Ireland - the Emerald Isle - is a beautiful land of mountains, rivers, lakes and green fields. It's also a land of contrasts - of dramatic coast.
Like their land, the Irish have two sides to their nature: they're friendly people who love to talk and tell stories, but at the same time they're proud and independent. The Irish are famous for their music, songs and dance and for their relaxed way of life.
For hundreds of years this has been the land of the Connemara pony. It is curious, friendly and intelligent, but loves to be wild and free.
Ireland is west of Great Britain. It's about 480 km from north to south, and about 320 km from west to east.
All over Ireland you find ruins and ancient monuments like Dun Aengus on the island of Inishmore. Hundreds of years ago the Irish built fort like this to protect the country from foreign invaders. Rock of Cashel in Tipperary in the south is a holy place where people worshipped for centuries. St Patric brought Christianity in the fifth century and built churches. Religion has always been important and almost all the churches are Roman Catholic and the Irish honour St Patric as their patron saint. Irish monks were famous all over Europe for their excellent schools and for copying and drowning. They had problems with the Vikings, invaders from Scandinavia, who sailed in and attacked monasteries. The monks built special towers, like the one in Clonmacnois, with entrance high above the ground, so that everybody had to climb up a ladder, which was then pulled up.
Ireland is a land of music and dance and it is a tradition passed from generations to generations like the Irish language. Children at school are taught ate traditional songs and dances. If you love horses, you'll love Ireland! If you don't ride, you can try your luck at racecourses. Horseracing is the national sport. Many people come here on holiday and see the countryside from a brightly-painted horse-drawn caravan. Ireland's rivers are full of fish - people from all over the world come for a relaxing holiday fishing for trout and salmon. Hurling is one of the fastest games. The ball is very small; you can hit it hard and far. You score goals by hitting the ball between the goal post, and you can also score points by hitting it over the bar. Gaelic football is a little like football and a little like rugby. You score goals and points the same way as in hurling. Both games have 15 players a side.
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