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Ireland is an island in the Atlantic off the north-western coast of continental Europe. It is the third-largest
island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth. To its east is the island of Great Britain, from
which it is separated by the Irish Sea and North Channel.
Politically, Ireland is divided between the Republic of Ireland, which covers five-sixths of the island,
and Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom, which covers the remaining area and is located in the
north-east of the island. The population of Ireland is approximately 6.4 million. Just under 4.6 million live
in the Republic of Ireland and just over 1.8 million live in Northern Ireland.
The island's geography comprises relatively low-lying mountains surrounding a central plain, with several
navigable rivers extending inland. The island has lush vegetation, a product of its mild but changeable
oceanic climate, which avoids extremes in temperature. Thick woodlands covered the island until
medieval times. As of 2013, the amount of land that is forested in Ireland is about 11% of the total land
area, compared with European average of 35%. There are twenty-six extant mammal species native to
PRE HISTORIC IRELAND
Prehistoric Ireland saw the arrival of humans after 8000 BCE. Gaelic Ireland then emerged in the first
millenium and lasted until the early 17th century. The island was converted to Christianity from the 5th
century onward. Following the Norman invasion in the 12th century, England claimed sovereignty over
Ireland. However, English rule did not extend over the whole island until the 16th–17th century Tudor
conquest. This led to the colonization of northern Ireland by settlers from Britain. In the 1690s, a system
of Protestant English rule was designed to materially disadvantage the Catholic majority
and Protestant dissenters, and was extended during the 18th century. In 1801, Ireland became a part
of theUnited Kingdom. A war of independence in the early 20th century was followed by the partition of
the island, creating the Irish Free State, which became increasingly sovereign over the following decades,
and Northern Ireland which remained a part of the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland saw much civil
unrest from the late 1960s until the 1990s. This subsided following a political agreement in 1998. In 1973,
both parts of Ireland joined the European Economic Community.
Irish culture has had a significant influence on other cultures, especially in the fields of literature and, to a
lesser degree, science and education. Alongside mainstream Western culture, a strong indigenous
culture exists, as expressed for example through Gaelic games, Irish music, and the Irish language. The
culture of the island has also many features shared with Great Britain, including the English language,
and sports such as association football, rugby, horse racing and golf.
Irish culture includes customs and
traditions, language, music, art, literature, folklore, cuisine and sports associated with the island of Ireland
and of the Irish and Northern Irish people. However, the culture of the people living on the island is not
homogeneous. There are notable cultural divides between urban and rural, Catholic and Protestants,Irish-
speakers and English-speakers, immigrants and native population, the Travelers and settled population
and between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. (For an overview of Ireland's culture during the
Gaelic period, see Gaelic Ireland. Also for an overview of Northern Ireland's culture see Culture of
Many people of the island are of Gaelic descent, although there are also large populations of Ulster
Scots and Anglo-Irish ethnicity in Northern Ireland. In addition Ireland has been ethnically diversified as a
result of large-scale immigration from many different countries throughout its history. Also, due to
emigration of the Irish people themselves overseas, Irish culture has a global reach and festivals such
as St. Patrick's Day, Halloween and The Twelfth of July are observed and celebrated all over the world.
Though there are many unique aspects of Irish culture, it shares substantial traits with the United
Kingdom (of which it was formerly a part), other English-speaking countries, other
predominantly Catholic countries and Christendom generally, other European Union countries, and
other Celtic nations. Irish culture has to some degree been inherited and modified by the Irish
diaspora which in turn influences the home country.
Holidays and Festivals
Much of the Irish calendar still today reflects the old pagan customs, with later Christian traditions also
having significant influence. Christmas in Ireland has several local traditions, some in no way connected
with Christianity. On 26 December (St. Stephen's Day), there is a custom of "Wrenboys" who call door to
door with an arrangement of assorted material (which changes in different localities) to represent
dead wren "caught in the furze", as their rhyme goes.
