Genetic research suggests that the earliest settlers migrated from Iberia following the most recent ice age. After the Mesolithic, Neolithic and Bronze Age, migrants introduced a Celtic language and culture. Migrants from the two latter eras still represent the genetic heritage of most Irish people. Gaelic tradition expanded and became the dominant form over time. Irish people are a combination of Gaelic, Norse, Anglo-Norman, French, and British ancestry.
The population of Ireland stood at 4,588,252 in 2011, an increase of 8.2% since 2006. As of 2011, Ireland had the highest birth rate in the European Union (16 births per 1,000 of population). In 2014, 36.3% of births were to unmarried women. Annual population growth rates exceeded 2% during the 2002-2006 intercensal period, which was attributed to high rates of natural increase and immigration. This rate declined somewhat during the subsequent 2006-2011 intercensal period, with an average annual percentage change of 1.6%.
At the time of the 2011 census, the number of non-Irish nationals was recorded at 544,357, comprising 12% of the total population. This is nearly 2.5 times the number of non-Irish nationals recorded in the 2002 census (224,261), when the question of nationality was asked for the first time. The five largest non-national cohorts were Polish (122,585), UK (112,259), Lithuanian (36,683), Latvian (20,593) and Nigerian (17,642) respectively.
Functional urban areas
The following is a list of functional urban areas in Ireland and their population as of 2011.
The Irish Constitution describes Irish as the "national language", but English is the dominant language. In the 2006 census, 39% of the population regarded themselves as competent in Irish. Irish is spoken as a community language only in a small number of rural areas mostly in the west and south of the country, collectively known as the Gaeltacht. Except in Gaeltacht regions, road signs are usually bilingual. Most public notices and print media are in English only. While the state is officially bilingual, citizens can often struggle to access state services in Irish and most government publications are not available in both languages, even though citizens have the right to deal with the state in Irish. Irish language media include the TV channel TG4, the radio station RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta and online newspaper Tuairisc.ie. In the Irish Defence Forces, all foot and arms drill commands are given in the Irish language.
As a result of immigration, Polish is the most widely spoken language in Ireland after English, with Irish as the third most spoken. Several other Central European languages (namely Czech, Hungarian and Slovak), as well as Baltic languages (Lithuanian and Latvian) are also spoken on a day-to-day basis. Other languages spoken in Ireland include Shelta, spoken by Irish Travellers, and a dialect of Scots is spoken by some Ulster Scots people in Donegal. Most secondary school students choose to learn one or two foreign languages. Languages available for the Junior Certificate and the Leaving Certificate include French, German, Italian and Spanish; Leaving Certificate students can also study Arabic, Japanese and Russian. Some secondary schools also offer Ancient Greek, Hebrew and Latin. The study of Irish is compulsory for Leaving Certificate students, but some may qualify for an exemption in some circumstances, such as learning difficulties or entering the country after age 11.
Although the Irish healthcare system comes under constant criticism from politicians and the public, Ireland has one of the most developed systems of healthcare in the world and healthcare professionals who are highly trained. Healthcare in Ireland is provided by both public and private healthcare providers.
The Minister for Health has responsibility for setting overall health service policy. Every resident of Ireland is entitled to receive health care through the public health care system, which is managed by the Health Service Executive and funded by general taxation. A person may be required to pay a subsidised fee for certain health care received; this depends on income, age, illness or disability. All maternity services are provided free of charge and children up to the age of 6 months. Emergency care is provided to patients who present to a hospital emergency department. However, visitors to emergency departments in non-emergency situations who are not referred by their GP may incur a fee of €100. In some circumstances this fee is not payable or may be waived.
Anyone holding a European Health Insurance Card is entitled to free maintenance and treatment in public beds in Health Service Executive and voluntary hospitals. Outpatient services are also provided for free. However, the majority of patients on median incomes or above are required to pay subsidised hospital charges. Private health insurance is available to the population for those who want to avail of it.
