History of Ireland as a Country
Did you know the Emerald Isle full of green fields and rich in culture, has an alternative name? This name is “Éire”, it means “Irish” in our first language Irish. The name “Éirú” who was said to be an Irish Goddess and the Matron Goddess of the Island and sovereignty. The Isle of Ireland is quite old, it dates back to 10,500BC which is about 12,500 years ago, but the free Irish State was established in 1922 and is 97 years old.
Ireland is full and rich in culture. From our language, literature, art, music and food. We have two dominant languages, English which is spoken all around Ireland but also Irish which is currently a dying language. It is said that dating back to the Famine is where we lost our language. Due to poverty and people dying and starving, a lot of Ireland’s population emigrated. A lot of these people had emigrated to the United States and other English-speaking countries.
It is also said that during the time period when Ireland and England were at war and England took the 6 countries in the North of Ireland during the 1600’s is when Ireland really began to see the decline in the language. Although Irish is a dying language it is tried to be preserved as best we can. In schools we are taught Irish as a subject in itself, but there are specific schools called “Gaelscoils” and “Gaelcholaiste” which are Irish speaking schools and everything is thought through Irish. These schools are becoming more and more popular every year as we want to keep our language alive!
There are also area’s here called the “Gaeltacht”, there are towns/villages which is where Irish is predominantly spoken and all signs and poster on the streets and shop windows are Irish also. As you can see from the map of Ireland these are where you can find these Gaeltacht towns, the majority are found on the West coast of Ireland in countries such as Galway, Kerry, Clare and Donegal. This is where you will find your mountainous areas, areas of culture and heritage such as Connemara and Clifden. You have amazing scenery ranging from mountains to lakes to the sea and smaller islands.
Ireland has a very rich and unique literature here in Ireland. It comprises writings in the Irish, Latin and English languages. Our poetry here in Ireland, would you believe, represents some of the oldest vernacular poetry in Europe. Examples go back to as early as the 6th Century. There have many successful Irish poets and you may or may not have heard of them, some of these are; William B Yeats, Seamus Heaney, Eavan Boland and John Montague.
Irish Music is another huge aspect of us and our culture here. I bet you have heard “diddly-y-aye” music at some point, well that is a lot of the traditional music you hear here, other than of course our new and improved pop music! We may produce big name such as U2 and The Script but we also love to keep in touch with out traditional music. Once a guitar or tin whistle is pulled out of a bag, we know it is going to be a good night? Have you ever witnessed an Irish Wedding, or even just a party filled with Irish people? No? We’ll let me tell you, there is no rest at these occasions, once the band and DJ have finished their shifts it is time for the guests to start theirs!
Irish traditional music began as an oral tradition, passed down through generations by listening and playing and singing without actually physically writing lyrics and notes only up until recently. These music sessions are amazing, everyone is sitting around drinking, chatting and best of all singing! These “Sessions” could go all night long until 4/5am in the morning and it is an experience in itself to witness and be part of something like this!
I am sure you have heard of ‘The Dubliners’ and ‘The Clancy Brothers’ who are all traditional Irish bands, with the bodhrán, flutes, violins and guitars. Well they are quite traditional bands, but you have also got folk music which is simply just music and no lyrics. This music is associated with Irish Dancing or Step Dancing, which as you know is a huge tradition here in Ireland, it originated from the 1500’s and is a form of Ceili dancing.
It consists of quadrilles, reels, jogs and long or round dances, it is mostly solos dancing but can be done in groups of 2 and up to 16 people in group dances. Girls wear these awesome sparkly dressing and dancing shoes and boys wear nice suits and waistcoats. Girls have crazy wigs, tan and make up and it is a huge part of Irish Dancing. It is important to our culture and heritage and is growing and expanding all over the country and world and huge success due to Riverdance and Lord of the Dance.
Other native sports to Ireland are Gaelic Football and Hurling. This sport is played using goals just as you see them in rugby, these are some of the basic rules in Gaelic Football; The ball can be carried in the hand for a distance of four steps and can be kicked or “hand-passed”, a striking motion with the hand or fist. After every four steps the ball must be either bounced or “solo-ed”, an action of dropping the ball onto the foot and kicking it back into the hand.