The national holiday in the Republic of Ireland is Saint Patrick's Day, 17 March and is marked by parades
and festivals in cities and towns across the island of Ireland, and by the Irish diaspora around the world.
The festival is in remembrance to Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. Pious legend credits Patrick
with banishing snakes from the island, and legend also credits Patrick with teaching the Irish about the
concept of the Trinity by showing people the shamrock, a 3-leaved clover, using it to highlight the
Christian belief of 'three divine persons in the one God'.
In Northern Ireland the The Twelfth of July, which commemorates William III's victory at the Battle of the
Boyne is a public holiday. The holiday is celebrated by Irish Protestants the vast majority of whom live in
Northern Ireland and is notable for the numerous parades organized by the Orange Order which take
place throughout Northern Ireland. These parades are colourful affairs with Orange Banners and sashes
on display and include music in the form of traditional songs such as The Sash and Derry's
Walls performed by a mixture of Pipe, Flute, Accordion, and Brass marching bands.
Brigid's Day (1 February, known as Imbolc or Candlemas) also does not have its origins in Christianity,
being instead another religious observance superimposed at the beginning of spring. The Brigid's
cross made from rushes on this day represents a pre-Christian solar wheel.
Other pre-Christian festivals, whose names survive as Irish month names,
are Bealtaine (May), Lúnasa (August) and Samhain (November). The last is still widely observed
as Halloween which is celebrated all over the world, including in the United States followed by All Saints'
Day, another Christian holiday associated with a traditional one. Important church holidays include
Easter, and various Marian observances.
Christianity in the form of both Roman Catholicism and Protestantism is the most widely practised religion
in Ireland. Christianity was brought to Ireland during or prior to the 5th century and its early history among
the Irish is in particular associated with Saint Patrick, who is generally considered Ireland's patron
saint. The Celtic festival of Samhain, known as Halloween, originated in Ireland and is now celebrated all
over the world.
Ireland is a place where religion and religious practice have always been held in high esteem. The
majority of people on the island are Roman Catholics, however there is significant minority
of Protestants who are mostly concentrated in Northern Ireland where they make up aplurality of the
population. The three main Protestant denominations on the island are the Church of Ireland,
the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and the Methodist Church in Ireland. These are also joined by
numerous other smaller denominations including, The Baptists, several American gospel groups and the
Salvation Army. As well as these Protestant Churches other minority denominations include Eastern
Orthodox, Jehovah's Witnesses and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) . In addition
to the Christian denominations there are centres for Buddhists, Hindus, Bahais and for people of the
Islamic and Jewish faiths.
In the Republic of Ireland, the last time a census asked people to specify what their religion was in 2006.
The result was 86.8% Roman Catholic, 3% Church of Ireland (Anglican), 0.8% Islam, 0.6% Presbyterian,
0.3% Methodist, less than 0.05% Jewish, approximately 1.4% other religious groupings and 4.4%
identified as having no religion. About 2% did not state their religious identity. Amongst the Republic's
Roman Catholics, weekly church attendance dropped from 87% in 1981 to 60% in 1998, though this
remained one of the highest attendance rates in Europe.
In Northern Ireland in 2001, the population was 40.3% Roman Catholic, 20.7% Presbyterian, 15.3%
Church of Ireland (Anglican), 3.5% Methodist, 6.1% other Christian, 0.3% other religion and philosophy,
and 13.9% religion not stated.
Literature and Arts
For a comparatively small place, the island of Ireland has made a disproportionate contribution to world
literature in all its branches, in both the Irish and English languages. The island's most widely known
literary works are undoubtedly in English. Particularly famous examples of such works are those of James
Joyce, Bram Stoker, Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde and Ireland's four winners of the Nobel Prize for
Literature; William Butler Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett and Seamus Heaney. Three of
the four Nobel prize winners were born in Dublin (Heaney being the exception, having lived in Dublin but
being born in County Londonderry), making it the birthplace of more Nobel literary laureates than any
other city in the world. The Irish language has the third oldest literature in Europe
(after Greek and Latin), the most significant body of written literature (both ancient and recent) of
any Celtic language, as well as a strong oral tradition of legends and poetry. Poetry in Irish represents the
oldest vernacular poetry in Europe, with the earliest examples dating from the 6th century.