The average life expectancy in Ireland in 2012 is 81 years (OECD average life expectancy in 2012 was 80 years), with 78.2 years for men and 83.6 years for women. It has the highest birth rate in the EU (16.8 births per 1,000 inhabitants, compared to an EU average of 10.7) and a very low infant mortality rate (3.5 per 1,000 live births). The Irish healthcare system ranked 13th out of 34 European countries in 2012 according to the European Health Consumer Index produced by Health Consumer Powerhouse. The same report ranked The Irish healthcare system as having the 8th best health outcomes but only the 21st most accessible system in Europe.
Ireland has three levels of education: primary, secondary and higher education. The education systems are largely under the direction of the Government via the Minister for Education and Skills. Recognised primary and secondary schools must adhere to the curriculum established by the relevant authorities. Education is compulsory between the ages of six and fifteen years, and all children up to the age of eighteen must complete the first three years of secondary, including one sitting of the Junior Certificate examination.
There are approximately 3,300 primary schools in Ireland. The vast majority (92%) are under the patronage of the Catholic Church. Schools run by religious organisations, but receiving public money and recognition, cannot discriminate against pupils based upon religion or lack thereof. A sanctioned system of preference does exist, where students of a particular religion may be accepted before those who do not share the ethos of the school, in a case where a school's quota has already been reached.
The Leaving Certificate, which is taken after two years of study, is the final examination in the secondary school system. Those intending to pursue higher education normally take this examination, with access to third-level courses generally depending on results obtained from the best six subjects taken, on a competitive basis. Third-level education awards are conferred by at least 38 Higher Education Institutions - this includes the constituent or linked colleges of seven universities, plus other designated institutions of the Higher Education and Training Awards Council.
The Programme for International Student Assessment, coordinated by the OECD, currently ranks Ireland as having the fourth highest reading score, ninth highest science score and thirteenth highest mathematics score, among OECD countries, in its 2012 assessment. In 2012, Irish students aged 15 years had the second highest levels of reading literacy in the EU. Ireland also has 0.747 of the World's top 500 Universities per capita, which ranks the country in 8th place in the world. Primary, secondary and higher (university/college) level education are all free in Ireland for all EU citizens. There are charges to cover student services and examinations.
In addition, 37 percent of Ireland population has a university or college degree, which is among the highest percentages in the world.
Religious freedom is constitutionally provided for in Ireland. Christianity is the predominant religion, and while Ireland remains a predominantly Catholic country, the percentage of the population who identified as Catholic on the census has fallen sharply from 84.2 percent in the 2011 census to 78.3 percent in the most recent 2016 census. Other results from the 2016 census are : 4.2% Protestant, 1.3% as Muslim, and 9.8% as having no religion. According to a Georgetown University study, before 2000 the country had one of the highest rates of regular Mass attendance in the Western world. While daily attendance was 13% in 2006, there was a reduction in weekly attendance from 81% in 1990 to 48% in 2006, although the decline was reported as stabilising. In 2011, it was reported that weekly Mass attendance in Dublin was just 18%, with it being even lower among younger generations.
The Church of Ireland is the second largest Christian denomination. Membership declined throughout the twentieth century, but experienced an increase early in the 21st century, as have other small Christian denominations. Significant Protestant denominations are the Presbyterian Church and Methodist Church. Immigration has contributed to a growth in Hindu and Muslim populations. In percentage terms, Orthodox Christianity and Islam were the fastest growing religions, with increases of 100% and 70% respectively.
Ireland's patron saints are Saint Patrick, Saint Bridget and Saint Columba. Saint Patrick is the only one commonly recognised as the patron saint. Saint Patrick's Day is celebrated on 17 March in Ireland and abroad as the Irish national day, with parades and other celebrations.
