CAPITAL: Dublin (Baile Átha Cliath)
FLAG: The national flag is a tricolor of green, white, and orange vertical stripes.
ANTHEM: Amhrán na bhFiann (The Soldier's Song).
MONETARY UNIT: The euro replaced the Irish punt as the official currency in 2002. The euro is divided into 100 cents. There are coins in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents and 1 euro and 2 euros. There are notes of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 euros. €1 = $1.25475 (or $1 = €0.79697) as of 2005.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: Since 1988, Ireland has largely converted from the British system of weights and measures to the metric system.
HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; St. Patrick's Day, 17 March; Bank Holidays, 1st Monday in June, 1st Monday in August, and last Monday in October; Christmas Day, 25 December; St. Stephen's Day, 26 December. Movable religious holidays include Good Friday and Easter Monday.
An island in the eastern part of the North Atlantic directly west of the United Kingdom, on the continental shelf of Europe, Ireland covers an area of 70,280 sq km (27,135 sq mi). Comparatively, the area occupied by Ireland is slightly larger than the state of West Virginia. The island's length is 486 km (302 mi) n–s, and its width is 275 km (171 mi) e–w. The Irish Republic is bounded on the n by the North Channel, which separates it from Scotland; on the ne by Northern Ireland; and on the e and se by the Irish Sea and St. George's Channel, which separate it from England and Wales. To the w, from north to south, the coast is washed by the Atlantic Ocean.
Ireland's capital city, Dublin, is located on the Irish Sea coast.
Ireland is a limestone plateau rimmed by coastal highlands of varying geological structure. The central plain area, characterized by many lakes, bogs, and scattered low ridges, averages about 90 m (300 ft) above sea level. Principal mountain ranges include the Wicklow Mountains in the east and Macgillycuddy's Reeks in the southwest. The highest peaks are Carrantuohill (1,041 m/3,414 ft) and Mt. Brandon (953 m/3,127 ft), near Killarney, and, 64 km (40 mi) south of Dublin, Lugnaquillia (926 m/3,039 ft).
The coastline, 1,448 km (900 mi) long, is heavily indented along the south and west coasts where the ranges of Donegal, Mayo, and Munster end in bold headlands and rocky islands, forming long, narrow fjordlike inlets or wide-mouthed bays. On the southern coast, drowned river channels have created deep natural harbors. The east coast has few good harbors.
Most important of the many rivers is the Shannon, which rises in the mountains along the Ulster border and drains the central plain as it flows 370 km (230 mi) to the Atlantic, into which it empties through a wide estuary nearly 110 km (70 mi) long. Other important rivers are the Boyne, Suir, Liffey, Slaney, Barrow, Blackwater, Lee, and Nore.
Ireland has an equable climate, because the prevailing west and southwest winds have crossed long stretches of the North Atlantic Ocean, which is warmer in winter and cooler in summer than the continental land masses. The mean annual temperature is 10°c (50°f), and average monthly temperatures range from a mild 4°c (39°f) in January to 16°c (61°f) in July. Average yearly rainfall ranges from less than 76 cm (30 in) in places near Dublin to more than 254 cm (100 in) in some mountainous regions. The sunniest area is the extreme southeast, with an annual average of 1,700 hours of bright sunshine. Winds are strongest near the west coast, where the average speed is about 26 km/hr (16 mph).
Since Ireland was completely covered by ice sheets during the most recent Ice Age, all existing native plant and animal life originated from the natural migration of species, chiefly from other parts of Europe and especially from Britain. Early sea inundation of the land bridge connecting Ireland and Britain prevented further migration after 6000 bc. Although many species have subsequently been introduced, Ireland has a much narrower range of flora and fauna than Britain. Forest is the natural dominant vegetation, but the total forest area is now only 9.6% of the total area, and most of that remains because of the state afforestation program. The natural forest cover was chiefly mixed sessile oak woodland with ash, wych elm, birch, and yew. Pine was dominant on poorer soils, with rowan and birch. Beech and lime are notable natural absentees that thrive when introduced.