The early history of Irish visual art is generally considered to begin with early carvings found at sites such
as Newgrange and is traced through Bronze age artefacts, particularly ornamental gold objects, and
the Celtic brooches and illuminated manuscripts of the "Insular" Early Medieval period. During the course
of the 19th and 20th centuries, a strong indigenous tradition of painting emerged, including such figures
as John Butler Yeats, William Orpen, Jack Yeats and Louis le Brocquy.
The Irish tradition of folk music and dance is also widely known. In the middle years of the 20th century,
as Irish society was attempting to modernise, traditional Irish music fell out of favour to some extent,
especially in urban areas. Young people at this time tended to look to Britain and, particularly, the United
States as models of progress and jazz and rock and roll became extremely popular. During the 1960s,
and inspired by the American folk music movement, there was a revival of interest in the Irish tradition.
This revival was inspired by groups like The Dubliners, the Clancy Brothers and Sweeney's Men and
individuals like Seán Ó Riada. The annual Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann is the largest festival of Irish music
Before long, groups and musicians like Horslips, Van Morrison and even Thin Lizzy were incorporating
elements of traditional music into a rock idiom to form a unique new sound. During the 1970s and 1980s,
the distinction between traditional and rock musicians became blurred, with many individuals regularly
crossing over between these styles of playing as a matter of course. This trend can be seen more
recently in the work of bands like U2, Snow Patrol, The Cranberries and The Corrs.
Irish Nobel Prize in Literature laureates
George Bernard Shaw
Irish and English are the most widely spoken languages in Ireland. English is the most widely spoken
language on the island overall, and Irish is spoken as a first language only by a small minority, primarily,
though not exclusively, in the government-defined Gaeltacht regions in the Republic. A larger minority
speak Irish as a second language, with 40% of people in the Republic of Ireland. Article 8 of
the Constitution of Ireland states that Irish is the national and first official language of the Republic of
Ireland. English in turn is recognised as the state's second official language. Hiberno-English, the dialect
of English spoken in most of the Republic of Ireland, has been greatly influenced by Irish.
In contrast Northern Ireland like the rest of the United Kingdom has no official language however English
is the de facto official language. In addition Irish and Ulster Scots have recognition as European minority
languages with 8.1% having some ability in Ulster Scots 11% in Irish. Also the dialect and accent of the
people of Northern Ireland is noticeably different from that of the majority of the Republic of Ireland, being
influenced by Ulster Scots and Northern Ireland's proximity to Scotland.
Several other languages are spoken on the island, including Shelta, a mixture of Irish, Romany and
English, spoken widely by Travellers. Two sign languages have also been developed on the
island, Northern Irish Sign Language and Irish Sign Language.
Some other languages have entered Ireland with immigrants – for example, Polish is now the second
most widely spoken language in Ireland after English, Irish being the third most commonly spoken
Irish Sign Language
Ulster Scots language
Northern Ireland Sign Language
Food and Drink
There are many references to food and drink in early Irish literature. Honey seems to have been widely
eaten and used in the making of mead. The old stories also contain many references to banquets,
although these may well be greatly exaggerated and provide little insight into everyday diet. There are
also many references to fulacht fia, which are archaeological sites commonly believed to have once been
used for cooking venison. The fulacht fia have holes or troughs in the ground which can be filled with
water. Meat can then be cooked by placing hot stones in the trough until the water boils. Many fulach
fia sites have been identified across the island of Ireland, and some of them appear to have been in use
up to the 17th century.