As with other predominantly Catholic European states, Ireland underwent a period of legal secularisation in the late twentieth century. In 1972, the article of the Constitution naming specific religious groups was deleted by the Fifth Amendment in a referendum. Article 44 remains in the Constitution: "The State acknowledges that the homage of public worship is due to Almighty God. It shall hold His Name in reverence, and shall respect and honour religion." The article also establishes freedom of religion, prohibits endowment of any religion, prohibits the state from religious discrimination, and requires the state to treat religious and non-religious schools in a non-prejudicial manner.
Religious studies was introduced as an optional Junior Certificate subject in 2001. Although many schools are run by religious organisations, a secularist trend is occurring among younger generations.
Ireland's culture was for centuries predominantly Gaelic, and it remains one of the six principal Celtic nations. Following the Anglo-Norman invasion in the 12th century, and gradual British conquest and colonisation beginning in the 16th century, Ireland became influenced by English and Scottish culture. Subsequently, Irish culture, though distinct in many aspects, shares characteristics with the Anglosphere, Catholic Europe, and other Celtic regions. The Irish diaspora, one of the world's largest and most dispersed, has contributed to the globalisation of Irish culture, producing many prominent figures in art, music, and science.
Ireland has made a significant contribution to world literature in both the English and Irish languages. Modern Irish fiction began with the publishing of the 1726 novel Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift. Other writers of importance during the 18th century and their most notable works include Laurence Sterne with the publication of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman and Oliver Goldsmith's The Vicar of Wakefield. Numerous Irish novelists emerged during the 19th century, including Maria Edgeworth, John Banim, Gerald Griffin, Charles Kickham, William Carleton, George Moore, and Somerville and Ross. Bram Stoker is best known as the author of the 1897 novel Dracula.
James Joyce (1882–1941) published his most famous work Ulysses in 1922, which is an interpretation of the Odyssey set in Dublin. Edith Somerville continued writing after the death of her partner Martin Ross in 1915. Dublin's Annie M. P. Smithson was one of several authors catering for fans of romantic fiction in the 1920s and 1930s. After the Second World War, popular novels were published by, among others, Brian O'Nolan, who published as Flann O'Brien, Elizabeth Bowen, and Kate O'Brien. During the final decades of the 20th century, Edna O'Brien, John McGahern, Maeve Binchy, Joseph O'Connor, Roddy Doyle, Colm Tóibín, and John Banville came to the fore as novelists.
Patricia Lynch (1898–1972) was a prolific children's author, while Eoin Colfer has been particularly successful in this genre in recent years. In the genre of the short story, which is a form favoured by many Irish writers, the most prominent figures include Seán Ó Faoláin, Frank O'Connor and William Trevor. Well known Irish poets include Patrick Kavanagh, Thomas McCarthy, Dermot Bolger, and Nobel Prize in Literature laureates William Butler Yeats and Seamus Heaney (born in Northern Ireland but resided in Dublin). Prominent writers in the Irish language are Pádraic Ó Conaire, Máirtín Ó Cadhain, Séamus Ó Grianna, and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill.
The history of Irish theatre begins with the expansion of the English administration in Dublin during the early 17th century, and since then, Ireland has significantly contributed to English drama. In its early history, theatrical productions in Ireland tended to serve political purposes, but as more theatres opened and the popular audience grew, a more diverse range of entertainments were staged. Many Dublin-based theatres developed links with their London equivalents, and British productions frequently found their way to the Irish stage. However, most Irish playwrights went abroad to establish themselves. In the 18th century, Oliver Goldsmith and Richard Brinsley Sheridan were two of the most successful playwrights on the London stage at that time. At the beginning of the 20th century, theatre companies dedicated to the staging of Irish plays and the development of writers, directors and performers began to emerge, which allowed many Irish playwrights to learn their trade and establish their reputations in Ireland rather than in Britain or the United States. Following in the tradition of acclaimed practitioners, principally Oscar Wilde, Literature Nobel Prize laureates George Bernard Shaw (1925) and Samuel Beckett (1969), playwrights such as Seán O'Casey, Brian Friel, Sebastian Barry, Brendan Behan, Conor McPherson and Billy Roche have gained popular success. Other Irish playwrights of the 20th century include Denis Johnston, Thomas Kilroy, Tom Murphy, Hugh Leonard, Frank McGuinness, and John B. Keane.
