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A ring of coastal mountains surround low plains at the centre of the island. The highest of these isCarrauntoohil (Irish: Corrán Tuathail) in County Kerry, which rises to 1,038 m (3,406 ft) above sea level.[92]The most arable land lies in the province of Leinster.[93] Western areas can be mountainous and rocky with green panoramic vistas. ACER Aspire 5739 CPU Fan

The River Shannon, the island's longest river at 386 km (240 mi) long, rises inCounty Cavan in the north west and flows 113 kilometres (70 mi) to Limerick city in the mid west.[94]

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. IBM ThinkPad T40 2678 CPU Fan

The climate is typically insular and is temperate avoiding the extremes in temperature of many other areas in the world at similar latitudes.[95] 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. IBM Thinkpad T43 CPU Fan

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 lightning occurring approximately five to ten days per year in these areas.[96] IBM ThinkPad T43 2668 CPU Fan

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, 2006 and 2013. IBM ThinkPad T43 1871 CPU Fan

In common with the rest of Europe, Ireland experienced unusually cold weather during the winter of 2009/10. Temperatures fell as low as −17.2 °C (1 °F) in County Mayo on 20 December[97]and up to a metre (3 ft) of snow in mountainous areas.

The island consists of varied geological provinces. In the far west, around County Galway and County Donegal, ACER Travelmate 8104WLMI CPU Fan

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.[98][99] DELL Latitude E4300 CPU Fan

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.[100] 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. ASUS F80S CPU Fan

The west-coast district of the Burren around Lisdoonvarna has well-developed karst features.[101] Significant stratiform lead-zinc mineralisation 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.[102][103] HP Pavilion dv5-1058eo CPU Fan

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. IBM 13N5182 CPU Fan

There are three World Heritage Sites on the island: the Brú na Boinne, Skellig Michael and the Giant's Causeway.[105] A number of other places are on the tentative list, for example the Burren, the Ceide Fields and Mount Stewart.[106]

Some of the most visited sites in Ireland include Bunratty Castle, the Rock of Cashel, the Cliffs of Moher, IBM Thinkpad T30 2366-AA3 CPU Fan

 Holy Cross Abbey and Blarney Castle.[107]Historically important monastic sites include Glendalough and Clonmacnoise, which are maintained as national monuments in the Republic of Ireland.[108]

Dublin is the most heavily touristed region[107] and home to several of the most popular attractions such as the Guinness Storehouse and Book of Kells.[107] IBM Thinkpad T30 CPU Fan

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.[107]

Achill Island lies off the coast of County Mayo and is Ireland's largest island. It is a popular tourist destination for surfing and contains 5 Blue Flag beaches and Croaghaun one of the worlds highest sea cliffs. HP 535438-001 CPU Fan

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.

As 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. There are 55 mammal species in Ireland and of them only 26 land mammalspecies are considered native to Ireland.[109] DELL Inspiron N3010 CPU Fan

 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 sea turtle,shark, seal, 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. HP Pavilion dv6-3070tx CPU Fan

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,[110] particularly for larger wild mammals with greater territorial needs. IBM 41W5269 CPU Fan

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.

There are no snakes in Ireland and only one reptile (the common lizard) is native to the island. Extinct species include theIrish elk, the great auk and the wolf. ASUS A8H CPU Fan

Some previously extinct birds, such as the Golden Eagle, been reintroduced in about the year 2000 after decades of extirpation. http://www.epa.ie/pubs/reports/indicators/epa_indicators_2002.pdf Until medieval times Ireland was heavily forested with oak, pine and birch. Forests today cover about 12.6% of Ireland,[8] of which 4,450 km² or one million acres is owned by Coillte, the Republic's forestry service.[111] SONY UDQFRZH13CF0 CPU Fan

The Republic lies in 42nd place (out of 55) in a list of the most forested countries in Europe.[112] 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. HP COMPAQ 2510P CPU Fan