Excavations at the Viking settlement in the Wood Quay area of Dublin have produced a significant
amount of information on the diet of the inhabitants of the town. The main animals eaten were cattle,
sheep and pigs, with pigs being the most common. This popularity extended down to modern times in
Ireland. Poultry and wild geese as well as fish and shellfish were also common, as were a wide range of
native berries and nuts, especially hazel. The seeds of knotgrass and goosefoot were widely present and
may have been used to make a porridge.
The potato in Ireland
The potato would appear to have been introduced into Ireland in the second half of the 16th century,
initially as a garden crop. It eventually came to be the main food field crop of the tenant and labouring
classes. As a food source, the potato is extremely efficient in terms of energy yielded per unit area of
land. The potato is also a good source of many vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin C (especially
when fresh). As a result, the typical 18th- and 19th-century Irish diet of potatoes and buttermilk was a
contributing factor in the population explosion that occurred in Ireland at that time. However, due to the
political rule of the time, the majority of Irish produce (root crops, cereals and animal produce) was
exported to Britain, leaving few strains of potato as the sole food source for the Irish. This, along with the
spread of potato blight led to shortages and famine, the most notable instance being the Great Irish
Famine (1845–1849), which more or less undid all the growth in population of the previous century. The
cause of which was partially due to an adherence to lassie faire economic policies by the government
which kept food exports at the pre famine level leading to disease and emigration.
In the 20th century the usual modern selection of foods common to Western cultures has been adopted in
Ireland. Both US fast-food culture and continental European dishes have influenced the country, along
with other world dishes introduced in a similar fashion to the rest of the Western world. Common meals
include pizza, curry, Chinese food, and lately, some west African dishes have been making an
appearance. Supermarket shelves now contain ingredients for, among others, traditional, European,
American (Mexican/Tex-Mex), Indian, Polish and Chinese dishes.
The proliferation of fast food has led to increasing public health problems including obesity, and one of
the highest rates of heart disease in the world. Due to the current "anti-meat fad", the government has
broadcast television advertisements to discourage meat consumption. In theNorthern Ireland, the Ulster
fry has been particularly cited as being a major source for a higher incidence of cardiac problems, quoted
as being a"heart attack on a plate". All the ingredients are fried, although more recently the trend is
to grill as many of the ingredients as possible. These advertisements however, do not explain the health
and vigor of native Irish people while eating their traditional diets high in both fat and meat.
In tandem with these developments, the last quarter of the century saw the emergence of a new Irish
cuisine based on traditional ingredients handled in new ways. This cuisine is based on fresh vegetables,
fish, especially salmon and trout, oysters and other shellfish, traditional soda bread, the wide range of
hand-made cheeses that are now being made across the country, and, of course, the potato. Traditional
dishes, such as the Irish stew, Dublin coddle, the Irish breakfast and potato bread, have enjoyed a
resurgence. Schools like the Ballymaloe Cookery School have emerged to cater for the associated
increased interest in cooking with traditional ingredients.
