Ireland to remain in the United Kingdom. The Protestant and Catholic communities in Northern Ireland voted largely along sectarian lines, meaning that the Government of Northern Ireland (elected by "first past the post" from 1929) was controlled by the Ulster Unionist Party. Over time, the minority Catholic community felt increasingly alienated with further disaffection fueled by practices such as gerrymandering and discrimination in housing and employment.[76][77][78] In the late 1960s, nationalist grievances were aired publicly in mass civil rights protests, which were often confronted by loyalist counter-protests.[79] The government's reaction to confrontations was seen to be one-sided and heavy-handed in favour of unionists. Law and order broke down as unrest and inter-communal violence increased.[80] The Northern Ireland government was forced to request the British Army to aid the police, who were exhausted after several nights of serious rioting. In 1969, the paramilitary Provisional IRA, which favoured the creation of a united Ireland, emerged from a split in the Irish Republican Army and began a campaign against what it called the "British occupation of the six counties".

Other groups, on both the unionist side and the nationalist side, participated in violence and a period known as the Troubles began. Over 3,600 deaths resulted over the subsequent three decades of conflict.[81] Owing to the civil unrest during the Troubles, the British government suspended home rule in 1972 and imposed "direct rule" from the Parliament of the United Kingdom. There were several ultimately unsuccessful attempts to end the Troubles politically, such as the Sunningdale Agreement of 1973. In 1998, following a ceasefire by the Provisional IRA and multi-party talks, the Belfast Agreement was concluded and ratified by referendum across the entire island. The Agreement restored self-government to Northern Ireland on the basis of power-sharing between the two communities. Violence decreased greatly after the signing of the accord and in 2005 the Provisional IRA announced the end of its armed campaign and an independent commission supervised its disarmament.[82] The power-sharing assembly was suspended several times but was restored again in 2007. In that year, the British government officially ended its military support of the police in Northern Ireland and began withdrawing troops.


Ireland, both north and south, was in the main an underdeveloped economy and large-scale economic emigration troubled the island until the 1980s.[83] These problems virtually disappeared over the course of the 1990s, which saw the beginning of unprecedented economic growth in the Republic of Ireland, in a phenomenon known as the "Celtic Tiger,"[84] and peace being restored in Northern Ireland. In 2005, the Republic of Ireland was ranked the best place to live in the world, according to a "quality of life" assessment by The Economist magazine.[85]

The Republic of Ireland joined the euro in 1999, while Northern Ireland remained with the pound sterling. Both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland entered recession in 2008[86][87] and in 2009, the unemployment rate for the Republic of Ireland was 12.5%[88] due to the 2008–2010 Irish financial crisis.


Ireland has five main international airports: Dublin Airport, Belfast International Airport (Aldergrove), Cork Airport, Shannon Airport and Ireland West Airport (Knock). Dublin Airport is the busiest of these,[89] carrying over 22 million passengers per year[90] and a new terminal and runway are under construction.[91] All provide services to Britain and continental Europe, while Belfast International, Dublin and Shannon also offer transatlantic services. For several decades, Shannon was an important refuelling point for transatlantic routes.[92] In recent years it has opened a pre-screening service allowing passengers to pass through US immigration services before departing from Ireland. There are also several smaller regional airports: George Best Belfast City Airport, City of Derry Airport, Galway Airport, Kerry Airport (Farranfore), Sligo Airport (Strandhill), Waterford Airport and Donegal Airport (Carrickfinn). Scheduled services from these regional points are in the main limited to flights traveling to other parts of Ireland and to Britain. Airlines based in Ireland include Aer Lingus (the former national airline of the Republic of Ireland), Ryanair, Aer Arann and CityJet.

Ireland has ports in major ports in Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Rosslare, Derry and Waterford. Smaller ports exist in Arklow, Ballina, Drogheda, Dundalk, Dún Laoghaire, Foynes, Galway, Larne, Limerick, New Ross, Sligo, Warrenpoint and Wicklow. Ports in the Republic handle 3.6 million travellers crossing the sea between Ireland and Britain each year.[93] The vast majority of heavy goods trade is done by sea. Ports in Northern Ireland handle 10 megatons (11 million short tons) of goods trade with Britain annually, while ports in the Republic of Ireland handle 7.6 Mt (8.4 million short tons).

Ferry connections between Great Britain and Ireland via the Irish Sea include routes from Swansea to Cork, Fishguard and Pembroke to Rosslare, Holyhead to Dún Laoghaire, Stranraer to Belfast and Cairnryan to Larne. There is also a connection between Liverpool and Belfast via the Isle of Man. The world's largest car ferry, the MV Ulysses, is operated by Irish Ferries on the Dublin–Holyhead route. In addition, Rosslare and Cork run ferries to France.

Several (mainly hypothetical) plans to build an "Irish Sea tunnel" have been proposed. The first serious proposal was made in 1897, which was for a tunnel between Ireland and Scotland crossing the North Channel. Most recently, in 2004, the Institution of Engineers of Ireland proposed the "Tusker Tunnel" between the ports of Rosslare and Fishguard.[94][95] In 1997 a British engineering firm, Symonds, proposed a rail tunnel from Dublin to Holyhead. Either of the two most recent proposals, at 80 km (50 mi), would be by far the longest tunnel in the world and would cost an estimated €20bn.

Irish railway routes with major towns/station, mountains, ports and airports

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. The network reached its greatest extent by 1920. A broad gauge of 1,600mm (5 ft 3in)[96] was agreed as the standard the island, although there were also hundreds of kilometres of 914mm (3 ft) narrow gauge railways.[96]

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. Additionally, Ireland has one of the largest dedicated freight railways in Europe, operated by Bord na Móna totalling nearly 1,400 kilometres (870 mi).

In Dublin, two local rail networks provide transport in the city and its immediate vicinity. The Dublin Area Rapid Transit (DART) links the city centre with coastal suburbs. A new light rail system, the Luas, opened in 2004 and transports passengers to the central and western suburbs. Several more Luas lines are planned as well as an Dublin Metro. The DART is run by Iarnród Éireann and the Luas is run by Veolia under franchise from the Railway Procurement Agency. Under the Irish government's Transport 21 plan, the Cork to Midleton rail link was reopened in 2009. The re-opening of the Navan-Clonsilla rail link and the Western Rail Corridor are amongst future projects as part of the same plan.[97]

Services in Northern Ireland are sparse in comparison to the rest of Ireland or Britain. A large railway network was severely curtailed in the 1950s and 1960s. Current services includes suburban routes to Larne, Newry and Bangor, as well as services to Derry. There is also a branch from Coleraine to Portrush.

Dublin Port Tunnel under construction

Motorists in Ireland drive on the left. There is an extensive road network and a developing motorway network fanning out from Dublin and Belfast in particular. Historically, land owners developed most roads and later Turnpike Trusts collected tolls so that as early as 1800 Ireland had a 16,100 kilometres (10,000 mi) road network.[98] In recent years, the Irish Government launched a new transport plan that is the largest investment project ever in Ireland's transport system: investing €34 billion from 2006 until 2015. Work on a number of road projects has already commenced and a number of objectives have been completed.[99]

The first horsecar service in Ireland ran from Clonmel to Thurles and Limerick and was introduce in 1815 by Charles Bianconi.[100] Today, the main bus companies are Bus Éireann in the Republic and Ulsterbus in Northern Ireland, both of which offer extensive passenger service in all parts of the island. Dublin Bus specifically serves the greater Dublin area and Metro operates services within the greater Belfast area.

Signposts and speed limits in the Republic of Ireland are shown in kilometres per hour, with speed limits having changed in 2005. Distance and speed limit signs in Northern Ireland use imperial units in common with the rest of United Kingdom.

Power networks

For much of their existence electricity networks in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland were entirely separate. Both networks were designed and constructed independently post partition. However, as a result of changes over recent years they are now connected with three interlinks and also connected through Great Britain to mainland Europe. The situation in Northern Ireland is complicated by the issue of private companies not supplying Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) with enough power. In the Republic of Ireland, the ESB has failed to modernise its power stations and the availability of power plants has recently averaged only 66%, one of the worst such rates in Western Europe. EirGrid is building a HVDC transmission line between Ireland and Britain with a capacity of 500 MW, about 10% of Ireland's peak demand.[101]

Ringsend power station, Dublin

Similar to electricity, the natural gas distribution network is also now all-island, with a pipeline linking Gormanston, County Meath, and Ballyclare, County Antrim.[102] Most of Ireland's gas comes through interconnectors between Twynholm in Scotland and Ballylumford, County Antrim and Loughshinny, County Dublin. A decreasing supply is coming from the Kinsale gas field off the County Cork coast[103][104] and the Corrib Gas Field off the coast of County Mayo has yet to come on-line. The County Mayo field is facing some localized opposition over a controversial decision to refine the gas onshore.

There have been recent efforts in Ireland to use renewable energy such as wind power. Large wind farms are being constructed in coastal counties such as Donegal, Mayo and Antrim. What will be the world's largest offshore wind farm is currently being developed at the Arklow Bank Wind Park off the coast of County Wicklow. It is predicted that the Arklow wind farm will generate 10% of Ireland's power needs when it is complete. The construction of wind farms has in some cases been delayed by opposition from local communities, some of whom consider the wind turbines to be unsightly. The Republic of Ireland is also hindered by an ageing network that was not designed to handle the varying availability of power that comes from wind farms. The ESB's Turlough Hill facility is the only power-storage facility in the state.[105]


The population of Ireland since 1603 showing the consequence of the Great Famine (1845-9) (Note: figures before 1841 are contemporary estimates)

People have lived in Ireland for at least 9,000 years, although little is known about the palaeolithic and neolithic inhabitants of the island. Genetic research in 2004 suggests they came to the island by traveling over generations along the Atlantic coast from Spain.[46] Earlier theories were that they migrated from central Europe. Early historical and genealogical records note the existence of dozens of different peoples that may or may not be mythological, for example the Cruithne, Attacotti, Conmaicne, Eóganachta, Érainn, and Soghain, to name but a few. Over the past 1000 years or so, Vikings, Normans, Scots and English have all added to the indigenous population.

Ireland's largest religious group is Christianity. The largest denomination is the Roman Catholicism representing over 73% for the island (and about 87%[106] of the Republic of Ireland). Most of the rest of the population adhere to one of the various Protestant denominations (about 53% of Northern Ireland).[107] The largest is the Anglican Church of Ireland. The Muslim community is growing in Ireland, mostly through increased immigration. The island has a small Jewish community. About 4% of the Republic's population describe themselves as of no religion.[106] About 14% of the Northern Ireland population described themselves as so.[107]

The population of Ireland rose rapidly since the 16th century until the mid-19th century. A devastating famine in the 1840s caused one million deaths and forced over one million more to emigrate in its immediate wake. Over the following century, a population haemorrhage reduced the population by over half, at a time when the general trend in European countries was for populations to rise by an average of three-fold.

Population density map of Ireland 2002 showing the heavily weighted eastern seaboard and Ulster

Emigration from Ireland over this period contributed to the populations of England, the United States, Canada and Australia where today a large Irish diaspora live. The pattern of immigration over this period particularly devastated the western and southern sea-boards. Prior to the Great Famine, the provinces of Connacht, Munster and Leinster were more or less evenly populated whereas Ulster was far less densely populated than the other three. Today, Ulster and Leinster, and in particular Dublin, have a far greater population density than Munster and Connacht.

With growing prosperity since the last decade of the 20th century, Ireland has become a place of immigration instead. Since joining the European Union expanded to included Poland in 2004, Polish people have made up the largest number immigrants (over 150,000)[108] from Central Europe, followed by other immigrants from Lithuania, the Czech Republic and Latvia.[109] The Republic of Ireland in particular has seen large-scale immigration. The 2006 census recorded that 420,000 foreign nationals, or about 10% of the population, lived in the Republic of Ireland.[110] Chinese and Nigerians, along with people from other African countries, have accounted for a large proportion of the non-European Union migrants to Ireland. Up to 50,000 eastern European migrant workers may have left Ireland towards the end of since 2008.[111]

English has been spoken in Ireland since the Middle Ages and, since a language shifts during the nineteenth century, has replaced Irish as the first language vast majority of the population.[112] Less than 10% of the population of the Republic of Ireland today speak Irish regularly outside of the education system[113] and 38% of those over 15 years are classified as "Irish speakers". In Northern Ireland, English is the de facto official language but official recognition is afforded to both Irish and Ulster-Scots, which is also spoken by a number south of the border. In recent decades, with the increase in immigration, many more languages have been introduced, particularly deriving from Asia and Eastern Europe.


Ireland's culture comprises elements of the culture of ancient immigration and influences (such as Gaelic culture) and more recent Anglicisation and Americanisation as well as participation in a broader European culture. In broad terms, Ireland is regarded as one of the Celtic nations of Europe, which also includes Scotland, Wales and Brittany. The unique combination of Ireland's cultural influences is visible most readily in the intricate designs termed Irish interlace or Celtic knotwork. These can be seen in the ornamentation of medieval religious and secular works. The style is still is popular today in jewelry and graphic art,[114] as is the distinctive style of traditional Irish music and dance, and has become indicative of modern "Celtic" culture in general.

Religion has played a significant role in the cultural life of the island since ancient times. Since the 17th century plantations, religion been the focus of identity and divisions on the island also. Ireland's pre-Christian heritage fused with the Celtic Church following the missions of Saint Patrick in the 5th century. The Hiberno-Scottish missions, begun by the Irish monk Saint Columba, spread the Irish concept of Christianity to pagan England and the Frankish Empire. These missions brought written language to an illiterate population of Europe during the Dark Ages that followed the fall of Rome earning Ireland the sobriquet, "the island of saints and scholars".

In more recent years, the Irish pubs, famous for the conviviality, have become outposts of Irish culture worldwide.


There are a number of languages used in Ireland. Irish is the main language to have originated from within the island. Since the later nineteenth century, English has become the predominant first language having been a spoken language in Ireland since the Middle Ages.

Illustrated page from Book of Kells

A large minority claim some ability to use Irish today, although it is the first language only of a small percentage of the population. Under the constitution of the Republic of Ireland, both languages have official status with Irish being the national and first official language. In Northern Ireland, English is the dominant state language while Irish and Ulster Scots are recognised minority languages.

For an island with a relatively small population, Ireland has made a large contribution to world literature in all its branches, mainly in English.[115] Poetry in Irish represents the oldest vernacular poetry in Europe, with the earliest examples dating from the 6th century. Jonathan Swift, still often called the foremost satirist in the English language, was wildly popular in his day for works such as Gulliver's Travels and A Modest Proposal. Oscar Wilde is known for most for his often quoted witticisms.

In the 20th century, Ireland has produced four winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature: George Bernard Shaw, William Butler Yeats, Samuel Beckett and Seamus Heaney. Although not a Nobel Prize winner, James Joyce is widely considered one of the most significant writers of the 20th century. Joyce's 1922 novel Ulysses is considered one of the most important works of Modernist literature and his life is celebrated annually on 16 June in Dublin as "Bloomsday".[116] Modern Irish literature is still often connected with its rural heritage,[117] through writers such as John McGahern and poets such as Seamus Heaney.

James Joyce one of the most significant writers of the 20th century

There is a thriving performance arts culture throughout the country, performing international as well as Irish plays. The national theatre is the Abbey Theatre founded in 1904. The national Irish-language theatre is An Taibhdhearc, established in 1928 in Galway.[118][119] Playwrights such as Seán O'Casey, Brian Friel, Sebastian Barry, Conor McPherson and Billy Roche are internationally renowned.[120]

Irish graphic art and sculpture begins with Neolithic carvings found at sites such as Newgrange[121] and is traced through Bronze age artefacts and the religious carvings and illuminated manuscripts of the medieval period. During the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, a strong indigenous tradition of painting emerged, including such figures as John Butler Yeats, William Orpen, Jack Yeats and Louis le Brocquy.

The Irish traditional music and dance is known worldwide,[122] It has made a recent surge in popularity not least through the phenomenon of Riverdance.[123] In the middle years of the 20th century, as Irish society was modernising, traditional music fell out of favour, especially in urban areas.[124] During the 1960s, inspired by the American folk music movement, there was a revival of interest in Irish traditional music led by groups such as The Dubliners, The Chieftains, Emmet Spiceland, The Wolfe Tones, the Clancy Brothers, Sweeney's Men and individuals like Seán Ó Riada and Christy Moore.[125]

Before long, groups and musicians including Horslips, Van Morrison, and Thin Lizzy were incorporating elements of traditional music into a contemporary rock music. During the 1970s and 1980s, the distinction between traditional and rock musicians became blurred, with many individuals regularly crossing over between these styles of playing.

U2 Vertigo Tour, New York city, 2005

This trend can be seen more recently in the work of artists like U2, Enya, Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly, Moya Brennan, The Saw Doctors, Bell X1, Damien Rice, The Corrs, Aslan, Sinéad O'Connor, Clannad, The Cranberries, Rory Gallagher, Westlife, The Script, The Coronas, B*witched, BoyZone, Gilbert O'Sullivan, Black 47, Stiff Little Fingers, My Bloody Valentine, Ash, The Thrills, Something Happens, A House, Sharon Shannon, Damien Dempsey, Declan O' Rourke, The Frames and The Pogues.

During the 1990s, a sub-genre of folk metal emerged in Ireland that fused heavy metal music with Irish and Celtic music. The pioneers of this sub-genre were Cruachan, Primordial, and Waylander. Some contemporary music groups stick closer to a "traditional" sound, including Altan, Téada, Danú, Dervish, Lúnasa, and Solas. Others incorporate multiple cultures in a fusion of styles, such as Afro Celt Sound System and Kíla.

Ireland has done well in the Eurovision Song Contest, being the most successful country in the competition with seven wins in the competition. Ireland won in 1970 with Dana, 1980 and 1987 with Johnny Logan, 1992 with Linda Martin, 1993 with Niamh Kavanagh, 1994 with Paul Harrington and Charlie McGettigan and in 1996 with Eimear Quinn.[126]


Robert Boyle formulated Boyle's Law

The Irish philosopher and theologian Johannes Scotus Eriugena was considered one of the leading intellectuals of his early Middle Ages. Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton, an Anglo-Irish explorer, was one of the principal figures of Antarctic exploration. He, along with his expedition, made the first ascent of Mount Erebus and the discovery of the approximate location of the South Magnetic Pole. Robert Boyle was an 17th century natural philosopher, chemist, physicist, inventor and early gentleman scientist. He is largely regarded one of the founders of modern chemistry and is best known for the formulation of Boyle's law.[127] 19th century physicist, John Tyndall, discovered the Tyndall effect, which explains why the sky is blue. Father Nicholas Joseph Callan, Professor of Natural Philosophy in Maynooth College, is best known for his invention of the induction coil, transformer and the discovered an early method of galvanisation in the 19th century.

Other notable Irish physicists include Ernest Walton, winner of the 1951 Nobel Prize in Physics. With Sir John Douglas Cockcroft, he was the first to split the nucleus of the atom by artificial means and made contributions to the development of a new theory of wave equation.[128] William Thomson, or Lord Kelvin, is the person whom the absolute temperature unit, the Kelvin, is named after. Sir Joseph Larmor, a physicist and mathematician, made innovations in the understanding of electricity, dynamics, thermodynamics and the electron theory of matter. His most influential work was Aether and Matter, a book on theoretical physics published in 1900.[129]

George Johnstone Stoney introduced the term electron in 1891. John Stewart Bell was the originator of Bell's Theorem and a paper concerning the discovery of the Bell-Jackiw-Adler anomaly and was nominated for a Nobel prize.[127] Notable mathematicians include Sir William Rowan Hamilton, famous for the invention of quaternions. Francis Ysidro Edgeworth was influential in the development of neo-classical economics, including the Edgeworth box. John B. Cosgrave was a specialist in number theory and discovered a 2000-digit prime number in 1999 and a record composite Fermat number in 2003. John Lighton Synge made progress in different fields of science, including mechanics and geometrical methods in general relativity. He had mathematician John Nash as one of his students.

Ireland as eight universities and numerous Institutes of Technologies as well as the The Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, which was established in 1940 with physicist Erwin Schrödinger as directory.[130]


See also: List of Irish sports people

Gaelic football is the most popular sport in Ireland in terms of match attendance and community involvement, and represents 34% of total sports attendances at events in Ireland and abroad, followed by hurling at 23%, soccer at 16% and rugby at 8%.[131] and the All-Ireland Football Final is the most watched event in Ireland's sporting calendar.[132] Swimming, golf, aerobics, soccer, cycling, Gaelic football and billiards/snooker are the sporting activities with the highest levels of playing participation.[133] Soccer is the most popular sport involving national teams.

Many other sports are also played and followed, including basketball, boxing, cricket, fishing, golf, greyhound racing, handball, hockey, horse racing, motor sport, show jumping and tennis.

Field sports

Hurling and Gaelic football, handball and rounders make up the national sports of Ireland, collectively known as Gaelic games. Gaelic games are governed by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), with the exception of ladies' Gaelic football and camogie (women's variant of hurling), which are governed by separate organisations. The headquarters of the GAA (and the main stadium) is located at the 82,500[134] capacity Croke Park in north Dublin. Major GAA games are played there, including the semi-finals and finals of the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship and All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship. During the redevelopment of the Lansdowne Road stadium, international rugby and soccer are being played there.[135] All GAA players, even at the highest level, are amateurs, receiving no wages, although they are permitted to receive a limited amount of sport-related income from commercial sponsorship.

The Irish Football Association (IFA) was originally the governing body for soccer across the island. The game has been played in an organised fashion in Ireland since the 1870s, with Cliftonville F.C. in Belfast being Ireland's oldest club. It was most popular, especially in its first decades, around Belfast and in Ulster. However, some clubs based outside Belfast felt that the IFA largely favoured Ulster-based, Protestant clubs in such matters as selection for the national team. In 1921, following an incident in which, despite an earlier promise, the IFA moved an Irish Cup semi-final replay from Dublin to Belfast[136]

Dublin-based clubs broke away to form the Football Association of the Irish Free State. Today the southern association is known as the Football Association of Ireland (FAI). Despite being initially blacklisted by the Home Nations' associations, the FAI was recognised by FIFA in 1923 and organised its first international fixture in 1926 (against Italy). However, both the IFA and FAI continued to select their teams from the whole of Ireland, with some players earning international caps for matches with both teams. Both also referred to their respective teams as Ireland.

Paul O'Connell reaching for the ball during a line out against Argentina in 2007

In 1950, FIFA directed the associations only to select players from within their respective territories and, in 1953, directed that the FAI's team be known only as "Republic of Ireland" and that the IFA's team be known as "Northern Ireland" (with certain exceptions). Northern Ireland qualified for the World Cup finals in 1958 (reaching the quarter-finals), 1982 and 1986. The Republic qualified for the World Cup finals in 1990 (reaching the quarter-finals), 1994, 2002 and the European Championships in 1988. There is significant Irish interest in the English and, to a lesser extent, Scottish soccer leagues.

Unlike soccer, Ireland continues to field a single national rugby team and a single association, the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU), governs the sport across the island. The Irish rugby team have played in every Rugby World Cup, making the quarter-finals in four of them. Ireland also hosted games during the 1991 and the 1999 Rugby World Cups (including a quarter-final). There are four professional Irish teams; all four play in the Magners League and three compete for the Heineken Cup. Irish rugby has become increasingly competitive at both the international and provincial levels since the sport went professional in 1994. During that time, Ulster (1999[137]), Munster (2006[138] and 2008[139]) and Leinster (2009[140]) have won the Heineken Cup. In addition to this, the Irish International side has had increased success in the Six Nations Championship against the other European elite sides. This success, including Triple Crowns in 2006 and 2007, culminated with a clean sweep of victories, known as a Grand Slam, in 2009.[141]

The Ireland cricket team was among the associate nations that qualified for the 2007 Cricket World Cup. It defeated Pakistan and finished second in its pool, earning a place in the Super 8 stage of the competition. The team also competed in the 2009 ICC World Twenty20 after jointly winning the qualifiers, where they also made the Super 8 stage. Ireland also won the 2009 ICC World Cup Qualifier to secure their place in the 2011 Cricket World Cup, as well as official ODI status through 2013.

The Irish rugby league team is made up predominantly of players based in England with Irish-family connections, with others drawn from the local competition and Australia. Ireland reached the quarter-finals of the 2000 Rugby League World Cup.

Other sports

Greyhound racing and horse racing are both popular in Ireland. Greyhound stadiums are well-attended and there are frequent horse race meetings. The island is noted for the breeding and training of race horses and is also a large exporter of racing dogs. The horse racing sector is largely concentrated in the County Kildare.

Irish athletics has seen some development in recent times, with Sonia O'Sullivan winning two notable medals at 5,000 metres; gold at the 1995 World Championships and silver at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Gillian O'Sullivan won silver in the 20k walk at the 2003 World Championships, while sprint hurdler Derval O'Rourke won gold at the 2006 World Indoor Championship in Moscow. Olive Loughnane won a silver medal in the 20k walk in the World Athletics Championships in Berlin in 2009.

Boxing is governed by the Irish Amateur Boxing Association. In 1992, Michael Carruth won a gold medal for boxing in the Barcelona Olympic Games and in 2008 Kenny Egan won a silver medal for boxing in the Olympic Games in Beijing.

Golf is very popular and golf tourism is a major industry. The 2006 Ryder Cup was held at The K Club in County Kildare.[142] Pádraig Harrington became the first Irishman since Fred Daly in 1947 to win the British Open at Carnoustie in July 2007.[143] He successfully defended his title in July 2008[144] before going on to win the PGA Championship in August.[145] Harrington became the first European to win the PGA Championship in 78 years and was the first winner from Ireland.

The west coast of Ireland, Lahinch and Donegal Bay in particular, have popular surfing beaches, being fully exposed to the Atlantic Ocean. Donegal Bay is shaped like a funnel and catches west/south-west Atlantic winds, creating good surf, especially in winter. In recent years, Bundoran has hosted European championship surfing. Scuba diving is increasingly popular in Ireland with clear waters and large populations of sea life, particularly along the western seaboard. There are also many shipwrecks along the coast of Ireland, with some of the best wreck dives being in Malin Head and off the County Cork coast.

With thousands of lakes, over 14,000 kilometres (8,700 mi) of fish bearing rivers and over 3,700 kilometres (2,300 mi) of coastline, Ireland is a popular angling destination. The temperate Irish climate is suited to sport angling. While salmon and trout fishing remain popular with anglers, salmon fishing in particular received a boost in 2006 with the closing of the salmon driftnet fishery. Coarse fishing continues to increase its profile. Sea angling is developed with many beaches mapped and signposted, and in recent times the range of sea angling species has increased.[146]

See also


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  4. ^ Irish Travellers are an officially recognised ethnic group in Northern Ireland under the Race Relations (Northern Ireland) Order, 1997. In the Republic of Ireland they are classed as a "social group". Census forms in both jurisdictions contain tick-boxes for respondents to describes themselves as being an Irish Traveller. For more information see:
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External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Ireland is a north-west European island lying to the west of Great Britain. It was conquered by England in the 12th century. The island was partitioned in 1921, Northern Ireland remaining part of the United Kingdom while the Republic of Ireland achieved independence.


  • German Bismarck said that the solution of the Irish question lay in having the Irish to swap countries with the Dutch. He added that the Dutch would make Ireland the most beautiful island in the world while the Irish would neglect to mend the dykes left to them by the Dutch and therefore would be drowned.
    • John Green Sims Whither, World? (Privately published, 1938) p. 78.
    • The attribution to Bismarck has not been confirmed.
  • I met with Napper Tandy, and he took me by the hand,
    And he said, "How's poor ould Ireland, and how does she stand?"
    "She's the most distressful country that ever yet was seen,
    For they're hanging men and women for the Wearin' o' the Green.
    • "The Wearin' o' the Green" (an anonymous Irish street ballad, c. 1798), line 5; cited from Stephen Regan (ed.) Irish Writing (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004) p. 176.
  • In Ireland the inevitable never happens and the unexpected constantly occurs.
    • Sir John Pentland Mahaffy, quoted in W. B. Stanford and R. B. McDowell Mahaffy (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1971) p. 79.
  • The moment the very name of Ireland is mentioned, the English seem to bid adieu to common feeling, common prudence, and to common sense, and to act with the barbarity of tyrants, and the fatuity of idiots.
    • Sydney Smith Two Letters on the Subject of the Catholics (London: J. Budd, 1807), Letter 2, p. 23.
  • Thus you have a starving population, an absentee aristocracy, and an alien Church, and in addition the weakest executive in the world. That is the Irish Question.
  • We are bound to lose Ireland in consequence of years of cruelty, stupidity and misgovernment and I would rather lose her as a friend than a foe.
    • W. E. Gladstone in conversation with Margot Asquith, quoted in her More Memories (London: Cassell, 1933), p. 213.
  • What captivity has been to the Jews, exile has been to the Irish. For us, the romance of our native land begins only after we have left home; it is really only with other people that we become Irishmen.

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:
Look up Ireland in Wiktionary, the free dictionary

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Ireland article)

From Wikitravel

Location of Ireland
Quick Facts
Capital Dublin
Government Parliamentary Democracy
Currency Euro (EUR)
Area 70,280 sq km
Population 4,172,013 (2006)
Language English, Irish
Religion Catholic 87.4%,
Church of Ireland (incl. Protestant) 2.9%,
Muslim 0.8%,
Other Religion 1.3%,
None 4.2%,
Not Stated 1.6%
Electricity 230V/50Hz (United Kingdom plug)
Calling Code +353
Internet TLD .ie
Time Zone UTC (End Oct to End Mar) and UTC+1 (End Mar to End Oct)
For other places with the same name, see Ireland (disambiguation).

Ireland (Irish: Éire), known popularly as the Emerald Isle, is an island in north-western Europe which has been divided politically since 1920. Most of the island is made up of the Republic of Ireland (Irish: Poblacht na hÉireann) [1]. The remainder is Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom.


The island of Ireland historically consists of 32 counties, of which six, collectively known as Northern Ireland, have remained as part of the United Kingdom since the rest of Ireland gained independence in 1922. The name "Ireland" applies to the island as a whole, but in English is also the official name of the independent state (i.e., the 26 counties which are not part of the United Kingdom), since 1937.

Celtic tribes settled on the island in the 4th century B.C. Invasions by Norsemen that began in the late 8th century were finally ended when King Brian Boru defeated the Danes in 1014. Norman invasions began in the early 12th century and set in place Ireland's uneasy position within England's sphere of influence. The Act of Union of 1800 - in which Catholics, 90% of the Irish population, were excluded from Parliament - saw Ireland joining the United Kingdom. In the latter half of the 19th century and early 20th century the subject of Irish home rule was a major debate within the British parliament. After several failed attempts, a Home Rule bill finally passed through parliament in 1914 though the start of the first world war saw its indefinite postponement. A failed rebellion on Easter Monday in 1916 showed a hint of things to come with years of war to follow, beginning with the Irish War of Independence (1919-1921) and continuing with the Irish Civil War (1922-1923).

Eventually a somewhat stable situation emerged with the independence of 26 of Ireland's counties known as the Irish Free State; the remaining six, located in the north of the country comprising two-thirds of the ancient province of Ulster, remained part of the United Kingdom — a status that has continued to the present day. In 1949 the Irish Free State became the Republic of Ireland and withdrew from the British Commonwealth.

Ireland's history post-partition has been marked with violence, a period known as "The Troubles" generally regarded as beginning in the late 1960s saw large scale confrontation between opposing paramilitary groups seeking to either keep Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom or bring it into the Republic of Ireland. The Troubles saw many ups and downs in intensity of fighting and on many occasions they even spread to terrorist attacks in Britain and continental Europe. Both the government of the UK and Ireland were opposed to the terrorist groups. A peace settlement known as the Good Friday Agreement was finally approved in 1998 and is currently being implemented. All signs point to this agreement being lasting.

Though a relatively poor country for much of the 20th century Ireland joined the European Community in 1973 (at the same time as the United Kingdom) and since then has seen massive economic growth placing it amongst Europe's richest countries today.

Regions of Ireland
Regions of Ireland
East Coast and Midlands (County Dublin, County Kildare, County Laois, County Longford, County Louth, County Meath, County Offaly, County Westmeath, County Wicklow)
The Irish heartland, home to the capital and vibrant metropolis of Dublin.
Northern Ireland
A home nation of the United Kingdom, covered in its own separate article. Seperate from the Republic.
Shannon Region (County Clare, County Limerick, County Tipperary)
A region often visited for its castles and the awe-inspiring Cliffs of Moher.
Southwest Ireland (County Cork, County Kerry)
A scenic and rainy section of Ireland with a beautiful coast and popular Ring of Kerry and Blarney Castle.
West Ireland (County Galway, County Mayo, County Roscommon)
Ireland's least populous region, home to the Irish "Cultural Capital" of Galway and the beautiful Aran Islands.
Northwest Ireland and Lakelands (County Cavan, County Donegal, County Leitrim, County Monaghan, County Sligo)
A region with relatively little tourist activity, but a lot to offer by way of natural beauty.
Southeast Ireland (County Carlow, County Kilkenny, County Waterford, County Wexford)
A rather cosmopolitan section of Ireland, famous for its Waterford crystal


For cities in Northern Ireland, see the separate article.

  • Dublin (Baile Átha Cliath) - the capital and the country's largest city. With excellent pubs, fine architecture and good shopping, Dublin is a very popular tourist destination and is the fourth most visited European capital.
  • Cork (Corcaigh) - second largest city in the Republic of Ireland - located on the banks of the River Lee. Founded c.600 by St. Finbarre and known for good food, pubs, shopping and festivals.
  • Galway (Gaillimh) - a city on the river Corrib on the west coast of Ireland. Famous for its festivals and its location on Galway Bay. Known as the City of Tribes, Galway's summer is filled with festivals of music, food, Gaelic language and culture. Galway hosts over fifty festivals a year, including the Galway Oyster Festival. The locals seem to give off a positive Bohemian vibe. Galway is split between two types of beautiful landscape: the gorgeous mountains to the west, and the east's farming valleys.
  • Kilkenny (Cill Chainnigh) - attractive medieval town, known as the Marble City - home to the Cat Laughs Comedy Festival, held annually in early June.
  • Letterkenny - Main town in County Donegal, designated gateway status and reputed to be the fastest growing town in Europe. Good base for traveling in Donegal.
  • Limerick (Luimneach) - a city on the river Shannon in the south-west of the country.
  • Sligo (Sligeach)- Home to W.B. Yeats, internationally renowned poet. Mountains and beaches, scenery in general are the best points of Sligo.
  • Waterford (Port Láirge) - Ireland's oldest city. In the south-east and close to the ferry port at Rosslare. Waterford is a popular visit for those who want to learn more about the most ancient history of Ireland. It is quite possibly one of the best cities in the country as it is not too large and is full of history. Many festivals take place throughout the year including ((Spraoi)). The food is good and the Granary Museum is the best for ancient Irish history in the country. Don't forget to try a blaa before you leave. (A floury bread bun peculiar to this area of Ireland).
  • Wexford - Town and county in the "Sunny South-East"
  • Citizens of EU and EEA countries do not require a visa for entry or employment, and, in many cases, hold unlimited rights to employment and residence in Ireland.
  • Citizens of Andorra, Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Dominica, El Salvador, Fiji, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Kirbati, Lesotho, Malawi, Malaysia, the Maldives, Mauritus, Mexico, Monaco, Nauru, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, the Seychelles, Singapore, the Solomon Islands, South Africa, South Korea, Swaziland, Taiwan, Tonga, Trinidad & Tobago, Tuvalu, the United States, Uruguay, Vanuatu, the Vatican City, and Venezuela do not need visas for stays not exceeding three months in length. Longer stays require visas.
  • Citizens of other countries should check the visas lists [2] at the Irish Dept. of Foreign Affairs [3]. The visa application process for tourist visas is reasonably straightforward and is detailed on the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service website [4].
  • Because of an informal agreement between the United Kingdom and Ireland, known as The Common Travel Area, there are no passport controls in effect for UK citizens travelling to Ireland. On arriving in an Irish airport from the UK, however, you will be asked for valid official photo-identification such as a passport or driving licence which shows your nationality. This is to prove you are an Irish or EU citizen who is entitled to avail of the Common Travel Area arrangements.