The fauna of Ireland is basically similar to that of Britain, but there are some notable gaps. Among those absent are weasel, polecat, wildcat, most shrews, moles, water voles, roe deer, snakes, and common toads. There are also fewer bird and insect species. Some introduced animals, such as the rabbit and brown rat, have been very successful. Ireland has some species not native to Britain, such as the spotted slug and certain species of wood lice. Ireland's isolation has made it notably free from plant and animal diseases. Among the common domestic animals, Ireland is particularly noted for its fine horses, dogs, and cattle. The Connemara pony, Irish wolfhound, Kerry blue terrier, and several types of cattle and sheep are recognized as distinct breeds.
As of 2002, there were at least 25 species of mammals, 143 species of birds, and over 900 species of plants throughout the country.
Ireland enjoys the benefits of a climate in which calms are rare and the winds are sufficiently strong to disperse atmospheric pollution. Nevertheless, industry is a significant source of pollution. In 1996, carbon dioxide emissions from industrial sources totaled 34.9 million metric tons. In 2002, the total of carbon dioxide emissions was at 42.2 million metric tons. Water pollution is also a problem, especially pollution of lakes from agricultural runoff. The nation has 49 cu km of renewable water resources.
Principal responsibility for environmental protection is vested in the Department of the Environment. The Department of Fisheries and Forestry, the Department of Agriculture, and the Office of Public Works also deal with environmental affairs. Local authorities, acting under the supervision of the Department of the Environment, are responsible for water supply, sewage disposal, and other environmental matters.
In 2003, about 1.7% of the total land area was protected, including 45 Ramsar wetland sites. According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), threatened species included four types of mammals, eight species of birds, six species of fish, one type of mollusk, two species of other invertebrates, and one species of plant. Threatened species include the Baltic sturgeon, Kerry slug, and Marsh snail. The great auk has become extinct.
The population of Ireland in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 4,125,000, which placed it at number 122 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 11% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 21% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 99 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 2005–10 was expected to be 0.8%, a rate the government viewed as satisfactory. The projected population for the year 2025 was 4,530,000. The population density was 59 per sq km (152 per sq mi).
The UN estimated that 60% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 1.37%. The capital city, Dublin (Baile Átha Cliath), had a population of 1,015,000 in that year. The other largest urban centers (and their estimated populations) were Cork (193,400), Limerick 84,900), Galway (65,832), and Waterford (44,594).
The great famine in the late 1840s inaugurated the wave of Irish emigrants to the United States, Canada, Argentina, and other countries: 100,000 in 1846, 200,000 per year from 1847 to 1850, and 250,000 in 1851. Since then, emigration has been a traditional feature of Irish life, although it has been considerably reduced since World War II. The net emigration figure decreased from 212,000 for 1956–61 to 80,605 for 1961–66 and 53,906 for 1966–71. During 1971–81, Ireland recorded a net gain from immigration of 103,889. As of November 1995, more than 150,000 people had left Ireland in the previous 10 years, unemployment being the main reason. The top two destinations were the United Kingdom and the United States.
During the 1990s there was a considerable rise in the number of asylum seekers, from 39 applications in 1992 to 4,630 in 1998. The main countries of origin were Nigeria, Romania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Libya, and Algeria. Also, during the Kosovo crisis in 1999, Ireland took in 1,033 Kosovar Albanians who were evacuated from Macedonia under the UNHCR/IOM Humanitarian Evacuation Programme. In 2004 Ireland had 7,201 refugees and 3,696 asylum seekers. Asylum seekers are primarily from Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and six other countries.
In 2005, the net migration rate was estimated as 4.93 migrants per 1,000 population, up from -1.31 in 1999.
Within historic times, Ireland has been inhabited by Celts, Norsemen, French Normans, and English. Through the centuries, the racial strains represented by these groups have been so intermingled that no purely ethnic divisions remain. The Travellers are group of about 25,000 indigenous nomadic people who consider themselves to be a distinct ethnic minority.
Two languages are spoken, English and Irish (Gaelic). During the long centuries of British control, Irish fell into disuse except in parts of western Ireland. Since the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922, the government has sought to reestablish Irish as a spoken language throughout the country. It is taught as a compulsory subject in schools and all government publications, street signs, and post office notices are printed in both Irish and English. English, however, remains the language in common use. Only in a few areas (the Gaeltacht), mostly along the western seaboard, is Irish in everyday use. In 1995, a national survey found that only 5% of Irish people frequently used the Irish language and only 2% considered it their native tongue. About 30% of the population, however, claims some proficiency in Gaelic.