Pub culture pervades Irish society, across all cultural divides. The term refers to the Irish habit of
frequenting public houses (pubs) or bars. Traditional pub culture is concerned with more than just
drinking, even though Ireland has a recognised problem with over-consumption of alcohol. In 2003,
Ireland had the second-highest per capita alcohol consumption in the world, just below Luxembourg at
13.5 litres (per person 15 or more years old), according to the OECD Health Data 2009 survey. Typically
pubs are important meeting places, where people can gather and meet their neighbours and friends in a
relaxed atmosphere; similar to the cafe cultures of other countries. Pubs vary widely according to the
clientele they serve, and the area they are in. Best known, and loved amongst tourists is the traditional
pub, with its traditional Irish music (or "trad music"), tavern-like warmness, and memorabilia filling it. Often
such pubs will also serve food, particularly during the day. Many more modern pubs, not necessarily
traditional, still emulate these pubs, only perhaps substituting traditional music for a DJ or non-traditional
Many larger pubs in cities eschew such trappings entirely, opting for loud music, and focusing more on
the consumption of drinks, which is not a focus of traditional Irish culture. Such venues are popular "pre-
clubbing" locations. "Clubbing" has become a popular phenomenon amongst young people in Ireland
during the celtic tiger years. Clubs usually vary in terms of the type of music played, and the target
A significant recent change to pub culture in the Republic of Ireland has been the introduction of
a smoking ban, in all workplaces, which includes pubs and restaurants. Ireland was the first country in the
world to implement such a ban which was introduced on 29 March 2004. A majority of the population
support the ban, including a significant percentage of smokers. Nevertheless, the atmosphere in pubs has
changed greatly as a result, and debate continues on whether it has boosted or lowered sales, although
this is often blamed on the ever-increasing prices, or whether it is a "good thing" or a "bad thing". A similar
ban, under the Smoking (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 came into effect in Northern Ireland on 30 April
Sport on the island of Ireland is popular and widespread. Throughout the island a wide variety of sports
are played, the most popular being Gaelic football, hurling, rugby union, soccer and hockey. Gaelic
football is the most popular sport in Ireland in terms of match attendance and community involvement,
and represents 34% of total sports attendances at events in the Republic of Ireland and abroad, followed
by hurling at 23%, soccer at 16% and rugby at 8%. and the All-Ireland Football Final is the most watched
event in Ireland's sporting calendar. Swimming, golf, aerobics, soccer, cycling, Gaelic football and
billiards/snooker are the sporting activities with the highest levels of playing participation. Soccer is the
most popular sport involving national teams.
In Ireland many sports, such as rugby union, Gaelic football and hurling, are organised in an all-island
basis, with a single team representing the island of Ireland in international competitions. Other sports,
such as soccer, have separate organising bodies in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. At the
Olympics, a person from Northern Ireland can choose to represent either the Great Britain team or
the Ireland team. Also as Northern Ireland is a Home Nation of the United Kingdom it also sends
a Northern Ireland Team to the Commonwealth Games every four years.
Gaelic Athletic Association
Northern Ireland national football team
Republic of Ireland national football team
Irish Rugby Football Union
Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games Team
British Olympic Association
Olympic Council of Ireland
Irish Derby Stakes
Despite the two jurisdictions using two distinct currencies (the euro and pound sterling), a growing
amount of commercial activity is carried out on an all-island basis. This has been facilitated by the two
jurisdictions' shared membership of the European Union, and there have been calls from members of the
business community and policymakers for the creation of an "all-island economy" to take advantage
of economies of scale and boost competitiveness.
Ireland has an ancient industry based on peat (known locally as "sod" or "turf") as a source of energy for
home fires. A form of biomass energy, this source of heat is still widely used inrural areas. In cities, heat
is generally supplied by heating oil, although some urban suppliers distribute "sods of turf" as "smokeless
An area in which the island operates as a single market is electricity. For much of their
existence electricity networks in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland were entirely separate. Both
networks were designed and constructed independently post partition. However, as a result of changes
over recent years they are now connected with three interlinks and also connected through Great Britain
to mainland Europe. The situation in Northern Ireland is complicated by the issue of private companies
not supplying Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) with enough power. In the Republic of Ireland, the ESB
has failed to modernise its power stations and the availability of power plants has recently averaged only
66%, one of the worst such rates in Western Europe. EirGrid is building a HVDC transmission line
between Ireland and Great Britain with a capacity of 500 MW, about 10% of Ireland's peak demand.
As with electricity, the natural gas distribution network is also now all-island, with a pipeline
linking Gormanston, County Meath, and Ballyclare, County Antrim. Most of Ireland's gas comes through
interconnectors between Twynholm in Scotland and Ballylumford, County Antrim
and Loughshinny, County Dublin. A decreasing supply is coming from the Kinsale gas field off the County
Cork coast and the Corrib Gas Field off the coast of County Mayo has yet to come on-line. The County
Mayo field is facing some localised opposition over a controversial decision to refine the gas onshore.