By plane

The Republic of Ireland is served by 4 international airports, Dublin (IATA: DUB), Shannon (IATA: SNN) in County Clare, Cork (IATA: ORK) and Ireland West, Knock (IATA: NOC) in County Mayo. Dublin, the 8th largest airport in Europe, is by far the largest and most connected airport, with flights to many cities in the US, Canada, the UK, continental Europe and the Middle East. Shannon, close to the city of Limerick, also has flights to the US, Canada, Middle East, the UK and Europe. Cork has flights to most UK destinations and a wide variety of European cities. It is easily accessed from any of the major European hubs, including all of the London airports. Knock Airport has daily scheduled flights to several UK cities as well as to Boston and New York in USA, as well as various chartered flights to (mostly) holiday destinations in Europe.

Smaller regional airports that operate domestic and UK services include Donegal (IATA: CFN), Galway (IATA: GWY), Kerry (IATA: KIR), Sligo (IATA: SXL) and Waterford (IATA: WAT).

The City of Derry Airport, and both Belfast airports (both the City and International) are within a relatively short distance from the North/South border, especially the former. (These three airports being located within Northern Ireland).

Ireland's two major airlines Aer Lingus [5] and Ryanair [6] are low cost carriers. This means that passengers will be charged for every extra including airport check-in, checking in baggage, food onboard, etc. Ryanair also charge for the privilege of being one of the first to board the plane. Comprehensive listings of airlines flying directly into Ireland, along with destinations and timetables, can be found on the Dublin, Shannon, Cork and Knock airport websites. A regional service is also provided by Aer Arann [7] which provides domestic flights within Ireland and international flights mainly to and from the United Kingdom.

By train

The only cross-border train is the Enterprise service jointly run by Irish Rail [8] and Northern Ireland Railways [9] from Belfast Central to Dublin Connolly.

A Rail-Sail Scheme is also available, linking Stena Line [10] or Irish Ferries [11] Ferry companies with Train Companies in Great Britain and Ireland. They mainly operate from UK cities across the various Irish and British Rail Network via the Dublin-Holyhead, Rosslare-Fishguard and Rosslare-Pembroke sailing routes.

By bus

Cross border services are operated by Ulsterbus [12] and Bus Éireann [13].

Eurolines [14] operate services to Great Britain and beyond in conjunction with Bus Eireann and National Express (Great Britain). Bus Éireann also operates frequent services to and from Eastern Europe, in particular Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

By boat

Ireland is served by numerous services from Great Britain and France:

  • Norfolkline [15] - operate freight and passenger services from Liverpool to Dublin.
  • Irish Ferries [16] travel from Holyhead, North Wales, to Dublin, and from Pembroke, South Wales, to Rosslare.
  • Stena Line [17] connects Holyhead to Dún Laoghaire (Co. Dublin) (about 8 km south of Dublin city centre), and Fishguard, South Wales, to Rosslare.
  • Irish Ferries and Brittany Ferries [18] provide services from France (e.g. Roscoff) to Rosslare and Cork. Irish Ferries is sometimes significantly cheaper than Brittany Ferries, so compare prices.
  • Irish Sea Express - Liverpool to Dublin
  • P&O Irish Sea - north-west England to Dublin
  • Steam Packet Sea Cat - Operate services between north-west England (mainly Liverpool) to Dublin
  • Swansea-Cork Ferries [19] provide a daily service from Swansea in South Wales to Cork. Currently suspended, this service will resume in March 2010.

From Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Due to ROI's long relationship with the UK, there are no passport controls at land border crossing points. In fact, the border is rarely signposted and it is often difficult to tell when you have crossed from the Republic into the Northern Ireland and vice-versa. The most obvious signal is that the roadsigns on the Republic side are mostly bilingual, in Irish and English, and speed limits and distances are shown in kilometres. You may also notice changes in lines in the road; yellow thick lines in the south and white thin lines in Northern Ireland. When arriving at an Irish airport from Great Britain, you will be required to produce photo ID (driver's licence or passport) to prove that you are a British or Irish citizen. EU/EEA nationals do not need passports for travel between the two, but all other foreign nationals need a passport.

However, despite the lack of border controls, be keenly aware that you must possess a valid Irish visa if required by your nationality, or you risk being deported for illegal presence in Ireland.

Get around

By car

There are many car hire companies in Ireland and you can pick up in the cities or at the airports, though it may cost more to pick up at an airport. Note that most Irish car hire agencies will not accept third party collision damage insurance coverage (for example with credit card) when you rent a car.

Conventional wisdom suggests renting (hiring) a car that is an automatic transmission model. This is because many roads in Ireland are narrow, requiring the driver's full attention, so an automatic transmission allows the driver to focus on the road instead of the machine. However, selecting a manual transmission (stickshift) model will allow the driver to select a smaller vehicle which better fits the small roads and saves gas (petrol) without a noticeable loss of power. In addition, most roads in Ireland employ the "traffic circle"(roundabout) rather than the "intersection". Navigating the traffic circle is easier with a stickshift because you downshift for extra power to speed up coming out of the turn.


It is highly recommended that you call ahead to book a taxi. The hotel, hostel, or bed and breakfast you are staying in will usually call the cab company they work closely with for your convenience. Taxis should be reasonably easy to pick up on the streets in Dublin, Belfast and Cork but may be harder to find cruising the streets in smaller cities and towns so it is often best to telephone for one. It is recommended to call the cab company in advance if possible and give them a time to be picked up, no matter if it's 4 hours in advance or 30 minutes in advance. Work with the same cab company your hotel does and let them know your final destination if there is more than one stop. You will also need to give them a contact phone number over the phone, so if calling from a pay phone, be prepared for them to deny your claim for a taxi cab. The average waiting time may be anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes depending on demand and time of day. All Taxis in Republic of Ireland operate on a National Fare basis, so the price should be relatively easy to calculate. For more information, see the Commission of Taxi Regulation website [20]. Always ensure that the taxi you use has a meter, and that it is used for the duration of your journey.

Rules of the Road/Road User Etiquette

Driving and road rules in Ireland are similar to those of the United Kingdom - e.g. drive on the left and yield to the right on roundabout. The most noticeable difference is the fact that distances are displayed in kilometres and speed limits in kilometres per hour (km/h) in the Republic of Ireland. This can be confusing to anyone travelling across the border from Northern Ireland, which, like Britain, uses miles and miles per hour. The legal blood-alcohol limit is low, so it may be best to abstain. It is perfectly legal to temporarily use the hard shoulder to allow a faster moving vehicle overtake you, and drivers often 'thank' each other by flashing their hazard lights or waving - this is purely a convention. Road signs in the Republic are nominally bilingual, with place names displayed in Irish in italic font, with the corresponding English name in capitals immediately below. In the "Gaeltacht" areas (Irish-Speaking districts in the south-west (Kerry), west (Galway, Mayo), and north-west (Donegal), as well as other smaller gaeltacht areas in Meath and Waterford), road signs are written in Irish only. In Northern Ireland road signs are in English only and all distances are given in miles. There are five types of road classification:

  • M-roads (Motorways, indicated by white on blue signs; Speed limit 120km per hour)
  • N-roads N1 - N50 (National Primary routes, main arterial routes indicated by white/yellow on green signs; Speed limit 100km per hour)
  • N-Roads N51+ (National Secondary routes - green signs; Speed Limit 100km per hour)
  • R-roads (Regional roads, indicated by black on white signs; Speed limit 80km per hour)
  • L-roads (Local roads, white signs - rarely marked, although signage is improving)

Ireland has a small but steadily growing motorway network which centers around Dublin. The main motorways are:

  • The M50 (ring road around Dublin)
  • The M1 (from Dublin to Newry) goes towards Belfast.
  • The M4 (from Dublin to Mullingar) heads towards Sligo and Galway.
  • The M7 (from Dublin to Port Laoise) goes in the direction of Cork and Limerick.
  • The M8 (from Cork to Fermoy) heading towards Dublin and Belfast.
  • The M9 (from Junction with the M7 near Naas to Waterford)
  • The M11 (from Dublin to Wexford) along the east coast

Note that most motorways in the Republic have some tolled sections. Tolls are low by French or Italian standards, and vary from €1.70 upwards, depending on which motorway you are traveling on. Tariffs are displayed a few kilometers from the plaza. For the visitor, it's important to note that the only tolled road that accepts credit cards is the M4 between Kilcock and Kinnegad. All others (except the M50) are Euro cash only, so take care if you're arriving from the North via the M1. The M50 is barrier free and accepts no cash. Cameras are located on overhead gantries between J6 & J7 which read your number plate. If you have registered before online or by phone €2.50 will be taken from your credit card. If you have not registered, you must go to a Payzone branded outlet and pay the toll there. This option costs €3.

For 2007, the tolled sections and their charges (for private cars) are as follows:

  • M1, Drogheda bypass section, €1.70
  • M4, Kilcock to Kinnegad section, €2.60
  • M8, Fermoy bypass section, €1.70
  • M50,Prices vary €2 with tag, €2.50 with video a/c and €3 with no a/c
  • M50, Dublin Port Tunnel, €3 to €12 (for cars - depending on time of day) (free for trucks and large busses)

There are numerous routes of high quality dual carriageway, which are very near motorway standard; Dublin-Ashbourne (Derry), Dublin-Wicklow, Sligo-Collooney (Dublin), Mullingar-Athlone, Limerick-Ennis (Galway), and Cork-Middleton (Waterford).

Until relatively recently, the road network in Ireland was very poorly maintained and road signage sparse. Things have changed markedly on the major arterial N-roads which have seen major renovation work with help from EU funding. Lesser roads, however, are still, in many parts, poorly signposted, the only indication of what route to take often being a finger-sign at the junction itself. The road surfaces can be very poor on the lesser used N-, R- & L- numbered routes.

Driving in Ireland requires etiquette, courtesy and nerves of steel. Roads are generally narrow with little to no shoulder or room for error. Sight lines can be limited or non-existent until you are partway into the road. Caution should be taken when entering onto the roadway as well as when driving along it, with the understanding that around the next turn may be another motorist partway into the road. This is especially true in rural areas. Parking along the road, farm animals, as well as large lorries or machinery may also appear around the bend and be the cause for quick thinking or braking. It is not unusual for oncoming cars to navigate to a wide spot in the road to pass each other. On the other hand, when driving slower than following cars, it is common for drivers to allow others to pass or signal if the way is clear. Calculating driving time can be slower than expectations, due to the large increase in motorists and road conditions/hazards.

Speed Limits

As mentioned above, speed limits in the Republic of Ireland (but not in Northern Ireland) are in kilometres per hour. The general maximum speed limits are as follows:

  • Built-up area (e.g., in a residential or shopping district) - 50 km/h and sometimes 30 km/h
  • Regional or Local Road (e.g., R292, R134, L12345, etc.) - 80 km/h
  • National Road (e.g., N7, N17, N56, etc.) - 100 km/h
  • Motorway (e.g., M1, M4, M50, etc.) - 120 km/h

Local Councils may apply other limits in specific areas as required. Also when roads are being maintained or worked upon in some way, the limit may be temporarily changed.

Car rental companies

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There is no shortage of car rental companies in Ireland with all of the major airports and cities throughout Ireland being well catered for, while the ports of Rosslare and Dún Laoghaire are served by Hertz and Dan Dooley respectively. Renting a car in Ireland is very similar to the processes elsewhere in that you need a credit card in your own name and a full driver's license for a minimum of two years without endorsement. Most car rental companies in Ireland apply a minimum age of 25 in order to rent a car, but in many cases you will need to be 28 in order to rent a full-size car. Car Rentals in Ireland come with the minmum CDW (Collision Damage Wavier) Insurance which will cover the car, but leave you with an excess deductible in the case of an accident. Additional insurance can be purchased to protect yourself against this excess when piking up the car.

The following are the main car rental companies in Ireland:

  • Avis
  • Europcar
  • Hertz [21]
  • National
  • Budget
  • Irish Car
  • Atlas Car Hire Dublin [22]
  • Thrifty Car Rental Dublin Airport [23]
  • Dan Dooley Car Hire Ireland
  • County Car Rentals [24]
  • Enterprise Rent-a-Car [25]
  • Malone Car Rental Dublin [26]

Campervan hire

  • Celtic Campervans [27] - Motorhome and campervan rental. Located near Dublin Airport, with free collection service from there.
  • Campervan Hire from Bunk Campers [28] - Budget Campervan Hire in Ireland available from Belfast & Dublin. Online Booking.
  • Campervan Hire Ireland [29] - Campervan and Motorhome Hire in Ireland. Located near Shannon Airport.

By plane

Aer Arann [30] operates an extensive domestic, and international air network from Dublin, Cork, Waterford, Kerry, Galway, Knock, Sligo, Donegal and Derry. Ryanair [31] also operates flights from Dublin to Cork, Kerry and Shannon, rivaling Irish Rail and bus providers.

By train

See also Rail travel in Ireland

Most trains in Ireland (all operated by the state-run Irish Rail [32] also known by their Irish name, Iarnród Éireann) operate to and from Dublin. Enormous expenditure on modernising the state-owned Irish Rail system is ongoing, including the introduction of many new trains. The frequency and speed of services is being considerably increased, especially on the Dublin-Cork line. If you book on-line for Intercity travel, be aware that there may be a cheaper fare option available to you at the office in the station itself. Not all special rates, e.g., for families, are available on line.

Note that there are two main stations in Dublin - Connolly Station (for trains to Belfast, Sligo and Rosslare) and Heuston Station (for trains to Cork, Limerick, Ennis, Tralee, Kilarney, Galway, Westport, Kilkenny and Waterford.)

In the Northern Ireland , almost all services are operated by NIR [33] (Northern Ireland Railways).

In the Dublin city area the electrified DART [34] (acronym for Dublin Area Rapid transit) coastal railway travels from Malahide and the Howth peninsula in the North to Bray and Greystones in Co. Wicklow via Dún Laoghaire and Dublin city center. An interchange with main line services and the Luas Red line is available at Dublin Connolly.

By tram

Dublin has a tram system, known as Luas [35] (the Irish word for 'speed'). There are two lines. One (the red-line) operates from Dublin city centre (Connolly Station) to a large suburb south-west of the City (Tallaght) and the other (the green line) runs south-east (to Sandyford) from St Stephen's Green. Tickets must be puchased from machines before boarding the tram. Tickets are checked in the Luas at random by guards but generally ticketing works on a trust system. Thus free rides are possible, although not advisable, as the fines for fare-dodging can be quite high. The Luas tram provides a very useful link between Dublin's Connolly and Heuston railway stations.

  • Bus Éireann [36] (or Irish Bus) operates an extensive intercity network plus local services in major towns. Bus Eireann's website provides various options for buying online bus tickets which offer a good discount compared to buying them at the station or on the bus.
  • JJ Kavanagh & Sons [37] operate an extensive intercity network directly from Dublin Airport and Shannon Airport to Limerick , Carlow , Waterford , Clonmel ,Kilkenny and Dublin city Center plus local services in major towns.
  • Ulsterbus [38] opperate bus services throughout the North.
  • Citylink [39] provides frequent service from Galway to Shannon, Dublin, and Dublin Airport.
  • Busnestor [40] runs the Galway to Dublin and Athlone to Dublin routes.
  • Aircoach [41] connects Dublin with Cork and Belfast.
  • Shannon cruises are a leisurely way of traveling from one town to another. Dromineer and Carrick on Shannon are good bases.
  • There are many canals in Ireland, and it is possible to travel by barge on some of them.

By bicycle

Ireland is beautiful for biking, but have a good touring bike with solid tires as road conditions are not always excellent. Biking along the south and west coasts you can be prepared for variable terrain, lots of hills and often into the wind. There are plenty of campgrounds along the way for long distance cyclists.

The planned Eurovelo [42] cycle route in Ireland will connect Belfast to Dublin via Galway, and Dublin to Rosslare via Galway and Cork. Visit their website for updates on the status of the path.

Dublin has some marked bicycle lanes and a few non-road cycle tracks. Traffic is fairly busy, but a cyclist confident with road cycling in other countries should have no special difficulties (except maybe for getting used to riding on the left). Note that, in Ireland, left turning cars have right of way over cyclists to their left. Cyclists have no special right of way over cars, particularly when using shared use paths by the side of a road, but share and get equal priority when in the traffic lane. Helmets are not legally required, but widely available for those who wish to use them. On the 13th of September 2009, Dublin Bikes was officially opened, making 400 bikes available to the public in aroud 40 stations across the city centre. The bikes are free to take for the first half hour, although a payment of €150 is required incase of the bike being stolen or damaged. When your finished, just simply bring the bike bake to any station and get your payment back.


Overall, Ireland has a mild but changeable oceanic climate with few extremes. In Ireland you may indeed experience 'four seasons in one day', so pack accordingly and keep up-to-date with the lastest weather forecast. No matter the weather, expect it to be a topic of conversation amongst the locals.

You may notice slight differences in temperate between the north and south of the country, and more rain in the west compared with the east.

Mean daily winter temperatures vary from 4°C to 7°C, and mean daily summer temperatures vary from 14.5°C to 16°C. Temperatures will rarely exceed 25°C and will rarely fall below -5°C.

Regardless of when you visit Ireland, even in middle of the summer, you will more than likely experience rain, so if you intend being outdoors, a waterproof coat is recommended.


English is spoken everywhere but Irish (Gaeilge) is the first official language. Contrary to a common misconception, the Irish language is not simply a dialect of English. Unlike many other European languages (including English), Irish is neither a Germanic, Romance nor Slavic language. Rather, it is part of the Goidelic branch of the Celtic family of languages.

Most people have some understanding of Irish but it is used as a first language by only about 30,000 people, most of whom live in rural areas known as the Gaeltacht. About 40% (c. 1,500,000) of people in the Republic claim to understand and speak the language, although some people will exaggerate their fluency in Irish when discussing the matter with foreigners.

As the Gaeltacht are generally scenic areas it is likely that visitors will go there. Tourists will not be expected to speak Irish but it will be noticeable on road signs, etc. For instance, a law was recently passed that changes the name of Dingle, County Kerry to An Daingean, the Irish version. This should not confuse visitors, as almost all recent maps carry placenames in both languages in Gaeltacht districts.

In order to enter certain Irish Universities, it is necessary for Irish citizens to have taken Irish to Leaving Certificate (Examinations taken on leaving secondary or high school) level, and passed. Indeed it is a compulsory language at school in the Republic, although its method of teaching has come under criticism. Nevertheless, although it has come under threat, and some resent being forced to learn the language, others see use of the language as an expression of national pride.

There is some Irish language broadcasting on TV and radio. Irish is related and very similar (but not identical) to Scots Gaelic. Of the Four Provinces, only one (Leinster) does not have its own dialect in the language. The Ulster dialect has most in common with Scots Gaelic. However, some Irish people may take offense if you call Irish "Gaelic" as this is seen as being an incorrect term and refers to the entire family of languages that includes Irish, Manx, and Scots Gaelic. Referring to it simply as "Irish" is a fine alternative. It is not necessary to know any Irish in order to get around in Ireland. See also: Irish phrasebook

Tourist keen to learn a few words of the Irish language often fall for a prank where they are taught swearing in Irish but told they are learning a greeting or other similar phrase. This can cause embarrassment when this is later pointed out to them.

OPW Heritage Card - Any visitor can purchase one of these cards for admission to any of the Heritage Sites in Ireland which is funded by the Office of Public Works. This card can be used to see many historic castles throughout Ireland

Blarney Castle- Located in County Cork , this historic castle is known for its "Blarney Stone." Tradition is that if the Blarney Stone is kissed, one will be blessed with great eloquence, better known as the "gift of the gab." One kisses the stone by laying back and being held by an employee of the castle. Photographers are there to capture the moment!

Cliffs of Moher loacated in County Clare - One of Ireland's Biggest and Most Visited Tourist Attraction. The Cliffs are 230 meters in height and tower over the Atlantic Ocean. There is a souvenir shop. Safety is at visitor's discretion, there are no safety barriers, because it would ruin the natural tourist attraction. The Cliffs are an absoulte site to see

Cliffs of Moher and Aran Islands Cruises has a daily direct passenger ferry from Doolin Pier, Co. Clare to view the Cliffs of Moher from sea level. It is a brilliant way to view the awesome nature of the Cliffs.

Kilkenny, one of Ireland's favourite tourist spots, the Medieval Capital just 1 hour 40 minutes train out of Dublin City is a must see. Its beautiful buildings and of course imposing Norman Castle - not to mention the numerous festivals including the Arts Festival and Rhythm and Roots Festival - make Kilkenny a most desirable location.


The Republic of Ireland is part of the Eurozone, so as in many other European Union countries the currency here is the Euro (symbol: €). Stand Alone Cash machines (ATMs) are widely available in every city and town in the country and credit cards are accepted in 90% of outlets. Fees are not generally charged by Irish ATMs (but beware that your bank may charge a fee).

Along border areas, as the UK pound sterling is currency in Northern Ireland, it is common for UK pounds to be accepted as payment, with change given in Euro. Some outlets, notably border petrol stations will give change in sterling if requested. (Fuel is now generally cheaper in the South, resulting in many Northern motorists purchasing their fuel South of the border.)

Recent diffrences in prices of goods between the Irish Euro and the British Pound have resulted in increasing numbers of Irish shoppers crossing the border to purchase goods which are a lot cheaper in Northern Ireland than in the Republic. A November 2008 article in a Northern Newpaper highlighted how up to €350 Euro can be saved by buying your Christmas shopping in Derry & Belfast in the North than in the likes of Letterkenny in Donegal.

Only a few years ago when the Celtic Tiger was still very much alive and well the economic situation was reversed.


ATMs are widely available throughout Ireland. Even in small towns it is unlikely that you will be unable to find an ATM.

Credit Cards

Mastercard, Maestro and Visa are accepted virtually everywhere. American Express and Diners Club are now also fairly widely accepted. Discover card is very rarely accepted and it would not be wise to rely on this alone. Most ATM's allow cash withdrawals on major credit cards and internationally branded debit cards.


Food is expensive in Ireland, although quality has improved enormously in the last ten years. Most small towns will have a supermarket and many have a weekly farmers' market. The cheapest option for eating out is either fast food or pubs. Many pubs offer a carvery lunch consisting of roasted meat, vegetables and the ubiquitous potatoes, which is usually good value. Selection for vegetarians is limited outside the main cities. The small town of Kinsale near Cork has become internationally famous for its many excellent restaurants, especially fish restaurants.

Irish stew and a pint of Guinness
Irish stew and a pint of Guinness

Irish cuisine can charitably be described as hearty: virtually all traditional meals involve meat (especially lamb and pork), potatoes, and cabbage. Long cooking times are the norm and spices are limited to salt and pepper. Classic Irish dishes include:

  • Boxty, potato pancakes
  • Champ, mashed potatoes with spring onions
  • Coddle, a stew of potatoes, pork sausages and bacon; a speciality of Dublin
  • Colcannon, mashed potatoes and cabbage
  • Irish breakfast, a famously filling spread of bacon, eggs, sausages and white and/or black pudding, a type of pork sausage made with blood (black) or without (white)
  • Irish stew, a stew of potatoes and lamb
  • Bacon and Cabbage, popular and traditional meal in rural Ireland, found on many menus

But the days when potatoes were the only thing on the menu are long past, and modern Irish cuisine emphasizes fresh local ingredients, simply prepared and presented (sometimes with some Mediterranean-style twists). Meat (especially lamb), seafood and dairy produce can be of a very high quality.

Try some soda bread, made with buttermilk and leavened with bicarbonate of soda rather than yeast. It is heavy, tasty and almost a meal in itself!


Only basic table manners are considered necessary when eating out, unless you're with company that has a more specific definition of what is appropriate. As a general rule, so long as you don't make a show of yourself by disturbing other diners there's little else to worry about. It's common to see other customers using their mobile phones - this sometimes attracts the odd frown or two but goes largely ignored. If you do need to take a call, keep it short and try not to raise your voice. The only other issue to be concerned about is noise - a baby crying might be forgivable if it's resolved fairly quickly, a contingent of adults laughing very loudly every couple of minutes or continuously talking out loud may attract negative attention. However, these rules are largely ignored in fast-food restaurants, pubs and some more informal restaurants.

Traditionally, tipping was never considered to be a necessity and was entirely optional. However, recently it has become common to tip up to 10% of the bill total. Some establishments will add a 10-15% service charge on top of the obligatory 13.5% Government VAT charge, especially for larger groups. If a service charge is levied, a tip would not normally be left, unless to reward exceptional service.

Matt Molloy's pub in Westport Co. Mayo
Matt Molloy's pub in Westport Co. Mayo

Alcohol is very expensive in the republic. Pints of Guinness start at €3.60 per pint, can get as high as €7.50 in Dublin, and does not become less expensive until you reach Northern Ireland. While in the North, pints of Guinness instantly become cheaper by €1.50 euro on average. Ireland is the home of some of the world's greatest whiskey, having a rich tradition going back hundreds if not thousands of years. With around fifty popular brands today these are exported around the world and symbolise everything that is pure about Ireland and where a visit to an Irish distillery is considered very worthwhile.

Another one of Ireland's most famous exports is stout, a dark, dry beer. The strong taste can be initially off-putting but perseverance is well-rewarded! The most famous variety is Guinness, brewed in Dublin and available throughout the country. Murphy's and Beamish stout are brewed in Cork and available mainly in the south of the country. Murphy's is slightly sweeter and creamier-tasting than Guinness, while Beamish has a strong, almost burnt taste. Several micro-breweries are now producing their own interesting varieties of stout, including O'Hara's in Carlow, the Porter House in Dublin and the Franciscan Well Brewery in Cork. Ales such as Smithwick's are also popular, particularly in rural areas. Bulmers Cider (known outside the Republic as 'Magners Cider') is also a popular and widely available Irish drink. It is brewed in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary.

It is important to note that it is illegal to smoke in all pubs and indeed places of work in Ireland. Many pubs and restaurants have provided 'smoking areas' outside their premises where space has allowed them to.

The other competitor for national drink of Ireland is tea. The Irish drink more tea per capita than any other people in the world. Cork, Dublin and Galway abound with slick, stylish coffee bars, but if you visit any Irish home you will probably be offered a cup of tea (usually served with milk, unless you explicitly state otherwise!). Coffee is also widely drunk in Ireland. (If you don't drink tea, you drink coffee!)


There are hotels of all standards including some very luxurious. Bed and Breakfast is widely available. These are usually very friendly, quite often family-run and good value. There are independent hostels which are marketed as Independent Holiday Hostels of Ireland [43], which are all tourist board approved. There is also an official youth hostel association - An Óige [44] (Irish for The Youth). These hostels are often in remote and beautiful places, designed mainly for the outdoors. There are official campsites although fewer than many countries (given the climate). Wild camping is tolerated, although you should seek permission if it is directly within eye shot of the landowners house. Never camp in a field in which livestock are present. There are also specialist places to stay such as lighthouses, castles and ringforts.


No stay in Ireland is complete without sampling its magnificant language, first language to thousands across the island. A few common phrases are easy to pick up and go a long way in the pubs!

Some Useful Irish Phrases:

  • Please: Le do thoil
    (Leh duh hull)
  • Goodbye: Slán
  • How are you Conas atá tú/Cén chaoi ina bhfuil tú
    (cunas a taw two) (cane cwe in a vuill two)
  • Hello: Dia duit
    (dee a gwit)
  • Thank you: Go raibh maith agat
    (guh rev mah agat)
  • Tomorrow: Amárach
    (a maw rock)
  • Excuse me: Gabh mo leithscéal
    (Go muh leh scayl)
  • What's your name? Cad is ainm duit?
    (cod is an im dit(ch))
  • Cheers!: Sláinte (slawn cha)

You can learn many interesting facts about Ireland's history and culture. One of the things Ireland is most famous for is Irish dancing. (Riverdance, a popular show centered on Irish step dancing, started in Ireland.) Irish traditional music is also popular throughout.

Ireland has internationally-respected universities, including the venerable Trinity College Dublin (the only college of the University of Dublin). The National University of Ireland has constituent colleges in Dublin, Galway, Cork and Maynooth. Other colleges/universities include Dublin City University (DCU), University of Limerick (UL), Institues of Technology in the larger towns/cities around the country and other higher education colleges.

Literature has many great Irish authors (writing in both Irish and in English), including James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Oscar Wilde, Brendan Behan and Oliver Goldsmith. The writer of Gulliver's Travels, Dean Jonathan Swift, was from Dublin, and poets W. B. Yeats and Patrick Kavanagh also hailed from Ireland. There are many literary tourist attractions and tours in Dublin, especially.


Ireland is part of the European Union/European Economic Area, and as such any EU/EEA (excepting Bulgarian and Romanian) or Swiss national has an automatic right to take up employment in Ireland. Non EU/EEA citizens will generally require a work permit and visa. Further information can be found on Citizens Information [45], the Irish government's public services information website.

Stay safe

The police force is known as An Garda Síochána (or just "Garda"), and police officers as Garda (singular) and Gardaí (plural, pronounced Gar-dee), though informally the English term Guard(s) is usual. The term Police is rarely used, but is of course understood. Regardless of what you call them, they are courteous and approachable. Uniformed members of the Garda Síochána do not, unlike the Police force in Northern Ireland, carry guns. It is a proud tradition of the service that standard policing is carried out in both rural and urban areas by uniformed officers equipped only with a modest wooden truncheon. Firearms are, however, carried by detectives and officers assigned to Regional Support Units and the ERU (Emergency Response Unit, aka SWAT).

Crime is relatively low by most European standards but not very different. Late night streets in larger towns and cities can be dangerous, as anywhere. If you need Gardaí, ambulance, fire service, coast guard or mountain rescue dial 999 or 112 as the emergency number; both work from landlines and mobile phones.

Stay healthy


Since March 2004 almost all enclosed places of work, including bars, restaurants, cafés, etc., in Ireland have been designated as smoke-free. Rooms in Hotels and Bed & Breakfast establishments are not required by law to be smoke-free. Even though they are not obliged to enforce the ban, owners of these establishments are, however, free to do so if they wish. Most hotels have designated some bedrooms or floors as smoking and some as non-smoking, so you should specify at the time of booking if you have a preference either way. The smoking ban also applies to common areas within buildings. This means for example that corridors, lobby areas and reception areas of buildings such as apartment blocks and hotels are also covered under the law.

Most larger bars and cafés will have a (covered) outdoor smoking area, often with heating. If one does not exist be aware that it is illegal to consume alcohol on the street so you may have to leave your drink at the bar.

Any person found guilty of breaching the ban on smoking in the workplace may be subject to a fine of up to €3,000.


Often, in smaller towns and villages and especially on a country road, if you walk past somebody it is customary to say hello. They may also ask you "how are you?", or another similar variation. It is polite to respond to this greeting but it is not expected that you would give any detail on how you really are, if the person is a stranger - a simple hello or "how are you?" or a simple comment on the weather will suffice! In this regard, try something like "Grand day!" - if it isn't raining, of course. To which the response will generally be "It is indeed, thank God".

When driving on rural roads, particularly where a driver has to pull in to allow you to pass, it is customary to wave a thanks to the other driver, by raising your hand from the steering wheel. This is particularly prevalant in rural areas of the West of Ireland where many drivers will automatically wave at everyone who drives past them. A polite hand wave (or even with just the index finger raised from the steering wheel) is customary and will be appreciated.

When accepting gifts, a polite refusal (such as, "no really you shouldn't") is common after the first offer of the item. Usually, this is followed with an insistence that the gift or offer is accepted, at which point your answer is likely to become more recognized. However, some people can be very persuasive - this isn't meant to be over-bearing, just courteous.

One thing which some visitors may find disconcerting is the response an Irish person may give to a "thank you". Most Irish people will respond with something along the lines of "It was nothing" or "not at all". This does not mean that they didn't try hard to please, but rather it is meant to suggest "I was happy to do it for you, so it was not any great difficulty" (even though it may have been!).

The Republic of Ireland and Britain undoubtedly have notable similarities, but Irish people generally take pride in the cultural differences that exist between Ireland and Britain, and can be quite offended by tourists who do not acknowledge or show respect to these differences. Indeed it is not uncommon for foreigners (both before and after arrival into the country) to foolishly assume that Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom like Scotland or Wales; this incorrect assumption will generally cause strong offence to locals in the Republic of Ireland who take pride in Ireland's status as a state independent of the United Kingdom.

Following from this of course may lead to curiosity around the differences between Northern Ireland and the Republic. Public or semi-public discussions about religious differences, political views and 20th century troubles are generally avoided by Irish locals on both sides of the border; for the reason that opinions between individuals can be so vastly divided and unyielding, that most Irish people of moderate views have grown accustomed to just avoiding the topics in polite conversation. Tourists who often are quite fascinated by the history of the division, would be advised to show respect and caution to the differences of opinion that still exist on historical matters.

The Irish are renowned for their upbeat sense of humour, which can often be difficult to understand to the more unfamiliar tourists. Joking on almost any topic will be welcomed, although even mild racism is not appreciated by the majority. Most Irish people are quite happy for friendly jibes regarding the Irish love of potatoes and drinking alcohol, however any jokes regarding the potato famine of the 19th Century in which over a million people died, could in some instances cause a similar amount of offence as joking about the September 11th attacks would in the United States.


Phone numbers in this guide are given in the form that you would dial them from within Ireland. This form in general is a two- or three-digit area code (always begins with a 0), and the local number, which may be from five to seven digits long. When dialling a land line number from another land line within the same area (i.e., the same area code) the area code can be ignored, and the local number only is required.

By mobile

There are more mobile phones than people in the Republic of Ireland, and the majority of these are prepaid. Phone credit is available in very many retailers, usually in denominations from €5 to €40. Be aware, that some retailers charge a small commission on this credit, while many others don't, so it does pay to shop around the.

All mobile numbers begin with 087, 086, 085 or 083 (this code must be dialled regardless of location or operator of dialler). Mobiles are cheap by European standards to buy, and if staying for more than 2 months, it could be cheaper to buy a phone than phone cards.

A tri- or quad-band GSM phone will work, but you should check that your operator has a roaming agreement. It can be expensive to receive and make phone calls while roaming.

You can also buy a cheap prepay GSM card if you have an unlocked handset. This can be considerably cheaper as it means that you will be assigned an Irish number which you can be called at during your trip and your outgoing calls are charged at normal Irish mobile rates.

If you do not have an unlocked tri- or quad-band GSM phone then is possible to buy a mobile phone in Ireland from any of the cell phone companies. If you need a cell phone number before you travel, you can rent a phone from - Rentaphone Ireland [46].

Ireland has 5 mobile networks (prefix code in brackets.)

Operator Band Dialling Prefix
Vodafone GSM 900/1800/UMTS 3G 087
O2 GSM 900/1800/UMTS 3G 086
Meteor GSM 900/1800 085
3 (Three) UMTS 3G 083
Tesco Mobile GSM 900/1800 089

However, customers who change between networks have the option to retain their full existing number, so it is possible for a Vodafone customer to have an 085 prefixed number, for instance. Digiweb are expected to launch services in the near future, with a prefix code of 088.

Non-geographic numbers

Non-geographic numbers are those which are not specific to a geographical region and are technically charged at the same rate regardless of where the caller is located.

Call type Description Dialling Prefix
Freephone Free from all phonelines 1800
Shared Cost (Fixed) Cost one call unit (generally 6.5 cent) 1850
Shared Cost (Timed)
(also known as Lo-call)
Cost the price of a local call 1890
Universal Access Cost the same as a non-local/trunk dialling call 0818
Premium Rate Generally more expensive than other calls 1520 to 1580

Calling Home

Pay phones are fairly widely available (but becoming less so) and most take euro coins, prepaid calling cards and major credit cards. You can also reverse charges/call collect or use your calling card by following the instructions on the display.

To dial internationally: 00 + country code + area code + local number

To dial Northern Ireland from Ireland a special code exists; drop the 028 area code from the local Northern Ireland and replace it with 048. This is then charged at the cheaper National Irish rate, instead of an international rate.

To dial an Irish number from within Ireland: Simply dial all of the digits including the area code. You can, optionally, drop the area code if you're calling from within that area, but it makes no difference to the cost or routing.

Fixed line numbers have the following area codes:

  • 01 (Dublin and parts of surrounding counties)
  • 02x (Cork area)
  • 04xx (parts of Wicklow and North-East midlands and Northern Ireland (048))
  • 05x (Midlands and South-East)
  • 06x South-West and Mid-West)
  • 07x (North-West)
  • 08x (Mobile phones)
  • 09xx (Midlands and West)

Operator service is unavailable from pay phones or mobile phones.

Emergency Service dial 999 or 112 (Pan European code that runs in parallel). This is the equivilant of 911 in the US/Canada and is free from any phone.

Directory information is provided by competing operators through the following codes (call charges vary depending on what they're offering and you'll see 118 codes advertised heavily):

  • 118 11 (eircom)
  • 118 50 (conduit)
  • 118 90

These companies will usually offer call completion, but at a very high price, and all of them will send the number by SMS to your mobile if you're calling from it.