Music and dance
Irish traditional music has remained vibrant, despite globalising cultural forces, and retains many traditional aspects. It has influenced various music genres, such as American country and roots music, and to some extent modern rock. It has occasionally been blended with styles such as rock and roll and punk rock. Ireland has also produced many internationally known artists in other genres, such as rock, pop, jazz, and blues.
There are a number of classical music ensembles around the country, such as the RTÉ Performing Groups. Ireland also has three opera organisations. Opera Ireland produces large-scale operas in Dublin, the Opera Theatre Company tours its chamber-style operas throughout the country, and the annual Wexford Opera Festival, which promotes lesser-known operas, takes place during October and November.
Ireland has participated in the Eurovision Song Contest since 1965. Its first win was in 1970, when Dana won with All Kinds of Everything. It has subsequently won the competition six more times, the highest number of wins by any competing country. The phenomenon Riverdance originated as an interval performance during the 1994 contest.
Irish dance can broadly be divided into social dance and performance dance. Irish social dance can be divided into céilí and set dancing. Irish set dances are quadrilles, danced by 4 couples arranged in a square, while céilí dances are danced by varied formations of couples of 2 to 16 people. There are also many stylistic differences between these two forms. Irish social dance is a living tradition, and variations in particular dances are found across the country. In some places dances are deliberately modified and new dances are choreographed. Performance dance is traditionally referred to as stepdance. Irish stepdance, popularised by the show Riverdance, is notable for its rapid leg movements, with the body and arms being kept largely stationary. The solo stepdance is generally characterised by a controlled but not rigid upper body, straight arms, and quick, precise movements of the feet. The solo dances can either be in "soft shoe" or "hard shoe".
Ireland has a wealth of structures, surviving in various states of preservation, from the Neolithic period, such as Brú na Bóinne, Poulnabrone dolmen, Castlestrange stone, Turoe stone, and Drombeg stone circle. As the Romans never conquered Ireland, architecture of Greco-Roman origin is extremely rare. The country instead had an extended period of Iron Age architecture. The Irish round tower originated during the Early Medieval period.
Christianity introduced simple monastic houses, such as Clonmacnoise, Skellig Michael and Scattery Island. A stylistic similarity has been remarked between these double monasteries and those of the Copts of Egypt. Gaelic kings and aristocrats occupied ringforts or crannógs. Church reforms during the 12th century via the Cistercians stimulated continental influence, with the Romanesque styled Mellifont, Boyle and Tintern abbeys. Gaelic settlement had been limited to the Monastic proto-towns, such as Kells, where the current street pattern preserves the original circular settlement outline to some extent. Significant urban settlements only developed following the period of Viking invasions. The major Hiberno-Norse Longphorts were located on the coast, but with minor inland fluvial settlements, such as the eponymous Longford.
Castles were built by the Anglo-Normans during the late 12th century, such as Dublin Castle and Kilkenny Castle, and the concept of the planned walled trading town was introduced, which gained legal status and several rights by grant of a Charter under Feudalism. These charters specifically governed the design of these towns. Two significant waves of planned town formation followed, the first being the 16th and 17th century plantation towns, which were used as a mechanism for the Tudor English kings to suppress local insurgency, followed by 18th century landlord towns. Surviving Norman founded planned towns include Drogheda and Youghal; plantation towns include Portlaoise and Portarlington; well-preserved 18th century planned towns include Westport and Ballinasloe. These episodes of planned settlement account for the majority of present-day towns throughout the country.