Research and development in Ireland in renewable energy such as wind power has increased since
2004. Large wind farms are being constructed in coastal counties such as Cork, Donegal, Mayo and
Antrim. The construction of wind farms has in some cases been delayed by opposition from local
communities, some of whom overall consider the wind turbines to be unsightly. The Republic of Ireland is
also hindered by an ageing network that was not designed to handle the varying availability of power that
comes from wind farms. The ESB's Turlough Hill facility is the only power-storage facility in the state.
Being a Manager in Ireland
Successful cross cultural management should take into account the fact that the business set
up in Ireland is a bit less formal and ritualized than it is in many European countries. In general,
the Irish work hard but they also take time to enjoy life and expect others to do the same.
There are radical differences between entrepreneurial and high tech companies and those that
favor the old traditions. One might expect these two perspectives to be in constant conflict;
however, the Irish seem able to balance them.
The Role of a Manager
Cross cultural communiciation will be more effective when working in Ireland when you
remember that the most productive managers in Ireland recognize and value the specialized
knowledge that employees at all levels bring. Employees expect to be consulted on decisions
that affect them and the greater good of the organization.
Newcomers to the Irish management style should carefully study the corporate culture of
specific companies because they may vary from being hierarchical to rather egalitarian.
Consequently, employees will range from feeling empowered to speak out in the management
process, to those who believe it is most important to simply execute the instructions by their
Employees expect to be praised and complimented for work done well, although they prefer
praise be given in private. The Irish are wary of praise that is not deserved, so be certain that
your comments are genuine and specific to the individual performance.
Approach to Change
Ireland’s intercultural adaptability and readiness for change is developing all the time. Ireland is
seen to have a medium tolerance for change and risk. It is important for innovations to have a
track record or history noting the benefits if they are to be accepted and implemented.
The fear of exposure, and the potential of embarrassment that may accompany failure, brings
about aversion to risk and the need to thoroughly examine the potential negative implications.
While in risk-tolerant environments, failure is perceived as a learning process that encourages
confidence in future ventures, failure in Ireland causes a long-term loss of confidence by the
individual as well as by others. Because of this attitude, intercultural sensitivity is going to be
required, especially when conducting group meetings and discussing contributions made my
Approach to Time and Priorities
Ireland is a moderate time culture meaning they may, at times, be slightly more relaxed about
deadlines. Nevertheless, the expectations of intercultural and global expansion have caused the
Irish to adopt relatively strict standards of adhering to schedules.
When working with people from Ireland, it’s advisable to reinforce the importance of the agreed-
upon deadlines and how that may affect the rest of the organization. Successful intercultural
management will depend on the individual’s ability to meet deadlines.
The Irish have a rather democratic approach to hierarchy and do not see marked differences
between managers and their subordinates. While in some large companies, senior level
managers are the key decision-makers, employees' opinions are still sought and considered
before a final determination is made.
Boss or Team Player ?
In Ireland, groups collaborate well together as teams. Members are generally chosen to
participate based on tangible skills or the knowledge base they bring, and are equally welcome
to contribute to any discussion that may arise. They are encouraged to generate new ideas that
may further the direction of the plan or spawn a new track entirely. In successful, dynamic
teams, all members are valued for their actual and potential contribution, and all are treated with
Communication and Negotiation Styles
The Irish do not like to say "no" so to avoid cross cultural miscommunication, make sure
you understand what has or has not been agreed. They prefer to offer noncommittal
responses such as "maybe". The Irish focus on short-term results and benefits when
reaching decisions. Avoid confrontational behavior or high-pressure tactics, which can
be counterproductive. Never make exaggerated claims about your products or delivery
dates. The Irish are more impressed by results than promises. The Irish prefer to do
business with people they feel comfortable with, so be prepared to engage in some
casual relationship building, such as dinner or drinks at a local pub.