It is home to hundreds of plant species, some of them unique to the island, and has been "invaded" by some grasses, such asSpartina anglica.The long history of agricultural production, coupled with modern intensive agricultural methods such as pesticide and fertiliser use and runoff from contaminants into streams, rivers and lakes, impact the natural fresh-water ecosystems and have placed pressure on biodiversity in Ireland.APPLE 661-4951 CPU Fan

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 acts as a network of connections to preserve remnants of the ecosystem that once covered the island. Subsidies under the Common Agricultural Policy, HP Pavilion dv6-3034ca CPU Fan

which supported agricultural practices that preserved hedgerow environments, are undergoing reforms. The Common Agricultural Policy had in the past subsidised potentially destructive agricultural practices, for example by emphasising production without placing limits on indiscriminate use of fertilisers and pesticides; but reforms have gradually decoupled subsidies from production levels and introduced environmental and other requirements.[118] HP G56-126NR CPU Fan

Forest covers about 12.6% of the country, most of it designated for commercial production.[110] 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. Compaq Presario C556CA CPU Fan

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 countryPeople have lived in Ireland for over 9,000 years, although only a limited amount is known about thepalaeolithic, neolithic and Bronze Age inhabitants of the island. SONY Vaio VGN-NR360E CPU Fan

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 Gaelic population and have had significant influences on Irish culture. HP Pavilion dv5170us CPU Fan

Ireland's largest religious group is Christianity. The largest denomination is Roman Catholicismrepresenting over 73% for the island (and about 87% of the Republic of Ireland). Most of the rest of the population adhere to one of the various Protestant denominations (about 48% of Northern Ireland).[120] The largest is the Anglican Church of Ireland. The Muslim community is growing in Ireland, mostly through increased immigration. SONY Vaio VPC-EE3WFX/WI CPU Fan

The island has a small Jewish community. About 4% of the Republic's population and about 14% of the Northern Ireland population[120] describe themselves as of no religion. In a 2010 survey conducted on behalf of the Irish Times, 32% of respondents said they went to a religious service more than once a week.

The population of Ireland rose rapidly from the 16th century until the mid-19th century, HP G56-126NR CPU Fan

but a devastatingfamine in the 1840s caused one million deaths and forced over one million more to emigrate in its immediate wake. Over the following century the population was reduced by over half, at a time when the general trend in European countries was for populations to rise by an average of three-fold.

Traditionally, Ireland is subdivided into four provinces: Connacht (west), Leinster (east), Munster(south), and Ulster (north). HP 3MLX8TATP20 CPU Fan

In a system that developed between the 13th and 17th centuries,[121] Ireland has 32 traditional counties. Twenty-six of these counties are in the Republic of Ireland and six 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. SONY Vaio VGN-NW240F/S CPU Fan\

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 postal addresses and by the Ordnance Survey Ireland. SONY Vaio VPC-EB1Z0E/B CPU Fan

Counties in Northern Ireland are no longer used for local governmental purposes,[122] but, as in the Republic, their traditional boundaries are still used for informal purposes such as sports leagues and in cultural or tourism contexts.[123]

City status in Ireland is decided by legislative or royal charter. Compaq Presario CQ60-514NR CPU Fan

Dublin, with over 1 million residents in the Greater Dublin Area, is the largest city on the island. Belfast, with 579,726 residents, is the largest city in Northern Ireland. City status does not directly equate with population size. For example,Armagh, with 14,590 is the seat of the Church of Ireland and the Roman Catholic Primate of All Ireland and was re-granted city status by Queen Elizabeth II in 1994 (having lost that status in local government reforms of 1840).Toshiba Satellite X205-S9800 CPU Fan

In the Republic of Ireland, Kilkenny, seat of the Butler dynasty, while no longer a city for administrative purposes (since the 2001 Local Government Act), is entitled by law to continue to use the description.