We have also got Hurling (which is the name for boys playing) and “Camoige” (which is the name for girls playing), the fundamental rules of this sport is; It is a stick and ball game, played by teams of 15 on a rectangular grass pitch with H-shaped goals at each end. The stick that we use is called a ‘hurley’, or a camán in the Irish language, while the ball is called a sliotar. The primary objective is to score by driving the ball through the goals or putting the ball over the bar and thereby scoring a point. By putting the ball into the net, and scoring a goal, the team is awarded three points. Both are very popular and unique sports as they are not found anywhere else in the world bar a few places that have it as an activity.
Celebrations and Festivals
St. Patricks Day, the world’s national drinking day, if the Irish are known for anything, they are known for their celebrations and festiveness on this day. The whole world goes green for this day every year on March 17th. Here in Ireland, we celebrate it quite uniquely The tradition is tied to folklore that says wearing green makes you invisible to leprechauns, which like to pinch anyone they can see. Some people also think sporting the color will bring good luck, and others wear it to honor their Irish ancestry.
St. Patrick’s Day is simply a good excuse to take the day off work go to the pub and enjoy a few pints of Guinness while being surrounded by music, dance and celebrations. Saint Patrick, who lived during the fifth century, is the patron saint of Ireland and its national apostle. Born in Roman Britain, he was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave at the age of 16. He later escaped, but returned to Ireland and was credited with bringing Christianity to its people, it is a very important to us as Irish people to celebrate this day. tradition includes many Irish-American people in the United States eating corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day.
People also gather to watch parades of traditional Irish dancers and musicians as they march through city streets. However you celebrate, here’s hoping it’s a lucky day! Usually the six nations final is hosted on Patrick’s Day and Ireland are usually lucky enough to make it here and this is another huge event that celebrate and attend to on this day.
What can you do here as a visitor? Visiting this amazing Island has to be at the top of your to-go-to list, you will not regret it!! Well other than the obvious amazing scenery, you have got pubs and restaurants. Why not pop in and try a real nice cold pint of Guinness in a pub on the Connemara Ring while eating a stew or bacon and cabbage? Walk around Clifden and try some fresh seafood looking across the amazing ocean, enjoying some fresh Irish food?
Landscape and Nature
Ireland’s stunning scenery and unspoiled areas are still its main attraction, scenic places such as the Ring of Kerry, the Cliffs of Moher, and Galway’s Connemara Ring continue to fill visitors with wonder, while unusual topographies like the Giant’s Causeway and County Clare’s The Burren karst landscape have a magic all their own. Ireland’s amazing scenic routes which are almost suitable on a rainy day while you drive the Wild Atlantic Way a 2,600-kilometre (1,600-mile) stretch along the west coast that is the world’s longest defined coastal driving route.
We have got world class accommodation, with amazing place to stay such as castles. We are swimming in historic sites and culture here, the country has some spectacular prehistoric sites to visit, the oldest being at Mount Sandel in Northern Ireland, Ireland is also home to the oldest monastries in the British Isles, such as the beautiful 6th-century monastic site at Glendalough in County Wicklow, Evidence of the first inscriptions on ‘Ogham Stones’ originating back to Latin and Greek are found on historic sites all around the country.
Ireland has one of the world’s oldest languages why not be able to learn “Cúpla focal as Gaeilge” with a cold pint of Guinness in your hand, surrounded by amazing friendly Irish people who are always up for a chat and conversation. Our amazing cuisine and food, ranging from dishes such as stews, bacon and cabbage and many others than can be enjoyed right beside out amazing views!
Whether of traditional seanchaí (or more modern authors of great literature, the Irish are known as a nation of storytellers. The oral storytelling tradition may not be what it used to be. Events like the Cape Clear island International Storytelling festival and the Evening’s of Food, Folklore and Faires at The Brazen Head pub in Dublin keep it alive. The Irish have emigrated all over the globe, you often hear of Americans and other people saying “My great-grandfathers, sisters, sons, daughters dog was from here and therefore there is a bit of Irish In their blood too, which is why so many people come to visit their ancestors’ home.
I can almost guarantee your trip to Ireland will not be boring, and there will not be a day where there is nothing to do, let me tell ya I will find you something to do! I can guarantee the amazing food, people culture and language, but the one thing I cannot guarantee is the weather! As we know there are more rainy days than sunny days here!