According to the 2002 census, about 88.4% of the population were nominally Roman Catholic. The next largest organization was the Church of Ireland (Anglican), with a membership of about 2.9% of the population. About 0.52% of the population were Presbyterian, 0.25% were Methodist, 0.49 were Muslim, and less than 0.1% were Jewish. There are small communities Jehovah's Witnesses. For ecclesiastical purposes, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (UK) constitute a single entity. Both Roman Catholics and Episcopalian churches have administrative seats at Armagh in Northern Ireland. The Presbyterian Church has its headquarters in Belfast. The constitutional right to freedom of religion is generally respected in practice.
The Irish Transport System (Córas Iompair Éireann-CIE), a state-sponsored entity, provides a nationwide coordinated road and rail system of public transport for goods and passengers. It is also responsible for maintaining the canals, although they are no longer used for commercial transport. Ireland's railroads, like those of many other European countries, have become increasingly unprofitable because of competition from road transport facilities. There were 3,312 km (2,056 mi) of track in 2004, all of it broad gauge. CIE receives an annual government subsidy.
A network of good main roads extends throughout the country, and improved country roads lead to smaller towns and villages. Ninety-six percent of all inland passenger transport and 90% of inland freight are conveyed by road. Bus routes connect all the major population centers and numerous moderate-sized towns. In 2002, there were 95,736 km (59,548 mi) of roads, of which all were surfaced. In 2003 there were 1,520,000 passenger cars and 272,000 commercial vehicles in use.
In 2005, Ireland's merchant fleet consisted of 39 vessels of 1,000 GRT or more. The state-supported shipping firm, the British and Irish Steam Packet Co. (the B and I Line), is largely engaged in cross-channel travel between Ireland and the United Kingdom, providing passenger and car ferry services as well as containerized freight services, both port to port and door to door. The Irish Continental Line operates services to France, linking Rosslare with Le Havre and Cherbourg; it also runs a summer service between Cork and Le Havre. Brittany Ferries operates a weekly service between Cork and Roscoff. Other shipping concerns operate regular passenger and freight services to the United Kingdom and freight services to the Continent. There are deepwater ports at Cork and Dublin and 10 secondary ports. Dublin is the main port. As of 2004, Ireland had 753 km (468 mi) of navigable inland waterways, but which were accessible only by pleasure craft.
In 2004 there were an estimated 36 airports, of which 15 had paved runways as of 2005. Aer Lingus (Irish International Airlines), the Irish national airline, operates services between Ireland, the United Kingdom, and continental Europe as well as transatlantic flights. Many foreign airlines operate scheduled transatlantic passenger and air freight services through the duty-free port at Shannon, and most transatlantic airlines make nonscheduled stops there; foreign airlines also operate services between Ireland, the United Kingdom, and continental Europe. The three state airports at Dublin, Shannon, and Cork are managed by Aer Rianta on behalf of the Ministry for Transport and Power. A domestic airline, Aer Arann Teo, connects Galway with the Aran Islands and Dublin. In 2003, about 28.864 million passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international airline flights.
The pre-Christian era in Ireland is known chiefly through legend, although there is archaeological evidence of habitation during the Stone and Bronze ages. In about the 4th century bc, the tall, red-haired Celts from Gaul or Galicia arrived, bringing with them the Iron Age. They subdued the Picts in the north and the Érainn tribe in the south, then settled down to establish a Gaelic civilization, absorbing many of the traditions of the previous inhabitants. By the 3rd century ad, the Gaels had established five permanent kingdoms—Ulster, Connacht, Leinster, Meath (North Leinster), and Munster—with a high king, whose title was often little more than honorary, at Tara. After St. Patrick's arrival in ad 432, Christian Ireland rapidly became a center of Latin and Gaelic learning. Irish monasteries drew not only the pious but also the intellectuals of the day, and sent out missionaries to many parts of Europe.