The population of Ireland collapsed dramatically during the second half of the 19th century. A population of over 8 million in 1841 was reduced to slightly more than 4 million by 1921. ASUS G2P CPU Fan

In part, the fall in population was due to death from the Great Famine of 1845 to 1852, which took about 1 million lives. However, by far the greater cause of population decline was the dire economic state of the country which led to an entrenched culture of emigration lasting until the 21st century.

Emigration from Ireland in the 19th century contributed to the populations of England, the United States, Compaq Presario CQ60-430SA CPU Fan

Canada and Australia where today a large Irish diaspora lives. Today 4.3 million Canadians, or 14% of the population, are of Irish descent.[125] A total of 36 million Americans claim Irish ancestry – more than 12% of the total population and 20% of the white population.[126]

Massachusetts is the most Irish of US states with 23.8% of the population claiming Irish ancestry. DELL BFB0505HA CPU Fan

The pattern of immigration over this period particularly devastated the western and southern seaboards. 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. HP Pavilion dv5-1272et CPU Fan

With growing prosperity since the last decade of the 20th century, Ireland became a destination for immigrants. Since the European Union expanded to include Poland in 2004, Polish people have made up the largest number of immigrants (over 150,000)[127] from Central Europe. There has also been significant immigration from Lithuania, the Czech Republic andLatvia.[128] Toshiba AB7005HX-SB3 CPU Fan

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.[129] A quarter of births (24 percent) in 2009 were to mothers born outside of Ireland.[130] Chinese and Nigerians, along with people from other African countries, have accounted for a large proportion of the non–European Union migrants to Ireland. Toshiba Satellite A500-18T CPU Fan

Up to 50,000 eastern and central European migrant workers may have left Ireland since the end of 2008.

Two main languages are spoken in Ireland: Irish and English. Both languages have widely contributed to literature. Irish, now a minority but official language of the Republic of Ireland, was the vernacular of the Irish people for over two thousand years and was probably introduced by some sort of proto-Gaelic migration during the Iron age, HP Pavilion dv5-2135dx CPU Fan

possibly earlier. It began to be written down after Christianisation in the 5th century and spread to Scotland and the Isle of Man where it evolved into the Scottish Gaelic and Manx languages respectively.

The Irish language has a vast treasure of written texts from many centuries, and is divided by linguists into Old Irish from the 6th to 10th century, Middle Irish from the 10th to 13th century, ASUS EEE PC 1201NL CPU Fan

Early Modern Irish until the 17th century, and the Modern Irish spoken today. It remained the dominant language of Ireland for most of those periods, having influences from Latin, Old Norse, French and English. It declined under British rule but remained the majority tongue until the early 19th century, and since then has been a minority language, although revival efforts are continuing in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. SONY Vaio VGN-NW240D/T CPU Fan

Gaeltacht or Irish-speaking areas are still seeing a decline in the language. The main Gaeltacht areas are down the west of the country, in Donegal, Mayo, Galway and Kerry. Irish language is a compulsory subject in the state education system in the Republic, and the Gaelscoil movement has seen many Irish medium schools established in both jurisdictions. Compaq Presario CQ60-418DX CPU Fan

English was first introduced to Ireland in the Norman invasion. It was spoken by a few peasants and merchants brought over from England, and was largely replaced by Irish before the Tudor Conquest of Ireland. It was introduced as the official language with the Tudor and Cromwellian conquests. The Ulster plantations gave it a permanent foothold in Ulster, and it remained the official and upper-class language elsewhere, SONY Vaio VGN-NW240D CPU Fan

the Irish-speaking chieftains and nobility having been deposed. Language shift during the 19th century replaced Irish with English as the first language for a vast majority of the population.[132]

Less than 10% of the population of the Republic of Ireland today speak Irish regularly outside of the education system[133] and 38% of those over 15 years are classified as "Irish speakers." SONY VGN-BX197XP CPU Fan

In Northern Ireland, English is the de facto official language, but official recognition is afforded to Irish, including specific protective measures under Part III of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. A lesser status (including recognition under Part II of the Charter) is given to Ulster Scots dialects, which are spoken by roughly 2% of Northern Ireland residents, and also spoken by some in the Republic of Ireland.[13Toshiba Satellite L645D-S4056 CPU Fan