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Study guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiversity

Part of the Comparative law and justice Wikiversity Project

Scale of justice 2 new.jpeg Subject classification: this is a law resource .


Basic Information

Ireland is located in Western Europe in the North Atlantic Ocean, west of Great Britain.

The geographic coordinates for the country of Ireland are 53 00 N, 8 00 W.  

Ireland is 70,273 km (43,666 miles)in total size. 68,883 sq km (26, 596 sq miles)of Ireland is actual land, and 1,390 sq km (537 sq miles)are of water.

To compare the total size of Ireland is somewhat larger than the state of West Virginia. 
The total coastline in Ireland is 1,448 km (900 miles).  

The climate is constantly humid with overcast about half of the time. The temperature is maritime and controlled by the North Atlantic Ocean. The summers are cool and the winters are mild.

The terrain is mostly level to rolling surrounded by harsh hills and low mountains.Sea cliffs are on the West coast. 

The lowest point in Ireland is the Atlantic Ocean at 0 m. (0 miles).

The highest point is Carrauntoohil at 1,041 m (.65 miles).  

The natural resources available in Ireland are natural gas, peat, copper, lead, zinc, silver, Bartie, gypsum, limestone, and dolomite. The current environmental issues are water pollution epically of lakes because of agricultural runoff. According to the CIA the total population of Ireland is 4,203,200 as of July 2009. 20.9% are between the ages of 0-14. 67.1% are of the ages of 15-64, and 12% are 65 years of age and above. The median age of all citizens is 35. (males 34.2 and females 35.7).


Economic Development, Health, and Education

Brief History


Ireland is a sovereign, independent, democratic state with a parliamentary system of government. The president is the head of state and is elected for a 7-year term and can be re-elected only once. The current president is Mary McAleese, who is serving her second term after having succeeded President Mary Robinson. In carrying out certain constitutional powers and functions, the president is aided by the Council of State, an advisory body. If the Prime Minister advises so the President has the power to dissolve Parlament.

"The prime minister (Taoiseach, pronounced 'TEE-shuck') is elected by the Dail (lower house of Parliament) as the leader of the political party, or coalition of parties, which wins the most seats in the national elections, held approximately every 5 years (unless called earlier). Executive power is vested in a cabinet whose ministers are nominated by the Taoiseach and approved by the Dail." [2]

Parlament is a bicameral branch of government such as it is here and has two houses simillar to ours. The Oireachtas is comparable to our Senate and the Dail Eireann is comparable to our House of Represenatives. The Seanad is made up of sixty members, eleven nominated by the Prime Minister, six elected by national universities, and fourty-three elected from panels established from a vocational basis. "The Seanad has the power to delay legislative proposals and is allowed 90 days to consider and amend bills sent to it by the Dail, which wields greater power in Parliament. The Dail has 166 members popularly elected to a maximum term of 5 years under a complex system of proportional representation. A member of the Dail is known as a Teachta Dala, or TD." [3]

Judges are appointed by the president and can be removed from office only because of acting inresponsibly or not being able to do job as fit. Both houses of Parlament have to agree for this to happen. "The ultimate court of appeal is the Supreme Court, consisting of the chief justice and five other justices. The Supreme Court also can decide upon the constitutionality of legislative acts if the president asks for an opinion." [4]

"Local government is by elected county councils and--in the cities of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, and Waterford--by county borough corporations. County councils/corporations in turn select city mayors. In practice, however, authority remains with the central government." [5]

The two main political parties in Ireland are Fianna Fail and Finw Fine Gael. Fianna Fail was formed by the citizens of Ireland that were against the 1921 treaty that sepereated the island. Fianna Fail is Irelands largest political party. Fine Gael represents the citizens that were pro the 1921 treaty. Fine Gael form the second largest political party in Ireland.

In May 2002 the national elections gave Finne Fail majority power along with the teammates the Progressive Democrates. Prime Minister Ahern was re-elected and Mary Harney is re-elected as deputy prime minister.

"The GFA established a power-sharing legislative assembly to serve as the autonomous local government of Northern Ireland. The 108-member Northern Ireland Assembly is led by a first minister and deputy first minister, one from each of the two communities, and a 10-minister executive. The GFA also provided for changes in both the British and Irish constitutions. Ireland ceded territorial claim to Northern Ireland, and the U.K. agreed that Northern Ireland could become part of Ireland if a majority (North and South) so voted in the future. Finally, the GFA provided the blueprint for 'normalization,' to include the eventual removal of British forces, devolution of police and justice functions, and guarantees of human rights and equal opportunity for all individuals. The agreement was approved in a 1998 referendum by 71% of Northern Ireland voters and 95% of Irish voters." [6]

"Principal Government Officials President--Mary McAleese Taoiseach (Prime Minister)--Bertie Ahern Tanaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform--Michael McDowell Ambassador to the United States--Noel Fahey" [7]

"Government type: republic, parliamentary democracy." [8]


Judicial Review

This is a brochure I found on a web-site meant to help citizens of Ireland in the Judicial Review process. I thought it was fit for this section. This brochure spells out what to do for a Judicial review, all the steps, and what the outcomes may or may not be and why. If you wish to further access the brochure you may do so here.

Courts and Criminal Law


Capital punishment has been abolished in Ireland and the last execution was in 1954. It was abolished by law in 1990 by the Criminal Justice Act. It was made unconsitutional in 2002. According to the Constitution the death penaltly can no be reinstated in any type of state of emergency or war. Ireland has the lowest imprisionment rate with 3417 prisioners. A European Union survey of crime confirmed that Ireland's crime rate is one of the highest in the EU with almost one in four people saying they have been a victim of crime. [9] According to the Irish Penal Reform Trust the prisions in Ireland are using inhumain and degrading treatment to its prisioners. This is because of the severe overcrowding of the prisons. The report also states that the prision guards are fair but are working under impossible odds due to over crowding. In Ireland everyone is treated equally and religion nor race plays a role in severity of punishment. I could not find the answers to the punishments used for rape or murder, any information on white collar crime, or fines and compinsation.

Legal Personnel

Law Enforcement

The national law enforcement agency in Ireland is the An Garda Siochana. There are two components to the An Garda Siochana. You can be either a full time officer or a reservist. If you wish to be a reservist it is completly voluntarily and not paid. To be selected as a reservist you must apply then fulfill the training requirements. The training is mainly done at night or on the weekend. Training is completed in five phases. Phase one is two days and is an introduction to the Garda College where you will study human rights, eithics, discipline, and orgainismal culture. Phase two has a fifty six hour minimum and is done in three hour incriments. You will learn road traffic acts, arrestable offenses, assaults, public order, Garda powers, and taking crime reports. Phase three lasts two days. You will learn self defense, radio procedures, and handcuffing techniques. Phase four consists of fourty hours of training and is stictly on the job training that can be done at any local branch of the Garda. Finally phase five is a one day graduation ceremony. Once all five phases are complete you have earned the title Garda Reservist. To apply to be a full time officer you must be between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five and be able to pass three tests verbal evaluation, job scituation simulation, and analytical reasoning. Then pass a written communication excersise and and interview. Finally you must pass a medical examination and a physical fitness test. "Basic training is divided into 5 phases and lasts 2 years. Initially, students spend 22 weeks at the Garda College in Templemore followed by a period of 24 weeks spent at selected stations under the direct supervision of tutorial staff. After further training at the College, students become members of the Service and are attached to stations. While they are now empowered to enforce legislation, they remain under probation for a further 2 year period."[10]

According to Ireland ranks fourteenth in the world on a corruption scale.

From the readings and what I understand the An Garda Siochana is very respected by the population. They are so respected because of their "hard nosed" reputation.

The An Garda Siochana is the only civilan police force in Ireland. They also have a Poilini Airm which is the military police branch of the Irish Army. The two forces do not usually work together but can if there is a national disaster such as the equivelent of a September 11, 2001.

According to Riechel Ireland is a Centralized Single System. Which means that there is one police force across the country. This also means that there is one set of laws though the country. The hierchary of power in these types of police forces are, Inpsectore General of Police, two Deputy Inspector Generals, One regional commander for each region, a division commander for each region, and district commanders, all other patrols fall under this such as sergants detectives...etc.

Crime Rates and Public Opinioages=== In Inreland there are many different levels of courts. There is the Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeal, Court of Martial Appeal, High Court, Central Crminal Court, Special Crminal Court, Circuit Court, District Court, and the Children's Court. "The Supreme Court is the final of final appeal in Ireland"[11]. If you are a Supremem Court judge you can practice until you are either seventy or seventy-two depending on when you were appointed. If you were appointed before 1995 you practice until you are seventy-two but after 1995 you practice until you are seventy. The Courts Act of 1997 limited the Chief Justice's seat to a seven year tender. "The Constitution provides that justice shall be administered in public save in such special and limited cases as may be prescribed by law. Supreme Court sittings in the vast majority of cases are therefore open to the public. The main exceptions are Family Law and Succession Act cases."[12] The courts of Crminal Appeal is made up of a Judge Supreme and two Judges of the High Court. Appeals can only be made on sentenceing, conviction or both. The appeals heard in this court are from the Central Court or Circuit Court. The appealet must obtain a certificate from that judge saying the case is fit for an appeal. The Martial Appeal Court hears appeals by persons convicted by court-martial. The appeal is determined on a record of the proceedings at the court-martial with power to hear new or additional evidence or to refer any matter for report to the president or the judge advocate of the court-martial. If the appeal is against the finding and the sentence, the court may affirm or reverse the finding in whole or in part, or order a new trial or vary the sentence. If the appeal is limited to either finding or sentence, the court is confined to dealing with the matter which is the subject of the appeal. The court also has power to review a finding or sentence (which was the subject of a previous appeal) where new evidence shows that there has been a miscarriage of justice. The decision of the Courts-Martial Appeal Court is final unless the court or the Attorney General certifies that the decision involves a point of law of exceptional public importance and that it is desirable in the public interest that an appeal be taken to the Supreme Court. [13]. The High Court hears all matter criminal, civil, or on any law. It can also be used as a supreme court to any district court. The High Court sits in Dublin to hear original actions. It also hears personal injury and fatal injury actions in several provincial locations, (Cork, Galway, Limerick, Waterford, Sligo, Dundalk, Kilkenny and Ennis), at specified times during the year. In addition, the High Court sits in provincial venues to hear appeals from the Circuit Court in civil and family law matters. [14]. There are thirty seven judges in the high court. The Central Criminal Court hears only murder and rape trials outside the juristriction of the Circuit Court.. This court is directed by the President of the High Court as to when and where to listen to a case. A normal hearing is made up of one judge and a jury of tweleve. The Offences Against the State Act 1939 provides for the establishment of Special Criminal Courts. This court sits with three judges and no jury. The rules of evidence that apply in proceedings before the Special Criminal Court are the same as those applicable to trials in the Central Criminal Court. The Special Criminal Court is authorised by the 1939 Act to make rules governing its own practice and procedure. The Act also provides that the Government shall appoint serving judges to sit in the Special Criminal Court. There is a panel of 11 judges appointed to the court who are drawn from the High, Circuit and District Courts. An appeal against conviction or sentence by a Special Criminal Court may be taken to the Court of Criminal Appeal.[15] The Circuit Court of Ireland is divided into four main areas civil, crminal, family law, and jury service. Each case can take from two days to two weeks. Anything civil can be heard as long as it does not exceed 38,920.14 Euros and land does not exceed a worth of 252.95 Euros. The Circuit court and High Court have concurrent jurisdtiion in the family matters. The circuit court hears family matters such as divorce, nullity, and appeals from the District Courts. The circuit court hears all crminal cases except murder and rape. The District court of Ireland is similar to the state courts in the United States. All matters are heard there unless required to be heard in a higher court for any reason. There are sixty three judges in twenty four districts. The District Courts hears some matters of civil cases, crminial cases, family cases to include childcare, maintnance, guardianship and domestic violence.

Rates of Key Crimes in
Lie Theft Breach of Contract Assualt Cheat

Hover here

There are many of the same crimes committed in Ireland as there are in America. The most serious crime committed in Ireland according to was burglary. There were 23,042 reported burglaries in Ireland in 2002. The next most reported crime is car thefts at 14,851. Third is assaults with 9,921 assaults reported in Ireland in 2002. Those are the three most reported crimes in 2002 in Ireland. There were only 38 murders in Ireland in 2002 ten of wich were committed by youths and 12 of which were with a firearm. Only 218 rapes were reported and 2,414 robberies reported in 2002. Suicide to me seems very low. For the ages of 15-24 there were only 8.8 suicides per 100,000 people, ages 25-34 only 14 per 100,000, and above teh age of 75 only 6.5 per 100,000. Drug crimes are also very low with only 190.2 per 100,000 people. This is low to me considering that heroine and cocaine gets shipped through Ireland. In the whole country of Ireland there are only 14 prisions and 81,274 total reported crimes in the year of 2002.

In an article I read found here( it does not exactly say the people of Irelands opinion of crime, but I can infer that they are not unhappy about the crime rates. I draw this conclusion because the article states that it took a survey of 1,000 people on how the Irish government should handle criminals. These are the results: 91% of respondents believe offenders with mental illness should be treated in a mental health facility instead of being sent to prison.

81% believe offenders with a drug addiction should be placed in drug recovery programmes instead of serving a prison sentence.
74% are in favour of using alternatives to prison when dealing with young offenders.
66% of respondents believe that people come out of prison worse than they go in.
54% disagree with the statement that ’increasing prison numbers will reduce crime’.
44% agree criminalising drug use causes more problems than it prevents. Only 28% disagreed.

Because of this survey I drew the conclusion that the people of Ireland do not want any harsher punishments and in turn are happy with the over all criminal activity / inactivity.

The two families I think that Ireland falls under is civil and common law. I think this because both famlies of law are rational and universal. Also because they were both founded in contenial Europe and its colonies. Both famlies are both modern western. And they are both enforced in the same way. Those are the reasons that I think Ireland falls under the civil and common law famlies.


Family Law

"In Ireland in order to divorce a couple must be living apart for at least four out of the past five years. The division of all property is to be divided fairly and equally, but the first priority is the care of a child. The child support or child maintnance is paid if the parent with custody can not afford to provide for the his/herselft and the child for any reason. A child can recieve such maintance until he or she is eighteen or until twenty three if in college. Many times in the case of child custody there is a third party to decide with whom the child will reside because many times the child does not want to choose one parent over another." [16]

Social Inequality

Human Rights

"There are many fundamental rights protected by the Constituiton of Ireland. Some of these rights include but are not limited to equality, personal rights (protection of life, good name, property rights, and person), prohibition of abortion, freedom of speech, assembly, home life, and home life. The Constitution also guarantees the right to education, freedom of worship, and private property." [17] In Ireland equality is as it is here in America in the sence that everyone is treated the same without discresion to age, race, sex, etc.

Works Cited


Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

by Sidney Lanier
Sidney Lanier composed this poem for the Art Autograph during the Irish Famine, 1880.

Heartsome Ireland, winsome Ireland,
      Charmer of the sun and sea,
Bright beguiler of old anguish,
      How could Famine frown on thee?

As our Gulf-Stream, drawn to thee-ward,
      Turns him from his northward flow,
And our wintry western headlands
      Send thee summer from their snow,

Thus the main and cordial current
      Of our love sets over sea, —
Tender, comely, valiant Ireland,
Songful, soulful, sorrowful Ireland, —
      Streaming warm to comfort thee.

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

IRELAND, an island lying west of Great Britain, and forming with it the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. It extends from 51° 26' to 55° 21' N., and from 5° 25' to 10 30' W. It is encircled by the Atlantic Ocean, and on the east is separated from Great Britain by narrow shallow seas, towards the north by the North Channel, the width of which at the narrowest part between the Mull of Cantire (Scotland) and Torr Head is only 132 m.; in the centre by the Irish Sea, 130 m. in width, and in the south by St George's Channel, which has a width of 69 m. between Dublin and Holyhead (Wales) and of 47 m. at its southern extremity. The island has the form of an irregular rhomboid, the largest diagonal of which, from Torr Head in the north-east to Mizen Head in the south-west, measures 302 m. The greatest breadth due east and west is 174 m., from Dundrum Bay to Annagh Head, county Mayo; and the average breadth is about 110 m. The total area is 32,531 sq. m.

Ireland is divided territorially into four provinces and thirtytwo counties: - (a) Ulster (northern division): Counties Antrim, Armagh, Cavan, Donegal, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry, Monaghan, Tyrone. (b) Leinster (eastern midlands and southeast): Counties Carlow, Dublin, Kildare, Kilkenny, King's County, Longford, Louth, Meath, Queen's County, Westmeath, Wexford, Wicklow. (c) Connaught (western midlands): Counties Galway, Leitrim, Mayo, Roscommon, Sligo. (d) Munster (southwestern division): Counties Clare, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary, Waterford.

Table of contents

Physical Geography

Ireland stands on the edge of the European " continental shelf." Off the peninsula of Mullet (county Mayo) there are ioo fathoms of water within 25 m. of the coast which overlooks the Atlantic; eastward, northward and southward, in the narrow seas, this depth is never reached. The average height of the island is about 400 ft., but the distribution of height is by no means equal. The island has no spinal range or dominating mountain mass. Instead, a series of small, isolated clusters of mountains, reaching from the coast to an extreme distance of some 70 m. inland, almost surrounds a great central plain which seldom exceeds 250 ft. in elevation. A physical description of Ireland, therefore, falls naturally under three heads - the coasts, the mountain rim and the central plain.

The capital city and port of Dublin lies a little south of the central point of the eastern coast, at the head of a bay which marks a. sudden change in the coastal formation. Southward from i ts northern horn, the rocky headland of Howth, the coast is generally steep, occasionally sheer, and the mountains of county Wicklow approach it closely. Northward (the direction first to be followed) it is low, sandy and fringed with shoals, for here is one point at which the central plain extends to the coast. This condition obtains from 53° 25' N. until at 54° N. the mountains close down again, and the narrow inlet or fjord of Carlingford Lough separates the abrupt heights of the Carlingford and Mourne Mountains. Then the low and sandy character is resumed; the fine eastward sweep of Dundrum Bay is passed, the coast turns north again, and a narrow channel gives entry to the island-studded lagoon of Strangford Lough. Reaching county Antrim, green wooded hills plunge directly into the sea; the deep Belfast Lough strikes some 10 m. inland, and these conditions obtain nearly to Fair Head, the north-eastern extremity of the island. Here the coast turns westward, changing suddenly to sheer cliffs, where the basaltic formation intrudes its strange regular columns, most finely developed in the famous Giant's Causeway.

The low land surrounding the plain-track of the Bann intervenes between this and the beginning of a coastal formation which is common to the north-western and western coasts. From the oval indentation of Lough Foyle a bluff coast trends north-westward to Malin Head, the northernmost promontory of the island. Thence over the whole southward stretch to Mizen Head in county Cork is found that physical appearance of a cliff-bound coast fretted with deep fjord-like inlets and fringed with many islands, which throughout the world is almost wholly confined to western seaboards. Mountains impinge upon the sea almost over the whole length, sometimes, as in Slieve League (county Donegal), immediately facing it with huge cliffs. Eight dominant inlets appear. Lough Foyle is divided from Lough Swilly by the diamond-shaped peninsula of Inishowen. Following the coast southward, Donegal Bay is divided from Galway Bay by the hammer-like projection of county Mayo and Connemara, the square inlet of Clew Bay intervening. At Galway Bay the mountain barrier is broken, where the great central plain strikes down to the sea as it does on the east coast north of Dublin. After the stern coast of county Clare there follow the estuary of the great river Shannon, and then three large inlets striking deep into the mountains of Kerry and Cork - Dingle Bay, Kenmare river and Bantry Bay, separating the prongs of the forklike south-western projection of the island. The whole of this coast is wild and beautiful, and may be compared with the west coast of Scotland and even that of Norway, though it has a strong individuality distinct from either; and though for long little known to travellers, it now possesses a number of small watering-places, and is in many parts accessible by railway. The islands though numerous are not as in Scotland and Norway a dominant feature of the coast, being generally small and often mere clusters of reefs. Exceptions, however, are Tory Island and North Aran off the Donegal coast, Achill and Clare off Mayo, the South Arans guarding Galway Bay, the Blasquets and Valencia off the Kerry coast. On many of these desolate rocks, which could have afforded only the barest sustenance, there are remains of the dwellings and churches of early religious settlers who sought solitude here. The settlements on Inishmurray (Sligo), Aranmore in the South Arans, and Scattery in the Shannon estuary, had a fame as retreats of piety and learning far outside Ireland itself, and the significance of a:pilgrimage to their sites is not yet wholly forgotten among the peasantry, while the preservation of their remains has come to be a national trust.

The south coast strikes a mean between the east and the west. It is lower than the west though still bold in many places; the inlets are narrower and less deep, but more easily accessible, as appears from the commercial importance of the harbours of Cork and Waterford. Turning northward to the east of Waterford round Carnsore Point, the lagoon-like harbour of Wexford is passed, and then a sweeping, almost unbroken, line continues to Dublin Bay. But this coast, though differing completely from the western, is not lacking in beauty, for, like the Mournes in county Down, the mountains of Wicklow rise close to the sea, and sometimes directly from it. Every mountain group in Ireland forms an individual mass, isolated by complex systems of valleys in all directions. They seldom exceed 3000 ft. in height, yet generally possess a certain dignity, whether from their commanding position or their bold outline. Every variety of form is seen, from steep flat-topped table-mountains as near Loughs Neagh and Erne, to peaks such as those of the Twelve Pins or Bens of Connemara. Unlike the Scottish Highlands no part of them was capable of sheltering a whole native race in opposition to the advance of civilization, though early customs, tradition and the common use of the Erse language yet survive in some strength in the wilder parts of the west. From the coasts there is almost everywhere easy access to the interior through the mountains by valley roads; and though the plain exists unbroken only in the midlands, its ramifications among the hills are always easy to follow. Plain and lowland of an elevation below 500 ft. occupy nearly four-fifths of the total area; and if the sea were to submerge these, four distinct archipelagos would appear, a northern, eastern, western and south-western. The principal groups, with their highest points, are the Mournes (Slieve Donard, 2796 ft.) and the Wicklow mountains (Lugnaquilla, 3 0 39) on the east; the Sperrins (Sawel, 2240) in the north; the Derryveagh group in the north-west (Errigal, 2466); the many groups or short ranges of Sligo, Mayo and Galway (reaching 1695 ft. in the Twelve Pins of Connemara); in the south-west those of Kerry and Cork, where in Carrantuohill or Carntual (3414) the famous Macgillicuddy Reeks which beautify the environs of Killarney include the highest point in the island; and north-east from these, the Galtees of Tipperary (3018) and Slieve Bloom, the farthest inland of the important groups. Nearer the south coast are the Knockmealdown (2609) and Commeragh Mountains (2470) of county Waterford.

It will be realized from the foregoing description that it is impossible to draw accurate boundary lines to the great Irish plain, yet it rightly carries the epithet central because it dis- Ceutrai tinctly divides the northern mountain groups from the southern. The plain is closely correlated with the bogs which are the best known physical characteristic of Ireland, but the centre of Ireland is not wholly bog-land. Rather the bogs of the plain are intersected by strips of low-lying firm ground, and the central plain consists of these bright green expanses alternating with the brown of the bogs, of which the best known and (with its offshoots) one of the most extensive is the Bog of rAllen in the eastern midlands. But the bogs are not confined to the plain. They may be divided into black and red according to the degree of moisture and the vegetable matter which formed them. The black bogs are those of the plain and the deeper valleys, while the red, firmer and less damp, occur on the mountains. The former supply most of the peat, and some of the tree-trunks dug out of them have been found so flexible from immersion that they might be twisted into ropes. Owing to the quantity of tannin they contain, no harmful miasma exhales from the Irish bogs.

The central plain and its offshoots are drained by rivers to all the coasts, but chiefly eastward and westward, and the waterpartings in its midst are sometimes impossible to define. Rivers. The main rivers, however, have generally a mountain source, and according as they are fed from bogs or springs may be differentiated as black and bright streams. In this connexion the frequent use of the name Blackwater is noticeable. The principal rivers are - from the Wicklow Mountains, the Slaney, flowing S. to Wexford harbour, and the Liffey, flowing with a tortuous course N. and E. to Dublin Bay; the Boyne, fed from the central plain and discharging into Drogheda Bay; from the mountains of county Down, the Lagan, to Belfast Lough, and the Bann, draining the great Lough Neagh to the northern sea; the Foyle, a collection of streams from the mountains of Tyrone and Donegal, flowing north to Lough Foyle. On the west the rivers are generally short and torrential, excepting the Erne, which drains the two beautiful loughs of that name in county Fermanagh, and the Shannon, the chief river of Ireland, which, rising in a mountain spring in county Cavan, follows a bow-shaped course to the south and south-west, and draws off the major part of the waters of the plain by tributaries from the east. In the south, the Lee and the Blackwater intersect the mountains of Kerry and Cork flowing east, and turn abruptly into estuaries opening south. Lastly, rising in the Slieve Bloom or neighbouring mountains, the Suir, Nore and Barrow follow widely divergent courses to the south to unite in Waterford harbour.

The lakes (called loughs - pronounced lochs) of Ireland are innumerable, and (apart from their formation) are almost all contained in two great regions. (I) The central plain by its nature Lakes. abounds in loughs - dark, peat-stained pools with low shores. The principal of these lie in county Westmeath, such as Loughs Ennel, Owel and Derravaragh, famed for their trout-fishing in the May-fly season. (2) The Shannon, itself forming several large loughs, as Allen, Ree and Derg; and the Erne, whose course lies almost wholly through loughs - Gowna, Oughter and the Loughs Erne, irregular of outline and studded with islands - separate this region from the principal lake-region of Ireland, coincident with the province of Connaught. In the north lie Loughs Melvin, close above Donegal Bay, and Gill near Sligo, Lough Gara, draining to the Shannon, and Lough Conn near Ballina (county Mayo), and in the south, the great expanses of Loughs Mask and Corrib, joined by a subterranean channel. To the west of these last, the mountains of Connemara and, to a more marked degree, the narrow plain of bog-land between them and Galway Bay, are sown with small lakes, nearly every hollow of this wild district being filled with water. Apart from these two regions the loughs of Ireland are few but noteworthy. In the south-west the lakes of Killarney are widely famed for their exquisite scenic setting; in the north-east Lough Neagh has no such claim, but is the largest lake in the British Isles, while in the south-east there are small loughs in some of the picturesque glens of county Wicklow.


The climate of Ireland is more equable than that of Great Britain as regards both temperature and rainfall. No district in Ireland has a rainfall so heavy as that of large portions of the Highlands of Scotland, or so light as that of several large districts in the east of Great Britain. In January the mean temperature scarcely falls below 40° F. in any part of Ireland, whereas over the larger part of the eastern slope of Great Britain it is some 3° lower; and in July the extremes in Ireland are 59° in the north and 62° in Kilkenny. The range from north to south of Great Britain in the same month is some 10°, but the greater extent of latitude accounts only for a part of this difference, which is mainly occasioned by the physical configuration of the surface of Ireland in its relations to the prevailing moist W.S.W. winds. Ireland presents to these winds no unbroken mountain ridge running north and south, which would result in two climates as distinct as those of the east and west of Ross-shire; but it presents instead only a series of isolated groups, with the result that it is only a few limited districts which enjoy climates approaching in dryness the climates of the whole of the eastern side of Great Britain. (0. J. R. H.) Geology. - Ireland, rising from shallow seas on the margin of the submarine plateau of western Europe, records in its structure the successive changes that the continent itself has undergone. The first broad view of the country shows us a basin-shaped island consisting of a central limestone plain surrounded by mountains; but the diverse modes of origin of these mountains, and the differences in their trend, suggest at once that they represent successive epochs of disturbance. The north-west highlands of Donegal and the Ox Mountains, with their axes of folding running north-east and south-west, invite comparison with the great chain of Leinster, but also with the Grampians and the backbone of Scandinavia. The ranges from Kerry to Waterford, on the other hand, truncated by the sea at either end, are clearly parts of an east and west system, the continuation of which may be looked for in South Wales and Belgium. The hills of the north-east are mainly the crests of lavaplateaux, which carry the mind towards Skye and the volcanic province of the Faeroe Islands. The two most important points of contrast between the geology of Ireland and that of England are, firstly, the great exposure of `Carboniferous rocks in Ireland, Mesozoic strata being almost absent; and, secondly, the presence of volcanic rocks in place of the marine Eocene of England.

The fact that no Cambrian strata have been established by palaeontological evidence in the west of Ireland has made it equally difficult to establish any pre-Cambrian system. The great difference in character, however, between the Silurian strata at Pomeroy in county Tyrone and the adjacent metamorphic series makes it highly probable that the latter masses are truly Archean. They form an interesting and bleak moorland between Cookstown and Omagh, extending north-eastward into Slieve Gallion in county Londonderry, and consist fundamentally of mica-schist and gneiss, affected by earth-pressures, and invaded by granite near Lough Fee. The axis along which they have been elevated runs north-east and south-west, and on either flank a series of " green rocks " appears, consisting of altered amygdaloidal andesitic lavas, intrusive dolerites, coarse gabbros and diorites, and at Beagh-beg and Creggan in central Tyrone ancient rhyolitic tuffs. Red and grey cherts, which have not so far yielded undoubted organic remains, occur in this series, and it has in consequence been compared with the Arenig rocks of southern Scotland. The granite invades this " greenrock " series at Slieve Gallion and elsewhere, but is itself pre Devonian. Even if the volcanic and intrusive basic rocks prove to be Ordovician (Lower Silurian), which is very doubtful, the metamorphic series of the core is clearly distinct, and appears to be " fundamental " so far as Ireland is concerned.

The other metamorphic areas of the north present even greater difficulties, owing to the absence of any overlying strata older than the Old Red Sandstone. Their rocks have been variously held to be Archean, Cambrian and Silurian, and their general trend has undoubtedly been determined by post-Silurian earth-movements. Hence it is useful to speak of them merely as " Dalradian," a convenient term invented by Sir A. Geikie for the metamorphic series of the old kingdom of Dalriada. They come out as mica-schists under the Carboniferous sandstones of northern Antrim, and disappear southward under the basaltic plateaux. The red gneisses near Tarr Head probably represent intrusive granite; and this small north-eastern exposure is representative of the Dalradian series which covers so wide a field from central Londonderry to the coast of Donegal. The oldest rocks in this large area are a stratified series of mica-schists, limestones and quartzites, with numerous intrusive sheets of diorite, the whole having been metamorphosed by pressure, with frequent overfolding. Extensive subsequent metamorphism has been produced by the invasion of great masses of granite. Similar rocks come up along the Ox Mountain axis, and occupy the wild west of Mayo and Connemara. The quartzites here form bare white cones and ridges, notably in Errigal and Aghla Mt. in county Donegal, and in the group of the Twelve Bens in county Galway.

Following on these rocks of unknown but obviously high antiquity, we find fossiliferous Ordovician (Lower Silurian) strata near Killary harbour on the west, graduating upwards into a complete Gotlandian (Upper Silurian) system. Massive conglomerates occur in these series, which are unconformable on the Dalradian rocks of Connemara. In the Wenlock beds of the west of the Dingle promontory there are contemporaneous tuffs and lavas. Here the Ludlow strata are followed by a thick series of barren beds (the Dingle Beds), which have been variously claimed as Upper Silurian and Lower Devonian. No certain representative of the Dingle Beds has been traced elsewhere throughout the south of Ireland, where the Old Red Sandstone succeeds the uptilted Silurian strata with striking unconformity. The Silurian rocks were indeed greatly folded before the Old Red Sandstone was laid down, the general trend of the folds being from south-west to north-east. The best example of these folds is the axis of Leinster, its core being occupied by granite which is now exposed continuously for 70 m., forming a moorland from Dublin to New Ross. On either flank the Silurian shales, slates and sandstones, which are very rarely fossiliferous, rise with steep dips. They are often contorted, and near the contact with the granite pass into mica-schists and quartzites. The foothills and lowlands throughout southern Wicklow and almost the whole of Wexford, and the corresponding country of western Wicklow and eastern Kildare, are thus formed of Silurian beds, in which numerous contemporaneous and also intrusive igneous rocks are intercalated, striking like the chain N.E. and S.W. In southeastern Wexford, in northern Wicklow (from Ashford to Bray), and in the promontory of Howth on Dublin Bay, an apparently earlier series of green and red slates and quartzites forms an important feature. The quartzites, like those of the Dalradian series, weather out in cones, such as the two Sugarloaves south of Bray, or in knob-set ridges, such as the crest of Howth or Carrick Mt. in county Wicklow. The radial or fan-shaped markings known as Oldhamia were first detected in this series, but are now known from Cambrian beds in otter countries; in default of other satisfactory fossils, the series of Bray and Howth has long been held to be Cambrian.

All across Ireland, from the Ballyhoura Hills on the Cork border to the southern shore of Belfast Lough, slaty and sandy Silurian beds appear in the axes of the anticlinal folds, surrounded by Old Red Sandstone scarps or Carboniferous Limestone lowlands. These Silurian areas give rise to hummocky regions, where small hills abound, without much relation to the trend of the axis of elevation. The most important area appears north of the town of Longford, and extends thence to the coast of Down. In Slieve Glah it reaches a height of 1057 ft. above the sea. Granite is exposed along its axis from near Newry to Slieve Croob, and again appears at Crossdoney in county Cavan. These occurrences of granite, with that of Leinster, in connexion with the folding of the Silurian strata, make it highly probable that many of the granites of the Dalradian areas, which have a similar trend and which have invaded the schists so intimately as to form with them a composite gneiss, date also from a post-Silurian epoch of earth-movement. Certain western and northern granites are however older, since granite boulders occur in Silurian conglomerates derived from the Dalradian complex.

This group of N.E. and S.W. ridges and hollows, so conspicuous in the present conformation of Donegal, Sligo and Mayo, in the axis of Newry, and in the yet bolder Leinster Chain, was impressed upon the Irish region at the close of Silurian times, and is clearly a part of the " Caledonian " system of folds, which gave to Europe the guiding lines of the Scottish Highlands and of Scandinavia.

On the land-surface thus formed the Devonian lakes gathered, while the rivers poured into them enormous deposits of sand and conglomerate. A large exposure of this Old Red Sandstone stretches from Enniskillen to the Silurian beds at Pomeroy, and some contemporaneous andesites are included, reminding us of the volcanic activity at the same epoch in Scotland. The numerous " felstone " dikes, often lamprophyric, occurring in the north and west of Ireland, are probably also of Devonian age. The conglomerates appear at intervals through the limestone covering of central Ireland, and usually weather out as conspicuous scarps or " hog's-backs." The Slieve Bloom Mountains are thus formed of a dome of Old Red Sandstone folded on a core of unconformable Silurian strata; while in several cases the domes are worn through, leaving rings of Old Red Sandstone hills, scarping inwards towards broad exposures of Silurian shales. The Old Red Sandstone is most fully manifest in the rocky or heather-clad ridges that run from the west of Kerry to central Waterford, rising to 3414 ft. in Carrantuohill in Macgillicuddy's Reeks, and 3015 ft. in Galtymore. In the Dingle Pro 'K. ' ? Lower Carboniferous Sandstone and Slate (latter in South) {? Devonian (Old Red Sandstone). I Silurian (and Cambrian?) "Dalradian" Metamorphic Series .Diorite and allied Basic Rocks '?-t =i=' Granite and allied Acid Rocks montory the conglomerates of this period rest with striking unconformity on the Dingle Beds and Upper Silurian series. Here there may be a local break between Lower and Upper Devonian strata. The highest beds of Old Red Sandstone type pass up conformably in the south of Ireland into the Lower Carboniferous, through the " Yellow Sandstone Series " and the "Coomhola Grits " above it. The Yellow Sandstone contains Archanodon, the oldest known fresh-water mollusc, and plant-remains; the Coomhola Grits are marine, and are sometimes regarded as Carboniferous, sometimes as uppermost Devonian.

In the south, the Carboniferous deposits open with the Carboniferous Slate, in the base of which the Coomhola Grits occur. Its lower part represents the Lower Carboniferous Shales and Sandstones of the central and northern areas, while its upper part corresponds with a portion of the Carboniferous Limestone. The Carboniferous Limestone, laid down in a sea which covered nearly the whole Irish area, appears in the synclinal folds at Cork city and Kenmare, and is the prevalent rock from the north side of the Knockmealdown Mountains to Enniskillen and Donegal Bay. On the east it spreads to Drogheda and Dublin, and on the west to the heart of Mayo and of Clare. Loughs Mask and Corrib are thus bounded on the west by rugged Silurian and Dalradian highlands, and on the east appear as mere water-filled hollows in the great limestone plain.