Toward the end of the 8th century, the Vikings began their invasions, destroying monasteries and wreaking havoc on the land, but also intermarrying, adopting Irish customs, and establishing coastal settlements from which have grown Ireland's chief cities. Viking power was finally broken at the Battle of Clontarf in 1014. About 150 years later, the Anglo-Norman invasions began. Gradually, the invaders gained control of the whole country. Many of them intermarried, adopted the Irish language, customs, and traditions, and became more Irish than the Gaels. But the political attachment to the English crown instituted by the Norman invasion caused almost 800 years of strife, as successive English monarchs sought to subdue Gaels and Norman-Irish alike. Wholesale confiscations of land and large plantations of English colonists began under Mary I (Mary Tudor) and continued under Elizabeth I, Cromwell, and William III. Treatment of the Irish reached a brutal climax in the 18th century with the Penal Laws, which deprived Catholics and Dissenters (the majority of the population) of all legal rights.
By the end of the 18th century, many of the English colonists had come to regard themselves as Irish and, like the English colonists in America, resented the domination of London and their own lack of power to rule themselves. In 1783, they forced the establishment of an independent Irish parliament, but it was abolished by the Act of Union (1800), which gave Ireland direct representation in Westminster. Catholic emancipation was finally achieved in 1829 through the efforts of Daniel O'Connell, but the great famine of the 1840s, when millions died or emigrated for lack of potatoes while landlords continued to export other crops to England, emphasized the tragic condition of the Irish peasant and the great need for land reform.
A series of uprisings and the growth of various movements aimed at home rule or outright independence led gradually to many reforms, but the desire for complete independence continued to grow. After the bloodshed and political maneuvers that followed the Easter Uprising of 1916 and the proclamation of an Irish Republic by Irish members of Parliament in 1919, the Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed in 1921, establishing an Irish Free State with dominion status in the British Commonwealth. Violent opposition to dominion status and to a separate government in Protestant-dominated Northern Ireland precipitated a civil war lasting almost a year. The Free State was officially proclaimed and a new constitution adopted in 1922, but sentiment in favor of a reunified Irish Republic remained strong, represented at its extreme by the terrorist activities of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Powerful at first, the IRA lost much of its popularity after Éamon de Valera, a disillusioned supporter, took over the government in 1932. During the civil violence that disrupted Northern Ireland from the late 1960s on, the Irish government attempted to curb the "provisional wing" of the IRA, a terrorist organization that used Ireland as a base for attacks in the north. Beginning in 1976, the government assumed emergency powers to cope with IRA activities, but the terrorist acts continued, most notably the assassination on 27 August 1979 of the British Earl Mountbatten.
The Irish government continued to favor union with Northern Ireland, but only by peaceful means. In November 1985, with the aim of promoting peace in Northern Ireland, Ireland and the United Kingdom ratified a treaty enabling Ireland to play a role in various aspects of Northern Ireland's affairs. On 10 April 1998 the Irish Republic jointly signed a peace agreement with the United Kingdom to resolve the Northern Ireland crisis. Ireland pledged to amend articles 2 and 3 of the Irish Constitution, which lay claim to the territory of the North, in return for the United Kingdom promising to amend the Government of Ireland Act. On 22 May 1998, 94.4% of the electorate voted in a referendum to drop Ireland's claim to Northern Ireland. A year after the agreement, several key provisions of the Good Friday Agreement had been implemented. The peace process has since then witnessed long moments of gloom in spite of the ongoing involvements of the British and Irish prime ministers to resolve the situation in Northern Ireland. One of the largest obstacles was the disarmament of the IRA and the reservations on the part of the Ulster Unionists to share power with Sinn Feìn, the political arm of the IRA. Finally, in May 2000, the IRA proposed that outside observers be shown the contents of arms dumps and reinspect them at regular intervals to ensure that weaponry had not been removed and was back in circulation. The Ulster Unionists agreed to power-sharing arrangements and to endorse devolution of Northern Ireland. Decommissioning of the IRA did not progress in early 2001, however, and David Trimble, the first minister of the power-sharing government, resigned in July 2001. Sinn Feìn's offices at Stormont, the Northern Ireland Assembly, were raided by the police in October 2002, due to spying allegations. On 14 October 2002, devolution was suspended and direct rule from London returned to Northern Ireland. Elections planned for the assembly in May 2003 were indefinitely postponed by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, due to a lack of evidence of peaceful intentions on the part of the IRA. Talks aimed at restoring devolved government in 2004 failed due to the continued IRA possession of illegal arms and its refusal to disband and pull out of illegal activities. Progress did not look eminent as of January 2005, when some IRA members were brutally murdered and the provisional government seemed to make attempts to protect those responsible for the murders from prosecution.
