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.
Green hills are perfect for golf.
Farming is the most important part of economy. The climate is mild and wet, it's good for cows and sheep. Irish wool is of high quality. It is made into warm woollen sweaters. The sweet, bright green grass has given Ireland its second name - the Emerald Isle.
As there is coal or oil, people use peat for fuel. You cut it out of the ground and dry it. They also use it to produce electricity. Fishing is another important industry. They sell much of their fish abroad. History
Ireland is divided into two parts. The larger part is the Republic of Ireland - Eire. The Smaller part is the province of Northern Ireland - part of the United Kingdom, called province of Ulster.
Dublin is the capital of the Republic of Ireland and Belfast is the main city of Northern Ireland. Other big cities are Limerick and Cork in the South.
For several hundred years the British ruled Ireland and the Irish worked their land. In the 16th century Britain became Protestant. The Irish remained Catholic. The British made things difficult for them: they couldn't buy the land, hold office or join the army. Many of them emigrated to North America, Australia or Canada where they could be free (Many people left. They left for America…). In 1840's there was a terrible famine (crop failed), many people died, many left their homes to stay alive. Ireland lost almost half its population over the years. Dublin is a city of over half a million people, on the River Liffey near the east coast. The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed. It has some beautiful architecture, especially its 18th century squares and terraced houses. It is famous for its pubs, where you can enjoy a pint of stout, the heavy, dark beer of Ireland.
Dublin has many churches - the oldest is St Patric's Cathedral, where Jonathan Swift (the author of Gulliver's Travels) is buried.
Trinity College, Dublin, founded in the 16th century is one f the oldest universities in the world. Here you can see "the Book of Kells" written and painted by Irish monks 1,200 years ago - a precious work of art. The complicated designs are painted on animal skins.
The President's House is in Phoenix Park, one of the biggest parks in Europe.
The Parliament building is called the "Dail" in Irish. There are two political parties "Fianna Fail" and "Fine Gael". Industry: There is very little heavy industry; they are developing their economy by inviting high-technology companies.