The Lower Carboniferous Sandstones are conspicuous in the region from Milltown near Inver Bay in southern Donegal to Ballycastle in county Antrim. In the latter place they contain workable coal-seams. The Carboniferous Limestone often contains black flint (chert), and at some horizons conglomerates occur, the pebbles being derived from the unconformable ridges of the " Caledonian " land. A black and often shaly type called " calp " contains much clay derived from the same land-surface. While the limestone has been mainly worn down to a lowland, it forms fine scarps and tablelands in county Sligo and other western regions. Subterranean rivers and water-worn caves provide a special type of scenery below the surface. Contemporaneous volcanic action is recorded by tuffs and lavas south-east of Limerick and north of Philipstown. The beds above the limestone are shales and sandstones, sometimes reaching the true Coal-Measures, but rarely younger than the English Millstone Grit. They are well seen in the high ground about Lough Allen, where the Shannon rises on them, round the Castlecomer and Killenaule coalfields, and in a broad area from the north of Clare to Killarney. Some coals occur in the Millstone Grit horizons. The Upper Coal-Measures, as a rule, have been lost by denudation, much of which occurred before Triassic times. South of the line between Galway and Dublin the coal is anthracitic, while north of this line it is bituminous. The northern coalfields are the L. Carboniferous one at Ballycastle, the high outliers of Millstone Grit and Coal-Measures round Lough Allen, and the Dungannon and Coalisland field in county Tyrone. The last named is in part concealed by Triassic strata. The only important occurrences of coal in the south are in eastern Tipperary, near Killenaule, and in the Leinster coalfield (counties Kilkenny and Carlow and Queen's County), where there is a high synclinal field, including Lower and Middle Coal-Measures, and resembling in structure the Forest of Dean area in England.

The "Hercynian " earth-movements, which so profoundly affected north-west and north-central Europe at the close of Carboniferous times, gave rise to a series of east and west folds in the Irish region. The Upper Carboniferous beds were thus lifted within eas3r. reach of denuding forces, while the Old Red Sandstone, and the underlying " Caledonian " land-surface, were brought up from below in the cores of domes and anticlines. In the south, even the Carboniferous Limestone has been so far removed that it is found only in the floors of the synclinals. The effect of the structure of these folds on the courses of rivers in the south of Ireland is discussed in the paragraphs dealing with the geology of county Cork. The present central plain itself may be regarded as a vast shallow synclinal, including a multitude of smaller folds. The earth-wrinkles of this epoch were turned into a north-easterly direction by the pre-existing Leinster Chain, and the trend of the anticlinal from Limerick to the Slieve' Bloom Mountains, and that of the synclinal of Millstone Grit and CoalMeasures from Cashel through the Leinster coalfield, bear witness to the resistance of this granite mass. The Triassic beds rest on the various Carboniferous series in turn, indicating, as in England, the amount of denudation that followed on the uplift of the Hercynian' land. Little encouragement can therefore be given in Ireland to the popular belief in vast hidden coalfields.

The Permian sea has left traces at Holywood on Belfast Lough and near Stewartstown in county Tyrone. Certain conglomeratic beds on which Armagh is built are also believed to be of Permian age. The Triassic sandstones and marls, with marine Rhaetic beds above, are preserved mainly round the basaltic plateaus of the north-east, and extend for some distance into county Down. An elongated outlier south of Carrickmacross indicates their former presence over a much wider area. Rock-salt occurs in these beds north of Carrickfergus. _ .i The Jurassic system is represented in Ireland by the Lower Lias alone, aid it is probable that no marine beds higher than the Upper Lias were deposited during this period. From Permian times onward, in fact, the Irish area lay on the western margin of the seas that played so large a part in determining the geology of Europe. The Lower Lias appears at intervals under the scarp of the basaltic plateaus, and contributes, as in Dorsetshire and Devonshire, to the formation of landslips along the coast. The alteration of the fossiliferous Lias by dolerite at Portrush into a flinty rock that looked like basalt served at one time as a prop for the " Neptunist " theory of the origin of igneous rocks. Denudation, consequent on the renewed uplift of the country, affected the Jurassic beds until the middle of Cretaceous times. The sea then returned, in the north-east at any rate, and the first Cretaceous deposits indicate the nearness of a shore-line. Dark " green-sands," very rich in glauconite, are followed by yellow sandstones with some flint. These two stages represent the Upper Greensand, or the sandy type of the English Gault. Further sands represent the Cenomanian. The Turonian is also sandy, but in most areas was not deposited, or has been denuded away during a local uplift that preceded Senonian times. The Senonian limestone itself, which rests in the extreme north on Trias or even on the schists, is often conglomeratic and glauconitic at the base, the pebbles being worn from the old metamorphic series. The term " Hibernian Greensand " was used by Tate for all the beds below the Senonian; the quarrymen know the conglomeratic Senonian as " Mulatto-stone." The Senonian chalk, or " White Limestone," is hard, with numerous bands of flint, and suffered from denudation in early Eocene times. Probably its original thickness Lough Neagh Tertiary Clays Eocene Basalt and Dolerite Cretaceous Trias, sometimes surmounted by Lower Jurassic Upper Carboniferous Carboniferous was not more than 150 ft., while now only from 40 to loo ft. remain. This chalk appears to underlie nearly the whole basaltic plateaus, appearing as a fringe round them, and also in an inlier at Templepatrick. The western limit was probably found in the edge of the old continental land in Donegal. Chalk flints occur frequently in the surface-deposits of the south of Ireland, associated with rocks brought from the north during the glacial epoch, and probably also of northern origin. It is just possible, however, that here and there the Cretaceous sea that spread over Devonshire may have penetrated the Irish area.

After the Irish chalk had been worn into rolling downs, on which flint-gravels gathered, the great epoch of volcanic activity opened, which was destined to change the character of the whole north-west European area. The critical time had arrived when the sea was to be driven away eastward, while the immense ridges due to the " Alpine " movements were about to emerge as the backbones of new continental lands. Fissure after fissure, running with remarkable constancy N.W. and S.E., broke through the region now occupied by the British Isles, and basalt was pressed up along these cracks, forming thousands of dikes, from the coast of Down to the Dalradian ridges of Donegal. One of these on the north side of Lough Erne is 15 m. long. The more deep-seated type of these rocks is seen in the olivine-gabbro mass of Carlingford Mountain; but most of the igneous region became covered with sheets of basaltic lava, which filled up the hollows of the downs, baked the gravels into a layer of red flints, and built up, pile upon pile, the great plateaus of the north. There was little explosive action, and few of the volcanic vents can now be traced. After a time, a quiet interval allowed of the formation of lakes, in which red iron-ores were laid down. The plantremains associated with these beds form the only clue to the postCretaceous period in which the volcanic epoch opened, and they have been placed by Mr Starkie Gardner in recent years as early Eocene. During this time of comparative rest, rhyolites were extruded locally in county Antrim; and there is very strong evidence that the granite of the Mourne Mountains, and that which cuts the Carlingford gabbro, were added at the same time to the crust. The basalt again broke out, through dikes that cut even the Mourne granite, and some of the best-known columnar masses of lava overlie the red deposits of iron-ore and mark this second basaltic epoch. The volcanic plateaus clearly at one time extended far west and south of their present limits, and the denudation of the lava-flows has allowed a large area of Mesozoic strata also to disappear.

Volcanic activity may have extended into Miocene times; but the only fossiliferous relics of Cainozoic periods later than the Eocene are the pale clays and silicified lignites on the south shore of Lough Neagh, and the shelly gravels of pre-glacial age in county Wexford. Both these deposits may be Pliocene. Probably before this period the movements of subsidence had set in which faulted the basalt plateaus, lowered them to form the basin of Lough Neagh, and broke up the continuity of the volcanic land of the North Atlantic area. As the Atlantic spread into the valleys on the west of Ireland, forming the well-known marine inlets, Europe grew, under the influence of the " Alpine " movements, upon the east; and Ireland was caught in, as it were, on the western edge of the new continent. It seems likely that it was separated from the British region shortly before the glacial epoch, and that some of the ice which then abutted on the country travelled across shallow seas. The glacial deposits profoundly modified the surface of the country, whether they resulted from the melting of the ice-sheets of the time of maximum glaciation, or from the movements of local glaciers. Boulder-clays and sands, and gravels rearranged by water, occur throughout the lowlands; while the eskers or " green hills," characteristic grasscovered ridges of gravel, rise from the great plain, or run athwart valleys and over hill-sides, marking the courses of sub-glacial streams. When the superficial deposits are removed, the underlying rocks are found to be scored and smoothed by ice-action, and whole mountain-sides in the south and west have been similarly moulded during the Glacial epoch. In numerous cases, lakelets have gathered under rocky cirques behind the terminal moraines of the last surviving glaciers.

There is no doubt that at this epoch various movements of elevation and subsidence affected the north-west of Europe, and modern Ireland may have had extensions into warmer regions on the west and south, while the area now left to us was almost buried under ice. In post-Glacial times, a subsidence admitted the sea into the Lagan valley and across the eastern shore in several places; but elevation, in the days of early human occupation, brought these last marine deposits to light, and raised the beaches and shore-terraces some 10 to 20 ft. along the coast. At Larne, Greenore and in the neck between Howth and Dublin, these raised beaches remain conspicuous. To sum up, then, while the main structural features of Ireland were impressed upon her before the opening of the Mesozoic era, her present outline and superficial contours date from an epoch of climatic and geographical change which falls within the human period.

See maps and explanatory memoirs of the Geological Survey of Ireland (Dublin); G. Wilkinson, Practical Geology and Ancient Architecture of Ireland (London, 1845); R. Kane, Industrial Resources of Ireland (2nd ed., Dublin, 1845); G. H. Kinahan, Manual of the Geology of Ireland (London, 1878); E. Hull, Physical Geology and Geography of Ireland (2nd ed., London, 1891); G. H. Kinahan, Economic Geology of Ireland (Dublin, 1889); A. McHenry and W. W. Watts, Guide to the Collection of Rocks and Fossils, Geol. Survey of Ireland (2nd ed., Dublin, 1898). (G. A. J. C.) Economics And Administration Population. - Various computations are in existence of the population of Ireland prior to 182 I, in which year the first government census was taken. According to Sir William Petty the number of inhabitants in 1672 was 1,320,000. About a century later the tax-collectors estimated the population at a little over 2,500,000, and in 1791 the same officials calculated that the number had risen to over 4,200,000. The census commissioners returned the population in 1821 as 6,801,827, in 1831 as 7,767,401, and in 1841 as 8,196, 597. It is undoubted that a great increase of population set in towards the close of the 18th century and continued during the first 40 years or so of the 19th. This increase was due to a variety of causes - the improvement in the political condition of the country, the creation of leaseholds after the abolition of the 40s. franchise, the productiveness and easy cultivation of the potato, the high prices during the war with France, and probably not least to the natural prolificness of the Irish people. But the census returns of 1851 showed a remarkable alteration - a decrease during the previous decade of over 1,500,000 - and since that date, as the following table shows, the continuous decrease in the number of its inhabitants has been the striking feature in the vital statistics of Ireland.







Leinster .



8 II




Munster .





II .8


Ulster. .
















I I .50





The cause of the continuous though varying decrease which these figures reveal has been emigration. This movement of population took its first great impulse from the famine of 1846 and has continued ever since. When that disaster fell upon the country it found a teeming population fiercely competing for a very narrow margin of subsistence; and so widespread and devastating were its effects that between 1847 and 1852 over 1,200,000 of the Irish people emigrated to other lands. More than 1,000,000 of these went to the United States of America, and to that country the main stream has ever since been directed. Between 1851 and 1905 4,028,589 emigrants left Ireland2,092,154 males and 1,936,435 females, the proportion of females to males being extraordinarily high as compared with the emigration statistics of other countries. Between these years the numbers fluctuated widely-1852 showing the highest total, 190,322 souls, and 1905 the lowest, 30,676 souls. Since 1892, however, the emigrants in any one year have never exceeded 50,000, probably because the process of exhaustion has been so long in operation. As Ireland is mainly an agricultural country the loss of population has been most marked in the rural districts. The urban population, indeed, has for some years shown a tendency to increase. Thus in 1841 the rural population was returned as 7,052,923 and the urban as 1,143,674, while the corresponding figures in 1901 were respectively 3,073,846 and 1,384,929. This is further borne out by the percentages given in the above table, from which it will be seen that the greatest proportional decrease of population has occurred in the two provinces of Munster and Connaught, which may be regarded as almost purely agricultural. That the United States remained the great centre of attraction for Irish emigrants is proved by the returns for 1905, which show that nearly 80% of the whole number for the year sailed for that country. Ireland does little to swell the rising tide of Decrease per cent. of Population 1841-1901. Railways; ] emigration that now flows from England and Scotland to British North America.

Turning now to the census figures of 1901, we find that the population had diminished as compared with 1891 by 245,975. During the decade only three counties, Dublin, Down and Antrim, showed any increase, the increase being due to the growth of certain urban areas. Of the total population of 4,45 8 ,775, 2,200,040 were males and 2,258,735 were females. The inhabitants of the rural districts (3,073,846) decreased during the decade by over 380,000; that of the urban districts, i.e. of all towns of not less than 2000 inhabitants (1,384,929) increased by over 140,000. This increase was mainly due to the growth of a few of the larger towns, notably of Belfast, the chief industrial centre of Ireland. Between 1891 and 1901 Belfast increased from 273,079 to 349,180; Dublin from 268,587 to 289,108; and Londonderry, another industrial centre in Ulster, from 33,200 to 39,873. On the other hand, towns like Cork (75,978), Waterford (26,743) and Limerick (38,085), remained almost stationary during the ten years, but the urban districts of Pembroke and of Rathmines and Rathgar, which are practically suburbs of Dublin, showed considerable increases.

From the returns of occupation in 1901, it appears that the indefinite or non-productive class accounted for about 55% of the entire population. The next largest class was the agricultural, which numbered 876,062, a decrease of about 40,000 as compared with 1891. The industrial class fell from 656,410 to 639,413, but this represented a slight increase in the percentage of the population. The professional class was 131,035, the domestic 219,418, and the commercial had risen from 83,173 in 1891 to 97,889 In 1901. The following table shows the number of births and deaths registered in Ireland during the five years 1901-1905.


















The number of illegitimate births is always very small in proportion to the legitimate. In 1905 illegitimate births numbered 2710 or 2.6 of the whole, a percentage which has been very constant for a number of years.


The first act of parliament authorizing a railway in Ireland was passed in 1831. The railway was to run from Dublin to Kingstown, a distance of about 6 m., and was opened in 1834. In 1836 the Ulster railway to connect Belfast and Armagh, and the Dublin and Drogheda railway uniting these two towns were sanctioned. In the same year commissioners were nominated by the crown to inquire (inter alia) as to a general system for railways in Ireland, and as to the best mode of directing the development of the means of intercourse to the channels whereby the greatest advantage might be obtained by the smallest outlay. The commissioners presented a very valuable report in 1838, but its specific recommendations were never adopted by the government, though they ultimately proved of service to the directors of private enterprises. Railway development in Ireland progressed at first very slowly and by 1845 only some 65 m. of railway were open. During the next ten years, however, there was a considerable advance, and in 1855 the Irish railways extended to almost l000 m. The total authorized capital of all Irish railways, exclusive of light railways, at the end of 1905 was £42,881,201, and the paid-up capital, including loans and debenture stock, amounted to £37,238,888. The total gross receipts from all sources of traffic in 1905 were £4, 0 43,3 68, of which £2,104,108 was derived from passenger traffic and £1,798,520 from goods traffic. The total number of passengers carried (exclusive of season and periodical ticketholders) was 27,950,150. Under the various acts passed to facilitate the construction of light railways in backward districts some 15 lines have been built, principally in the western part of the island from Donegal to Kerry. These railways are worked by existing companies.

The following table shows the principal Irish railways, their mileage and the districts which they serve.

Name of Railway.


Districts Served.

Great Southern &


The southern half of Lein-


ster, the whole of Munster,

and part of Connaught,

the principal towns served

being Dublin, Cork,

Waterford, Limerick and


Midland Great Western


The central districts of Ire-

land and a great part of

Connaught, the principal

towns served being Dublin,

Athlone, Galway and


Great Northern.. .


The northern half of Leinster

and a great part of Ulster,

the principal towns served

being Dublin, Belfast,

Londonderry, Dundalk,

Drogheda, Armagh and


Northern Counties' (now

owned by the Midland


The counties of Antrim,

Tyrone and Londonderry.

Railway of England) Dublinn & South



The counties of Dublin,

Wicklow, Wexford and




The counties of Tyrone and


Londonderry & Lough


The counties of Londonderry


and Donegal.

Cork, Bandon & South


The counties of Cork and



Belfast & County


The county of Down.


1 Formerly Belfast and Northern Counties.

Formerly Dublin, Wicklow. and Wexford.

There is no lack of cross-channel services between Ireland and Great Britain. Belfast is connected by daily sailings with Glasgow, Ardrossan, Liverpool, Feetwood, Barrow and Heysham Harbour, Dublin with Holyhead and Liverpool, Greenore (Co. Down) with Holyhead, Larne (Co. Antrim) with Stranraer, Rosslare(Co.Wexford) with Fishguard and Kingstown (Co. Dublin) with Holyhead.

Navigable Waterways

Ireland is intersected by a network of canals and waterways, which if efficiently managed and developed would prove of immense service to the country by affording a cheap means for the carriage of goods, especially agricultural produce. Two canals - the Grand and the Royal - connect Dublin with the Shannon; the former leading from the south of Dublin to Shannon Harbour and thence on the other side of that river to Ballinasloe, with numerous branches; the latter from the north side of Dublin to Cloondera on the Shannon, with a branch to Longford. The Barrow Navigation connects a branch of the Grand canal with the tidal part of the river Barrow. In Ulster the Bann navigation connects Coleraine, by means of Lough Neagh, with the Lagan navigation which serves Belfast; and the Ulster canal connects Lough Neagh with Lough Erne. The river Shannon is navigable for a distance of 143 m. in a direct course and occupies almost a central position between the east and west coasts.


Ireland possesses as a whole a soil which is naturally fertile and easily cultivated. Strong heavy clay soils, sandy and gravelly soils, are almost entirely absent; and the mixture of soil arising from the various stratifications and from the detritus carried down to the plains has created many districts of remarkable richness. The "Golden Vale" in Munster, which stretches from Cashel in Tipperary to near Limerick, probably forms the most fertile part of the country. The banks of the rivers Shannon, Suir, Nore, Barrow and Bann are lined with long stretches of flat lands capable of producing fine crops. In the districts of the Old and New Red Sandstone, which include the greater part of Cork and portions of Kerry, Waterford, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Monaghan, Mayo and Tipperary, the soil in the hollows is generally remarkably fertile. Even in the mountainous districts which are unsuitable for tillage there is often sufficient soil to yield, with the aid of the moist atmosphere, abundant pasturage of good quality. The excessive moisture in wet seasons in however hostile to cereal crops, especially in the southern and western districts, though improved drainage has done something to mitigate this evil, and might do a great deal more.

Irish political history has largely affected the condition of agriculture. Confiscations and settlements, prohibitive laws (such as those which ruined the woollen industry), penal enactments against the Roman Catholics, absenteeism, the creation for political purposes of 40s. freeholders, and other factors have combined to form a story which makes painful reading from whatever point of view, social or political, it be regarded. Happily, however, at the beginning of the 10th century Irish agriculture presented two new features which can be described without necessarily arousing any party question - the work of the Department of Agriculture and the spread of the principle of co-operation. Another outstanding feature has been the effect of the Land Purchase Acts in transferring the ownership of the land from the landlords to the tenants. Before dealing with these three features, some general statistics may be given bearing upon the condition of Irish agriculture.

Number of Holdings

Before 1846 the number of small holdings was inordinately large. In 1841, for example, there were no less than 310,436 of between 1 and 5 acres in extent, and 252,799 of between 5 and 15 acres. This condition of affairs was due mainly to two causes - to the 40s. franchise which prevailed between 1793 and 1829, and after that date to the fierce competition for land by a rapidly increasing population which had no other source of livelihood than agriculture. But the potato famine and the repeal of the Corn Laws, occurring almost simultaneously, caused an immediate and startling diminution in the number of smaller holdings. In 1851 the number between 1 and 5 acres in extent had fallen to 88,033 and the number between 5 and 15 acres had fallen to 191,854. Simultaneously the number between 15 and 30 acres had increased from 79,342 to 141,311, and the number above 30 acres from 48,625 to 149,090.

Since 1851 these tendencies have not been so marked. Thus in 1905 the number of holdings be tween 1 and 5 acres was 62,126, the number between 5 and 15 acres 154,560, the number between 15 and 30 acres 134,370 and the number above 30 acres 164,747. Generally speaking, however, it will be seen from the figures that since the middle of the 19th century holdings between I and 30 acres have decreased and holdings over 30 acres have increased. Of the total holdings under 30 acres considerably more than one-third are in Ulster, and of the holdings over 30 acres more than one-third are in Munster. The number of holdings of over 500 acres is only 1526, of which 475 are in Connaught. A considerable proportion, however, of these larger holdings, especially in Connaught, consist of more or less waste land, which at the best can only be used for raising a few sheep.

Tillage and Pasturage

The fact that probably about 1,000,000 acres formerly under potatoes went out of cultivation owing to the potato disease in 1847 makes a comparison between the figures for crops in that year with present figures somewhat fallacious. Starting, however, with that year as the most important in Irish economic history in modern times, we find that between 1847 and 1905 the total area under crops - cereals, green crops, flax, meadow and clover - decreased by 582,348 acres. Up to 1861, as the area formerly under potatoes came back gradually into cultivation, the acreage under crops increased; but since that year, when the total crop area was 5,890,536 acres, there has been a steady and gradual decline, the area in 1905 having fallen to 4,656,227 acres. An analysis of the returns shows that theydecline has been most marked in the acreage under cereal crops, especially wheat. In 1847 the number of acres under wheat was 743,871 and there has been a steady and practically continuous decrease ever since, the wheat acreage in 1905 being only 37,860 acres. In that year the wheat area, excluding less than 5000 acres in Connaught, was pretty equally divided between the other three provinces. Oats has always been the staple cereal crop in Ireland, but since 1847 its cultivation has declined by over 50%. In that year 2,200,870 acres were under oats and in 1905 only i,066,806 acres. Nearly one-half of the area under oats is to be found in Ulster; Leinster and Munster are fairly equal; and Connaught has something over ioo,000 acres under this crop. The area under barley and rye has also declined during the period under review by about one-half - from 345,070 acres in 1847 to 164,800 in 1905. The growing of these crops is confined almost entirely to Leinster and Munster. Taking all the cereal crops together, their cultivation during the last 60 years has gradually declined (from 3,313,579 acres in 1847 to 1,271,190 in 1905) by over 50%. The area, however, under green crops - potatoes, turnips, mangel-wurzel, beet, cabbage, &c., shows during the same period a much less marked decline - only some 300,000 acres. There has been a very considerable decrease since about 1861 in the acreage under potatoes. This is probably due to two causes - the emigration of the poorer classes who subsisted on that form of food, and the gradual introduction of a more varied dietary. The total area under potatoes in 1905 was 616,755 acres as compared with 1,133,504 acres in 1861. Since about 1885 the acreage under turnips has remained fairly stationary in the neighbourhood of 300,000 acres, while the cultivation of mangel-wurzel has considerably increased. Outside the recognized cereal and green crops, two others may be considered, flax and meadow and clover. The cultivation of the former is practically confined to Ulster and as compared with 20 or 30 years ago has fallen off by considerably more than 50%, despite the proximity of the linen industry. The number of acres under flax in 1905 was only 46,158. The Department of Agriculture has made efforts to improve and foster its cultivation, but without any marked results as regards increasing the area sown. During the period under review the area under meadow and clover has increased by more than 50%, rising from 1,138,946 acres in 1847 to 2,294,506 in 1905. It would thus appear that a large proportion of the land which has ceased to bear cereal or green crops is now laid down in meadow and clover. The balance has become pasturage, and the total area under grass in Ireland has so largely increased that it now embraces more than one-half of the entire country. This increase of the pastoral lands, with the corresponding decrease of the cropped lands, has been the marked feature of Irish agricultural returns since 1847. It is attributable to three chief reasons, the dearth of labour owing to emigration, the greater fall in prices of produce as compared with live stock, and the natural richness of the Irish pastures. The following table shows the growth of pasturage and the shrinkage of the crop areas since 1860.

F One more table may be given showing the proportional areas under the various kinds of crops, grass, woods and plantations, fallow, bog, waste, &c., over a series of years.

Produce and Live Stock

With the decrease of the area under cereal and green crops and the increase of pasturage there has naturally been a serious fall in the amount of agricultural produce and a considerable rise in the number of live stock since the middle of the 19th century. Thus in 1851 the number of cattle was returned as 2,967,461 and in 1905 as 4,645,215, the increase during the intervening period having been pretty gradual and general. Sheep in 1851 numbered 2,122,128 and in 1905 3,749,35 2, but the increase in this case has not been so continuous, several of the intervening years showing a considerably higher total than 1905, and for a good many years past the number of sheep has tended to decline. The number of pigs has also varied considerably; from year to year, 1905 showing an increase of about 150,000 as compared with 1851.

The Department of Agriculture

By an act of 1899 a Department of Agriculture and other industries and technical instruction was established in Ireland. To this department were transferred numerous powers and duties previously exercised by other authorities, including the Department of Science and Art. To assist the department the act also provided for the establishment of a council of agriculture, an agricultural board and a board of technical instruction, specifying the constitution of each of the three bodies. Certain moneys (exceeding 180,000 per annum) were placed by the act at the disposal of the department, provisions were made for their application, and it was enacted that local authorities might contribute funds. The powers and duties of the department are very wide, but under the present section its chief importance lies in its administrative work with regard to agriculture. In the annual reports of the department this work is usually treated under three heads: (1) agricultural instruction, (2) improvement of live stock, and (3) special investigations.


Crops (other



Total Area.

Area (Crops

and Grass).

than Meadow

and Clover).








1 ,594,5 18












2, 16 5,7 1 5





























71 0

I .5

1 0






' 50.5


1 7









1 5



1. The ultimate aim of the department's policy in the matter of agricultural instruction is, as defined by itself, to place within the reach of a large number of young men and young women the means of obtaining in their own country a good technical knowledge of all subjects relating to agriculture, an object which prior to the establishment of the department was for all practical purposes unattainable. Before such a scheme could be put into operation two things had to be done. In the first place, the department had to train teachers of agricultural subjects; and secondly, it had to demonstrate to farmers all over Ireland by a system of itinerant instruction some of the advantages of such technical instruction, in order to induce them to make some sacrifice to obtain a suitable education for their sons and daughters. In order to accomplish the first of these two preliminaries, the department established a Faculty of Agriculture at the Royal College of Science in Dublin, and offered a considerable number of scholarships the competition for which becomes increasingly keen. They also reorganized the Albert Agricultural College at Glasnevin for young men who have neither the time nor the means to attend the highly specialized courses at the Royal College of Science; and the Munster Institute at Cork is now devoted solely to the instruction of girls in such subjects as butter-making, poultry-keeping, calf-rearing, cooking, laundry-work, sewing and gardening. In addition to these three permanent institutions, local schools and classes have been established in different parts of the country where systematic instruction in technical agriculture is given to young men. In this and in other branches of its work the department is assisted by agricultural committees appointed by the county councils. The number of itinerant instructors is governed entirely by the available supply of qualified men. The services of every available student on completing his course at the Royal College of Science are secured by some county council committee. The work of the itinerant instructors is very varied. They hold classes and carry out field demonstrations and experiments, the results of which are duly published in the department's journal. The department has also endeavoured to encourage the fruit-growing industry in Ireland by the establishment of a horticultural school at Glasnevin, by efforts to secure uniformity in the packing and grading of fruit, by the establishment of experimental fruit-preserving factories, by the planting of orchards on a large scale in a few districts, and by pioneer lectures. As the result of all these efforts there has been an enormous increase in the demand for fruit trees of all kinds.

2. The marked tendency which has been visible for so many years in Ireland for pasturage to increase at the expense of tillage makes the improvement of live-stock a matter of vital importance to all concerned in agriculture. Elaborate schemes applicable to horsebreeding, cattle-breeding and swine-breeding, have been drawn up by the department on the advice of experts, but the working of the schemes is for the most part left to the various county council committees. The benefits arising from these schemes are being more and more realized by farmers, and the department is able to report an increase in the number of pure bred cattle and horses in Ireland.

3. The special investigations carried out by the department naturally vary from year to year, but one of the duties of each instructor in agriculture is to conduct a number of field experiments, mainly on the influence of manures and seeds in the yield of crops. The results of these experiments are issued in the form of leaflets and distributed widely among farmers. One of the most interesting experiments, which may have far reaching economic effects, has been in the cultivation of tobacco. So far it has been proved (1) that the tobacco plant can be grown successfully in Ireland, and (2) that the crop when blended with American leaf can be manufactured into a mixture suitable for smoking. But whether Irish tobacco can be made a profitable crop depends upon a good many other considerations.

beyond all question one of the most hopeful features in Irish agriculture.

Perhaps the chief success of the society was seen in the establishment of creameries, which at the end of 1905 numbered 275-123 in Ulster, 102 in Munster, 20 in Leinster and 30 in Connaught. The members numbered over 42,000 and the trade turnover for the year was £1,245,000. Agricultural societies have been established for the purchase of seed, implements, &c., on co-operative lines and of these there are 150, with a membership of some 14,000. The society was also successful in establishing a large number of credit societies, from which farmers can borrow at a low rate of interest. There are also societies for poultry-rearing, rural industries, bee-keeping, bacon-curing, &c., in connexion with the central organization. The system is rounded off by a number of trade federations for the sale and purchase of various commodities. The Department of Agriculture encourages the work of the Organization Society by an annual grant.




No. of


Purchase Money.


Amount of


Amount of


applied for.

Cash Payments.

Direct Sales..






Sections 6 and 8 .






Section 7.. .






Sections 72 and 79 .





. .

Total. .. .





£ 125,346


No. of


No. of


Purchase Money.


Amount of


Amount of


Cash Payments.

Direct Sales.. .






Sections 6 and 8 .






Section 7.. .






Sections 72 and 79 .






Total. .. .






Land Laws

The relations of landlord and tenant in Ireland have been a frequent subject of legislation (see History below). Under the act of 1881, down to the 31st of March 1906, the rents of 360,135 holdings, representing nearly 11,000,000 acres, had been fixed for the first statutory term of 15 years either by the land commissioners or by agreements between landlords and tenants, the aggregate reduction being over 20% as compared with the old rents. The rents of 120,515 holdings, representing over 3,500,000 acres, had been further fixed for the second statutory term, the aggregate reduction being over 19% as compared with the first term rents. Although the acts of 1870 and 1881 provided facilities for the purchase of holdings by the tenants, it was only after the passing of the Ashbourne Act in 1885 that the transfer of ownership to the occupying tenants began on an extended scale. Under this act between 1885 and 1902, when further proceedings were suspended, the number of loans issued was 2 5,3 6 7 (4221 in Leinster; 5204 in Munster; 12,954 in Ulster, and 2988 in Connaught) and the amount was £9,99 2 ,53 6. Between August 1891 and April 1906, the number of loans issued under the acts of 1891 and 1896 was 40,395 (7838 in Leinster; 7512 in Munster; 14,955 in Ulster, and 10,090 in Connaught) and the amount was £11,573,952. Under the Wyndham Act of 1903 the process was greatly extended., The following tables give summarized particulars, for the period from the 1st of November 1903 to the 31st of March 1906, of (1) estates for which purchase agreements were lodged in cases of sale direct from landlords to tenants; (2) estates for the purchase of which the Land Commission entered into agreements under sects. 6 and 8 of the act; (3) estates in which the offers of the Land Commission to purchase under sect. 7were accepted by the land judge; and (4) estates for the purchase of which, under sections 72 and 79, originating requests were transmitted by the Congested Districts Board to the Land Commission Agricultural Co-operation. - In 1894 the efforts of a number of Irishmen drawn from all political parties were successfully directed towards the formation of the Irish Agricultural Organization Society, which has for its object the organizing of groups of farmers on co-operative principles and the provision of instruction in proper technical methods. The society had at first many difficulties to con front, but after the first two or three years of its existence It will be seen from these two tables that though the amount of its progress became more rapid, and co-operation became advances applied for during the period dealt with amounted to over Estimated number of purchasers on resale.

£35, 000, 000 the actual advances made were less than £io,000,000. It will be seen further that the act operated almost entirely by means of direct sales by landlords to tenants. Of the total amount advanced up to March 31, 1906, almost one-half was in respect of estates in the province of Leinster, the balance being divided pretty equally between estates in the other three provinces.


The deep-sea and coast fisheries of Ireland form a valuable national asset, which still admits of much development and improvement despite the fact that a considerable number of acts of parliament have been passed to promote and foster the fishing industry. In 1882 the Commissioners of Public Works were given further powers to lend money to fishermen on the recommendation of the inspectors of fisheries; and under an act of 1883 the Land Commission was authorized to pay from time to time such sums, not exceeding in all £250,000, as the Commissioners of Public Works might require, for the creation of a Sea Fishery Fund, such fund to be expended - a sum of about £240,000 has been expended - on the construction and improvement of piers and harbours. Specific acts have also been passed for the establishment and development of oyster, pollan and mussel fisheries. Under the Land Purchase Act 1891, a portion of the Sea Fisheries Fund was reserved for administration by the inspectors of fisheries in non-congested districts. Under this head over £36,000 had been advanced on loan up to December 31, 1905, the greater portion of which had been repaid. In 1900 the powers and duties of the inspectors of fisheries were vested in the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction. Under the Marine Works Act 1902, which was intended to benefit and develop industries where the people were suffering from congestion, about £34,000 was expended upon the construction and improvement of fishery harbours in such districts.

For administrative purposes Ireland is divided into 31 deep-sea and coast fisheries and during 1905, 6190 vessels were engaged in these districts, giving employment to a total of 24,288 hands. Excluding salmon, nearly one million hundredweights of fish were taken, and including shell-fish the total money received by the fishermen exceeded £414,000. In the same year 13,436 hands were engaged in the 25 salmon fishing districts into which the country is divided. In addition to the organized industry which exists in these salmon districts, there is a good deal of ordinary rod and line fishing in the higher reaches of the larger rivers and good trout fishing is obtainable in many districts.


The mineral produce of Ireland is very limited, and its mines and quarries in 1905 gave employment to only about 6000 persons. Coal-fields are found in all the provinces, but in 1905 the total output was less than ioo,000 tons and its value at the mines was given as £43,000. Iron ore is worked in Co. Antrim, over 113,000 tons having been produced in 1905. Alum clay or bauxite, from which aluminium is manufactured, is found in the same county. Clays of various kinds, mainly fire and brick clay, are obtained in several places and there are quarries of marble (notably in Connemara), slate, granite, limestone and sandstone, the output of which is considerable. Silver is obtained in small quantities from lead ore in Co. Donegal, and hopes have been entertained of the re-discovery of gold in Co. Wicklow, where regular workings were established about 1796 but were destroyed during the Rebellion.

