IRELAND  |  Ireland Travel Guide
Sunday, March 7, 2021
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Ireland

Destinations

Ireland has a lot to offer – unforgettable scenery, friendly people, and opportunities to enjoy a huge range of sports, entertainment of all kinds, and historic sites to explore. Whether it’s attending the theater, listening to talented musicians, or discovering Ireland's history in the countryside or in the many museums all over the island, there is much to make Ireland truly unforgettable.

The island is strategically located on major air and sea routes between North America and northern Europe. It has been divided into four provinces for centuries: Ulster, Connaught, Leinster and Munster. Part of Ulster is in the Republic – which can be confusing for visitors, as many think it refers only to the political entity of Northern Ireland.

The Republic is slightly larger than West Virginia, with a total area of 26,706 square miles (70,280 sq km), of which 26,178 square miles (68,890 sq km) is land and 528 square miles (1,390 sq km) is water. Northern Ireland is about the size of Connecticut and is part of the United Kingdom (UK) of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It covers 5,500 square miles (14,300 square km), is about 85 miles (137 km) from north to south and 110 miles (177 km) wide. In the middle is Lough Neagh, the largest lake in the British Isles.

The population of the Republic is 3.9 million (Census 2002) and of Northern Ireland 1.6 million (Census 2001). The majority live in urban centers, with the counties along the western seaboard sparsely populated. Some 40% of the entire population of the Republic lives within 60 miles (97 km) of Dublin; only 9% live in its northwest region, made up of counties Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan and Sligo. Northern Ireland is the second most sparsely populated part of the UK, after Scotland, with 317 people per square mile (122 per square km), and with a predominantly young population – 25% under 16 and 37% under 25.

The Republic’s Constitution guarantees freedom of conscience and the free profession and practice of religion to all citizens. According to a recent census, the population’s religions were: Roman Catholic, 91%; Church of Ireland (Anglican), 2.5%; Presbyterian, 0.4%; Methodist, 0.1%; Jewish, less than 0.1%; and about 3% belonging to other religious groupings or with no specific beliefs.

As for language, English is the spoken language of Ireland. Irish is also used all over the island, though spoken with varying degrees of proficiency. In the Republic it was made a compulsory subject at school – which was counter-productive. It is only in recent years that most people have developed an enthusiasm for the language and its distinct culture, and in the Republic there are now many all-Irish schools.

Ireland’s climate is temperate maritime, moderated by the Gulf Stream, which brings warm waters to Western Europe from the Caribbean, and prevailing southwesterly winds. The mean annual temperature is around 50ºF (10ºC). In winter only occasionally does the temperature drop to below 32ºF (0ºC) and snow is infrequent.

 

Destinations in Ireland (3)

  • Best Small Towns in Ireland

    Best Small Towns of Ireland. Ireland has some of Europe's most charming small towns and villages, both inland and along its coast, one more atmospheric than the next. And here are 10 of the most colorful, most popular and best...

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  • Dublin, Ireland

    Dublin, capital of Ireland, is a city of storytellers and public houses. It is the city of Nobel laureates William Butler Yeats, George Bernard Shaw and Samuel Beckett – think Waiting for Godot – and literary...

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  • Great Castles of Ireland

    Ireland's Castles. Ireland has a rich trove of castles. In fact, if there's one thing Ireland is famous for, other than its pubs, it's its castles. There are literally hundreds of them here, in various stages of restoration or...

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