The years since the proclamation of the Irish Free State have witnessed important changes in governmental structure and international relations. In 1937, under a new constitution, the governor-general was replaced by an elected president, and the name of the country was officially changed to Ireland (Éire in Irish). In 1948, Ireland voted itself out of the Commonwealth of Nations, and on 18 April 1949, it declared itself a republic. Ireland was admitted to the UN in 1955 and became a member of the EC in 1973. Ireland, unlike the United Kingdom, joined the European economic and monetary union in 1999 without problem, and adopted the euro as its currency. However, Irish voters in June 2001 rejected the Treaty of Nice, which allowed for the enlargement of the EU. The other 14 members of the EU all approved the treaty by parliamentary vote, but Ireland's adoption required amending the constitution, which stipulated a popular vote. Voter turnout was low (34.8%), and when the treaty was put to Irish voters once again in October 2002, the government conducted a massive education campaign to bring voters to the polls. This time, voter turnout was 48.5%, and 63% of voters in the October referendum approved the Nice Treaty. Ten new EU candidate countries joined the body on 1 May 2004.
Ireland has also benefited from progressive leadership. Mary Robinson, an international lawyer, activist, and Catholic, was elected president in November 1990. She became the first woman to hold that office. In 1974, while serving in the Irish legislature, she shocked her fellow country people by calling for legal sale of contraceptives. Her victory came at a period in Irish history dominated by controversy over the major issues of the first half of the 1990s: unemployment, women's rights, abortion, divorce, and homosexuality. Robinson promoted legislation that enabled women to serve on juries and gave 18-year-olds the right to vote. In 1997, Mary McAleese, who lived in Northern Ireland, became the first British subject to be elected president of the Irish Republic until 2004. In March 2002, Irish voters rejected a referendum proposal that would further restrict abortion laws. The vote was 50.4% against the proposal and 49.6% in favor. The vote was a setback to Prime Minister Bertie Ahern. However, Ahern's Fianna Fáil party overwhelmingly defeated the opposition Fine Gael party in the May 2002 elections.
In June 2004, local and European elections were held. In October 2004, McAleese won a second seven-year term as President; however, this was in light of the fact that opposing parties didn't nominate alternative candidates. She will not be eligible for another reelection in the October 2011 elections. Senate elections were scheduled to occur in July 2007, and the House of Representatives were scheduled to be held one month prior, in May 2007.
Constitutionally, Ireland is a parliamentary democracy. Under the constitution of 1937, as amended, legislative power is vested in the Oireachtas (national parliament), which consists of the president and two houses—Dáil Éireann (house of representatives) and Seanad Éireann (senate)—and sits in Dublin, the capital city. The president is elected by popular vote for seven years. Members of the Dáil, who are also elected by popular suffrage, using the single transferable vote, represent constituencies determined by law and serve five-year terms. These constituencies, none of which may return fewer than three members, must be revised at least once every 12 years, and the ratio between the number of members to be elected for each constituency and its population as ascertained at the last census must be the same, as far as practicable, throughout the country. Since 1981, there have been 166 seats in the Dáil.
The Seanad consists of 60 members: 49 elected from five panels of candidates representing (a) industry and commerce, (b) agricultural and allied interests and fisheries, (c) labor, (d) cultural and educational interests, and (e) public administration and social services; 6 elected by the universities; and 11 nominated by the taoiseach (prime minister). Elections for the Seanad must be held within 90 days of the dissolution of the Dáil; the electorate consists of members of the outgoing Seanad, members of the incoming Dáil, members of county councils, and county borough authorities. The taoiseach is assisted by a tánaiste (deputy prime minister) and at least six but not more than 14 other ministers. The constitution provides for popular referendums on certain bills of national importance passed by the Oireachtas. Suffrage is universal at age 18.