4] Since the 1960s 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 peoples, later immigrant and broadcast cultural influences (chieflyGaelic culture, Anglicisation, Americanisation and aspects of broader European culture). Toshiba AB7805HX-GB3 CPU Fan

In broad terms, Ireland is regarded as one of the Celtic 'nations' of Europe with Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Isle of Man and Brittany. This combination of cultural influences is visible in the intricate designs termed Irish interlace or Celtic knotwork. These can be seen in the ornamentation of medieval religious and secular works.Toshiba Satellite L500-208 CPU Fan

The style is still popular today in jewellery and graphic art,[135] as is the distinctive style oftraditional 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 (and since the 17th centuryplantations, has been the focus of political identity and divisions on the island). HP 535441-001 CPU Fan

Ireland's pre-Christian heritage fused with theCeltic 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 vision 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, Toshiba Satellite P100-444 CPU Fan

"the island of saints and scholars". Since the 20th century the Irish pubs worldwide have become, especially those with a full range of cultural and gastronomic offerings, outposts of Irish culture.

The Republic of Ireland's national theatre is the Abbey Theatre founded in 1904 and the national Irish-language theatre is An Taibhdhearc, established in 1928 in Galway. HP Pavilion dv7-3114eo CPU Fan

Playwrights such as Seán O'Casey, Brian Friel, Sebastian Barry, Conor McPhersonand Billy Roche are internationally renowned.

Ireland has made a large contribution to world literature in all its branches, particularly in the English language. Poetry in Irish is the oldest vernacular poetry in Europe, with the earliest examples dating from the 6th century. HP Mini 110-1125SA CPU Fan

In English, 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 and Oscar Wilde is known most for his often quoted witticisms.

In the 20th century, Ireland produced four winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature: George Bernard Shaw, William Butler Yeats,Samuel Beckett and Seamus Heaney. HP KSB06105HA CPU Fan

Although not a Nobel Prize winner, James Joyce is widely considered to be 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".[139] Modern Irish literature is often connected with its rural heritage[140] through writers such as John McGahern and poets such as Seamus Heaney. Compaq Presario CQ60-210eo CPU Fan

Irish traditional music and dance has seen a surge in popularity and global coverage, including through the phenomenon ofRiverdance, a theatrical performance of Irish traditional dancing.[141] In the middle years of the 20th century, as Irish society was modernising, traditional music fell out of favour, especially in urban areas.[142] HP Pavilion dv7-2250sf CPU Fan

However 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.[143]

Groups and musicians including Horslips, Van Morrison and Thin Lizzy incorporated elements of Irish traditional music into contemporary rock music and, during the 1970s and 1980s, HP 434678-001 CPU Fan

the distinction between traditional and rock musicians became blurred, with many individuals regularly crossing over between these styles of playing. This trend can be seen more recently in the work of artists like Enya, The Saw Doctors, The Corrs, Sinéad O'Connor, Clannad, The Cranberries, Black 47 and The Pogues among others. HP G60-230us CPU Fan

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. HP Pavilion dv6365us CPU Fan

The earliest known Irish graphic art and sculpture are Neolithic carvings found at sites such as Newgrange[144] and is traced throughBronze age artefacts and the religious carvings and illuminated manuscripts of the medieval period. During the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, a strong tradition of painting emerged, including such figures as John Butler Yeats, William Orpen, Jack Yeatsand Louis le Brocquy. HP 535439-001 CPU Fan

Contemporary Irish visual artists of note include Sean Scully, Kevin Abosch, and Alice Maher.