Woollen Manufacture

At an early period the woollen manufactures of Ireland had won a high reputation and were exported in considerable quantities to foreign countries. Bonifazio Uberti (d. c. 1367) refers in a posthumous poem called Dita mundi to the " noble serge " which Ireland sent to Italy, and fine mantles of Irish frieze are mentioned in a list of goods exported from England to Pope Urban VI. In later times, the establishment of a colony from the German Palatinate at Carrick-on-Suir in the reign of James I. served to stimulate the manufacture, but in the succeeding reign the lord-deputy Strafford adopted the policy of fostering the linen trade at the expense of the woollen in order to prevent the latter from competing with English products. An act of the reign of Charles II. prohibited the export of raw wool to foreign countries from Ireland as well as England, while at the same time Ireland was practically excluded by heavy duties from the English markets, and as the Navigation Act of 1663 did not apply to her the colonial market was also closed against Irish exports. The foreign market, however, was still open, and after the prohibition of the export of Irish cattle to England the Irish farmers turned their attention to the breeding of sheep, with such good effect that the woollen manufacture increased with great rapidity. Moreover the improved quality of the wool showed itself in the improvement of the finished article, to the great alarm of the English manufacturer. So much trade jealousy was aroused that both Houses of Parliament petitioned William III. to interfere. In accordance with his wishes the Irish parliament in 1698 placed heavy additional duties on all woollen clothing (except friezes) exported from Ireland, and in 1699 the English Parliament passed an act prohibiting the export from Ireland of all woollen goods to any country except England, to any port of England except six, and from any town in Ireland except six. The cumulative effect of these acts was practically to annihilate the woollen manufacture in Ireland and to reduce whole districts and towns, in which thousands of persons were directly or indirectly supported by the industry, to the last verge of poverty. According to Newenham's tables the annual average of new drapery exported from Ireland for the three years ending March 1702 was only 20 pieces, while the export of woollen yarn; worsted yarn and wool, which to England was free, amounted to 349,410 stones. In his essay on the Trade of Ireland, published in 1729, Arthur Dobbs estimated the medium exports of wool, worsted and woollen yarn at 227,049 stones, and he valued the export of manufactured woollen goods at only £2353. On the other hand, the imports steadily rose. Between 1779 and 1782 the various acts which had hampered the Irish woollen trade were either repealed or modified, but after a brief period of deceptive prosperity followed by failure and distress, the expansion of the trade was limited to the partial supply of the home market. According to evidence laid before the House of Commons in 1822 one-third of the woollen cloth used in Ireland was imported from England. A return presented to Parliament in 1837 stated that the number of woollen or worsted factories in Ireland was 46, employing 1321 hands. In 1879 the number of factories was 76 and the number of hands 2022. Since then the industry has shown some tendency to increase, though the number of persons employed is still comparatively very small, some 3 500 hands.

Linen Manufacture

Flax was cultivated at a very early period in Ireland and was both spun into thread and manufactured into cloth. In the time of Henry VIII. the manufacture constituted one of the principal branches of Irish trade, but it did not prove a very serious rival to the woollen industry until the policy of England was directed to the discouragement of the latter. Strafford, lord-deputy in the reign of Charles I., did much to foster the linen industry. He invested a large sum of his own money in it, imported great quantities of flax seed from Holland and induced skilled workmen from France and the Netherlands to settle in Ireland. A similar policy was pursued with even more energy by his successor in office, the duke of Ormonde, at whose instigation an Irish act was passed in 1665 to encourage the growth of flax and the manufacture of linen. He also established factories and brought over families from Brabant and France to work in them. The English parliament in their desire to encourage the linen industry at the expense of the woollen, followed Ormonde's lead by passing an act inviting foreign workmen to settle in Ireland, and admitting all articles made of flax or hemp into England free of duty. In 1710, in accordance with an arrangement made between the two kingdoms, a board of trustees was appointed to whom a considerable sum was granted annually for the promotion of the linen manufacture; but the jealousy of English merchants interposed to check the industry whenever it threatened to assume proportions which might interfere with their own trade, and by an act of George II. a tax was imposed on Irish sail-cloth imported into England, which for the time practically ruined the hempen manufacture. Between 1700 and 1777 the board of trustees expended nearly £850,000 on the promotion of the linen trade, ] and in addition parliamentary bounties were paid on a considerable scale. In 1727 Arthur Dobbs estimated the value of the whole manufacture at £I,000,000. In 1830 the Linen Board ceased to exist, the trade having been for some time in a very depressed condition owing to the importation of machine-made yarns from Scotland and England. A year or two later, however, machinery was introduced on a large scale on the river Bann. The experiment proved highly successful, and from this period may be dated the rise of the linen trade of Ulster, the only great industrial manufacture of which Ireland can boast. Belfast is the centre and market of the trade, but mills and factories are to be found dotted all over the eastern counties of Ulster.

In 1850 the number of spindles was 396,338 and of power looms 58; in 1905 the corresponding figures were 826,528 and 34,498. In 1850 the number of persons employed in flax mills and factories was 21,121; in 1901 the number in flax, hemp and jute textile factories was 64,802.

Cotton Manufacture.-This was introduced into Ireland in 1 777 and under the protection of import duties and bounties increased so rapidly that in 1800 it gave employment to several thousand persons, chiefly in the neighbourhood of Belfast. The trade continued to grow for several years despite the removal of the duties; and the value of cotton goods exported from Ireland to Great Britain rose from £708 in 1814 to £347,606 in 1823. In 1822 the number of hands employed in the industry was stated to be over 17,000. The introduction of machinery, however, which led to the rise of the great cotton industry of Lancashire, had very prejudicial effects, and by 1839 the number of persons employed had fallen to 4622. The trade has dwindled ever since and is now quite insignificant.

Silk Manufacture.-About the end of the 17th century French Huguenots settled in Dublin and started the manufacture of Irish poplin, a mixture of silk and wool. In 1823 between 3000 and 4000 persons were employed. But with the abolition of the protective duties in 1826 a decline set in; and though Irish poplin is still celebrated, the industry now gives employment to a mere handful of people in Dublin.

Distilling and Brewing.-Whisky has been extensively distilled in Ireland for several centuries. An excise duty was first imposed in 1661, the rate charged being 4d. a gallon. The imposition of a duty gave rise to a large amount of illicit distillation, a practice which still prevails to some extent, though efficient police methods have largely reduced it. During recent years the amount of whisky produced has shown a tendency to decrease. In 1900 the number of gallons charged with duty was 9,589,571, in 1903 8,215,355, and in 1906 7,337,928. There are breweries in most of the larger Irish towns, and Dublin is celebrated for the porter produced by the firm of Arthur Guinness & Son, the largest establishment of the kind in the world. The number of barrels of beer-the inclusive term used by the Inland Revenue Department-charged with duty in 1906 was 3,275,309, showing an increase of over 200,000 as compared with 1900.






Beer.. .




£ 1,227,528

Licences. .





Spirits. .



4,3 11 ,7 6 3


Other sources





Total. .

£ 6, 1 45,9 81

£5,7 06 ,5 2 5

£5,7 88 ,4 21


The following table shows the net annual amount of excise duties received in Ireland in a series of years: Other Industries.-Shipbuilding is practically confined to Belfast, where the firm of Harland and Wolff, the builders of the great " White Star " liners, have one of the largest yards in the world, giving employment to several thousand hands. There are extensive engineering works in the same city which supply the machinery and other requirements of the linen industry. Paper is manufactured on a considerable scale in various places, and Balbriggan is celebrated for its hosiery.

Commerce and Shipping.-From allusions in ancient writers it would appear that in early times Ireland had a considerable commercial intercourse with various parts of Europe. When the merchants of Dublin fled from their city at the time of the AngloNorman invasion it was given by Henry II. to merchants from Bristol, to whom free trade with other portions of the kingdom was granted as well as other advantages. In the Staple Act of Edward III., Dublin, Waterford, Cork and Drogheda are mentioned as among the towns where staple goods could be purchased by foreign merchants. During the 15th century the trade of these and other towns increased rapidly. With the 17th century began the restrictions on Irish trade. In 1637 duties were imposed on the chief commodities to foreign nations not in league with England. Ireland was left out of the Navigation Act of 1663 and in the same year was prohibited from exporting cattle to England in any month previous to July. Sir William Petty estimated the value of Irish exports in 1672 at £500,000 per annum, and owing principally to the prosperity of the woollen industry these had risen in value in 1698 to £996,000, the imports in the same year amounting to £576,000. A rapid fall in exports followed upon the prohibition of the export of woollen manufactures to foreign countries, but in about 20 years' time a recovery took place, due in part to the increase of the linen trade. Statistics of exports and imports were compiled for various years by writers like Newenham, Arthur Young and Cesar Moreau, but these are vitiated by being given in Irish currency which was altered from time to time, and by the fact that the method of rating at the custom-house also varied. Taking the figures, however, for what they are worth, it appears that between 1701 and 1710 the average annual exports from Ireland to all parts of the world were valued at £553,000 (to Great Britain, £242,000) and the average annual imports at £513,000 (from Great Britain, £242,000). Between 1751 and 1760 the annual values had risen for exports to £2,002,000 (to Great Britain, £1,068,000) and for imports to £1,594,000 (from Great Britain, £734,000). Between 1794 and 1803 the figures had further risen to £4,310,000 (to Great Britain, £3,667,000) and £4,572,000 (from Great Britain £3,404,000). It is clear, therefore, that during the 18th century the increase of commerce was considerable.








8 93, 1 75

5 0 5,5 8 4








749, 1 3 1


3 6 3,973


In 1825 the shipping duties on the cross-Channel trade were abolished and since that date no official figures are available as to a large part of Irish trade with Great Britain. The export of cattle and other animals, however, is the most important part of this trade and details of this appear in the following table: The value of the animals exported in 1905 was estimated (at certain standard rates) at about £14,000,000.

Since 1870 the Board of Trade has ceased to give returns of the foreign and colonial trade for each of the separate kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland. Returns are given, however, for the principal ports of each kingdom. Between 1886 and 1905 these imports at the Irish ports rose from £6,802,000 in value to £12,394,000 and the exports from £825,000 to £1,887,000.


































































I. Farm Produce, Food and Drink


(a) Live-stock, meat, bacon, fish

and dairy produce.. .



(b) Crops, fruit, meal, flour, &c. .



(c) Spirits, porter, ale, &c.


. 4,222,194

(d) Tea, coffee, tobacco, spices, &c.



II. Raw Materials-

(a) Coal


(b) Wood. ... .



(c) Mineral



(d) Animal and vegetable products



III. Goods, partly manufactured or

of simple manufacture .



IV. Manufactured goods.. .



The following table shows the value of the total imports and exports of merchandise in the foreign and colonial trade at the ports of Dublin, Belfast and Limerick in each of the years 1901-1905: The Department of Agriculture published in 1906 a report on the imports and exports at Irish ports for the year 1904. In this report, the compiling of which presented great difficulties in the absence of official returns, are included (I) the direct trade between Ireland and all countries outside of Great Britain, (2) the indirect trade of Ireland with those same countries via Great Britain, and (3) the local trade between Ireland and Great Britain. The value of imports in 1904 is put at £55,148,206, and of exports at £46,606,432. But it is pointed out in the report that while the returns as regards farm produce, food stuffs, and raw materials may be considered approximately complete, the information as to manufactured goods-especially of the more valuable grades-is rough and inadequate. It was estimated that the aggregate value of the actual import and export trade in 1904 probably exceeded a total of £105,000,000. The following table gives some details From the figures given in the report it would appear that there was in 1904 an excess of imports amounting to over £8,500,000. But owing to the imperfect state of existing information, it is impossible to say with any certainty what is the real state of the balance of visible trade between Ireland and other countries.

Shipping returns also throw some light upon the commercial condition of Ireland. Old figures are not of much value, but it may be stated that Arthur Dobbs gives the number of ships engaged in the Irish trade in 1721 as X334 with a tonnage of 158,414. According to the statistics of Cesar Moreau the number of ships belonging to Irish ports in 1788 was 1016 with a tonnage of over 60,000, and in 1826 they had increased, according to the trade and navigation returns, to 1391 with a tonnage of over 90,000. In 1905 the vessels registered at Irish ports numbered 934 with a tonnage of over 259,000. In the same year the vessels entering and clearing in the colonial and foreign trade numbered 1199 with a tonnage of over 1,086,000, and the vessels entering and clearing in the trade between Great Britain and Ireland numbered 41,983 with a tonnage of over 9,776,000.

Government, &c.-The executive government of Ireland is vested in a lord-lieutenant, assisted by a privy council and by a chief secretary, who is always a member of the House of Commons and generally of the cabinet. There are a large number of administrative departments and boards, some, like the Board of Trade, discharging the same duties as the similar department in England; others, like the Congested Districts Board, dealing with matters of purely Irish concern.

Parliamentary Representation.-The Redistribution of Seats Act 1885 entirely altered the parliamentary representation of Ireland. Twenty-two small boroughs were disfranchized. The towns of Galway, Limerick and Waterford lost one member each, while Dublin and Belfast were respectively divided into four divisions, each returning one member. As a result of these changes 85 members now represent the counties, 16 the boroughs, and 2 Dublin University-a total of 103. The total number of electors (exclusive of Dublin University) in 1906 was 686,661; 11 3,595 for the boroughs and 573,066 for the counties. Ireland is represented in the House of Lords by 28 temporal peers elected for life from among the Irish peers.

Local Government.-Irish local government was entirely remodelled by the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898, which conferred on Ireland the same system and measure of self-government enjoyed by Great Britain. The administrative and fiscal duties previously exercised by the grand jury in each county were transferred to a county council, new administrative counties being formed for the purposes of the act, in some cases by the alteration of existing boundaries. To the county councils were also assigned the power of assessing and levying the poor rate in rural districts, the management of lunatic asylums, and the administration of certain acts such as the Explosives Act, the Technical Education Act and the Diseases of Animals Act. Subordinate district councils, urban and rural, were also established as in England and Scotland to manage the various local areas within each county. The provisions made for the administration of the Poor Law by the act under consideration are very complicated, but roughly it may be said that it was handed over to these new subordinate local bodies. Six towns-Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Limerick, Londonderry and Waterford-were constituted county boroughs governed by separate county councils; and five boroughs-Kilkenny, Sligo, Clonmel, Drogheda and Wexford-retained their former corporations. The act provides facilities for the conversion into urban districts of (1) towns having town commissioners who are not sanitary authorities and (2) non-municipal towns with populations of over i 50o and entitled to petition for town commissioners.

Justice.-The Supreme Court of Judicature is constituted as follows: the court of appeal, which consists of the lord chancellor, the lord chief justice, and the master of the rolls and the chief baron of the exchequer as ex-officio members, and two lords justices of appeal; and the high court of justice which includes (1) the chancery division, composed of the lord chancellor, the master of the rolls and two justices, (2) the king's bench division composed of the lord chief justice, the chief baron of the exchequer and eight justices, and (3) the land commissions with two judicial commissioners. At the first vacancy the title and rank of chief baron of the exchequer will be abolished and the office reduced to a puisne judgeship. By the County Officers and Courts (Ireland) Act 1877, it was provided that the chairmen of quarter sessions should be called " county court judges and chairmen of quarter sessions " and that their number should be reduced to twenty-one, which was to include the recorders of Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Londonderry and Galway. At the same time the jurisdiction of the county courts was largely extended. There are 66 resident (stipendiary) magistrates, and four police magistrates in Dublin.

Police.-The Royal Irish Constabulary were established in 1822 and consisted at first of 5000 men under an inspectorgeneral for each of the four provinces. In 1836 the entire force was amalgamated under one inspector-general. The force at present consists of about 10,000 men of all ranks, and costs over £1,300,000 a year. Dublin has a separate metropolitan police force.





















Crime.-The following table shows the number of persons committed for trial, convicted and acquitted in Ireland in 1886, 1891, 1900 and 1905: Of rthe 1367 convicted in 1905, 375 were charged with offences against the person, 205 with offences against property with violence, 545 with offences against property without violence, 52 with malicious injury to property, 44 with forgery and offences against the currency, and 146 with other offences. In 1904, 81,775 cases of drunkenness were brought before Irish magistrates as compared with 227,403 in England and 43,580 in Scotland.


Aggregate number relieved

during the year.

Total Annual











3 6 3, 0 9 1

99, 1 5 0




39 0, 0 47

9 8, 60 7

4 88, 6 54







Poor Law.-The following table gives the numbers in receipt of indoor and outdoor relief (exclusive of persons in institutions for the blind, deaf and dumb, and for idiots and imbeciles) in the years 1902-1905, together with the total expenditure for relief of the poor: The average daily number in receipt of relief of all kinds (except outdoor relief) during the same years was as follows: 1902, 41,163; 1903, 43, 600; 1904, 43,7 21; 1905, 43,9 11. The percentage of indoor paupers to the estimated population in 1905 was I 00.

Congested Districts Board

This body was constituted by the Purchase of Land Act 1891, and is composed of the chief secretary, a member of the Land Commission and five other members. A considerable sum of money was placed at its disposal for carrying out the objects for which it was created. It was provided that where more than zo% of the population of a county lived in electoral divisions of which the total rateable value, when divided by the number of the population, gave a sum of less than LI, Ios. for each individual, these divisions should, for the purposes of the act, form a separate county, called a congested districts county, and should be subject to the operations of the board. In order to improve the condition of affairs in congested districts, the board was empowered (I) to amalgamate small holdings either by directly aiding migration or emigration of occupiers, or by recommending the Land Commission to facilitate amalgamation, and (2) generally to aid and develop out of its resources agriculture, forestry, the breeding of live-stock, weaving, spinning, fishing and any other suitable industries. Further provisions regulating the operations of funds of the board were enacted in 1893, 1896, 1899 and 1903; and by its constituting act the Department of Agriculture was empowered to exercise, at the request of the board, any of its powers and duties in congested districts.


The great majority of the Irish people belong to the Roman Catholic Church. In 1891 the Roman Catholics numbered 3,547,307 or 75% of the total population, and in 1901 they numbered 3,308,661 or 74%. The adherents of the Church of Ireland come next in number (581,089 in 1901 or 13% of the population), then the Presbyterians (443,276 in 1901 or I o% of the population), the only other denomination with a considerable number of members being the Methodists (62,006 in 1901). As the result of emigration, which drains the Roman Catholic portion of the population more than any other, the Roman Catholics show a larger proportional decline in numbers than the Protestants; for example, between 1891 and 1901 the Roman Catholics decreased by over 6%, the Church of Ireland by a little over 3%, the Presbyterians by less than I %, while the Methodists actually increased by some I I %. The only counties in which the Protestant religion predominates are Antrim, Down, Armagh and Londonderry.

The Roman Catholic Church is governed in Ireland b'y 4 archbishops, whose sees are in Armagh, Dublin, Cashel and Tuam, and 23 bishops, all nominated by the pope. The episcopal emoluments arise from the mensal parishes, the incumbency of which is retained by the bishops, from licences and from an annual contribution, varying in amount, paid by the clergy of the diocese. The clergy are supported by fees and the voluntary contributions of their flocks. At the census of 1901 there were 1084 parishes, and the clergy numbered 3711. In addition to the secular clergy there are several communities of regular priests scattered over the country, ministering in their own churches but without parochial jurisdiction. There are also numerous monasteries and convents, a large number of which are devoted to educational purposes. The great majority of the secular clergy are educated at Maynooth College (see below).

The Protestants of Ireland belong mainly to the Church of Ireland (episcopalian) and the Presbyterian Church. (For the former see Ireland, Church Of).

The Presbyterian Church, whose adherents are found principally in Ulster and are the descendants of Scotch settlers, was originally formed in the middle of the 17th century, and in 1840 a reunion took place of the two divisions into which the Church had formerly separated. The governing body is the General Assembly, consisting of ministers and laymen. In 1906 there were 569 congregations, arranged under 36 presbyteries, with 647 ministers. The ministers are supported by a sustentation fund formed of voluntary contributions, the rents of seats and pews, and the proceeds of the commutation of the Regium Donum made by the commissioners under the Irish Church Act 1869. Two colleges are connected with the denomination, the General Assembly's College, Belfast, and the. Magee College, Londonderry. In 1881 the faculty of the Belfast College and the theological professors of the Magee College were incorporated and constituted as a faculty with the power of granting degrees in divinity.

The Methodist Church in Ireland was formed in 1878 by the Union of the Wesleyan with the Primitive Wesleyan Methodists. The number of ministers is over 250.

Proportion per cent.






Read and write. .






Read only. .






Neither read nor write










Roman Catholics

Read and write.. .





Read only .





Neither read nor write .





Protestant Episcopalians

Read and write.. .





Read only.. .





Neither read nor write .






Read and write.. .





Read only. .





Neither read nor write .






Read and write. .. .





Read only. .





Neither read nor write .






Read and write.. .

9 1




Read only. .





Neither read nor write .






Read and write.. .





Read only. .





Neither read nor write .






The following table shows that the proportion per cent of the total population of five years old and upwards able to read and write has been steadily rising since 1861: - Further details on the same subject, according to provinces and religious denominations in 1901, are subjoined: - Language. - The number of persons who speak Irish only continues to decrease. In 1881 they numbered 64,167; in 1891, 38,192; and in 1901, 20,953. If to those who spoke Irish only are added the persons who could speak both Irish and English, the total number who could speak Irish in 1901 was 641,142 or about 14% of the population. The purely Irish-speaking population is to be found principally in the province of Connaught, where in 1901 they numbered over 12,000. The efforts of the Gaelic League, founded to encourage the study of Gaelic literature and the Irish language, produced results seen in the census returns for 1901, which showed that the pupils learning Irish had very largely increased as compared with 1891.

The university of Dublin (q.v.), which is for practical purposes identical with Trinity College, Dublin, was incorporated in 1591. The government is in the hands of a board consisting uni_ of the provost and the senior fellows, assisted by a council in the election of professors and in the regulation of studies. The council is composed of the provost (and, in his absence, the vice-provost) and elected members. There is also a senate, composed of the chancellor or vice-chancellor and all doctors and masters who have kept their names on the books of Trinity College. Religious tests were abolished in 1873, and the university is now open to all; but,!as a matter of fact, the vast majority of the students, even since the abolition of tests, have always belonged to the Church of Ireland, and the divinity school is purely Protestant.

In pursuance of the University Education (Ireland) Act 1879, the Queen's University in Ireland was superseded in 1882 by the Royal University of Ireland, it being provided that the graduates and students of the former should have similar rank in the new university. The government of the Royal University was vested in a senate consisting of a chancellor and senators, with power to grant all such degrees as could be conferred by any university in the United Kingdom, except in theology. Female students had exactly the same rights as male students. The university was simply an examining body, no residence in any college nor attendance at lectures being obligatory. All appointments to the senate and to fellowships were made on the principle that one half of those appointed should be Roman Catholics and the other half Protestants; and in such subjects as history and philosophy there were two courses of study prescribed, one for Roman Catholics and the other for Protestants. In 1905 the number who matriculated was 947, of whom 218 were females, and the number of students who passed the academic examinations was 2190. The university buildings are in Dublin and the fellows were mostly professors in the various colleges whose students were undergraduates.

The three Queen's Colleges, at Belfast, Cork and Galway, were founded in 1849 and until 1882 formed the Queen's University. Their curriculum comprised all the usual courses of instruction, except theology. They were open to all denominations, but, as might be expected, the Belfast college (dissolved under the Irish Universities Act 1908; see below) was almost entirely Protestant. Its situation in a great industrial centre also made it the most important and flourishing of the three, its students numbering over 400. It possessed an excellent medical school, which was largely increased owing to private benefactions.

The Irish Universities Act 1908 provided for the foundation of two new universities, having their seats respectively at Dublin and at Belfast. The Royal University of Ireland at Dublin and the Queen's College, Belfast, were dissolved. Provision was made for a new college to be founded at Dublin. This college and the existing Queen's Colleges at Cork and Galway were made constituent colleges of the new university at Dublin. Letters patent dated December 2, 1908, granted charters to these foundations under the titles of the National University of Ireland (Dublin), the Queen's University of Belfast and the University Colleges of Dublin, Cork and Galway. It was provided by the act that no test of religious belief should be imposed on any person as a condition of his holding any position in any foundation under the act. A body of commissioners was appointed for each of the new foundations to draw up statutes for its government; and for the purpose of dealing with any matter calling for joint action, a joint commission, half from each of the above commissions, was established. Regulations as to grants-in-aid were made by the act, with the stipulation that no sum from them should be devoted to the provision or maintenance of any building, or tutorial or other office, for religious purposes, though private benefaction for such purposes is not prohibited. Provisions were also made as to the transfer of graduates and students, so that they might occupy under the new regime positions equivalent to those which they occupied previously, in respect both of degrees and the keeping of terms. The commissioners were directed to work out schemes for the employment of officers already employed in the institutions affected by the new arrangements, and for the compensation of those whose employment could not be continued. A committee of the privy council in Ireland was appointed, to be styled the Irish Universities Committee.

The Roman Catholic University College in Dublin may be described as a survival of the Roman Catholic University, a voluntary institution founded in 1854. In 1882 the Roman Catholic bishops placed the buildings belonging to the university under the control and direction of the archbishop of Dublin, who undertook to maintain a college in which education would be given according to the regulations of the Royal University. In 1883 the direction of the college was entrusted to the Jesuits. Although the college receives no grant from public funds, it has proved very successful and attracts a considerable number of students, the great majority of whom belong to the Church of Rome.

The Royal College of Science was established in Dublin in 1867 under the authority of the Science and Art Department, London. Its object is to supply a complete course of instruction in science as applicable to the industrial arts. In 1900 the college was transferred from the Science and Art Department to the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction.

Maynooth (q.v.) College was founded by an Irish act of parliament in 1795 for the training of Roman Catholic students for the Irish priesthood. By an act of 1844 it was permanently endowed by a grant from the consolidated fund of over £ 26,000 a year. This grant was withdrawn by the Irish Church Act 1869, the college receiving as compensation a lump sum of over X 37 2, 000. The average number of students entering each year is about loo.

There are two Presbyterian colleges, the General Assembly's College at Belfast, which is purely theological, and the Magee College, Londonderry, which has literary, scientific and theological courses. In 1881 the Assembly's College and the theological professors of Magee College were constituted a faculty with power to grant degrees in divinity.

In addition to the foregoing, seven Roman Catholic institutions were ranked as colleges in the census of 1901: - All Hallows (Drumcondra), Holycross (Clonliffe), University College (Blackrock), St Patrick's (Carlow), St Kieran's (Kilkenny), St Stanislaus's (Tullamore) and St Patrick's (Thurles). In 1901 the aggregate number of students was 715, of whom 209 were returned as under the faculty of divinity.

As regards secondary schools a broad distinction can be drawn according to religion. The Roman Catholics have diocesan schools, schools under religious orders, monastic and convent schools, and Christian Brothers' schools, which were attended, according to the census returns in 1901, by nearly 22,000 pupils, male and female. On the other hand are the endowed schools, which are almost exclusively Protestant in their government. Under this heading may be included royal and diocesan schools and schools upon the foundation of Erasmus Smith, and others privately endowed. In 1901 these schools numbered 55 and had an attendance of 2653 pupils. To these must be added various private establishments, which in the same year had over 8000 pupils, mainly Protestants. Dealing with these secondary schools as a whole the census of 1901 gives figures as to the number of pupils engaged upon what the commissioners call the " higher studies," i.e. studies involving instruction in at least one foreign language. In 1881 the number of such pupils was 18,657; in 1891, 23,484; and in 1901, 28,484, of whom 17,103 were males and 11,381 females, divided as follows among the different religions - Roman Catholics 18,248, Protestant Episcopalians 5669, Presbyterians 3011, Methodists 760, and others 567. This increase in the number of pupils engaged in the higher studies is probably due to a large extent to the scheme for the encouragement of intermediate education which was established by act of parliament in 1879. A sum of £1,000,000, part of the Irish Church surplus, was assigned by that act for the promotion of the intermediate secular education of boys and girls in Ireland. The administration of this fund was entrusted to a board of commissioners, who were to apply its revenue for the purposes of the act (1) by carrying on a system of public examinations, (2) by awarding exhibitions, prizes and certificates to students, and (3) by the payment of results fees to the manager of schools. An amending act was passed in 1900 and the examinations are now held under rules made in virtue of that act. The number of students who presented themselves for examination in 1905 was 9677; the amount expended in exhibitions and prizes was £8536; and the grants to schools amounted to over £50,000. The examinations were held at 259 centres in 99 different localities.

Primary education in Ireland is under the general control of the commissioners of national education, who were first created in 1831 to take the place of the society for the education of the poor, and incorporated in 1845. In the year of their incorporation the schools under the control of the commissioners numbered 3426, with 432,844 pupils, and the amount of the parliamentary grants was £75,000; while in 1905 there were 8659 schools, with 737,752 pupils, and the grant was almost Li ,400,000. Of the pupils attending in the latter year, 74% were Roman Catholics, 12% Protestant Episcopalians and 11 % Presbyterians. The schools under the commissioners include national schools proper, model and workhouse schools and a number of monastic and convent schools. The Irish Education Act of 1892 provided that the parents of children of not less than 6 nor more than 14 years of age should cause them to attend school in the absence of reasonable excuse on at least 150 days in the year in municipal boroughs and in towns or townships under commissioners; and provisions were made for the partial or total abolition of fees in specified circumstances, for a parliamentary school grant in lieu of abolished school fees, and for the augmentation of the salaries of the national teachers.

There are 5 reformatory schools, 3 for boys and 2 for girls, and 68 industrial schools, 5 Protestant and 63 Roman Catholic.

By the constituting act of 1899 the control of technical education in Ireland was handed over to the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction and now forms an important part of its work. The annual sum of £55,000 was allocated instrucr for the purpose, and this is augmented in various ways. tion. The department has devoted itself to (1) promoting in struction in experimental science, drawing, manual instruction and ] domestic economy in day secondary schools, (2) supplying funds to country and urban authorities for the organization of schemes for technical instruction in non-agricultural subjects-these subjects embracing not only preparation for the highly organized industries but the teaching of such rural industries as basket-making, (3) the training of teachers by classes held at various centres, (4) the provision of central institutions, and (5) the awarding of scholarships.

Revenue and Expenditure.-The early statistics as to revenue and expenditure in Ireland are very fragmentary and afford little possibility of comparison. During the first 15 years of Elizabeth's reign the expenses of Ireland, chiefly on account of wars, amounted, according to Sir James Ware's estimate, to over £490,000, while the revenue is put by some writers at £8000 per annum and by others at less. In the reign of James I. the customs increased from £50 to over £goon; but although he obtained from various sources about £10,000 a year and a considerable sum also accrued from the plantation of Ulster, the revenue is supposed to have fallen short of the expenditure by about £16,000 a year. During the reign of Charles I. the customs increased fourfold in value, but it was found necessary to raise £120,000 by yearly subsidies. According to the report of the committee appointed by Cromwell to investigate the financial condition of Ireland, the revenue in 1654 was £197,304 and the expenditure £630,814. At the Restoration the Irish parliament granted an hereditary revenue to the king, an excise for the maintenance of the army, a subsidy of tonnage and poundage for the navy, and a tax on hearths in lieu of feudal burdens. " Additional duties " were granted shortly after the Revolution. "Appropriate duties " were imposed at different periods; stamp duties were first granted in 1773, and the post office first became a source of revenue in 1783. In 1706 the hereditary revenue with additional duties produced over £394,000.







1 74 1












18 34












Returns of the ordinary revenue were first presented to the Irish parliament in 1730. From special returns to parliament the following table shows net income and expenditure over a series of years up to 1868: The amount of imperial revenue collected and expended in Ireland under various heads for the five years1902-1906appears in the following tables: Subtracting in each year the total expenditure from the estimated true revenue it would appear from the foregoing table that Ireland contributed to imperial services in the years under consideration the following sums: £2,570,000, £2,852,000, £2,200,500, £2,186,500 and £1 ,811,500.

The financial relations between Great Britain and Ireland have long been a subject of controversy, and in 1894 a royal commission was appointed to consider them, which presented its report in 1896. The commissioners, though differing on several points, were practically agreed on the following five conclusions: (1) that Great Britain and Ireland must, for the purposes of a financial inquiry, be considered as separate entities; (2) that the Act of Union imposed upon Ireland a burden which, as events showed, she was unable to bear; (3) that the increase of taxation laid upon Ireland between 1853 and 1860 was not justified by the then existing circumstances; (4) that identity of rates of taxation did not necessarily involve equality of burden; (5) that, while the actual tax revenue of Ireland was about one-eleventh of that of Great Britain, the relative taxable capacity of Ireland was very much smaller, and was not estimated by any of the commissioners as exceeding one-twentieth. This report furnished the material for much controversy, but little practical outcome; it was avowedly based on the consideration of Ireland as a separate country, and was therefore inconsistent with the principles of Unionism.

The public debt of Ireland amounted to over £134,000,000 in 1817, in which year it was consolidated with the British national debt.

Estate, &c.







Duties and

and Income

Post Office.





















































Local Taxation Accounts.













of Taxes.

Post Office.


























































Local Taxation.-The Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898 effected considerable changes in local finance. The fiscal duties of the grand jury were abolished, and the county council which took the place of the grand jury for both fiscal and administrative purposes was given three sources of revenue: (1) the agricultural grant, (2) the licence duties and other imperial grants, and (3) the poor rate. These may be considered separately. (1) It was provided that the Local Government Board should ascertain the amount of county cess and poor rate levied off agricultural land in Ireland during the year ending (as regards the poor rate) on the 29th of September, and (as regards the county cess) on the 21st of June 1897; and that half this amount, to be called the agricultural grant, should be paid annually without any variation from the original sum out of the consolidated fund to a local taxation account. The amount of the agricultural grant was ascertained to be over £727,000. Elaborate provisions were also made in the act for fixing the proportion of the grant to which each county should be entitled, and the lord-lieutenant was empowered to pay half-yearly the proportion so ascertained to the county council. (2) Before the passing of the act grants were made from the imperial exchequer to the grand juries in aid of the maintenance of lunatics and to boards of guardians for medical and educational purposes and for salaries under the Public Health (Ireland) Act. In 1897 these grants amounted to over £236,000. Under the Local Government Act they ceased, and in lieu thereof it was provided that there should be annually paid out of the consolidated fund to the local taxation account a sum equal to the duties collected in Ireland on certain Revenue. Expenditure. specified local taxation licences. In addition, it was enacted that a fixed sum of £79,000 should be forthcoming annually from the consolidated fund. (3) The county cess was abolished, and the county councils were empowered to levy a single rate for the rural districts and unions, called by the name of poor rate, for all the purposes of the act. This rate is made upon the occupier and not upon the landlord, and the occupier is not entitled, save in a few specified cases, to deduct any of the rate from his rent. For the year ending the 31st of March 1905, the total receipts of the Irish county councils, exclusive of the county boroughs, were £2,964,298 and their total expenditure was £2,959,961, the two chief items of expenditure being " Union Charges " £1,002,620 and " Road Expenditure " £779 1 74. During the same period the total receipts from local taxation in Ireland amounted to £4,013,303, and the amount granted from imperial sources in aid of local taxation was £1,781,143.


The total amount issued on loan, exclusive of closed sources, by the Commissioners of Public Works, up to the 31st of March 1906, was £26,946,393, of which £15,221,913 had been repaid to the exchequer as principal and £9,011,506 as interest, and £1,609,694 had been remitted. Of the sums advanced, about £5,5 00, 000 was under the Improvement of Lands Acts, nearly £3,5 00, 000 under the Public Health Acts, over £3,000,000 for lunatic asylums, and over £3,000,000 under the various Labourers Acts.


The Bank of Ireland was established in Dublin in 1783 with a capital of £600,000, which was afterwards enlarged at various times, and on the renewal of its charter in 1821 it was increased to £3,000,000. It holds in Ireland a position corresponding to the Bank of England in England. There are eight other jointstock banks in Ireland. Including the Bank of Ireland, their subscribed capital amounts to £26,349,230 and their paid-up capital to £7,3 0 9, 2 3 0. The authorized note circulation is £6,354,494 and the actual note circulation in June 1906 was £6,310,243, two of the banks not being banks of issue. The deposits in the joint-stock banks amounted in 1880 to £29,350,000; in 1890 to £33,061,000; in 1900 to £40,287,000; and in 1906 to £45,842,000. The deposits in the Post Office Savings Banks rose from £1,481,000 in 1880 to £ 10 ,459, 000 in 1906, and the deposits in Trustee Savings Banks from £2,100,165 in 1880 to £2,488,740 in 1905.

National Wealth

To arrive at any estimate of the national wealth is exceptionally difficult in the case of Ireland, since the largest part of its wealth is derived from agriculture, and many important factors, such as the amount of capital invested in the linen and other industries, cannot be included, owing to their uncertainty. The following figures for1905-1906may, however, be given: valuation of lands, houses, &c., £15,466,000; value of principal crops, £35,3 62, 000; value of cattle, &c., £81,508,000; paid-up capital and reserve funds of joint-stock banks, £11,300,000; deposits in jointstock and savings banks, £58,791,000; investments in government stock, transferable at Bank of Ireland, £36,952,000; paid-up capital and debentures of railway companies, £38,405,000; paid-up capital of tramway companies, £2,074,000.

In 1906 the net value of property assessed to estate duty, &c., in Ireland was £16,016,000 as compared with £306,673,000 in England and £38,451,000 in Scotland; and in 1905 the net produce of the income tax in Ireland was £983,000, as compared with £ 2 7,4 2 3, 000 in England and £2,888,000 in Scotland.


Agriculture: Accounts of the land systems of Ireland will be found in James Godkin's Land War in Ireland (1870); Sigerson's History of Land Tenure in Ireland (1871); Joseph Fisher's History of Land Holding in Ireland (1877); R. B. O'Brien's History of the Irish Land Question (1880); A. G. Richey's Irish Land Laws (1880). General information will be found in J. P. Kennedy's Digest of the evidence given before the Devon Commission (Dublin, 1847-1848); the Report of the Bessborough Commission, 1881, and of the commission on the agriculture of the United Kingdom, 1881. The Department of Agriculture publishes several official annual reports, dealing very fully with Irish agriculture.