The chief of state is the president, who is elected by universal suffrage to serve a seven-year term and may be reelected only once. The presidency is traditionally a figurehead role with limited powers. The president appoints a cabinet based upon a nomination from the prime minister and approval from the house of representatives. As of 2005, Mary McAleese held the presidential office. The head of government is the prime minister, who is nominated by the house of representatives and appointed by the president. As of 2005 Bertie Ahern was prime minister and had occupied the position since 26 June 1997.
A number of amendments having to do with European integration, Northern Ireland, abortion, and divorce have been added to the 1937 constitution, which may only be altered by referendum. A recent referendum in 2004 ended in a 4-to-1 vote that native-born children could not be granted automatic citizenship.
The major political parties are the Fianna Fáil, the Fine Gael, Labour, and the Progressive Democrats. Because the members of the Dáil are elected by a proportional representation system, smaller parties have also at times won representation in the Oireachtas. In 1986, Sinn Feìn, the political arm of the Provisional IRA, ended its 65-year boycott of the Dáil and registered as a political party winning one seat in the Dáil in the 6 June 1997 elections.
Fianna Fáil, the Republican Party, was founded by Éamon de Valera. It is the largest party since 1932 and has participated in government during 55 of the past 73 years, as of 2004. When the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 was signed, de Valera violently opposed the dominion status accepted by a close vote of the Dáil. Until 1927, when the government threatened to annul their election if they did not fulfill their mandates, de Valera and his followers boycotted the Dáil and refused to take an oath of allegiance to the English crown. In 1932, however, de Valera became prime minister, a position he held continuously until 1947 and intermittently until 1959, when he became president for the first of two terms. From 1932 to 1973, when it lost its majority to a Fine Gael–Labour coalition, Fianna Fáil was in power for all but six years.
Fine Gael is the present name for the traditionally center-right party (of the Christian democratic type) and is second-largest party in Ireland. It grew out of the policies of Arthur Griffith, first president of the Irish Free State, and Michael Collins, first minister for finance and commander-in-chief of the army. W. T. Cosgrave, their successor, accepted the conditions of the 1921 treaty as the best then obtainable and worked out the details of the partition boundary and dominion status. This party held power from the first general election of 1922 until 1932. Since 1948, as the principal opponent of Fianna Fáil, it has provided leadership for several coalition governments. The policies of Fine Gael traditionally have been far more moderate than those of Fianna Fáil, although it was an interparty coalition government dominated by Fine Gael and Labour that voted Ireland out of the Commonwealth in 1948.
The Labour party incorporated the Democratic Left into its party in 1998, but still failed to increase its seats in the 2002 election (it is much smaller than Fine Gael). The party moved toward the center under the leadership of Pat Rabitte.
In 1985, a group of parliamentarians broke away from Fianna Fáil because of the autocratic leadership of Charles Haughey. They formed the Progressive Democrats (PDs) party, which supported liberal economic orthodoxy in the 1980s. It joined in a coalition with Fianna Fáil in 1997 and has been influential in economic policy making.
In the 2002 elections, two smaller parties increased their seat holdings. Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA, added four seats to the one it had won in the Dáil in 1997. The Green Party increased its holdings from two to six seats. It opposed European integration and participation in European security structures.
In the general elections of 24 November 1982 (the third general election to be held within a year and a half), Fianna Fáil won 75 seats, Fine Gael 70, and the Labour Party 16. Two members of the Workers' Party and three independents were also elected. Garret FitzGerald was elected taoiseach (1983-1987), heading a Fine Gael-Labour coalition. It was the second time in a year that he had replaced Charles J. Haughey of the Fianna Fáil in that office. In December 1979, Haughey had replaced Jack Lynch as head of his party and become prime minister. The 1987 elections saw Fianna Fáil raise its representation, despite a drop in its proportion of the vote compared to the 1982 elections. Fine Gael and Labour lost seats, while the Progressive Democrats and Workers' Party (which increased its representation from two to four seats) increased their seat holding. In a bitter contest, Charles Haughey was elected taoiseach (1987-1991) and formed a minority Fianna Fáil government. Albert Reynolds was taoiseach (prime minister) from 1991 to 1994.