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 Irish explorer, was one of the principal figures of Antarctic exploration. COMPAQ 6910c CPU Fan

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 a 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.[145] IBM Lenovo IdeaPad G510 CPU Fan

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 he 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. HP G62-110SO CPU Fan

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.[146] William Thomson, or Lord Kelvin, is the person whom the absolute temperature unit, the Kelvin, is named after. SirJoseph Larmor, a physicist and mathematician,DELL Precision M6400 CPU Fan

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.[147]

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.[145SONY Vaio VPC-EB290X CPU Fan

] Notable mathematicians include Sir William Rowan Hamilton, famous for work in classical mechanics and the invention of quaternions. Francis Ysidro Edgeworth's contribution of the Edgeworth Box remains influential in neo-classical microeconomic theory to this day; while Richard Cantillon inspired Adam Smith, among others. John B. HP Envy 17-1090eo CPU Fan

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 has nine universities, Toshiba Satellite A210-1CF CPU Fan

seven in the Republic of Ireland and two in Northern Ireland, including Trinity College, Dell Vostro 3450 CPU Fan

Dublin and the University College Dublin, as well as numerous third-level colleges and institutes and a branch of the Open University, the Open University in Ireland.The island of Ireland fields a single international team in most sports. 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. Toshiba Satellite A10-103 CPU Fan

Gaelic football is the most popular sport in Ireland in terms of match attendance and community involvement, with about 2,600 clubs on the island. In 2003 it represented 34% of total sports attendances at events in Ireland and abroad, followed by hurling at 23%, soccer at 16% and rugby at 8%[148] and the All-Ireland Football Final is the most watched event in the sporting calendar.[149] Compaq Presario A900 CTO CPU Fan

Soccer is the most widely played team game on the island, and the most popular inNorthern Ireland.[148][150] Swimming, golf, aerobics, soccer, cycling, Gaelic football and billiards/snooker are the sporting activities with the highest levels of playing participation.[151] The sport is also the most notable exception where the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland field separate international teams. ACER Aspire 4736ZG CPU Fan

Since the 1990s ice hockey has seen an increase in popularity, notably with the Belfast Giants ice hockey team in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland have also produced two World Snooker Champions. Many other sports are also played and followed, including basketball, boxing, cricket, fishing, greyhound racing,handball, hockey, horse racing, motor sport, show jumping and tennis. Toshiba Satellite A10-103 CPU Fan

Gaelic football, hurling and handball are the best-known of the Irish traditional sports, 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[152] capacity Croke Park in north Dublin. SONY MCF-519PAM05 CPU Fan

Many 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 in 2007–10, international rugby and soccer were played there.[153] 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. SONY Vaio VPC-EB290X CPU Fan

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. HP Pavilion dv7-2043cl CPU Fan

However, some clubs based outside Belfast thought that the IFA largely favoured Ulster-based 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[154]

Dublin-based clubs broke away to form the Football Association of the Irish Free State. HP Pavilion dv7-2130ev CPU Fan

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. HP 608772-001 CPU Fan

Both also referred to their respective teams as Ireland.

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). Toshiba Satellite A100-194 CPU Fan

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 and2012. Across Ireland, there is significant interest in the English and, to a lesser extent, Scottish soccer leagues. HP Pavilion tx1205/ CT CPU Fan

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). HP Pavilion dv6640ep CPU Fan

There are four professional Irish teams; all four play in the Magners League (now called the RaboDirect Pro12) and at least three compete for theHeineken 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[155]), Munster (2006[156] and 2008[157]) and Leinster (2009 and 2011)[158] COMPAQ Presario CQ42-401TU CPU Fan

have won the Heineken Cup. In addition to this, the Irish International side has had increased success in the Six Nations Championshipagainst the other European elite sides. This success, including Triple Crowns in 2004, 2006 and 2007, culminated with a clean sweep of victories, known as a Grand Slam, in 2009.[159]

The Ireland cricket team was among the associate nations that qualified for the 2007 Cricket World Cup. Toshiba Satellite A300D CPU Fan

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. HP Pavilion dv8397ea CPU  Fan

Kevin O'Brien scored the fastest century in Word Cup history (113 runs off 63 balls), as Ireland produced one of the great upsets to defeat England by 3 wickets in the 2011 tournament

Rugby league in Ireland is governed by Rugby League Ireland, which runs the Irish Elite League, there are currently 20 teams across Ulster, Munster andLeinster.[160] HP Pavilion dv9821ea CPU Fan

The Irish rugby league team is made up predominantly of players based in Ireland, England and Australia.[161] Ireland reached the quarter-finals of the 2000 Rugby League World Cup as well as reaching the semi finals in the 2008 Rugby League World Cup.

