Country Briefs: Ireland is the third biggest European island. It is located to the west side of European continent. Ireland lies in the Atlantic Ocean and it comprises of the Republic of Ireland that occupies five-sixth portion of the island.
The population of Ireland is not more than six million people out of which around four million people are settled in Republic of Ireland.
During the last ice age that lasted for about 10,000 years ago, Ireland was covered with ice and joined by land to Britain and Europe. People first inhabited Ireland around 9000 years ago.
Around 8000 BC the Stone Age inhabitants occupied the region. Over the years Ireland too witnessed various changes and its culture changed from Mesolithic to Neolithic.
The Bronze Age was followed by significant developments of various gold and bronze products such as gold ornaments, weapons etc. The Iron Age followed the Bronze Age. The Iron Age apart from being recognized by the iron made tools and machines, was also known for its association with Celts.
The Celts colonized most of the Ireland during the 8th and 1st centuries BC. The Gaels accompanied the Celts in their conquests. The Gaels and the Celts conquered the island and divided into five or more kingdoms.
The island of Ireland was never formally incorporated into the Roman Empire. The Romans called Ireland "Hibernia". It is largely deemed that the Romans or the Romano-British neither invaded nor particularly influenced Ireland. However the exact relationship between Rome and the tribes of Hibernia is not lucid and references are available only in the form of some Roman writings.
In AD 432 St. Patrick came to the island. St. Patrick is also known as the patron saint of the Ireland along with Saint Brigid and Saint Columba. Saint Patrick did spread the religion of Christianity and so tried to convert many Irish men and women to Christianity.
Christian religion was largely followed in Ireland; people were involved in Christian learning and theology, several Christian monasteries also flourished there. During the Early Middle Ages the arts of manuscript illumination, metalworking and sculpture flourished. Celtic monks published manuscripts such as Book of Kells.
Around 9th century Ireland confronted problems due to the ongoing 200 years of irregular warfare with the waves of Viking raiders who plundered monasteries and towns. The Vikings did settle in Ireland and established many towns and contemporary cities such as Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford here.
In 1172 King Henry II of England came to power and gained Irish lands by granting of the 1155 Bull Laudibiliter to him by then English Pope Adrian IV and from 13th century onwards the English law was introduced. The British rule was mainly concentrated in areas close to Dublin like Pale, Waterford etc.
However the British enhanced their control and with the downfall of the Gaelic socio-political empire at the end of the 17th century, the Tudor re-conquest of Ireland and the English and Scottish Protestant colonization in the Plantations of Ireland, the English people strengthened their control over the region. The English Protestants formed their own ruling class known as the Protestant Ascendancy.
Time passed by and in 1801 the Irish parliament passed the Act of Union to merge the Kingdom of Ireland and the Kingdom of Great Britain, which resulted in the formation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The entire island was then under the governance of the UK Parliament in London.
In 19th and 20th century there was a wave of nationalism and Irish people demanded home rule. In 1922 the Anglo-Irish war took place that claimed 26 counties of Ireland as Irish Free State while the other 6 remained within the northern island.
- HASC: Hierarchical administrative subdivision codes.
- ISO: Codes from ISO 3166-2. Based on Ireland's Statutory County Codes, used on license plates, etc., with minor differences (e.g. TN and TS for Tipperary North and South).
- FIPS: Codes from FIPS PUB 10-4.
- Pr: Traditional provinces (see list below).
- Pop-2002: 2002-04-28 census. Source: Central Statistics Office Ireland.
- Pop-1996: 1996-04-28 census. Source: Europa World Year Book 2001.
- Gaelic: Name of county in Gaelic.
- Capital: See note.