An early general election in 1992 saw the two largest parties—Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael—lose seats to the Labour Party. Albert Reynolds of Fianna Fáil was reelected taoiseach of the Fianna Fáil-Labour Coalition. From 1994 to 1997, John Bruton, of the Fianna Gael-Labour-Democratic Left was prime minister. However, a center-right alliance led by Bertie Ahern of Fianna Fáil defeated Prime Minister Bruton's three-party left-of-center coalition in the 6 June 1997 general election. Although Bruton's own party, Fine Gael, increased its share of the vote, its coalition partners, the Labour Party and the Democratic Left, both lost seats. Fianna Fáil won 77 seats outright, 6 shy of the 83 required for a majority. Other parties winning seats were Labor (17), Democratic Left (4), Progressive Democrats (4), Greens (2), Sinn Fein (1), Socialists (1), and Independents (6).
Fianna Fáil joined with the Progressive Democrats and Independents to form a new government with Bertie Ahern as taoiseach (prime minister). In 1999, the Labour Party and the Democratic Left merged and the new party is called the Labour Party. The electoral significance of this realignment of the left is not yet clear, but the merger provides the Irish electorate with a more viable social democratic alternative to the governing coalition.
Bertie Ahern remained prime minister after Fianna Fáil won 41.5% of the vote on 16 May 2002, capturing 81 seats in the Dáil. Fine Gael won 22.5% of the vote and 31 seats, its worst defeat in 70 years. The Labour Party took 10.8% of the vote and 21 seats. Other parties winning seats were the Progressive Democrats (8), the Greens (6), Sinn Feìn (5), the Socialist Party (1), and Independents (13). The next presidential election was scheduled for October 2011 and the next legislative elections were scheduled for 2007.
The provinces of Ulster, Munster, Leinster, and Connacht no longer serve as political divisions, but each is divided into a number of counties that do. Prior to the passage of the new Local Government Act of 2001 and its implementation in 2002, Ireland was divided into 29 county councils, 5 boroughs, 5 boroughs governed by municipal corporations, 49 urban district councils, and 26 boards of town commissioners. Under the new system, the county councils remain the same, but the corporations no longer exist. The cities of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Waterford, and Galway are city councils, while Drogheda, Wexford, Kilkenny, Sligo, and Clonmel are the five borough councils. The urban district councils and town commissions are now one and the same and known as town councils, of which there are 75.
Local authorities' principal functions include planning and development, housing, roads, and sanitary and environmental services. Health services, which were administered by local authorities up to 1971, are now administered by regional health boards, although the local authorities still continue to pay part of the cost. Expenditures are financed by a local tax on the occupation of property (rates), by grants and subsidies from the central government, and by charges made for certain services. Capital expenditure is financed mainly by borrowing from the Local Loans Fund, operated by the central government, and from banking and insurance institutions.
Responsibility for law enforcement is in the hands of a commissioner, responsible to the Department of Justice, who controls an unarmed police force known as the civil guard (Garda Síochána). Justice is administered by a Supreme Court, a High Court with full original jurisdiction, eight circuit courts, and 23 district courts with local and limited jurisdiction. Judges are appointed by the president, on the advice of the prime minister and cabinet.
Individual liberties are protected by the 1937 constitution and by Supreme Court decisions. The constitution provides for the creation of "special courts" to handle cases which cannot be adequately managed by the ordinary court system. The Offenses Against the State Act formally established a special court to hear cases involving political violence by terrorist groups. In such cases, in order to prevent intimidation, the panel of judges sits in place of a jury.
The judiciary is independent and provides a fair, efficient judicial process based upon the English common law system. Judicial precedent makes it a vital check on the power of the executive in Ireland. It can declare laws unconstitutional before and after they have been enacted, as well. Typically, however, the relationship between the judiciary and the other two branches of government has been untroubled by conflict.
The Supreme Court has affirmed that the inviolability of personal privacy and home must be respected in law and practice. This is fully respected by the government. Revelations about corruption by leading politicians forced the government to set up an independent tribunal. It investigated payments to politicians, especially to the former prime minister Charles Haughey, who was a recipient of large sums of money from businessmen for his personal use.
A former judge, Hugh O'Flaherty, was forced to resign from the Supreme Court over his handling of a dangerous driving case in 1999. His case provoked much public outrage after it was discovered that the government quickly boosted his annual pension prior to his resignation.