Gothic cathedrals, such as St Patrick's, were also introduced by the Normans. Franciscans were dominant in directing the abbeys by the Late Middle Ages, while elegant tower houses, such as Bunratty Castle, were built by the Gaelic and Norman aristocracy. Many religious buildings were ruined with the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Following the Restoration, palladianism and rococo, particularly country houses, swept through Ireland under the initiative of Edward Lovett Pearce, with the Houses of Parliament being the most significant.
With the erection of buildings such as The Custom House, Four Courts, General Post Office and King's Inns, the neoclassical and Georgian styles flourished, especially in Dublin. Georgian townhouses produced streets of singular distinction, particularly in Dublin, Limerick and Cork. Following Catholic Emancipation, cathedrals and churches influenced by the French Gothic Revival emerged, such as St Colman's and St Finbarre's. Ireland has long been associated with thatched roof cottages, though these are nowadays considered quaint.
Beginning with the American designed art deco church at Turner's Cross in 1927, Irish architecture followed the international trend towards modern and sleek building styles since the 20th century. Recent developments include the regeneration of Ballymun and an urban extension of Dublin at Adamstown. Since the establishment of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority in 1997, the Dublin Docklands area underwent large-scale redevelopment, which included the construction of the Convention Centre Dublin and Grand Canal Theatre. Completed in 2008, the Elysian tower in Cork is the tallest storeyed building in the Republic of Ireland (the Obel Tower in Belfast, Northern Ireland being the tallest in Ireland), at a height of 71 metres (233 feet), surpassing Cork County Hall. The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland regulates the practice of architecture in the state.
Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ) is Ireland's public service broadcaster, funded by a television licence fee and advertising. RTÉ operates two national television channels, RTÉ One and RTÉ Two. The other independent national television channels are TV3, 3e, UTV Ireland and TG4, the latter of which is a public service broadcaster for speakers of the Irish language. All these channels are available on Saorview, the national free-to-air digital terrestrial television service. Additional channels included in the service are RTÉ News Now, RTÉjr, and RTÉ One +1. Subscription-based television providers operating in Ireland include Virgin Media and Sky.
Supported by the Irish Film Board, the Irish film industry grew significantly since the 1990s, with the promotion of indigenous films as well as the attraction of international productions like Braveheart and Saving Private Ryan.
A large number of regional and local radio stations are available countrywide. A survey showed that a consistent 85% of adults listen to a mixture of national, regional and local stations on a daily basis. RTÉ Radio operates four national stations, Radio 1, 2fm, Lyric fm, and RnaG. It also operates four national DAB radio stations. There are two independent national stations: Today FM and Newstalk.
Ireland has a traditionally competitive print media, which is divided into daily national newspapers and weekly regional newspapers, as well as national Sunday editions. The strength of the British press is a unique feature of the Irish print media scene, with the availability of a wide selection of British published newspapers and magazines.
Eurostat reported that 82% of Irish households had Internet access in 2013 compared to the EU average of 79% but only 67% had broadband access.
Irish cuisine was traditionally based on meat and dairy products, supplemented with vegetables and seafood. Examples of popular Irish cuisine include boxty, colcannon, coddle, stew, and bacon and cabbage. Ireland is famous for the full Irish breakfast, which involves a fried or grilled meal generally consisting of bacon, egg, sausage, pudding, and fried tomato. Apart from the significant influence by European and international dishes, there has been a recent emergence of a new Irish cuisine based on traditional ingredients handled in new ways. This cuisine is based on fresh vegetables, fish, oysters, mussels and other shellfish, and the wide range of hand-made cheeses that are now being produced across the country. Shellfish have increased in popularity, especially due to the high quality shellfish available from the country's coastline. The most popular fish include salmon and cod. Traditional breads include soda bread and wheaten bread. Barmbrack is a yeasted bread with added sultanas and raisins.