'Manufactures and Commerce:' Discourse on the Woollen Manufacture of Ireland (1698); An Inquiry into the State and Progress of the Linen Manufacture in Ireland (Dublin, 1 757); G. E. Howard, Treatise on the Revenue of Ireland (1776); John Hely Hutchinson, Commercial Restraints of Ireland (1779); Lord Sheffield, Observations on the Manufactures, Trade and Present State of Ireland (1785); R. B. Clarendon, A Sketch of the Revenue and Finances of Ireland (1791); the annual reports of the Flax Supply Association and other local bodies, published at Belfast; reports by the Department of Agriculture on Irish imports and exports (these are a new feature and contain much valuable information).

Miscellaneous: Sir William Petty, Political Anatomy of Ireland (1691); Arthur Dobbs, Essay on the Trade of Ireland (1729); Abstract of the Number of Protestant and Popish Families in Ireland (1726); Arthur Young, Tour in Ireland (1780); T. Newenham, View of the Circumstances of Ireland (1809), and Inquiry into the Population of Ireland (1805); Cesar Moreau, Past and Present State of Ireland (1827); J. M. Murphy, Ireland, Industrial, Political and Social (1870); R. Dennis, Industrial Ireland (1887); Grimshaw, Facts and Figures about Ireland (1893); Report of the Recess Com- mittee (1896, published in Dublin); Report of the Financial Relations Commission (1897); Sir H. Plunkett, Ireland in the New Century (London, 1905); Filson Young, Ireland at the Cross-Roads (London, 1904); Thom's Almanac, published annually in Dublin, gives a very useful summary of statistics and other information.

(W. H. Po.) Early History On account of its isolated position we might expect to find Ireland in possession of a highly developed system of legends bearing on the origins of its inhabitants. Ireland remained outside the pale of the ancient Roman Nistorlcsl sources. world, and a state of society which was peculiarly favourable to the preservation of national folk-lore survived in the island until the 16th century. The jealousy with which the hereditary antiquaries guarded the tribal genealogies naturally leads us to hope that the records whichhave come down to us may shed some light on the difficult problems connected with the early inhabitants of these islands and the west of Europe. Although innumerable histories of Ireland have appeared in print since the publication of Roderick O'Flaherty's Ogygia (London, 1677), the authors have in almost every case been content to reproduce the legendary accounts without bringing any serious criticism to bear on the sources. This is partly to be explained by the fact that the serious study of Irish philology only dates from 1853 and much of the most important material has not yet appeared in print. In the middle of the 19th century O'Donovan and O'Curry collected a vast amount of undigested information about the early history of the island, but as yet J. B. Bury in his monograph on St Patrick is the only trained historian who has ever adequately dealt with any of the problems connected with ancient Ireland. Hence it is evident that our knowledge of the subject must remain extremely unsatisfactory until the chief sources have been properly sifted by competent scholars. A beginning has been made by Sir John Rhys in his " Studies in Early Irish History " (Proceedings of the British Academy, vol. i.), and by John MacNeill in a suggestive series of papers contributed to the New Ireland Review (March 1906 - Feb. 1907). Much might reasonably be expected from the sciences of archaeology and anthropology. But although Ireland is as rich as, or even richer in monuments of the past than, most countries in Europe, comparatively little has been done owing in large measure to the lack of systematic investigation.


It may be as well to specify some of the more important sources at the outset. Of the classical writers who notice Ireland Ptolemy is the only one who gives us any very definite information. The legendary origins first appear in Nennius and in a number of poems by such writers as Maelmura (d. 884), Cinaed Uah Artacain (d. 975), Eochaid Ua Flainn (d. 984), Flann Mainistrech (d. 1956) and Gilla Coemgin (d. 1072). They are also embodied in the Leabhar Gabhala or Book of Invasions, the earliest copy of which is contained in the Book of Leinster, a 12th-century MS., Geoffrey Keating's History, Dugald MacFirbis's Genealogies and various collections of annals such as those by the Four Masters. Of prime importance for the earlier period are the stories known collectively as the Ulster cycle, among which the lengthy epic the Thin Bo Cualnge takes first place. Amongst the numerous chronicles the Annals of Ulster, which commence with the year 441, are by far the most trustworthy. The Book of Rights is another compilation which gives valuable information with regard to the relations of the various kingdoms to one another. Finally, there are the extensive collections of genealogies preserved in Rawlinson B 502, the Books of Leinster and Ballymote. Earliest Inhabitants. - There is as yet no certain evidence to show that Ireland was inhabited during the palaeolithic period. But there are abundant traces of man in the neolithic state of culture (see Sir W. R. W. Wilde's Catalogue of the antiquities in the Museum of the Royal Irish Academy). The use of bronze was perhaps introduced about 1450 B.C. The craniological evidence is unfortunately at present insufficient to show whether the introduction of metal coincided with any particular invasion either from Britain or the European continent. At any rate it was not until well on in the Bronze Age, perhaps about 600 or 500 B.C., that the Goidels, the first invaders speaking a Celtic language, set foot in Ireland. The newcomers probably overran the whole island, subduing but not exterminating the older race with which they doubtless intermarried freely, as pre-Celtic types are frequent among the populations of Connaught and Munster at the present day. What the language was that was spoken by the neolithic aborigines is a question which will probably never be settled. The division into provinces or " fifths " (Ulster, Leinster, Connaught, E. Munster and W. Munster) appears to be older than the historical period, and may be due to the Goidels. Between 300 B.C. and 150 B.C. various Belgic and other Brythonic tribes established themselves in Britain bringing with them the knowledge of how to work in iron. Probably much about the same time certain Belgic tribes effected settlements in the S.E. of Ireland. Some time must have elapsed before any Brythonic people undertook to defy the powerful Goidelic states, as the supremacy of the Brythonic kingdom of Tara does not seem to have been acknowledged before the 4th century of our era. The early Belgic settlers constituted perhaps in the main trading states which acted as intermediaries of commerce between Ireland and Gaul.' In addition to these Brythonic colonies a number of Pictish tribes, who doubtless came over from Scotland, conquered for themselves parts of Antrim and Down where they maintained their independence till late in the historical period. Picts are also represented as having settled in the county of Roscommon; but we have at present no means of ascertaining when this invasion took place.

Classical Writers

Greek and Roman writers seem to have possessed very little definite information about the island, though much of what they relate corresponds to the state of society disclosed in the older epics. Strabo held the inhabitants to be mere savages, addicted to cannibalism and having no marriage ties. Solinus speaks of the luxurious pastures, but the natives he terms an inhospitable and warlike nation. The conquerors among them having first drunk the blood of their enemies, afterwards besmear their faces therewith; they regard right and wrong alike. Whenever a woman brings forth a male child, she puts his first food on the sword of her husband, and lightly introduces the first auspicium of nourishment into his little mouth with the point of the sword. Pomponius Mela speaks of the climate as unfit for ripening grain, but he, too, notices the luxuriance of the grass. However, it is not until we reach Ptolemy that we feel we are treading on firm ground. His description is of supreme importance for the study of early Irish ethnography. Ptolemy gives the names of sixteen peoples in Ireland, several of which can be identified. As we should expect from our knowledge of later Irish history scarcely any towns are mentioned. In the S.E., probably in Co. Wicklow, we find the Manapii - evidently a colony from N.E. Gaul. North of them, perhaps in Kildare, a similar people, the Cauci, are located. In Waterford and Wexford are placed the Brigantes, who also occur in Yorkshire. The territory to the west of the Brigantes is occupied by a people called by Ptolemy the Iverni. Their capital he gives as Ivernis, and in the extreme S.W. of the island he marks the mouth of the river Iernos, by which the top of Dingle Bay called Castlemaine Harbour is perhaps intended. The Iverni must have been a nation of considerable importance, as they play a prominent part in the historical period, where they are known as the Ernai or Eraind of Munster. It would seem that the Iverni were the first native tribe with whom foreign traders came in contact, as it is from them that the Latin name for the whole island is derived. The earliest form was probably Iveriyo or Iveriyu, genitive Iveryonos, from which come Lat. Iverio, Hiverio (Antonine Itinerary), Hiberio (Confession of St Patrick), Old Irish Eriu, Heriu, gen. Herenn 1 The importance of the commerce between Ireland and Gaul in early times, and in particular the trade in wine, has been insisted upon by H. Zimmer in papers in the Abh. d. Berl. Akad. d. Wissenschaften (1909). with regular loss of intervocalic v, Welsh Iwerddon (from the oblique cases). West of the Iverni in Co. Kerry Ptolemy mentions the Vellabori, and going in a northerly direction following the coast we find the Gangani, Autini (Autiri), Nagnatae (Magnatae). Erdini (cf. the name Lough Erne), Vennicnii, Rhobogdii, Darini and Eblanii, none of whom can be identified with certainty. In south Ulster Ptolemy locates a people called the Voluntii who seem to correspond to the Ulidians of a later period (Ir. Ulaid, in Irish Lat. Uloti). About Queen's county or Tipperary are situated the Usdiae, whose name is compared with the later Ossory (Ir. Os-raige). Lastly, in the north of Wexford we find the Coriondi who occur in Irish texts near the Boyne (Mid. Ir. Coraind). It would seem as if Ptolemy's description of Ireland answered in some measure to the state of affairs which we find obtaining in the older Ulster epic cycle. 2 Both are probably anterior to the foundation of a central state at Tara.

Legendary Origins

We can unfortunately derive no further assistance from external sources and must therefore examine the native traditions. From the 9th century onwards we find accounts of various races who had colonized the island. These stories naturally become amplified as times goes on, and in what we may regard as the classical or standard versions to be found in Keating, the Four Masters, Dugald MacFirbis and elsewhere, no fewer than five successive invasions are enumerated. The first colony is represented as having arrived in Ireland in A.M. 2520, under the leadership of an individual named Partholan who hailed from Middle Greece. His company landed in Kenmare Bay and settled in what is now Co. Dublin. After occupying the island for 300 years they were all carried off by a plague and were buried at Tallaght (Ir. Tamlacht, " plague-grave "), at which place a number of ancient remains (probably belonging, however, to the Viking period) have come to light. In A.M. 2850 a warrior from Scythia called Nemed reached Ireland with 900 fighting men. Nemed's people are represented as having to struggle for their existence with a race of sea-pirates known as the Fomorians. The latter's stronghold was Tory Island, where they had a mighty fortress. After undergoing great hardship the Nemedians succeeded in destroying the fortress and in slaying the enemies' leaders, but the Fomorians received reinforcements from Africa. A second battle was fought in which both parties were nearly exterminated. Of the Nemedians only thirty warriors escaped, among them being three descendants of Nemed, who made their way each to a different country (A.M. 3066). One of them, Simon Brec, proceeded to Greece, where his posterity multiplied to such an extent that the Greeks grew afraid and reduced them to slavery. In time their position became so intolerable that they resolved to escape, and they arrived in Ireland A.M. 3266. This third body of invaders is known collectively as Firbolgs, and is ethnologically and historically very important. They are stated to have had five leaders, all brothers, each of whom occupied one of the provinces or " fifths." We find them landing in different places. One party, the Fir Galeoin, landed at Inber Slangi, the mouth of the Slaney, and occupied much of Leinster. Another, the Fir Domnand, settled in Mayo where their name survives in Irrus Domnand, the ancient name for the district of Erris. A third band, the Firbolg proper, took possession of Munster. Many authorities such as Keating and MacFirbis admit that descendants of the Firbolgs were still to be found in parts of Ireland in their own day, though they are characterized as " tattling, guileful, tale-bearing, noisy, contemptible, mean, wretched, unsteady, harsh and inhospitable." The Firbolgs had scarcely established themselves in the island when a fresh set of invaders appeared on the scene. These were the Tuatha De Danann (" tribes of the god Danu "), who according to the story were also descended from Nemed. They came originally from Greece and were highly skilled in necromancy. Having to flee from Greece on account of a Syrian invasion they proceeded to Scandinavia. Under Nuadu Airgetlaim they I On the subject of Ptolemy's description of Ireland see articles by G. H. Orpen in the Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland (June 1894), and John MacNeill in the New Ireland Review (September 1906).


moved to Scotland, and finally arrived in Ireland (A.M. 3303), bringing with them in addition to the celebrated Lia Fail (" stone of destiny ") which they set up at Tara, the cauldron of the Dagda and the sword and spear of Lugaid Lamfada. Eochaid, son of Erc, king of the Firbolgs, having declined to surrender the sovereignty of Ireland, a great battle was fought on the plain of Moytura near Cong (Co. Mayo), the site of a prehistoric cemetery. In this contest the Firbolgs were overthrown with great slaughter, and the remnants of the race according to Keating and other writers took refuge in Arran, Islay, Rathlin and the Hebrides, where they dwelt until driven out by Picts. Twenty-seven years later the Tuatha De had to defend themselves against the Fomorians, who were almost annihilated at the battle of north Moytura near Sligo. The Tuatha De then enjoyed undisturbed possession of Ireland until the arrival of the Milesians in A.M. 3500.

All the early writers dwell with great fondness on the origin and adventures of this race. The Milesians came primarily from Scythia and after sojourning for some time in Egypt, Crete and in Scythia again, they finally arrived in Spain. In the line of mythical ancestors which extends without interruption up to Noah, the names of Fenius Farsaid, Goedel Glas, Eber Scot and Breogan constantly recur in Irish story. At length eight sons of Miled (Lat. Milesius) set forth to conquer Ireland. The spells of the Tuatha De accounted for most of their number. However, after two battles the newcomers succeeded in overcoming the older race; and two brothers, Eber Find and Eremon, divided the island between them, Eber Find taking east and west Munster, whilst Eremon received Leinster and Connaught. Lugaid, son of the brother of Miled, took possession of south-west Munster. At the same time Ulster was left to Eber son of Ir son of Miled. The old historians agree that Ireland was ruled by a succession of Milesian monarchs until the reign of Roderick O'Connor, the last native king. The Tuatha De are represented as retiring into the sid or fairy mounds. Eber Find and Eremon did not remain long in agreement. The historians place the beginnings of the antithesis between north and south at the very commencement of the Milesian domination. A battle was fought between the two brothers in which Eber Find lost his life. In the reign of Eremon the Picts are stated to have arrived in Ireland, coming from Scythia. It will have been observed that Scythia had a peculiar attraction for medieval Irish chroniclers on account of its resemblance to the name Scotti, Scots. The Picts first settled in Leinster; but the main body were forced to remove to Scotland, only a few remaining behind in Meath. Among the numerous mythical kings placed by the annalists between Eremon and the Christian era we may mention Tigernmas (A.M. 3581), 011am Fodla (A.M. 3922) who established the meeting of Tara, Cimbaeth (c. 305 B.C.) the reputed founder of Emain Macha, Ugaine Mor, Labraid Loingsech, and Eochaid Feidlech, who built Rath Cruachan for his celebrated daughter, Medb queen of Connaught. During the 1st century of our era we hear of the rising of the aithech-tuatha, i.e. subject or plebeian tribes, or in other words the Firbolgs, who paid daer- or base rent to the Milesians. From a resemblance in the name which is probably fortuitous these tribes have been identified with the Attecotti of Roman writers. Under Cairbre Cinnchait (" cathead ") the oppressed peoples succeeded in wresting the sovereignty from the Milesians, whose princes and nobles were almost exterminated (A.D. 90). The line of Eremon was, however, restored on the accession of Tuathal Techtmar (" the legitimate "), who reigned A.D. 130-160. This ruler took measures to consolidate the power of the ardri (supreme king). He constructed a number of fortresses on the great central plain and carved out the kingdom of Meath to serve as his mensal land. The new kingdom was composed of the present counties of Meath, Westmeath and Longford together with portions of Monaghan, Cavan, King's Co. and Kildare. He was also the first to levy the famous Leinster tribute, the boroma, in consequence of an insult offered to him by one of the kings of that province. This tribute, which was only remitted in the 7th century at the instance of St Moling, must have been the source of constant war and oppression. A grandson of Tuathal's, the famous Conn Cetchathach (" the hundred-fighter "), whose death is placed in the year 177 after a reign of about twenty years, was constantly at war with the Munster ruler Eogan Mor, also called Mog Nuadat, of the race of Eber Find. Eogan had subdued the Ernai and the Corco Laigde (descendants of Lugaid son of Ith) in Munster, and even the supreme king was obliged to share the island with him. Hence the well-known names Leth Cuinn or " Conn's half " (north Ireland), and Leth Moga or " Mug's half " (south Ireland). The boundary line ran from the Bay of Galway to Dublin along the great ridge of gravel known as Eiscir Riada which stretches across Ireland. Mog Nuadat had a son Ailill Aulom who plays a prominent part in the Irish sagas and genealogies, and his sons Eogan, Cian and Cormac Cas, all became the ancestors of wellknown families. Conn's grandson, Cormac son of Art, is represented as having reigned in great splendour (254-266) and as having been a great patron of learning. It was during this reign that the sept of the Desi were expelled from Meath. They settled in Munster where their name still survives in the barony of Decies (Co. Waterford). A curious passage in Cormac's Glossary connects one of the leaders of this sept, Cairpre Musc, with the settlements of the Irish in south Wales which may have taken place as early as the 3rd century. Of greater consequence was the invasion of Ulster by the three Collas, cousins of the ardri Muredach. The stronghold of Emain Macha was destroyed and the Ulstermen were driven across the Newry River into Dalriada, which was inhabited by Picts.

The old inhabitants of Ulster are usually termed Ulidians to distinguish them from the Milesian peoples who overran the province. With the advent of Niall Noigiallach (" N. of the nine hostages " reigned 379-405) son of Eochaid MuigmedOin (358366) we are treading safer ground. It was about this time that the Milesian kingdom of Tara was firmly established. Nor was Niall's activity confined to Ireland alone. Irish sources represent him as constantly engaged in marauding expeditions oversea, and it was doubtless on one of these that St Patrick was taken captive. These movements coincide with the inroads of the Picts and Scots recorded by Roman writers. It is probably from this period that the Irish colonies in south Wales, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall date. And the earliest migrations from Ulster to Argyll may also have taken place about this time. Literary evidence of the colonization of south Wales is preserved both in Welsh and Irish sources, and some idea of the extent of Irish oversea activity may be gathered from the distribution of the Ogam inscriptions in Wales, south-west England and the Isle of Man.

Criticism of the Legendary Origins

It is only in recent years that the Irish legendary origins have been subjected to serious criticism. The fondly cherished theory which attributes Milesian descent to the bulk of the native population has at length been assailed. MacNeill asserts that in MacFirbis's genealogies the majority of the tribes in early Ireland do not trace their descent to Eremon and Eber Find; they are rather the descendants of the subject races, one of which figures in the list of conquests under the name of Firbolg. The stories of the Fomorians were doubtless suggested in part by the Viking invasions, but the origin of the Partholan legend has not been discovered. The Tuatha De do not appear in any of the earliest quasi-historical documents, nor in Nennius, and they scarcely correspond to any particular race. It seems more probable that a special invasion was assigned to them by later writers in order to explain the presence of mythical personages going by their name in the heroic cycles, as they were found inconvenient by the monkish historians. In the early centuries of our era Ireland would therefore have been occupied by the Firbolgs and kindred races and the Milesians. According to MacNeill the Firbolg tribal names are formed with the suffix -raige, e.g. Ciarraige, Kerry, Osraige,. Ossory, or with the obscure words Corcu and mocu (maccu), e.g. Corco Duibne, Corkaguiney, Corco Mruad, Corcomroe, Macu Loegdae, Macu Teimne. In the case of corcu and mocu the name which follows is frequently the name of an eponymous ancestor. The Milesians on the other hand named themselves after an historical ancestor employing terms such as descendants," eland " children," dal " division," cinel, " kindred," or sil, " seed." In this connexion it may be noted that practically all the Milesian pedigrees converge on three ancestors in the 2nd century - Conn Cetchathach king of Tara, Cathair Mor of Leinster, and Ailill Aulom of Munster, - whilst in scarcely any of them are mythological personages absent when we go farther back than A.D. 300. Special genealogies were framed to link up other races, e.g. the Eraind and Corcu Loegdi of Munster and the Ulidians with the Milesians of Tara.

The peculiar characteristic of the Milesian conquest is the establishment of a central monarchy at Tara. No trace of such a state of affairs is to be found in the Ulster epic. In the Tain Bó Cuainge we find Ireland divided into fifths, each ruled over by its own king. These divisions were: Ulster with Emain Macha as capital, Connaught with Cruachu as residence, north Munster from Slieve Bloom to north Kerry, south Munster from south Kerry to Waterford, and Leinster consisting of the two kingdoms of Tara and Ailinn. Moreover, the kings of Tara mentioned in the Ulster cycle do not figure in any list of Milesian kings. It would appear then that the central kingdom of Tara was an innovation subsequent to the state of society described in the oldest sagas and the political position reflected in Ptolemy's account. It was probably due to an invasion undertaken by Brythons 1 from Britain, but it is impossible to assign a precise date for their arrival. Until the end of the 3rd century the Milesian power must have been confined to the valley of the Boyne and the district around Tara. At the beginning of the 4th century the three Collas founded the kingdom of Oriel (comprising the present counties of Armagh, Monaghan, north Louth, south Fermanagh) and drove the Ulidians into the eastern part of the province. Brian and Fiachra, sons of Eochaid Muigmed61n, conquered for themselves the country of the Ui Briuin (Roscommon, Leitrim, Cavan) and Tir Fiachrach, the territory of the Firbolg tribe the Fir Domnann in the valley of the Moy (Co. Mayo). Somewhat later south Connaught was similarly wrested from the older race and colonized by descendants of Brian and Fiachra, later known as Ui Fiachrach Aidni and Ui Briuin Seola. The north of Ulster is stated to have been conquered and colonized by Conall and Eogan, sons of Niall Noigiallach. The former gave his name to the western portion, Tir Conaill (Co. Donegal), whilst Inishowen was called Tir Eogain after Eogan. The name Tir Eogain later became associated with south Ulster where it survives in the county name Tyrone. The whole kingdom of the north is commonly designated the kingdom of Ailech, from the ancient stronghold near Derry which the sons of Niall probably took over from the earlier inhabitants. At the end of the 5th century Maine, a relative of the king of Tara, was apportioned a tract of Firbolg territory to the west of the Suck in Connaught, which formed the nucleus of a powerful state known as Hy Maine (in English commonly called the " O'Kelly's country "). Thus practically the whole of the north and west gradually came under the sway of the Milesian rulers. Nevertheless one portion retained its independence. This was Ulidia, consisting of Dalriada, Dal Fiatach, Dal Araide, including the present counties of Antrim and Down. The bulk of the population here was probably Pictish; but the Dal Fiatach, representing the old Ulidians or ancient population of Ulster, maintained themselves until the 8th century when they were subdued by their Pictish neighbours. The relationship of Munster and Leinster to the Tara dynasty is not so easy to define. The small kingdom of Ossory remained independent until a very late period. As for Leinster none of the Brythonic peoples mentioned by Ptolemy left traces of their name, although it is possible that the ruling 1 Scholars are only beginning to realize how close was the connexion between Ireland and Wales from early times. Pedersen has recently pointed out the large number of Brythonic and Welsh loan words received into Irish from the time of the Roman occupation of Britain to the beginning of the literary period. Welsh writers now assume an Irish origin for much of the contents of the Mabinogion.

family may have been derived from them. It would seem that the Fir Galeoin who play such a prominent part in the Tain had been crushed before authentic history begins. The king of Leinster was for centuries the most determined opponent of the ardri, an antithesis which is embodied in the story of the boroma tribute. When we turn to Munster we find that Cashel was the seat of power in historical times. Now Cashel (a loanword from Lat. castellum) was not founded until the beginning of the 5th century by Corc son of Lugaid. The legendary account attributes the subjugation of the various peoples inhabiting Munster to Mog Nuadat, and the pedigrees are invariably traced up to ` his son Ailill Aulom. Rhys adopts the view that the race of Eber Find was not Milesian but a branch of the Ernai, and this theory has much in its favour. The allegiance of the rulers of Munster to Niall and his descendants can at the best of times only have been nominal.

In this way we get a number of over-kingdoms acknowledging only the supremacy of the Tara dynasty. These were (1) Munster with Cashel as centre, (2) Connaught, (3) Ailech, (4) Oriel, (5) Ulidia, (6) Meath, (7) Leinster, (8) Ossory. Some of these states might be split up into various parts at certain periods, each part becoming for the time-being an over-kingdom. For instance, Ailech might be resolved into Tir Conaill and Tir Eogain according to political conditions. Hence the number of over-kingdoms is given variously in different documents. The supremacy was vested in the descendants of Niall N61giallach without interruption until 1002; but as Niall's descendants were represented by four reigning families, the high-kingship passed from one branch to another. Nevertheless after the middle of the 8th century the title of ardri (high-king) was only held by the Cinel Eogain (northern Hy Neill) and the rulers of Meath (southern Hy Neill), as the kingdom of Oriel had dropped into insignificance. The supremacy of the ardri was more often than not purely nominal. This must have been particularly the case in Leth Moga.

Religion in Early Ireland

Our knowledge of the beliefs of the pagan Irish is very slight. The oldest texts belonging to the heroic cycle are not preserved in any MS. before 110o, and though the sagas were certainly committed to writing several centuries before that date, it is evident that the monkish transcribers have toned down or omitted features that savoured too strongly of paganism. Supernatural beings play an important part in the Sickbed, the Wooing of and similar stories, but the relations between ordinary mortals and such divine or semi-divine personages is not easy to establish. It seems unlikely that the ancient Irish had a highly developed pantheon. On the other hand there are abundant traces of animistic worship, which have survived in wells, often associated with a sacred tree (Ir. bile), bulláns, pillar stones, weapons. There are also traces of the worship of the elements, prominent among which are sun and fire. The belief in earth spirits or fairies (Ir. aes side, sid) forms perhaps the most striking feature of Irish belief. The sagas teem with references to the inhabitants of the fairy mounds, who play such an important part in the mind of the peasantry of our own time. These supernatural beings are sometimes represented as immortal, but often they fall victims to the prowess of mortals. Numerous cases of marriage between fairies and mortals are recorded. The Tuatha De Danann is used as a collective name for the aes side. The representatives of this race in the Tain Bó Cualgne play a somewhat similar part to the gods of the ancient Greeks in the Iliad, though they are of necessity of a much more shadowy nature. Prominent among them were Manannan mac Lir, who is connected with the sea and the Isle of Man, and the Dagda, the father of a numerous progeny. One of them, Bodb Derg, resided near Portumna on the shore of Lough Derg, whilst another, Angus Mac-in-óg, dwelt at the Brug of the Boyne, the well-known tumulus at New Grange. The Dagda's daughter Brigit transmitted many of her attributes to the Christian saint of the same name (d. 523). The ancient Brigit seems to have been the patroness of the arts and was probably also the goddess of fertility. At any rate it is with her that the sacred fire at Kildare which burnt almost uninterruptedly until the time of the Reformation was associated; and she was commonly invoked in the Hebrides, and until quite recently in Donegal, to secure good crops. Wellknown fairy queens are Clidna (south Munster) and Aibell (north Munster). We frequently hear of three goddesses of war - Ana, Bodb and Macha, also generally called Morrigu and Badb. They showed themselves in battles hovering over the heads of the combatants in the form of a carrion crow. The name Bodb appears on a Gaulish stone as (Cathu-) bodvae. The Geniti glinni and demna aeir were other fierce spirits who delighted in carnage.

When we come to treat of religious rites and worship, our sources leave us completely in the dark. We hear in several documents of a great idol covered with gold and silver named Cromm Cruach, or Cenn Cruaich, which was surrounded by twelve lesser idols covered with brass or bronze, and stood on Mag Slecht (the plain of prostrations) near Ballymagauran, Co. Cavan. In one text the Cromm Cruach is styled the chief idol of Ireland. According to the story St Patrick overthrew the idol, and one of the lives of the saint states that the mark of his crosier might still be seen on the stone. In the Dindsenchus we are told that the worshippers sacrificed their children to the idol in order to secure corn, honey and milk in plenty. On the occasion of famine the druids advised that the son of a sinless married couple should be brought to Ireland to be killed in front of Tara and his blood mixed with the soil of Tara. We might naturally expect to find the druids active in the capacity of priests in Ireland. D'Arbois de Jubainville maintains that in Gaul the three classes of druids, vates and gutuatri, corresponded more or less to the pontifices, augurs and flamens of ancient Rome. In ancient Irish literature the functions of the druids correspond fairly closely to those of their Gaulish brethren recorded by Caesar and other writers of antiquity. Had we contemporary accounts of the position of the druid in Ireland prior to the introduction of Christianity, it may be doubted if any serious difference would be discovered. In early Irish literature the druids chiefly appear as magicians and diviners, but they are also the repositaries of the learning of the time which they transmitted to the disciples accompanying them (see Druidism). The Druids were believed to have the power to render a person insane by flinging a magic wisp of straw in his face, and they were able to raise clouds of mist, or to bring down showers of fire and blood. They claimed to be able to foretell the future by watching the clouds, or by means of divining-rods made of yew. They also resorted to sacrifice. They possessed several means for rendering a person invisible, and various peculiar and complicated methods of divination, such as Imbas forosna, tein laegda, and dichetal do chennaib, are described in early authorities. Whether or not the Irish druids taught that the soul was immortal is a question which it is impossible to decide. There is one passage which seems to support the view that they agreed with the Gaulish druids in this respect, but it is not safe to deny the possible influence of Christian teaching in the document in question. The Irish, however, possessed some more or less definite notions about an abode of everlasting youth and peace inhabited by fairies. The latter either dwell in the sid, and this is probably the earlier conception, or in islands out in the ocean where they live a life of never-ending delight. These happy abodes were known by various names, as 'fir Tairngiri (Land of Promise), Mag Me11 (Plain of Pleasures). Condla Caem son of Conn Cetchathach was carried in a boat of crystal by a fairy maiden to the land of youth, and among other mortals who went thither Bran, son of Febal, and Ossian are the most famous. The doctrine of metempsychosis seems to have been familiar in early Ireland. Mongan king of Dalriada in the 7th century is stated to have passed after death into various shapes - a wolf, a stag, a salmon, a seal, a swan. Fintan, nephew of Partholan, is also reported to have survived the deluge and to have lived in various shapes until he was reborn as Tuan mac Cairill in the 6th century. This legend appears to have been worked up, if not manufactured, by the historians of the 9th to iith centuries to support their fictions. It may, however, be mentioned that Giraldus Cambrensis and the Speculum Regale state in all seriousness that certain of the inhabitants of Ossory were able at will to assume the form of wolves, and similar stories are not infrequent in Irish romance.

Conversion to Christianity

In the beginning of the 4th century there was an organized Christian church in Britain; and in view of the intimate relations existing between Wales and Ireland during that century it is safe to conclude that there were Christians in Ireland before the time of St Patrick. Returned colonists from south Wales, traders and the raids of the Irish in Britain with the consequent influx of British captives sold into slavery must have introduced the knowledge of Christianity into the island considerably before A.D. 400. In this connexion it is interesting to find an Irishman named Fith (also called Iserninus) associated with St Patrick at Auxerre. Further, the earliest Latin words introduced into Irish show the influence of British pronunciation (e.g. O. Ir. trindoit from trinitat-em shows the Brythonic change of a to 6). Irish records preserve the names of three shadowy pre-Patrician saints who were connected with south-east Ireland, Declan, Ailbe and Ciaran.

In one source the great heresiarch Pelagius is stated to have been a Scot. He may have been descended from an Irish family settled in south Wales. We have also the statement of Prosper of Aquitaine that Palladius was sent by Pope Celestine as first bishop to the Scots that believe in Christ. But though we may safely assume that a number of scattered communities existed in Ireland, and probably not in the south alone, it is unlikely that there was any organization before the time of St Patrick. This mission arose out of the visit of St Germanus of Auxerre to Britain. The British bishops had grown alarmed at the rapid growth of Pelagianism in Britain and sought the aid of the Gaulish church. A synod summoned for the occasion commissioned Germanus and Lupus to go to Britain, which they accordingly did in 42 9; Pope Celestine, we are told, had given his sanction to the mission through the deacon Palladius. The heresy was successfully stamped out in Britain, but distinct traces of it are to be found some three centuries later in Ireland, and it is to Irish monks on the European continent that we owe the preservation of the recently discovered copies of Pelagius's Commentary. Palladius's activity in Britain probably marked him out as the man to undertake the task of bringing Ireland into touch with Western Christianity. In any case Prosper and the Irish Annals represent him as arriving in Ireland in 431 with episcopal rank. His missionary activity unfortunately is extremely obscure. Tradition associates his name with Co. Wicklow, but Irish sources state that after a brief sojourn there he proceeded to the land of the Picts, among whom he was beginning to labour when his career was cut short by death.

St Patrick

At this juncture Germanus of Auxerre decided to consecrate his pupil Patrick for the purpose of carrying on the work begun by Palladius. Patrick would possess several qualifications for the dignity of a missionary bishop to Ireland. Born in Britain about 389, he had been carried into slavery in Ireland when a youth of sixteen. He remained with his master for seven years, and must have had ample opportunity for observing the conditions, and learning the language, of the people around him; and such knowledge would have been indispensable to the Christian bishop in view of the peculiar state of Irish society (see Patrick, St). The new bishop landed in Wicklow in 432. Leinster was probably the province in which Christianity was already most strongly represented, and Patrick may have entrusted this part of his sphere to two fellow-workers from Gaul, Auxilius and Iserninus. At any rate he seems rather to have addressed himself more especially to the task of founding churches in Meath, Ulster and Connaught. In Ireland the land nominally belonged to the tribe, but in reality a kind of feudal system existed. In order to succeed with the body of the tribe it was necessary to secure the adherence of the chief. The conversion in consequence was in large measure only apparent; and such pagan superstitions and practices as did not run directly counter to the new teaching were tolerated by the saint. Thus, whilst the mass of the people practically still continued in heathendom, the apostle was enabled to found churches and schools and educate a priesthood which should provide the most effective and certain means of conversion. It would be a mistake to suppose that his success was as rapid or as complete as is generally assumed. There can be no doubt that he met with great opposition both from the high-king Loigaire and from the druids. But though Loigaire refused to desert the faith of his ancestors we are told that a number of his nearest kinsmen accepted Christianity; and if there be any truth in the story of the codification of the Brehon Laws we gather that he realized that the future belonged to the new religion. St Patrick's work seems to fall under two heads. In the first place he planted the faith in parts of the north and west which had probably not yet heard the gospel. He also organized the already existing Christian communities, and with this in view founded a church at Armagh as his metropolitan see (444) It is further due to him that Ireland became linked up with Rome and the Christian countries of the Western church, and that in consequence Latin was introduced as the language of the church. It seems probable that St Patrick consecrated a considerable number of bishops with small but definite dioceses which doubtless coincided in the main with the territories of the tuatha. In any case the ideal of the apostle from Britain was almost certainly very different from the monastic system in vogue in Ireland in the 6th and 7th centuries.

The Early Irish Church

The church founded by St Patrick was doubtless in the main identical in doctrine with the churches of Britain and Gaul and other branches of the Western church; but after the recall of the Roman legions from Britain the Irish church was shut off from the Roman world, and it is only natural that there should not have been any great amount of scruple with regard to orthodox doctrine. This would explain the survival of the writings of Pelagius in Ireland until the 8th century. Even Columba himself, in his Latin hymn Altus prosator, was suspected by Gregory the Great of favouring Arian doctrines. After the death of St Patrick there was apparently a relapse into paganism in many parts of the island. The church itself gradually became grafted on to the feudal organization, the result of which was the peculiar system which we find in the 6th and 7th centuries. Wherever Roman law and municipal institutions had been in force the church was modelled on the civil society. The bishops governed ecclesiastical districts co-ordinate with the civil divisions. In Ireland there were no cities and no municipal institutions; the nation consisted of groups of tribes connected by kinship, and loosely held together by a feudal system which we shall examine later. Although St Patrick endeavoured to organize the Irish church on regular diocesan lines, after his death an approximation to the lay system was under the circumstances almost inevitable. When a chief became a Christian and bestowed lands on the church, he at the same time transferred all his rights as a chief; but these rights still remained with his sept, albeit subordinate to the uses of the church. At first all church offices were exclusively confined to members of the sept. In this new sept there was consequently a twofold succession. The religious sept or family consisted in the first instance not only of the ecclesiastical persons to whom the gift was made, but of all the celi or vassals, tenants and slaves, connected with the land bestowed. The head was the coarb (Ir. comarba, " co-heir "), i.e. the inheritor both of the spiritual and temporal rights and privileges of the founder; he in his temporal capacity exacted rent and tribute like other chiefs, and made war not on temporal chiefs only, the spectacle of two coarbs making war on each other not being unusual. The ecclesiastical colonies that went forth from a parent family generally remained in subordination to it, in the same way that the spreading branches of a ruling family remained in general subordinate to it. The heads of the secondary families were also called the coarbs of the original founder. Thus there were coarbs of Columba at Iona, Kells, Derry, burrow and other places. The coarb of the chief spiritual foundation was called the high coarb (ard-chomarba). The coarb might be a bishop or only an abbot, but in either case all the ecclesiastics in the family were subject to him; in this way it frequently happened that bishops, though their superior functions were recognized, were in subjection to abbots who were only priests, as in the case of St Columba, or even to a woman, as in the case of St Brigit. This singular association of lay and spiritual powers was liable to the abuse of allowing the whole succession to fall into lay hands, as happened to a large extent in later times. The temporal chief had his steward who superintended the collection of his rents and tributes; in like manner the coarb of a religious sept had his airchinnech (Anglo-Irish erenach, herenach), whose office was generally, but not necessarily, hereditary. The office embodied in a certain sense the lay succession in the family.