Horse racing and greyhound racing are both popular in Ireland. HP COMPAQ TC4200 CPU Fan

There are frequent horse race meetings and greyhound stadiums are well-attended. The island is noted for the breeding and training of race horses and is also a large exporter of racing dogs.[163] The horse racing sector is largely concentrated in the County Kildare.[164]

Irish athletics has seen a heightened success rate since the year 2000, with Sonia O'Sullivan winning two medals at 5,000 metres on the track; SONY Vaio VGN-NW228F CPU Fan

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. HP G62-b16ST CPU Fan

Ireland has won more medals in boxing than in any other Olympic sport. Boxing is governed by the Irish Amateur Boxing Association. Michael Carruth won a gold medal in the Barcelona Olympic Games and in 2008 Kenneth Egan won a silver medal in the Beijing Games.[165] Paddy Barnes secured bronze in those games and gold in the 2010 European Amateur Boxing Championships HP 580696-001 CPU Fan

 (where Ireland came 2nd in the overall medal table) and 2010 Commonwealth Games. Katie Taylor has won gold in every European and World championship since 2005. In August 2012 at the Olympic Games in London Katie Taylor created history by becoming the first Irish woman to win a gold medal in boxing in the 60 kg lightweight.[166] HP Pavilion dv6-3049tx CPU Fan

Golf is very popular and golf tourism is a major industry attracting more than 240,000 golfing visitors annually.[167] The 2006 Ryder Cup was held at The K Clubin County Kildare.[168] Pádraig Harrington became the first Irishman since Fred Daly in 1947 to win the British Open at Carnoustie in July 2007.[169] He successfully defended his title in July 2008[170] before going on to win the PGA Championship in August.[171] HP G42-380LA CPU Fan

Harrington became the first European to win the PGA Championship in 78 years and was the first winner from Ireland. Three golfers from Northern Ireland have been particularly successful. In 2010, Graeme McDowellbecame the first Irish golfer to win the U.S. Open, and the first European to win that tournament since 1970. Rory McIlroy, at the age of 22, won the 2011 U.S. Toshiba Qosmio G30-167 CPU Fan

Open, while Darren Clarke's latest victory was the 2011 Open Championship at Royal St. George's. In August 2012, McIlroy won his 2nd major championship by winning the USPGA Championship by a record margin of 8 shots.

The west coast of Ireland, Lahinch and Donegal Bay in particular, have popular surfing beaches, being fully exposed to the Atlantic Ocean. HP Pavilion dv7-1157cl CPU Fan

Donegal Bay is shaped like a funnel and catches west/south-west Atlantic winds, creating good surf, especially in winter. Since just before the year 2010, 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. Compaq Presario CQ40-408AX CPU Fan

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 Corkcoast.[172]

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 popularangling destination. HP Mini 110-1110ET CPU Fan

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,[173] and the range of sea angling species is around 80. HP Pavilion dv7-1157cl CPU Fan

Food and cuisine in Ireland takes its influence from the crops grown and animals farmed in the island's temperate climate and from the social and political circumstances of Irish history. For example, whilst from the Middle Ages until the arrival of the potato in the 16th century the dominant feature of the Irish economy was the herding of cattle, the number of cattle a person owned was equated to their social standing.[175] HP Pavilion dv6-3163eo CPU Fan

Thus herders would avoid slaughtering a milk-producing cow.[175]

For this reason, pork and white meat were more common than beef and thick fatty strips of salted bacon (or rashers) and the eating of salted butter (i.e. a dairy product rather than beef itself) have been a central feature of the diet in Ireland since the Middle Ages.[175] HP Pavilion dv9740us CPU Fan

The practice of bleeding cattle and mixing the blood with milk and butter (not unlike the practice of the Maasai) was common[176] and black pudding, made from blood, grain (usually barley) and seasoning, remains a breakfast staple in Ireland. All of these influences can be seen today in the phenomenon of the "breakfast roll".