Popular everyday beverages among the Irish include tea and coffee. Alcoholic drinks associated with Ireland include Poitín and the world-famous Guinness, which is a dry stout that originated in the brewery of Arthur Guinness at St. James's Gate in Dublin. Irish whiskey is also popular throughout the country, and comes in various forms, including single malt, single grain and blended whiskey.
Gaelic football and hurling are the traditional sports of Ireland as well as most popular spectator sports. They are administered by the Gaelic Athletics Association on an all-Ireland basis. Other Gaelic games organised by the association include Gaelic handball and rounders.
Soccer is the third most popular spectator sport and has the highest level of participation. Although the League of Ireland is the national league, the English Premier League is the most popular among the public. The Republic of Ireland national football team plays at international level and is administered by the Football Association of Ireland.
The Irish Rugby Football Union is the governing body of rugby union, which is played at local and international levels on an all-Ireland basis, and has produced players such as Brian O'Driscoll and Ronan O'Gara, who were on the team that won the Grand Slam in 2009.
The success of the Irish Cricket Team in the 2007 Cricket World Cup has led to an increase in the popularity of cricket, which is also administered on an all-Ireland basis by Cricket Ireland.
Netball is represented by the Ireland national netball team.
Golf is another popular sport in Ireland, with over 300 courses countrywide. The country has produced several internationally successful golfers, such as Pádraig Harrington and Paul McGinley.
Horse Racing has a very large presence in Ireland, with one of the most influential breeding and racing operations based in the country. Racing takes place at courses at The Curragh Racecourse in County Kildare and at Leopardstown Racecourse, racing taking place since the 1860s, but racing taking place as early as the early 1700s. Popular race meetings also take place at Galway. Operations include Coolmore Stud and Ballydoyle, the base of Aidan O'Brien arguably one of the world's most successful horse trainers. Ireland has produced champion horses such as Galileo, Montjeu, and Sea the Stars.
Boxing is Ireland's most successful sport at an Olympic level. Administered by the Irish Athletic Boxing Association on an all-Ireland basis, it has gained in popularity as a result of the international success of boxers such as Bernard Dunne, Andy Lee and Katie Taylor.
Some of Ireland's highest performers in athletics have competed at the Olympic Games, such as Eamonn Coghlan and Sonia O'Sullivan. The annual Dublin Marathon and Dublin Women's Mini Marathon are two of the most popular athletics events in the country.
Rugby league is represented by the Ireland national rugby league team and administered by Rugby League Ireland (who are full member of the Rugby League European Federation) on an all-Ireland basis. The team compete in the European Cup (rugby league) and the Rugby League World Cup. 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. The Irish Elite League is a domestic competition for rugby league teams in Ireland.
The profile of Australian rules football has increased in Ireland due to the International rules series that take place annually between Australia and Ireland. Baseball and basketball are also emerging sports in Ireland, both of which have an international team representing the island of Ireland. Other sports which retain a strong following in Ireland include cycling, greyhound racing, horse riding, motorsport, and softball.
Ireland ranks fifth in the world in terms of gender equality. In 2011, Ireland was ranked the most charitable country in Europe, and second most charitable in the world. Contraception was controlled in Ireland until 1979, however, the receding influence of the Catholic Church has led to an increasingly secularised society. In 1983, the Eighth Amendment recognised "the right to life of the unborn", subject to qualifications concerning the "equal right to life" of the mother. The case of Attorney General v. X subsequently prompted passage of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments, guaranteeing the right to have an abortion performed abroad, and the right to learn about "services" that are illegal in Ireland but legal abroad. The prohibition on divorce in the 1937 Constitution was repealed in 1995 under the Fifteenth Amendment. Divorce rates in Ireland are very low compared to European Union averages (0.7 divorced people per 1,000 population in 2011) while the marriage rate in Ireland is slightly above the European Union average (4.6 marriages per 1,000 population per year in 2012).