From the beginning the life of the converts must have been in some measure coenobitic. Indeed it could hardly have been otherwise in a pagan and half-savage land. St Patrick himself in his Confession makes mention of monks in Ireland in connexion with his mission, but the few glimpses we get of the monastic life of the decades immediately following his death prove that the earliest type of coenobium differed considerably from that known at a later period. The coenobium of the end of the 5th century consisted of an ordinary sept or family whose chief had become Christian. After making a gift of his lands the chief either retired, leaving it in the hands of a coarb, or remained as the religious head himself. The family went on with their usual avocations, but some of the men and women, and in some cases all, practised celibacy, and all joined in fasting and prayer. It may be inferred from native documents that grave disorders were prevalent under this system. A severer and more exclusive type of monasticism succeeded this primitive one, but apart from the separation of the sexes the general character never entirely changed.

Diocesan organization as understood in countries under Roman Law being unknown, there was not that limitation of the number of bishops which territorial jurisdiction renders necessary, and consequently the number of bishops increased beyond all proportions. Thus, St Mochta, abbot of Louth, and a reputed disciple of St Patrick, is stated to have had no less than ioo bishops in his monastic family. All the bishops in a coenobium were subject to the abbot; but besides the bishop in the monastic families, every tuath or tribe had its own bishop. The church in Ireland having been evolved out of the monastic nuclei already described the tribe bishop was an episcopal development of a somewhat later period. He was an important personage, his status being fixed in the Brehon laws, from which we learn that his honour price was seven cumals, and that he had the right to be accompanied by the same number of followers as a petty king. The power of the bishops was considerable, as they were strong enough to resist the kings with regard to the right of sanctuary, ever a fertile source of dissension. The tuath bishop in later centuries corresponded to the diocesan bishop as closely as it was possible in two systems so different as tribal and municipal government. When diocesan jurisdiction was introduced into Ireland in the 12th century the tuath became a diocese. Many of the old dioceses represent ancient tuatha, and even enlarged modern dioceses coincide with the territories of ancient tribal states. Thus the diocese of Kilmacduagh was the territory of the Hui Fiachrach Aidne; that of Kilfenora was the tribe land of Corco-Mruad or Corcomroe. Many deaneries also represent tribe territories. Thus the deanery of Musgrylin (Co. Cork) was the ancient Muscraige Mitaine, and no doubt had its tribe bishop in ancient times. Bishops without dioceses and monastic bishops were not unknown outside Ireland in the Eastern and Western churches in very early times, but they had disappeared with rare exceptions in the 6th century when the Irish reintroduced the monastic bishops and the monastic church into Britain and the continent.


In the 8th and 9th centuries, when the great emigration of Irish scholars and ecclesiastics took place, the number of wandering bishops without dioceses became a reproach to the Irish church; and there can be no doubt that it led to much inconvenience and abuse, and was subversive of the stricter discipline that the popes had succeeded in establishing in the Western church. They were accused of ordaining serfs without the consent of their lords, consecrating bishops per saltum, i.e. of making men bishops who had not previously received the orders of priests, and of permitting bishops to be consecrated by a single bishop. This custom can hardly, however, be a reproach to the Irish church, as the practice was never held to be invalid; and besides, the Nicene canons of discipline were perhaps not known in Ireland until comparatively late times. The isolated position of Ireland, and the existence of tribal organization in full vigour, explain fully the anomalies of Irish discipline, many of which were also survivals of the early Christian practices before the complete organization of the church.

After the death of St Patrick the bond between the numerous church families which his authority supplied was greatly relaxed; and the saint's most formidable opponents, the druids, probably regained much of their old power. The transition period which follows the loosening of a people's faith in its old religion and before the authority of the new is universally accepted is always a time of confusion and relaxation of morals. Such a period appears to have followed the fervour of St Patrick's time. To judge from the early literature the marriage-tie seems to have been regarded very lightly, and there can be little doubt that pagan marriage customs were practised long after the introduction of Christianity. The Brehon Laws assume the existence of married as well as unmarried clergy, and when St Patrick was seeking a bishop for the men of Leinster he asked for " a man of one wife." Marriage among the secular clergy went on in Ireland until the 15th century. Like the Gaulish druids described by Caesar, the poet (fili) and the druid possessed a huge stock of unwritten native lore, probably enshrined in verse which was learnt by rote by their pupils. The exalted position occupied by the learned class in ancient Ireland perhaps affords the key to the wonderful outbursts of scholarly activity in Irish monasteries from the 6th to the 9th centuries. That some of the filid embraced Christianity from the outset is evident from the story of Dubthach. As early as the second half of the 5th century Enda, a royal prince of Oriel (c. 450-540), after spending some time at Whithorn betook himself to Aranmore, off the coast of Galway, and founded a school there which attracted scholars from all over Ireland. The connexion between Ireland and Wales was strong in the 6th century, and it was from south Wales that the great reform movement in the Irish monasteries emanated. Findian of Clonard (c. 470-548) is usually regarded as the institutor of the type of monastery for which Ireland became so famous during the next few centuries. He spent some time in Wales, where he came under the influence of St David, Gildas and Cadoc; and on returning to Ireland he founded his famous monastery at Clonard (Co. Meath) about 520. Here no less than 3000 students are said to have received instruction at the same time. Such a monastery consisted of countless tiny huts of wattles and clay (or, where stone was plentiful, of beehive cells) built by the pupils and enclosed by a fosse, or trench, like a permanent military encampment. The pupils sowed their own corn, fished in the streams, and milked their own cows. Instruction was probably given in the open air. Twelve of Findian's disciples became known as the twelve apostles of Ireland, the monastic schools they founded becoming the greatest centres of learning and religious instruction not only in Ireland, but in the whole of the west of Europe. Among the most famous were Moville (Co. Down), founded by another Findian, c. 540; Clonmacnoise, founded by Kieran, 54 1; Derry, founded by Columba, 546; Clonfert, founded by Brendan, 552; Bangor, founded in 558 by Comgall; Durrow, founded by Columba, c. 553. The chief reform due to the influence of the British church 1 seems to have been the introduction of monastic life in the strict sense of the word, i.e. communities entirely separated from the laity with complete separation of the sexes.

One almost immediate outcome of the reformation effected 1 It seems probable that the celebrated monastery of Whithorn in Galloway played some part in the reform movement, at any rate in the north of Ireland. Findian of Moville spent some years there.

by Findian was that wonderful spirit of missionary enterprise which made the name of Scot and of Ireland so well known throughout Europe, while at the same time the Irish were being driven out of their colonies in Wales and south-west Britain owing to the advance of the Saxon power. In 563 Columba founded the monastery of Hi (Iona), which spread the knowledge of the Gospel among the Picts of the Scottish mainland. From this same solitary outpost went forth the illustrious Aidan to plant another Iona at Lindisfarne, which, " long after the poor parent brotherhood had fallen to decay, expanded itself into the bishopric of Durham." And Lightfoot claims for Aidan " the first place in the evangelization of the English race. Augustine was the apostle of Kent, but Aidan was the apostle of England." In 590 Columbanus, a native of Leinster (b. 543), went forth from Bangor, accompanied by twelve companions, to preach the Gospel on the continent of Europe. Columbanus was the first of the long stream of famous Irish monks who left their traces in Italy, Switzerland, Germany and France; amongst them being Gallus or St Gall, founder of St Gallen, Kilian of Wiirzburg, Virgil of Salzburg, Cathald of Tarentum and numerous others. At the beginning of the 8th century a long series of missionary establishments extended from the mouths of the Meuse and Rhine to the Rhone and the Alps, whilst many others founded by Germans are the offspring of Irish monks. Willibrord, the apostle of the Frisians, for instance, spent twelve years in Ireland. Other Irishmen seeking remote places wherein to lead the lives of anchorites, studded the numerous islands on the west coast of Scotland with their little buildings. Cormac ua Liathain, a disciple of St Columba, visited the Orkneys, and when the Northmen first discovered Iceland they found there books and other traces of the early Irish church. It may be mentioned that the geographer Dicuil who lived at the court of Charlemagne gives a description of Iceland which must have been obtained from some one who had been there. The peculiarities which owing to Ireland's isolation had survived were brought into prominence when the Irish missionaries came into contact with Roman ecclesiastics. The chief points of difference were the calculation of Easter and the form of the tonsure, in addition to questions of discipline such as the consecration of bishops per saltum and bishops without dioceses. With regard to tonsure it would seem that the druids shaved the front part of the head from ear to ear. St Patrick doubtless introduced the ordinary coronal tonsure, but in the period following his death the old druidical tonsure was again revived. In the calculation of Easter the Irish employed the old Roman and Jewish 84-years' cycle which they may have received from St Patrick and which had once prevailed all over Europe. Shut off from the world, they were probably ignorant of the new cycle of 532 years which had been adopted by Rome in 463. This question aroused a controversy which waxed hottest in England, and as the Irish monks stubbornly adhered to their traditions they were vehemently attacked by their opponents. As early as 633 the church of the south of Ireland, which had been more in contact with Gaul, had been won over to the Roman method of computation. The north and Iona on the other hand refused to give in until Adamnan induced the north of Ireland to yield in 697, while Iona held out until 716, although by this time the monastery had lost its influence in Pictland. Owing to these controversies the real work of the early Irish missionaries in converting the pagans of Britain and central Europe, and sowing the seeds of culture there, is apt to be overlooked. Thus, when the Anglo-Saxon, Winfrid, surnamed Boniface, appeared in the kingdom of the Franks as papal legate in 723, to romanize the existing church of the time, neither the Franks, the Thuringians, the Alemanni nor the Bavarians could be considered as pagans. What Irish missionaries and their foreign pupils had implanted for more than a century quite independently of Rome, Winfrid organized and established under Roman authority partly by force of arms.

During the four centuries which elapsed between the arrival of St Patrick and the establishment of a central state in Dublin by the Norsemen the history of Ireland is almost a blank as regards outstanding events. From the time that the Milesians of Tara had come to be recognized as suzerains of the whole island all political development ceases. The annals contain nothing save a record of intertribal warfare, which the high-king was rarely powerful enough to stay. The wonderful achievements of the Irish monks did not affect the body politic as a whole,. and it may be doubted if there was any distinct advance in civilization in Ireland from the time of Niall N61giallach to the Anglo-Norman invasion. Niall's posterity held the position of ardri uninterruptedly until 1002. Four of his sons, Loigaire, Conall Crimthand, Fiacc and Maine, settled in Meath and adjoining territories, and their posterity were called the southern Hy Neill. The other four, Eogan, Enna Find, Cairpre and Conall Gulban, occupied the northern part of Ulster. Their descendants were known as the northern Hy Neill.' The descendants of Eogan were the O'Neills and their numerous kindred septs; the posterity of Conall Gulban were the O'Donnells and their kindred septs. Niall died in 406 in the English Channel whilst engaged in a marauding expedition. He was succeeded by his nephew Dathi, son of Fiachra, son of Eochaid Muigmedoin, who is stated to have been struck by lightning at the foot of the Alps in 428. Loigaire, son of Niall (428-463), is identified with the story of St Patrick. According to tradition it was during his reign that the codification of the Senchus Mar took place. A well-known story represents him as constantly at war with the men of Leinster. His successor, Ailill Molt (463-483), son of Dathi, is remarkable as being the last high-king for Soo years who was not a direct descendant of Niall.

In 503 a body of colonists under Fergus, son of Erc, moved from Dalriada to Argyll and effected settlements there. The circumstances which enabled the Scots to succeed in occupying Kintyre and Islay cannot now be ascertained. The little kingdom had great difficulty to maintain itself, and its varying fortunes are very obscure. Neither is it clear that bodies of Scots had not already migrated to Argyll. Diarmait, son of Fergus Cerbaill (544-565), of the southern Hy Neill, undoubtedly professed Christianity though he still clung to many pagan practices, such as polygamy and the use of druidical incantations in battle. The annals represent him as getting into trouble with the Church on account of his violation of the right of sanctuary. At an assembly held at Tara in 554 Curnan, son of the king of Connaught, slew a nobleman, a crime punishable with death. The author of the deed fled for sanctuary to St Columba. But Diarmait pursued him, and disregarding the opposition of the saint seized Curnan and hanged him. St Columba's kinsmen, the northern Hy Neill, took up the quarrel, and attacked and defeated the king at Culdreimne in 561. In this battle Diarmait is stated to have employed druids to form an airbe druad (fence of protection?) round his host. A few years later Diarmait seized by force the chief of Hy Maine, who had slain his herald and had taken refuge with St Ruadan of Lothra. According to the legend the saint, accompanied by St Brendan of Birr, followed the king to Tara and solemnly cursed it, from which time it was deserted. It has been suggested that Tara was abandoned during the plague of 548-549. Others have surmised that it was abandoned as a regular place of residence long before this, soon after the northern and southern branches of the Hy Neill had consolidated their power at Ailech and in Westmeath. Whatever truth there may be in the legend, it demonstrates conclusively the absence of a rallying point where the idea of a central government might have taken root. Aed, son of Ainmire (572-598) of the northern Hy Neill, figures prominently in the story of St Columba. It was during his reign that the famous assembly of Drumcet (near Newtownlimavaddy in Co. Derry) was held. The story goes that the filid had increased in number to such an extent that they included one-third of the freemen. There was thus quite an army of impudent swaggering idlers roaming about the country and 1 The O'Neills who played such an important part in later Irish history do not take their name from Niall Noigiallach, though they are descended from him. They take their name from Niall Glundub (d. 919).

quartering themselves on the chiefs and nobles during the winter and spring, story-telling, and lampooning those who dared to hesitate to comply with their demands.

Some idea of the style of living of the learned professions in early Ireland may be gathered from the income enjoyed in later times by the literati of Tir Conaill (Co. Donegal). It has been computed that no less than £2000 was set aside yearly in this small state for the maintenance of the class. No wonder; then, that Aed determined to banish them from Ireland. At the convention of Drumcet the number of filid was greatly reduced, lands were assigned for their maintenance, the ollams were required to open schools and to support the inferior bards as teachers. This reform may have helped to foster the cultivation of the native literature, and it is possible that we owe to it the preservation of the Ulster epic. But the Irish were unfortunately incapable of rising above the saga, consisting of a mixture of prose and verse. Their greatest achievement in literature dates back to the dawn of history, and we find no more trace of development in the world of letters than in the political sphere. The Irishman, in his own language at any rate, seems incapable of a sustained literary effort, a consequence of which is that he invents the most intricate measures. Sense is thus too frequently sacrificed to sound. The influence of the professional literary class kept the clan spirit alive with their elaborate genealogies, and in their poems they only pandered to the vanity and vices of their patrons. That no new ideas came in may be gathered from the fact that the bulk of Irish literature so far published dates from before Boo, though the MSS. which contain it are much later. Bearing in mind how largely the Finn cycle is modelled on the older Ulster epic, works of originality composed between 1000 and 1600 are with one or two exceptions conspicuously absent.

At the convention of Drumcet the status of the Dalriadic settlement in Argyll was also regulated. The ardri desired to make the colony an Irish state tributary to the high-king; but on the special pleading of St Columba it was allowed to remain independent. Aed lost his life in endeavouring to exact the boroma tribute from Brandub, king of Leinster, who defeated him at Dunbolg in 598. After several short reigns the throne was occupied by Aed's son Domnall (627-641). His predecessor, Suibne Menn, had been slain by the king of Dalaraide, Congal Claen. The latter was driven out of the country by Domnall, whereupon Congal collected an army of foreign adventurers made up of Saxons, Dalriadic Scots, Britons and Picts to regain his lands and to avenge himself on the high-king. In a sanguinary encounter at Mag Raith (Moira in Co. Down), which forms the subject of a celebrated romance, Congal was slain and the power of the settlement in Kintyre weakened for a considerable period. A curious feature of Hy Neill rule about this time was joint kingship. From 563 to 656 there were no less than five such pairs. In 681 St Moling of Ferns prevailed upon the ardri Finnachta (674-690) to renounce for ever the boroma, tribute, which had always been a source of friction between the supreme king and the ruler of Leinster. This was, however, unfortunately not the last of the boroma. Fergal (711-722), in trying to enforce it again, was slain in a famous battle at Allen in Kildare. As a sequel Fergal's son, Aed Allan (734-743), defeated the men of Leinster with great slaughter at Ballyshannon (Co. Kildare) in 737. If there was so little cohesion among the various provinces it is small wonder that Ireland fell such an easy prey to the Vikings in the next century. In 697 an assembly was held at Tara in which a law known as Cain Adamnain was passed, at the instance of Adamnan, prohibiting women from taking part in battle; a decision that shows how far Ireland with its tribal system lagged behind Teutonic and Latin countries in civilization. A similar enactment exempting the clergy, known as Cain Pairaic, was agreed to in 803. The story goes that the ardri Aed Oirdnigthe (797-819) made a hostile incursion into Leinster and forced the primate of Armagh and all his clergy to attend him. When representations were made to the king as to the impropriety of his conduct, he referred the matter to his adviser, Fothud, who was also a cleric. Fothud pronounced that the clergy should be exempted, and three verses purporting to be his decision are still extant.

Invasion of the Northmen

The first incursion of the Northmen took place in A.D. 795, when they plundered and burnt the church of Rechru, now Lambay, an island north of Dublin Bay. When this event occurred, the power of the over-king was a mere shadow. The provincial kingdoms had split up into more or less independent principalities, almost constantly at war with each other. The oscillation of the centre of power between Meath and Tir Eogain, according as the ardri belonged to the southern or northern Hy Neill, produced corresponding perturbations in the balance of parties among the minor kings. The army consisted of a number of tribes, each commanded by its own chief, and acting as so many independent units without cohesion. The tribesmen owed fealty only to their chiefs, who in turn owed a kind of conditional allegiance to the over-king, depending a good deal upon the ability of the latter to enforce it. A chief might through pique or other causes withdraw his tribe even on the eve of a battle without such defection being deemed dishonourable. What the tribe was to the nation or the province, the fine or sept was to the tribe itself. The head of a sept had a voice not only in the question of war or peace, for that was determined by the whole tribe, but in all subsequent operations. However brave the individual soldiers of such an army might be, the army itself was unreliable against a well-organized and disciplined enemy. Again, such tribal forces were only levies gathered together for a few weeks at most, unprovided with military stores or the means of transport, and consequently generally unprepared to attack fortifications of any kind,' and liable to melt away as quickly as they were gathered together. Admirably adapted for a sudden attack, such an army was wholly unfit to carry on a regular campaign or take advantage of a victory. These defects of the Irish military system were abundantly shown throughout the Viking period and also in Anglo-Norman times.

The first invaders were probably Norwegians' from Hordaland in search of plunder and captives. Their attacks were not confined to the sea-coasts; they were able to ascend the rivers in their ships, and already in 801 they are found on the upper Shannon. At the outset the invaders arrived in small bodies, but as these met with considerable resistance large fleets commanded by powerful Vikings followed. With such forces it was possible to put fleets of boats on the inland lakes. Rude earthen or stockaded forts, serving as magazines and places of retreat, were erected; or in some cases use was made of strongholds already existing, such as Dun Almain in Kildare, Dunlavin in Wicklow and Fermoy in Cork. Some of these military posts in course of time became trading stations or grew into towns. During the first half of the 9th century attacks were incessant in most parts of the island. In 801 we find Norwegians on the upper Shannon; in 820 the whole of Ireland was harried; and five years later we hear of Vikings in Co. Dublin, Meath, Kildare, Wicklow, Queen's Co., Kilkenny and Tipperary. However, the invaders do not appear to have acted in concert until 830. About this time a powerful leader, named Turgeis (Turgesius), accompanied by two nobles, Saxolb and Domrair (Thorir), arrived with a " royal fleet." Sailing up the Shannon they built strongholds on Lough Ree and devastated Connaught and Meath. Eventually Turgeis established himself in Armagh, whilst his wife Ota settled at Clonmacnoise and profaned the monastery church with pagan rites. Indeed, the numerous ecclesiastical establishments appear to have been quite as much the object of the invaders' fury as the civil authorities. The monastery of Armagh was rebuilt ten times, and as often destroyed. It was sacked three times in one month. Turgeis himself is reported to have usurped the abbacy of Armagh. To escape from the continuous attacks on the monasteries, Irish monks and scholars fled in large numbers to the continent carrying with them their precious books. Among them were At this period it is extremely difficult to distinguish between Norwegians and Danes on account of the close connexion between the ruling families of both countries.

many of the greatest lights in the world of letters of the time, such as Sedulius Scottus and Johannes Scottus Erigena. The figure of Turgeis has given rise to considerable discussion, as there is no mention of him in Scandinavian sources. It seems probable that his Norwegian name was Thorgils and he was possibly related to Godf red, father of Olaf the White, who figures prominently in Irish history a little later. Turgeis apparently united the Viking forces, as he is styled the first king of the Norsemen in Ireland. A permanent sovereignty over the whole of Ireland, such as Turgeis seems to have aimed at, was then as in later times impossible because of the state of society. During his lifetime various cities were founded - the first on Irish soil. Dublin came into existence in 840, and Waterford and Limerick appear in history about the same time. Although. the Norsemen were constantly engaged in conflict with the Irish, these cities soon became important commercial centres trading with England, France and Norway. Turgeis was captured and drowned by the ardri Maelsechlainn in 844, and two years later Domrair was slain. However cruel and rapacious the Vikings may have been, the work of disorder and ruin was not all theirs. The condition of the country afforded full scope for the jealousy, hatred, cupidity and vanity which characterize the tribal state of political society. For instance, Fedilmid, king of Munster and archbishop of Cashel, took the opportunity of the misfortunes of the country to revive the claims of the Munster dynasty to be kings of Ireland. To enforce this claim he ravaged and plundered a large part of the country, took hostages from Niall Caille the over-king (833-845), drove out the comarba of St Patrick, or archbishop of Armagh, and for a whole year occupied his place as bishop. On his return he plundered the termon lands of Clonmacnoise " up to the church door," an exploit which was repeated the following year. There is no mention of his having helped to drive out the foreigners.

For some years after the death of Turgeis the Norsemen appear to have lacked a leader and to have been hard pressed. It was during this period that Dublin was chosen as the point of concentration for their forces. In 848 a Danish fleet from the south of England arrived in Dublin Bay. The Danes are called in Irish Dubgaill, or black foreigners, as distinguished from the Findgaill, 2 or white foreigners, i.e. Norwegians. The origin of these terms, as also of the Irish name for Norway (Lochlann), is obscure. At first the Danes and Norwegians appear to have made common cause, but two years later the new city of Dublin was stormed by the Danes. In 851 the Dublin Vikings succeeded in vanquishing the Danes after a three days' battle at Snaim Aignech (Carlingford Lough), whereupon the defeated party under their leader Horm took service with Cerball, king of Ossory. Even in the first half of the 9th century there must have been a great deal of intermarriage between the invaders and the native population, due in part at any rate to the number of captive women who were carried off. A mixed race grew up, recruited by many Irish of pure blood, whom a love of adventure and a lawless spirit led away. This heterogeneous population was called Gallgoidel or foreign Irish (whence the modern name Galloway), and like their northern kinsmen they betook themselves to the sea and practised piracy. The Christian element in this mixed society soon lapsed to a large extent, if not entirely, into paganism.. The Scandinavian settlements were almost wholly confined to the seaport towns, and except Dublin included none of the surrounding territory. Owing to its position and the character of the country about it, especially the coast-land to the north of the Liffey which formed a kind of border-land between the territories of the kings of Meath and Leinster, a considerable tract passed into the possession of so powerful a city as Dublin.

The social and political condition of Ireland, and the pastoral occupation of the inhabitants, were unfavourable to the development of foreign commerce, and the absence of coined money among them shows that it did not exist on an extensive scale.

2 This name survives in Fingall, the name of a district north of Dublin city. Dubgall is contained in the proper names MacDougall, MacDowell.

The foreign articles of luxury (dress, ornaments, wine, &c.) required by them were brought to the great oenachs or fairs held periodically in various parts of the country. A flourishing commerce, however, soon grew up in the Scandinavian towns; mints were established, and many foreign traders - Flemings, Italians and others - settled there. It was through these Scandinavian trading communities that Ireland came into contact with the rest of Europe in the iith and 12th centuries. If evidence were needed it is only necessary to point to the names of three of the Irish provinces, Ulster, Leinster, Munster, which are formed from the native names (Ulaid, Laigin, Muma-n) with the addition of Norse staor; and the very name by which the island is now generally known is Scandinavian in form (Ira-land, the land of the Irish). The settlers in the Scandinavian towns early came to be looked upon by the native Irish as so many septs of a tribe added to the system of petty states forming the Irish political system. They soon mixed in the domestic quarrels of neighbouring tribes, at first selling their protection, but afterwards as vassals, sometimes as allies, like the septs and tribes of the Goidel among themselves. The latter in turn acted in similar capacities with the Irish-Norwegian chiefs, Irish tribes often forming part of the Scandinavian armies in Britain. This intercourse led to frequent intermarriage between the chiefs and nobility of the two peoples. As an instance, the case of Cerball, king of Ossory (d. 887), may be cited. Eyvindr, surnamed Austmaor, "the east-man," son of Bjorn, agreed to defend Cerball's territory on condition of receiving his daughter Raforta in marriage. Among the children of this marriage were Helgi Magri, one of the early settlers in Iceland, and Thurida, wife of Thorstein the Red. Three other daughters of Cerball married Scandinavians: Gormflaith (Korm166) married Grimolf, who settled in Iceland, Fridgerda married Thorir Hyrna, and Ethne (Edna) married HliAver, father of Earl Sigurd Digri who fell at Clontarf. Cerball's son Domnall (Dufnialr) was the founder of an Icelandic family, whilst the names Raudi and Baugr occur in the same family. Hence the occurrence of such essentially Irish names as Konall, Kjaran, Njall, Kormakr, Brigit, Kalin, &c., among Icelanders and Norwegians cannot be a matter for surprise; nor that a number of Norse words were introduced into Irish, notably terms connected with trade and the sea.

The obscure contest between the Norwegians and Danes for supremacy in Dublin appears to have made the former feel the need of a powerful leader. At any rate, in 851-852 the king of Lochlann (Norway) sent his son Amlaib (Olaf the White) to assume sovereignty over the Norsemen in Ireland and to receive tribute and vassals. From this time it is possible to speak of a Scandinavian kingdom of Dublin, a kingdom which lasted almost without interruption until the Norman Conquest. The king of Dublin exercised overlordship over the other Viking communities in the island, and thus became the most dangerous opponent of the ardri, with whom he was constantly at variance. Amlaib was accompanied by Ivar, who is stated in one source to have been his brother. Some writers wish to identify this prince with the famous Ivar Beinlaus, son of Ragnar Lodbrok. Amlaib was opposed to the ardri Maelsechlainn I. (846-863) who had overcome Turgeis. This brave ruler gained a number of victories over the Norsemen, but in true Irish fashion they were never followed up. Although his successor Aed Finnliath (863-879) gave his daughter in marriage to Amlaib, no better relations were established. The king of Dublin was certainly the most commanding figure in Ireland in his day, and during his lifetime the Viking power was greatly extended. In 870 he captured the strongholds of Dumbarton and Dunseverick (Co. Antrim). He disappears from the scene in 873. One source represents him as dying in Ireland, but the circumstances are quite obscure. Ivar only survived Olaf two or three years, and it is stated that he died a Christian. During the ensuing period Dublin was the scene of constant family feuds, which weakened 1 In Anglo-Norman times the Scandinavians of Dublin and other cities are always called Ostmen, i.e. Eastmen; hence the name Ostmanstown, now Oxmanstown, a part of the city of Dublin.

its power to such an extent that in 901 Dublin and Waterford were captured by the Irish and were obliged to acknowledge the supremacy of the high-king. The Irish Annals state that there were no fresh invasions of the Northmen for about forty years dating from 877. During this period Ireland enjoyed comparative rest notwithstanding the intertribal feuds in which the Norse settlers shared, including the campaigns of Cormac, son of Cuilennan, the scholarly king-bishop of Cashel.

Towards the end of this interval of repose a certain Sigtrygg, who was probably a great-grandson of the Ivar mentioned above, addressed himself to the task of winning back the kingdom of his ancestor. Waterford was retaken in 914 by Ivar, grandson of Ragnall and Earl Ottir, and Sigtrygg won a signal victory over the king of Leinster at Cenn Fuait (Co. Kilkenny?) two years later. Dublin was captured, and the high-king Niall Glundub (910-919) prepared to oppose the invaders. A battle of prime importance was gained by Sigtrygg over the ardri, who fell fighting gallantly at Kilmashogue near Dublin in 919. Between 920 and 970 the Scandinavian power in Ireland reached its zenith. The country was desolated and plundered by natives and foreigners alike. The lower Shannon was more thoroughly occupied by the Norsemen, with which fact the rise of Limerick is associated. Carlow, Kilkenny and the territory round Lough Neagh were settled, and after the capture of Lough Erne in 932 much of Longford was colonized. The most prominent figures at this time were Muirchertach " of the leather cloaks," son of Niall Glundub, Cellachan of Cashel and Amlaib (Olaf) Cuaran. The first-named waged constant warfare against the foreigners and was the most formidable opponent the Scandinavians had yet met. In his famous circuit of Ireland (941) he took all the provincial kings, as well as the king of Dublin, as hostages, and after keeping them for five months at Ailech he handed them over to the feeble titular ardri, showing that his loyalty was greater than his ambition. Unlike Muirchertach, Cellachan of Cashel, the hero of a late romance, was not particular whether he fought for or against the Norsemen. In 920 Sigtrygg (d. 927) was driven out of Dublin by his brother Godfred (d. 934) and retired to York, where he became king of Northumbria. His sons Olaf and Godfred were expelled by Æthelstan. The former, better known as Amlaib (Olaf) Cuaran, married the daughter of Constantine, king of Scotland, and fought at Brunanburh (938). Born about 920, he perhaps became king of York in 941. Expelled in 944-945 he went to Dublin and drove out his cousin Blakare, son of Godfred. At the same time he held sway over the kingdom of Man and the Isles. We find this romantic character constantly engaged on expeditions in England, Ireland and Scotland. In 956 Congalach, the high-king, was defeated and slain by the Norse of Dublin. In 973 his son Domnall, in alliance with Amlaib, defeated the high-king Domnall O'Neill at Cell Mona (Kilmoon in Co. Meath). This Domnall O'Neill, son of Muirchertach, son of Niall Glundub, was the first to adopt the name O'Neill (Ir. ua, 6=" grandson "). The tanists or heirs of the northern and southern Hy Neill having died, the throne fell to Maelsechlainn II., of the Cland Colrnain, the last of the Hy Neill who was undisputed king of Ireland. Maelsechlainn, who succeeded in 980, had already distinguished himself as king of Meath in war with the Norsemen. In the first year of his reign as high-king he defeated them in a bloody battle at Tara, in which Amlaib's son, Ragnall, fell. This victory, won over the combined forces of the Scandinavians of Dublin, Man and the Isles, compelled Amlaib to deliver up all his captives and hostages, - among whom were Domnall Claen, king of Leinster, and several notables - to forgo the tribute which he had imposed upon the southern Hy Neill and to pay a large contribution of cattle and money. Amlaib's spirit was so broken by this defeat that he retired to the monastery of Hi, where he died the same year.

The Dalcais Dynasty

We have already seen that the dominant race in Munster traced descent from Ailill Aulom. The Cashel dynasty claimed to descend from his eldest son Eogan, whilst the Dalcassians of Clare derived their origin from a younger son Cormac Cas. Ailill Aulom is said to have ordained that the succession to the throne should alternate between the two lines, as in the case of the Hy Neill. This, however, is perhaps a fiction of later poets who wished to give lustre to the ancestry of Brian Boruma, as very few of the Dalcais princes appear in the list of the kings of Cashel. The Dalcassians play no prominent part in history until, in the middle of the Toth century, they were ruled by Kennedy (Cennetig), son of Lorcan, king of Thomond (d. 954), by whom their power was greatly extended. He left two sons, Mathgamain (Mahon) and Brian, called Brian Boruma, probably from a village near Killaloe.' About the year 920 a Viking named Tomrair, son of Elgi, had seized the lower Shannon and established himself in Limerick, from which point constant incursions were made into all parts of Munster. After a period of guerrilla warfare in the woods of Thomond, Mathgamain concluded a truce with the foreigners, in which Brian refused to join. Thereupon Mathgamain crossed the Shannon and gained possession of the kingdom of Cashel, as Dunchad, the representative of the older line, had just died. Receiving the support of several of the native tribes, he felt himself in a position to attack the settlements of the foreigners in Munster. This aroused the ruler of Limerick, Ivar, who determined to carry the war into Thomond. He was supported by Maelmuad, king of Desmond, and Donoban, king of Hy Fidgeinte, and Hy Cairpri. Their army was met by Mathgamain at Sulchoit near Tipperary, where the Norsemen were defeated with great slaughter (968). This decisive victory gave the Dalcais Limerick, which they sacked and burnt, and Mathgamain then took hostages of all the chiefs of Munster. Ivar escaped to Britain, but returned after a year and entrenched himself at Inis Cathaig (Scattery Island in the lower Shannon). A conspiracy was formed between Ivar and his son Dubcenn and the two Munster chieftains Donoban and Maelmuad. Donoban was married to the daughter of a Scandinavian king of Waterford, and his own daughter was married to Ivar of Waterford. 2 In 976 Inis Cathaig was attacked and plundered by the Dalcais and the garrison, including Ivar and Dubcenn, slain. Shortly before this Mathgamain had been murdered by Donoban, and Brian thus became king of Thomond, whilst Maelmuad succeeded to Cashel. In 977 Brian made a sudden and rapid inroad into Donoban's territory, captured his fortress and slew the prince himself with a vast number of his followers. Maelmuad, the other conspirator, met with a like fate at Belach Lechta in Barnaderg (near Ballyorgan). After this battle Brian was acknowledged king of all Munster (978). After reducing the Desi, who were in alliance with the Northmen of Waterford and Limerick, in 984 he subdued Ossory and took hostages from the kings of East and West Leinster. In this manner he became virtually king of Leth Moga.

This rapid rise of the Dalcassian leader was bound to bring him into conflict with the ardri. Already in 982 Maelsechlainn had invaded Thomond and uprooted the venerable tree under which the Dalcais rulers were inaugurated. After the battle of Tara he had placed his half-brother Gluniarind, son of Amlaib Cuaran, in Dublin. This prince was murdered in 989 and was succeeded by Sigtrygg Silkiskeggi, son of Amlaib and Gormflaith, sister of Maelmorda, king of Leinster. In the same year Maelsechlainn took Dublin and imposed an annual tribute on the city. During these years there were frequent trials of strength between the ardri and the king of Munster. In 992 Brian invaded Meath, and four years later Maelsechlainn defeated Brian in Munster. In 998 Brian ascended the Shannon with a large force, intending to attack Connaught, and Maelsechlainn, who received no support from the northern Hy Neill, came to terms with him. All hostages held by the over-king from the Northmen and Irish of Leth Moga were to be given up to Brian, which was a virtual surrender of all his rights over the southern half of Ireland; while Brian on his part recognized Maelsechlainn as sole king of Leth Cuinn. In 1000 Leinster revolted against Brian and entered into an alliance with the king of Dublin. Brian advanced towards the city, halting at a place called Glen Mama near 1 On the name see K. Meyer Erin, iv. pp. 71-73. 2 Donaban, the son of this Ivar of Waterford, is the ancestor of the O'Donavans, Donoban that of the O'Donovans.