The introduction of the potato in the second half of the 16th century heavily influenced cuisine thereafter. HP COMPAQ NX9420 CPU Fan

Great poverty encouraged a subsistence approach to food and by the mid-19th century the vast majority of the population sufficed with a diet of potatoes and milk.[177] A typical family, consisting of a man, a woman and four children, would eat 18 stone (110 kg) of potatoes a week.[175] Consequently, dishes that are considered as national dishes represent a fundamental unsophistication to cooking, HP Pavilion dv7-4150ec CPU Fan

such as the Irish stew,bacon and cabbage, boxty, a type of potato pancake, or colcannon, a dish of mashed potatoes and kale or cabbage.[175]

Since the last quarter of the 20th century, with a re-emergence of wealth in Ireland, a "New Irish Cuisine" based on traditional ingredients incorporating international influences[178] has emerged.[179] HP Pavilion dv5-1102tu CPU Fan

This cuisine is based on fresh vegetables, fish (especially salmon, trout, oysters, mussels and other shellfish), as well as traditional soda breads and the wide range of hand-made cheeses that are now being produced across the country. The potato remains however a fundamental feature of this cuisine and the Irish remain the highest per capita[175] consumers of potatoes in Europe. SONY VGN-SZ220 CPU Fan

An example of this new cuisine is "Dublin Lawyer": lobster cooked in whiskey and cream.[180] Traditional regional foods can be found throughout the country, for example coddle in Dublin or drisheen in Cork, both a type of sausage, or blaa, a doughy white bread particular to Waterford.

Ireland once dominated the world's market for whiskey, producing 90% of the world's whiskey at the start of the 20th century. HP Pavilion dv7-6011tx CPU Fan

However, as a consequence of bootleggers during the prohibition in the United States (who sold poor-quality whiskey bearing Irish-sounding names thus eroding the pre-prohibition popularity for Irish brands)[181] and tariffs on Irish whiskey across the British Empire during the Anglo-Irish Trade War of the 1930s,[182] sales of Irish whiskey worldwide fell to a mere 2% by the mid-20th century.[183] HP Pavilion dv5-1040eb CPU Fan

In 1953, an Irish government survey, found that 50 per cent of whiskey drinkers in the United States had never heard of Irish whiskey.[184]

Irish whiskey, as researched in 2009 by the CNBC American broadcaster, remains popular domestically and has grown in international sales steadily over a few decades.[185] ASUS F3Jv CPU Fan

Typically CNBC states Irish whiskey is not as smoky as a Scotch whisky, but not as sweet as American or Canadian whiskies.[185] Whiskey forms the basis of traditional cream liqueurs, such asBaileys, and the "Irish coffee" (a cocktail of coffee and whiskey reputedly invented at Foynes flying-boat station) is probably the best-known Irish cocktail. IBM ThinkPad R50p 2887 CPU Fan

Stout, a kind of porter beer, particularly Guinness, is typically associated with Ireland, although historically it was more closely associated with London. Porter remains very popular, although it has lost sales since the mid-20th century to lager. Cider, particularly Magners (marketed in the Republic of Ireland asBulmers), is also a popular drink. SONY VGN-CS36GJ/R CPU Fan

 

Red lemonade, a soft-drink, is consumed on its own and as a mixer, particularly with whiskey. Toshiba Satellite A215-S4807 CPU Fan,Toshiba Satellite Pro M10-SP405 CPU Fan,HP Pavilion dv4-1120us CPU Fan

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