Capital punishment is constitutionally banned in Ireland, while discrimination based on age, gender, sexual orientation, marital or familial status, religion, race or membership of the travelling community is illegal. The legislation which outlawed homosexual acts was repealed in 1993. In 2010, the Dáil and the Seanad passed the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act, which recognised civil partnerships between same-sex couples. It permits same-sex couples to register their relationship before a registrar. A Sunday Times poll carried out in March 2011 showed that 73% of people believe that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, while 60% believe that same-sex couples should be allowed to adopt children. In April 2012, the Constitutional Convention voted overwhelmingly in favour of extending marriage rights to same-sex couples. On 23 May 2015, Ireland became the first country to legalise same-sex marriage by popular vote.
Ireland became the first country in the world to introduce an environmental levy for plastic shopping bags in 2002 and a public smoking ban in 2004. Recycling in Ireland is carried out extensively and Ireland has the second highest rate of packaging recycling in the European Union. It was the first country in Europe to ban incandescent lightbulbs in 2008 and the first EU country to ban in-store tobacco advertising and product display in 2009. In 2015 Ireland became the second country in the world to introduce plain cigarette packaging. Despite the above measures to discourage tobacco use, smoking rates in Ireland remain above 20% of the adult population and above those in other developed countries.
The state shares many symbols with the island of Ireland. These include the colours green and blue, animals such as the Irish wolfhound and stags, structures such as round towers and celtic crosses, and designs such as Celtic knots and spirals. The shamrock, a type of clover, has been a national symbol of Ireland since the 17th century when it became customary to wear it as a symbol on St. Patrick's Day. These symbols are used by state institutions as well as private bodies in the Republic of Ireland.
The flag of Ireland is a tricolour of green, white and orange. The flag originates with the Young Ireland movement of the mid-19th century but was not popularised until its use during the Easter Rising of 1916. The colours represent the Gaelic tradition (green) and the followers of William of Orange in Ireland (orange), with white representing the aspiration for peace between them. It was adopted as the flag of the Irish Free State in 1922 and continues to be used as the sole flag and ensign of the state. A naval jack, a green flag with a yellow harp, is set out in Defence Forces Regulations and flown from the mast head of ships in addition to the national flag in limited circumstances (e.g. when a ship is not underway). It is based on the unofficial green ensign of Ireland used in the 18th and 19th centuries and the traditional green flag of Ireland dating from the 16th century.
Like the national flag, the national anthem, Amhrán na bhFiann (English: A Soldier's Song), has its roots in the Easter Rising, when the song was sung by the rebels. Although originally published in English in 1912, the song was translated into Irish in 1923 and the Irish-language version is more commonly sung today. The song was officially adopted as the anthem of the Irish Free State in 1926 and continues as the national anthem of the state. The first four bars of the chorus followed by the last five comprise the presidential salute.
The arms of Ireland originate as the arms of the monarchs of Ireland and was recorded as the arms of the King of Ireland in the 12th century. From the union of the crowns of England, Scotland and Ireland in 1603, they have appeared quartered on the royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom. Today, they are the personal arms of the President of Ireland whilst he or she is in office and are flown as the presidential standard. The harp symbol is used extensively by the state to mark official documents, Irish coinage and on the seal of the President of Ireland.
- Ireland and the IMF
- Outline of the Republic of Ireland
- List of Ireland-related topics
- List of Irish people
- Irish State – Official governmental portal
- Áras an Uachtaráin – Official presidential site
- Taoiseach – Official prime ministerial site
- General information
- "Ireland". The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency.
- Ireland information from the United States Department of State
- Portals to the World at the Wayback Machine (archived 29 July 2010) from the United States Library of Congress (Archived by the WayBackMachine)
- Ireland at UCB Libraries GovPubs
- Ireland at DMOZ
- Ireland profile from the BBC News
- Wikimedia Atlas of Ireland
- Geographic data related to Republic of Ireland at OpenStreetMap
- Key Development Forecasts for Ireland from International Futures