Dunlavin (Co. Wicklow). He was attacked by the allied forces, who were repulsed with great slaughter. Maelmorda, king of Leinster, was taken prisoner, and Sigtrygg fled for protection to Ailech. The victor gave proof at once that he was not only a clever general but also a skilful diplomatist. Maelmorda was restored to his kingdom, Sigtrygg received Brian's daughter in marriage, whilst Brian took to himself the Dublin king's mother, the notorious Gormflaith, who had already been divorced by Maelsechlainn. After thus establishing peace and consolidating his power, Brian returned to his residence Cenn Corad and matured his plan of obtaining the high-kingship for himself. When everything was ready he entered Mag Breg with an army consisting of his own troops, those of Ossory, his South Connaught vassals and the Norsemen of Munster. The king of Dublin also sent a small force to his assistance. Maelsechlainn, taken by surprise and feeling himself unequal to the contest, endeavoured to gain time. An armistice was concluded, during which he was to decide whether he would give Brian hostages (i.e. abdicate) or not. He applied to the northern Hy Neill to come to his assistance, and even offered to abdicate in favour of the chief of the Cinel Eogain, but the latter refused unless Maelsechlainn undertook to cede to them half the territory of his own tribe, the Cland Colmain. The attempt to unite the whole of the Eremonian against the Eberian race and preserve a dynasty that had ruled Ireland for 600 years, having failed, Maelsechlainn submitted to Brian, and without any formal act of cession the latter became ardri. During a reign of twelve years (1002-1014) he is said to have effected much improvement in the country by the erection and repair of churches and schools, and the construction of bridges, causeways, roads and fortresses. We are also told that he administered rigid and impartial justice and dispensed royal hospitality. As he was liberal to the bards, they did not forget his merits.

Towards the end of Brian's reign a conspiracy was entered into between Maelmorda, king of Leinster, and his nephew Sigtrygg of Dublin. The ultimate cause of this movement was an insult offered by Murchad, Brian's son, to the king of Leinster, who was egged on by his sister Gormflaith. Sigtrygg secured promises of assistance from Sigurd, earl of Orkney, and Brodir of Man. In the spring of 1014 Maelmorda and Sigtrygg had collected a considerable army in Dublin, consisting of contingents from all the Scandinavian settlements in the west in addition to Maelmorda's own Leinster forces, the whole being commanded by Sigurd, earl of Orkney. This powerful prince, whose mother was a daughter of Cerball of Ossory (d. 887), appears to have aimed at the supreme command of all the Scandinavian settlements of the west, and in the course of a few years conquered the kingdom of the Isles, Sutherland, Ross, Moray and Argyll. To meet such formidable opponents, Brian, now an old man unable to lead in person, mustered all the forces of Munster and Connaught, and was joined by Maelsechlainn in command of the forces of Meath. The northern Hy Neill and the Ulaid took no part in the struggle. Brian advanced into the plain of Fingall, north of Dublin, where a council of war was held. The longest account of the battle that followed occurs in a source very partial to Brian and the deeds of Munstermen, in which Maelsechlainn is accused of treachery, and of holding his troops in reserve. The battle, generally known as the battle of Clontarf, though the chief fighting took place close to Dublin, about the small river Tolka, was fought on Good Friday 1014. After a stout and protracted resistance the Norse forces were routed. Maelsechlainn with his Meathmen came down on the fugitives as they tried to cross the bridge leading to Dublin or to reach their ships. On both sides the slaughter was terrible, and most of the leaders lost their lives. Brian himself perished along with his son Murchad and Maelmorda. This great struggle finally disposed of the possibility of Scandinavian supremacy in Ireland, but in spite of this it can only be regarded as a national misfortune. The power of the kingdom of Dublin had been already broken by the defeat of Amlaib Cuaran at Tara in 980, and the main result of the battle of Clontarf was to weaken the central power and to throw the whole island into a state of anarchy. Although beaten on the field of battle the Norsemen still retained possession of their fortified cities, and gradually they assumed the position of native tribes. The Dalcassian forces had been so much weakened by the great struggle that Maelsechlainn was again recognized as king of Ireland. However, the effects of Brian's revolution were permanent; the prescriptive rights of the Hy Neill were disputed, and from the battle of Clontarf until the coming of the Normans the history of Ireland consisted of a struggle for ascendancy between the O'Brians of Munster, the O'Neills of Ulster and the O'Connors of Connaught.

From the Battle of Clontarf to the Anglo-Norman Invasion

The death of Maelsechlainn in 1022 afforded an opportunity for an able and ambitious man to subdue Ireland, establish a strong central government, break up the tribal system and further the gradual fusion of factions into a homogeneous nation. Such a man did not arise; those who afterwards claimed to be ardri lacked the qualities of founders of strong dynasties, and are termed by the annalists " kings with opposition." Brian was survived by two sons, Tadg and Donnchad, the elder of whom was slain in 1023. Donnchad (d. 1064) was certainly the most distinguished figure in Ireland in his day. He subdued more than half of Ireland, and almost reached the position once held by his father. His strongest opponent was his son-in-law Diarmait Mael-na-mBo, king of Leinster, who was also the foster-father of his brother Tadg's son, Tordelbach (Turlough) O'Brian. On the death of Diarmait in 1072 Tordelbach (d. 1086) reigned supreme in Leth Moga; Meath and Connaught also submitted to him, but he failed to secure the allegiance of the northern Hy Neill. He was succeeded by his son Muirchertach (d. 1119), who spent most of his life contending against his formidable opponent Domnall O'Lochlainn, king of Tir Eogain (d. i 121). The struggle for the sovereignty between these two rivals continued, with intervals of truce negotiated by the clergy, without any decisive advantage on either side. In 1102 Magnus Barefoot made his third and last expedition to the west with the express design of conquering Ireland. Muirchertach opposed him with a large force, and a conference was arranged at which a son of Magnus was betrothed to Biadmuin, daughter of the Irish prince. He was also mixed up in English affairs, and as a rule maintained cordial relations with Henry I. After the death of Domnall O'Lochlainn there was an interregnum of about fifteen years with no ardri, until Tordelbach (Turlough) O'Connor, king of Connaught, resolved to reduce the other provinces. Munster and Meath were repeatedly ravaged, and in 11 51 he crushed Tordelbach (Turlough) O'Brian, king of Thomond, at Moanmor. O'Connor's most stubborn opponent was Muirchertach O'Lochlainn, with whom he wrestled for supremacy until the day of his death (1156). Tordelbach, who enjoyed a great reputation even after his death, was remembered as having thrown bridges over the Shannon, and as a patron of the arts. However, war was so constant in Ireland at this time that under the year 1145 the Four Masters describe the island as a " trembling sod." Tordelbach was succeeded by his son Ruadri (Roderick, q.v.), who after some resistance had to acknowledge Muirchertach O'Lochlainn's supremacy. The latter, however, was slain in 1166 in consequence of having wantonly blinded the king of Dal Araide. Ruadri O'Connor, now without a serious rival, was inaugurated with great pomp at Dublin.

Diarmait MacMurchada (Dermod MacMurrough), greatgrandson of Diarmait Mael-na-mBo, as king of Leinster was by descent and position much mixed up with foreigners, and generally in a state of latent if not open hostility to the high-kings of the Hy Neill and Dalcais dynasties. He was a tyrant and a bad character. In 1152 Tigernan O'Rourke, prince of Breifne, had been dispossessed of his territory by Tordelbach O'Connor, aided by Diarmait, and the latter is accused also of carrying off Derbforgaill, wife of O'Rourke. On learning that O'Rourke was leading an army against him with the support of Ruadri, he burnt his castle of Ferns and went to Henry II. to seek assistance. The momentous consequences of this step belong to the next section, and it now remains for us to state the condition of the church and society in the century preceding the Anglo-Norman invasion.

Although the Irish Church conformed to Roman usage in the matter of Easter celebration and tonsure in the 7th century, the bond between Ireland and Rome was only slight until several centuries later. Whatever co-ordination may have existed in the church of the 8th century was doubtless destroyed during the troubled period of the Viking invasions. It is probable that St Patrick established Armagh as a metropolitan see, but the history of the primacy, which during a long period can only have been a shadow, is involved in obscurity. Its supremacy was' undoubtedly recognized by Brian Boruma in 1004, when he laid 20 oz. of gold upon the high altar. In the 11th century a competitor arose in the see of Dublin. The Norse rulers were bound to come under the influence of Christianity at an early date. For instance, Amlaib Cuaran was formally converted in England in 942 and was baptized by Wulfhelm of Canterbury. The antithesis between the king of Dublin and the ardri seems to have had the effect of linking the Dublin Christian community rather with Canterbury than Armagh. King Sigtrygg founded the bishopric of Dublin in 1035, and the early bishops of Dublin, Waterford and Limerick were all consecrated by the English primate. As Lanfranc and Anselm were both anxious to extend their jurisdiction over the whole of Ireland, the submission of Dublin opened the way for Norman and Roman influences. At the beginning of the 12th century Gilbert, bishop of Limerick and papal legate, succeeded in winning over Celsus, bishop of Armagh (d. 1129), to the reform movement. Celsus belonged to a family which had held the see for 200 years; he was grandson of a previous primate and is said to have been himself a married man. Yet he became, in the skilful hands of Gilbert and Maelmaedoc O'Morgair, the instrument of overthrowing the hereditary succession to the primatial see. In 1118 the important synod of Rathbressil was held, at which Ireland was divided into dioceses, this being the first formal attempt at getting rid of that anarchical state of church government which had hitherto prevailed. The work begun under Celsus was completed by his successor Maelmaed6c (Malachy). At a national synod held about 1134 Maelmaedoc, in his capacity as bishop of Armagh, was solemnly elected to the primacy; and armed with full power of church and state he was able to overcome all opposition. Under his successor Gelasius, Cardinal Paparo was despatched as supreme papal legate. At the synod of Kells (1152) there was established that diocesan system which has ever since continued without material alteration. Armagh was constituted the seat of the primacy, and Cashel, Tuam and Dublin were raised to the rank of archbishoprics. It was also ordained that tithes should be levied for the support of the clergy.

Social Conditions

In the middle ages there were considerable forests in Ireland encompassing broad expanses of upland pastures and marshy meadows. It is traditionally stated that fences first came into general use in the 7th century. There were no cities or large towns before the arrival of the Norsemen; no stone bridges spanned the rivers; stepping stones or hurdle bridges at the fords or shallows offered the only mode of crossing the broadest streams, and connecting the unpaved roads or bridle paths which crossed the country over hill and dale from the principal dials. The forests abounded in game, the red deer and wild boar were common, whilst wolves ravaged the flocks. Scattered over the country were numerous small hamlets, composed mainly of wicker cabins, among which were some which might be called houses; other hamlets were composed of huts of the rudest kind. Here and there were large villages that had grown up about groups of houses surrounded by an earthen mound or rampart; similar groups enclosed in this manner were also to be found without any annexed hamlet. Sometimes there were two or three circumvallations or even more, and where water was plentiful the ditch between was flooded. The simple rampart enclosed a space called lis 1 which contained 1 The term rath was perhaps applied to the rampart, but both lis and rath are used to denote the whole structure.

the agricultural buildings and the groups of houses of the owners. The enclosed houses belonged to the free men (aire, pl. airig). The size of the houses and of the enclosing mound and ditch marked the wealth and rank of the aire. If his wealth consisted of chattels only, he was a bo-aire (cow-aire). When he possessed ancestral land he was a flaith or lord, and was entitled to let his lands for grazing, to have a hamlet in which lived labourers and to keep slaves. The larger fort with several ramparts was a din, where the ri (chieftain) lived and kept his hostages if he had subreguli. The houses of all classes were of wood, chiefly wattles and wicker-work plastered with clay. In shape they were most frequently cylindrical, having conical roofs thatched with rushes or straw. The oratories were of the same form and material, but the larger churches and kingly banqueting halls were rectangular and made of sawn boards. Bede, speaking of a church built by Finan at Lindisfarne, says, " nevertheless, after the manner of the Scots, he made it not of stone but of hewn oak and covered it with reeds." When St Maelmaedoc in the first half of the 12th century thought of building a stone oratory at Bangor it was deemed a novelty by the people, who exclaimed, " we are Scotti not Galli." Long before this, however, stone churches had been built in other parts of Ireland, and many round towers. In some of the stone-forts of the south-west (Ir. cathir) the houses within the rampart were made of stone in the form of a bee-hive, and similar cloghans, as they are called, are found in the western isles of Scotland.

Here and there in the neighbourhood of the hamlets were patches of corn grown upon allotments which were gavelled, or redistributed, every two or three years. Around the dins and raths, where the corn land was the fixed property of the lord, the cultivation was better. Oats was the chief corn crop, but wheat, barley and rye were also grown. Much attention was paid to bee-keeping and market-gardening, which had probably been introduced by the church. The only industrial plants were flax and the dye-plants, chief among which were woad and rud, roid (a kind of bed-straw?). Portions of the pasture lands were reserved as meadows; the tilled land was manured. There are native names for the plough, so it may be assumed that some form of that implement, worked by oxen, yoked together with a simple straight yoke, was in use in early times. Wheeled carts were also known; the wheels were often probably only solid disks, though spoked wheels were used for chariots. Droves of swine under the charge of swineherds wandered through the forests; some belonged to the ri, others to lords (flaith) and others again to village communities. The house-fed pig was then as now an important object of domestic economy, and its flesh was much prized. Indeed, fresh pork was one of the inducements held out to visitors to the Irish Elysium. Horned cattle constituted the chief wealth of the country, and were the standard for estimating the worth of anything, for the Irish had no coined money and carried on all commerce by barter. The unit of value was called a set, a word denoting a jewel or precious object of any kind. The normal set was an average milch-cow. Gold, silver, bronze, tin, clothes and all other kinds of property were estimated in sets. Three sets were equal to a cumal (female slave). Sheep were kept everywhere for their flesh and their wool, and goats were numerous. Horses were extensively employed for riding, working in the fields and carrying loads. Irish horsemen rode without saddle or stirrups. So important a place did bee-culture hold in the rural economy of the ancient Irish that a lengthy section is devoted to the subject in the Brehon Laws. The honey was used both in cooking and for making mead, as well as for eating.

The ancient Irish were in the main a pastoral people. When they had sown their corn, they drove their herds and flocks to the mountains, where such existed, and spent the summer there, returning in autumn to reap their corn and take up their abode in their more sheltered winter residences. This custom of " booleying " (Ir. buaile, " shieling ") is not originally Irish, according to some writers, but was borrowed from the Scandinavians. Where the tribe had land on the sea-coast they also appear to have migrated thither in summer. The chase in the summer occupied the freemen, not only as a source of enjoyment but also as a matter of necessity, for wolves were very numerous. For this purpose they bred dogs of great swiftness, strength and sagacity, which were much admired by the Romans.

The residences within enclosing ramparts did not consist of one house with several apartments, but every room was a separate house. Thus the buildings forming the residence of a well-to-do farmer of the bo-aire class as described in the Laws, consisted of a living-house in which he slept and took his meals, a cookinghouse, a kiln for drying corn, a barn, a byre for calves, a sheepfold and a pigsty. In the better classes the women had a separate house known as griandn (sun-chamber). The round houses were constructed in the following manner. The wall was formed of long stout poles placed in a circle close to one another, with their ends fixed firmly in the ground. The spaces between were closed in with rods (usually hazel) firmly interwoven. The poles were peeled and polished smooth. The whole surface of the wicker-work was plastered on the outside and made brilliantly white with lime, or occasionally striped in various colours, leaving the white poles exposed to view. There was no chimney; the fire was made in the centre of the house and the smoke escaped through a hole in the roof, or through the door as in Hebridean houses of the present day. Near the fire, fixed in a kind of holder, was a candle of tallow or raw beeswax. Around the wall in the houses of the wealthy were arranged the bedsteads, or rather compartments, with testers and fronts, sometimes made of carved yew. At the foot of each compartment, and projecting into the main room, there was a low fixed seat, often stuffed with some soft material, for use during the day. Besides these there were on the floor of the main apartment a number of detached movable couches or seats, all low, with one or more low tables of some sort. In the halls of the kings the position of each person's bed and seat, and the portion of meat which he was entitled to receive from the distributor, were regulated according to a rigid rule of precedence. Each person who had a seat in the king's house had his shield suspended over him. Every king had hostages for the fealty of his vassals; they sat unarmed in the hall, and those who had become forfeited by a breach of treaty or allegiance were placed along the wall in fetters. There were places in the king's hall for the judge, the poet, the harper, the various craftsmen, the juggler and the fool. The king had his bodyguard of four men always around him; these were commonly men whom he had saved from execution or redeemed from slavery. Among the miscellaneous body of attendants about the house of a king or noble were many Saxon slaves, in whom there was a regular trade until it was abolished by the action of the church in 1171. The slaves slept on the ground in the kitchen or in cabins outside the fort.

The children of the upper classes in Ireland, both boys and girls, were not reared at home but were sent elsewhere to be fostered. It was usual for a chief to send his child to one of his own sub-chiefs, but the parents often chose a chief of their own rank. For instance, the ollam fili, or chief poet, who ranked in some respects with a tribe-king, sent his sons to be fostered by the king of his own territory. Fosterage might be undertaken out of affection or for payment. In the latter case the fee varied according to rank, and there are numerous laws extant fixing the cost and regulating the food and dress of the child according to his position. Sometimes a chief acted as foster-father to a large number of children. The cost of the fosterage of boys seems to have been borne by the mother's property, that of the daughters by the father's. The ties created by fosterage were nearly as close and as binding on children as those of blood.

There is ample evidence that great laxity prevailed with regard to the marriage tie even after the introduction of Christianity, as marrying within the forbidden degrees and repudiation continued to be very frequent in spite of the efforts of the church. Marriage by purchase was universal, and the wealth of the contracting parties constituted the primary element of a legitimate union. The bride and bridegroom should be provided with a joint fortune proportionate to their rank. When they were of equal rank, and the family of each contributed an equal share to the marriage portion, the marriage was legal in the full sense and the wife was a wife of equal rank. The church endeavoured to make the wife of a first marriage the only true wife; but concubinage was known as an Irish institution until long after the Anglo-Norman invasion, and it is recognized in the Laws. If a concubine had sons her position did not differ materially in some respects from that of a chief wife. As the tie of the sept was blood, all the acknowledged children of a man, whether legitimate or illegitimate, belonged equally to his sept. Even adulterine bastardy was no bar to a man becoming chief of his tribe, as in the case of Hugh O'Neill, earl of Tyrone. (See O'Neill.) The food of the Irish was very simple, consisting in the main of oaten cakes, cheese, curds, milk, butter, and the flesh of domestic animals both fresh and salted. The better classes were acquainted with wheaten bread also. The food of the inhabitants of the Land of Promise consisted of fresh pork, new milk and ale. Fish, especially salmon, and game should of course be added to the list. The chief drinks were ale and mead.

The dress of the upper classes was similar to that of a Scottish Highlander before it degenerated into the present conventional garb of a highland regiment. Next the skin came a shirt (lane) of fine texture often richly embroidered. Over this was a tightly fitting tunic (roar, lend) reaching below the hips with a girdle at the waist. In the case of women the roar fell to the feet. Over the left shoulder and fastened with a brooch hung the loose cloak (brat), to which the Scottish plaid corresponds. The kilt seems to have been commonly worn, especially by soldiers, whose legs were usually bare, but we also hear of tight-fitting trousers extending below the ankles. The feet were either entirely naked or encased in shoes of raw hide fastened with thongs. Sandals and shoes of bronze are mentioned in Irish literature, and quite a number are to be seen in museums. A loose flowing garment, intermediate between the brat and lend, usually of linen dyed saffron, was commonly worn in outdoor life, and was still used in the Hebrides about 1700. A modified form of this over-tunic with loose sleeves and made of frieze formed probably the general covering of the peasantry. Among the upper classes the garments were very costly and variously coloured. It would seem that the number of colours in the dress indicated the rank of the wearer. The hair was generally worn long by men as well as women, and ringlets were greatly admired. Women braided their hair into tresses, which they confined with a pin. The beard was also worn long. Like all ancient and semibarbarous people, the Irish were fond of ornaments. Indeed the profusion of articles of gold which have been found is remarkable; in the Dublin Museum may be seen bracelets, armlets, finger-rings, torques, crescents, gorgets, necklets, fibulae and diadems, all of solid gold and most exquisite workmanship.

The principal weapons of the Irish soldiers were a lance, a sword and a shield; though prior to the Anglo-Norman invasion they had adopted the battle-axe from the Scandinavians. The shields were of two kinds. One was the sciath, oval or oblong in shape, made of wicker-work covered with hide, and often large enough to cover the whole body. This was doubtless the form introduced by the Brythonic invaders. But round shields, smaller in size, were also commonly employed. These were made of bronze backed with wood, or of yew covered with hide. This latter type scarcely goes back to the round shield of the Bronze age. Armour and helmets were not generally employed at the time of the Anglo-Norman invasion.

In the Brehon Laws the land belongs in theory to the tribe, but this did not by any means correspond to the state of affairs. We find that the power of the petty king has made a very considerable advance, and that all the elements of feudalism are present, save that there was no central authority strong enough to organize the whole of Irish society on a feudal basis. The tuath or territory of a ri (represented roughly by a modern barony) was divided among the septs. The lands of a sept consisted of the estates in severalty of the lords (flathi), and of the ferand duthaig, or common lands of the sept. The dwellers on each of these kinds of land differed materially from each other.

On the former lived a motley population of slaves, horse-boys, and mercenaries composed of broken men of other clans, many of whom were fugitives from justice, possessing no rights either in the sept or tribe and entirely dependent on the bounty of the lord, and consequently living about his fortified residence. The poorer servile classes or cottiers, wood-cutters, swine-herds, &c., who had a right of domicile (acquired after three generations), lived here and there in small hamlets on the mountains and poorer lands of the estate. The good lands were let to a class of tenants called fuidirs, of whom there were several kinds, some grazing the land with their own cattle, others receiving both land and cattle from the lord. Fuidirs had no rights in the sept; some were true serfs, others tenants-at-will; they lived in scattered homesteads like the farmers of the present time. The lord was responsible before the law for the acts of all the servile classes on his estates, both new-corners and senchleithe, i.e. descendants of fuidirs, slaves, &c., whose families had lived on the estate during the time of three lords. He paid their bloodfines and received compensation for their slaughter, maiming or plunder. The fuidirs were the chief source of a lord's wealth, and he was consequently always anxious to increase them.

The freemen were divided into freemen pure and simple, freemen possessing a quantity of stock, and nobles (flathi) having vassals. Wealth consisted in cattle. Those possessed of large herds of kine lent out stock under various conditions. In the case of a chief such an offer could not be refused. In return, a certain customary tribute was paid. Such a transaction might be of two kinds. By the one the freemen took saer-stock and retained his status. But if he accepted daer-stock he at once descended to the rank of a vassal. In this way it was possible for the chief to extend his power enormously. Rent was commonly paid in kind. As a consequence of this, in place of receiving the farm produce at his own home the chief or noble reserved to himself the right of quartering himself and a certain number of followers in the house of his vassal, a practice which must have been ruinous to the small farmers. Freemen who possessed twenty-one cows and upwards were called airig (sing. aire), or, as we should say, had the franchise, and might fulfil the functions of bail, witness, &c. As the chief sought to extend his power in the tuath, he also endeavoured to aggrandize his position at the expense of other tuatha by compelling them to pay tribute to him. Such an aggregate of tuatha acknowledging one ri was termed a morthuath. The ruler of a morthuath paid tribute to the provincial king, who in his turn acknowledged at any rate in theory the overlordship of the ardri. The privileges and tributes of the provincial kings are ,preserved in a remarkable 10th century document, the Book of Rights. The rules of succession were extraordinarily complicated. Theoretically the members of a sept claimed common descent from the same ancestor, and the land belonged to the freemen. The chief and nobles, however, from various causes had come to occupy much of the territory as private property; the remainder consisted of tribe-land and commons-land. The portions of the tribe-land were not occupied for a fixed term, as the land of the sept was liable to gavelkind or redistribution from time to time. In some cases, however, land which belonged originally to a flaith was owned by a family; and after a number of generations such property presented a great similarity to the gavelled land. A remarkable development of family ownership was the geilfine system, under which four groups of persons, all nearly related to each other, held four adjacent tracts of land as a sort of common property, subject to regulations now very difficult to understand.' The king's mensal land, as also that of the tanist or successor to the royal office appointed during the king's lifetime, was not divided up but passed on in its entirety to the next individual elected to the position. When the family of an aire remained in possession of his estate in a corporate capacity, they formed a " joint and undivided family," the head of which was an aire, and thus kept up the rank of the family. Three or four poor members of a sept might combine their property and agree to form a " joint family," one of whom ' See D'Arbois de Jubainville, Revue celtique, xxv. 1 ff., 181 ff.

XIV. 2 5 [From Anglo-Norman Invasion] as the head would be an aire. In consequence of this organization the homesteads of airig commonly included several families, those of his brothers, sons, &c. (see Brehon Laws).

The ancient Irish never got beyond very primitive notions of justice. Retaliation for murder and other injuries was a common method of redress, although the church had endeavoured to introduce various reforms. Hence we find in the Brehon Laws a highly complicated system of compensatory payment; but there was no authority except public opinion to enforce the payment of the fines determined by the brehon in cases submitted to him.

There were many kinds of popular assemblies in ancient Ireland. The sept had its special meeting summoned by its chief for purposes such as the assessment of blood-fines due from the sept, and the distribution of those due to it. At larger gatherings the question of peace and war would be deliberated. But the most important of all such assemblies was the fair (oenach), which was summoned by a king, those summoned by the kings of provinces having the character of national assemblies. The most famous places of meeting were Tara, Telltown and Carman. The oenach had many objects. The laws were publicly promulgated or rehearsed; there were councils to deal with disputes and matters of local interest; popular sports such as horse-racing, running and wrestling were held; poems and tales were recited, and prizes were awarded to the best performers of every dan or art; while at the same time foreign traders came with their wares, which they exchanged for native produce, chiefly skins, wool and frieze. At some of these assemblies match-making played a prominent part. Tradition connects the better known of these fairs with pagan rites performed round the tombs of the heroes of the race; thus the assembly of Telltown was stated to have been instituted by Lugaid Lamfada. Crimes committed at an oenach could not be commuted by payment of fines. Women and men assembled for deliberation in separate airechta or gatherings, and no man durst enter the women's airecht under pain of death.

The noble professions almost invariably 'ran in families, so that members of the same household devoted themselves for generations to one particular science or art, such as poetry, history, medicine, law. The heads of the various professions in the tuath received the title of ollam. It was the rule for them to have paying apprentices living with them. The literary ollam or fili was a person of great distinction. He was provided with mensal land for the support of himself and his scholars, and he was further entitled to free quarters for himself and his retinue. The harper, the metal-worker (cerd), and the smith were also provided with mensal land, in return for which they gave to the chief their skill and the product of their labour as customary tribute (bestigi). /n==Authorities== - The Annals of the Four Masters, ed. J. O'Donovan (7 vols., Dublin, 1856); Annals of Ulster (4 vols., London, 1887-1892); Keating's Forus Feasa ar Eirinn (3 vols., ed. D. Comyn and P. Dinneen, London, 1902-1908); E. Windisch, Tain Bó Cuainge (Leipzig, 1905), with a valuable introduction; P. W.oyce, A Social History of Ancient Ireland (2 vols., London, 1903), also A Short History of Ireland from the Earliest Times to 1608 (London, 1895); A. G. Richey, A Short History of the Irish People (Dublin, 1887); W. F. Skene, Celtic Scotland (3 vols., Edinburgh, 1876-1880); J. Rhys, " Studies in Early Irish History," in Proceedings of the British Academy, vol. i.; John MacNeill, papers in New Ireland Review (March 1906 - February 1907); Leabhar na gCeart, ed. O'Donovan (Dublin, 1847); E. O'Curry, The Manners and Customs of the Ancient Irish, ed. W. K. Sullivan (3 vols., London, 1873); G. T. Stokes, Ireland and the Celtic Church, revised by H. J. Lawlor (London 6, 1907); J. Healy, Ireland's Ancient Schools and Scholars (Dublin ', 1897); H. Zimmer, article Keltische Kirche" in Hauck's Realencyklopddie far protestantische Theologie and Kirche (trans. A. Meyer, London, 1902), cf. H. Williams, " H. Zimmer on the History of the Celtic Church," Zeitschr. f. celt. Phil. iv. 527-574; H. Zimmer, " Die Bedeutung des irischen Elements in der mittelalterlichen Kultur," Preussische Jahrbiicher, vol. lix., trans. J. L. Edmands, The Irish Element in Medieval Culture (New York, 1891); J. H. Todd, St Patrick, the Apostle of Ireland (Dublin, 1864); J. B. Bury, Life of St Patrick (London, 1905); W. Reeves, Adamnan's Life of Columba (Dublin, 1857; also ed. with introd. by J. T. Fowler, Oxford, 1894); M. Roger, L'Enseignement des lettres classiques d'Ausone d Alcuin (Paris, 1905); J. H. Todd, The War of the Gcedhil with the Gall (London, 1867); L. J. Vogt, Dublin som Norsk By (Christiania, 1897); J. Steenstrup, Normannerne, vols. ii., iii. (Copenhagen, 1878 - 1882); W. G. Collingwood, Scandinavian Britain (London, 1908). (E. C. Q.) History from the Anglo-Norman Invasion. According to the Metalogus of John of Salisbury, who in 1155 went on a mission from King Henry II. to Pope Adrian IV., the only Englishman who has ever occupied the "Bull" of papal chair, the pope in response to the envoy ' s prayers granted to the king of the English the hereditary lordship of Ireland, sending a letter, with a ring as the symbol of investiture. Giraldus Cambrensis, in his gives what purports to be the text of this letter, known as " the Bull Laudabiliter," and adds further Privilegium of Pope Alexander III. confirming Adrian's grant. The Privilegium is undoubtedly spurious, a fact which lends weight to the arguments of those who from the 29th century onwards have attacked the genuineness of the " Bull." This latter, indeed, appears to have been concocted by Gerald, an ardent champion of the English cause in Ireland, from genuine letters of Pope Alexander III., still preserved in the Black Book of the Exchequer, which do no more than commend King Henry for reducing the Irish to order and extirpating tantae abominationis spurcitiam, and exhort the Irish bishops and chiefs to be faithful to the king to whom they had sworn allegiance.' Henry was, indeed, at the outset in a position to dispense with the moral aid of a papal concession, of which even if it existed he certainly made no use. In 1156 Dermod MacMurrough (Diarmait MacMurchada), deposed for his tyranny from the kingdom of Leinster, repaired to Henry in Aquitaine (see Early History above). The king was busy with the French, but gladly seized the opportunity, and gave Dermod a letter authorizing him to raise forces in England. Thus armed, and provided with gold extorted from his former subjects in Leinster, Dermod went to Bristol and sought the acquaintance of Richard de Clare, earl of Pembroke, a Norman noble of great ability but broken fortunes. Earl Richard, whom later usage has named Strongbow, agreed to reconquer Dermod's kingdom for him. The stipulated consideration was the hand of Eva his only child, and according to feudal law his sole heiress, to whose issue lands and kingdoms would naturally pass. But Irish customs admitted no estates of inheritance, and Eva had no more right to the reversion of Leinster than she had to that of Japan. It is likely that Strongbow had no conception of this, and that his first collision with the tribal system was an unpleasant surprise. Passing through Wales, Dermod agreed with Robert Fitzstephen and Maurice Fitzgerald to invade Ireland in the ensuing spring.

About the 1st of May 1169 Fitzstephen landed on the Wexford shore with a small force, and next day Maurice de Prendergast brought another band nearly to the same spot. Dermod joined them, and the Danes of Wexford soon submitted. According to agreement Dermod granted the territory of Wexford, which had never belonged to bow. him, to Robert and Maurice and their heirs for ever; and here begins the conflict between feudal and tribal law which was destined to deluge Ireland in blood. Maurice Fitzgerald soon followed with a fresh detachment. About a year after the first landing Raymond Le Gros was sent over by Earl Richard with his advanced guard, and Strongbow himself landed near Waterford on the 23rd of August 1170 with 200 knights and about r000 other troops.

The natives did not understand that this invasion was quite different from those of the Danes. They made alliances with the strangers to aid them in their intestine wars, and the annalist writing in later years (Annals of Lough Ce) describes with pathetic brevity the change wrought in Ireland:" Earl Strongbow came into Erin with Dermod MacMurrough to avenge his expulsion by Roderick, son of Turlough O'Connor; and Dermod gave 1 The whole question is discussed by Mr J. H. Round in his article on " The Pope and the Conquest of Ireland " (Commune of London, 1899, pp. 171 -200), where further references will be found.


him his own daughter and a part of his patrimony, and Saxon foreigners have been in Erin since then." Most of the Norman leaders were near relations, many being descended from Nesta, daughter of Rhys Ap Tudor, prince of South Wales, the most beautiful woman of her time, and mistress of Henry I. Her children by that king were called Fitzhenry. She afterwards married Gerald de Windsor, by whom she had three sons - Maurice, ancestor of all the Geraldines; William, from whom sprang the families of Fitzmaurice, Carew, Grace and Gerard; and David, who became bishop of St David's. Nesta's daughter, Angareth, married to William de Barri, bore the chronicler Giraldus Cambrensis, and was ancestress of the Irish Barries. Raymond le Gros, Hervey de Montmorency, and the Cogans were also descendants of Nesta, who, by her second husband, Stephen the Castellan, was mother of Robert Fitzstephen.

While waiting for Strongbow's arrival, Raymond and Hervey were attacked by the Danes of Waterford, whom they overthrew. Strongbow himself took Waterford and Dublin, and the Danish inhabitants of both readily combined with their French-speaking kinsfolk, and became firm supporters of_the Anglo-Normans against the native Irish.

Alarmed at the principality forming near him, Henry invaded Ireland in person, landing near Waterford on the 18th of October 1172. Giraldus says he had 500 knights and many other soldiers; Regan, the metrical chronicler, says he had 4000 men, of whom 400 were knights; the Annals of Lough Ce that he had 240 ships. The Irish writers tell little about these great !events, except that the king of the Saxons took the hostages of Munster at Waterford, and of Leinster, Ulster, Thomond and Meath at Dublin. They did not take in the grave significance of doing homage to a Norman king, and becoming his "man." Henry's farthest point westward was Cashel, where he received the homage of Donald O'Brien, king of Thomond, but he does not appear to have been present at the famous synod. in alnd Christian O'Conarchy, bishop of Lismore and papal legate, presided, and the archbishops of Dublin, Cashel and Tuam attended with their suffragans, as did many abbots and other dignitaries. The primate of Armagh, the saintly Gelasius, was absent, and presumably his suffragans also, but Giraldus says he afterwards came to the king at Dublin, and favoured him in all things. Henry's sovereignty was acknowledged, and constitutions made which drew Ireland closer to Rome. In spite of the "enormities and filthinesses," which Giraldus says defiled the Irish Church, nothing worse could be found to condemn than marriages within the prohibited degrees and trifling irregularities about baptism. Most of the details rest on the authority of Giraldus only, but the main facts are clear. The synod is not mentioned by the Irish annalists, nor by Regan, but it is by Hoveden and Ralph de Diceto. The latter says it was held at Lismore, an error arising from the president having been bishop of Lismore. Tradition says the members met in Cormac's chapel.

Henry at first tried to be suzerain without displacing the natives, and received the homage of Roderick O'Connor, the high king. But the adventurers were uncontrollable, and he had to let them conquer what they could, exercising a precarious authority over the Normans only through a viceroy. The early governors seemingly had orders to deal as fairly as possible with the natives, and this involved them in quarrels with the "conquerors," whose object was to carve out principalities for themselves, and who only nominally respected the sovereign's wishes. The mail-clad knights were not uniformly successful against the natives, but they generally managed to occupy the open plains and fertile valleys. Geographical configuration preserved centres of resistance - the O'Neills in Tyrone and Armagh, the O'Donnells in Donegal, and the Macarthies in Cork being the largest tribes that remained practically unbroken. On the coast from Bray to Dundalk, and by the navigable rivers of the east and south coasts, the Norman put his iron foot firmly down.

Prince John landed at Waterford in 1185, and the neighbouring chiefs hastened to pay their respects to the king's son. Prince and followers alike soon earned hatred, the former showing the incurable vices of his character, and pulling t