The Irish army and its reserves, along with the country's air corps, and navy, constitute a small but well-trained nucleus that can be enlarged in a time of emergency. In 2005, the active defense force numbered 10,460, with reserves numbering 14,875. The army had 8,500 active personnel equipped with 14 Scorpion light tanks, 33 reconnaissance vehicles, 42 armored personnel carriers, and 537 artillery pieces. Navy personnel totaled 1,100 in 2005. Major naval units included eight patrol/coastal vessels. The air corps consisted of 860 personnel, outfitted with two maritime patrol and three transport aircraft. The navy also operated two assault and 11 utility helicopters. Ireland provided support to UN, NATO and European Union peacekeeping or military operations in 10 countries or regions. The defense budget in 2005 was $959 million.
Ireland, which became a member of the United Nations on 14 December 1955, belongs to ECE and several nonregional specialized agencies, such as the FAO, UNESCO, UNHCR, IFC, the World Bank, and WHO. On 1 January 1973, Ireland became a member of the European Union. The country is also a member of the WTO, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Paris Club, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, and the OSCE. Ireland is a founding member of OECD and the Council of Europe. The country also participates as an observer in the OAS and the Western European Union.
Irish troops have served in UN operations and missions in the Congo (est. 1999), Cyprus (est. 1964), Kosovo (est. 1999), Lebanon (est. 1978), Liberia (est. 2003), and Côte d'Ivoire (est. 2004), among others. Ireland is a guest of the Nonaligned Movement, It is also a part of the Australia Group, the Zangger Committee, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (London Group), the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and the Nuclear Energy Agency. In environmental cooperation, Ireland is part of the Basel Convention; Conventions on Biological Diversity, Whaling, and Air Pollution; Ramsar; the London Convention; International Tropical Timber Agreements; the Kyoto Protocol; the Montréal Protocol; MARPOL; the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty; and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change and Desertification.
Until the 1950s, Ireland had a predominantly agricultural economy, with agriculture making the largest contribution to the GNP. However, liberal trade policies and the drive for industrialization stimulated economic expansion. In 1958, agriculture accounted for 21% of the GNP, industry 23.5%, and other sectors 55.5%. By 2002, however, agriculture accounted for only 5% of the total, industry 46%, and services 49%.
Ireland's economy was initially slower in developing than the economies of other West European countries. The government carried on a comprehensive public investment program, particularly in housing, public welfare, communications, transportation, new industries, and electric power. Growth rose quickly in the 1960s and, since then, the government has tried to stimulate output, particularly of goods for the export market. Thus, manufactured exports grew from £78.4 million in 1967 to £11,510 million in 1992.
In the 1970s Ireland began to approach the income of the rest of Western Europe until it lost fiscal control in the latter part of the 1970s due to the oil crisis. During the early 1980s, Ireland suffered considerably from the worldwide recession, experiencing double-digit inflation and high unemployment. The economy continued to lag through 1986, but the GNP grew 30% between 1987 and 1992, and continued at a yearly pace of about 7.5% until 1996 when it was expected to slow to about 5.25%. However, the Irish economy grew faster than any other in the European Union during the so-called "Celtic Tiger" years of the second half of the 1990s, when growth rates were in double digits. The good economic performance was mainly due to strong consumer and investor confidence and strong export opportunities.
Ireland suffered from the global economic slowdown that began in 2001, however, and the average annual growth 2000–04 was 6.1%. Though Ireland started out the decade with a growth rate of 6.2%, it dropped to 4.4% in 2003 and had not regained even a percentage point as of 2005.
Although substantially lower than in 1986 when it topped 18%, unemployment remained high until 1998, when it dropped to 7.7%. The estimated unemployment rate in 2005 was 4.2%. The inflation rate stood at 2.4% in 1998 and was 2% in 2003 and 3% in 2004. Inflation was steadily falling, from a rate of 4.9% in 2000 to 2.2% in 2004.
Ireland has depended on substantial financial assistance from the European Union designed to raise the per capita gross national product to the EU average. Almost $11 billion was allocated for the period 1993–99 from the EU's Structural and Cohesion Funds. During the 1990s, living standards rose from 56% to 87% of the EU average.
In the latter half of the 1990s, the economic situation greatly improved and Ireland recorded growth rates of 7% 1996–2000. Unemployment fell from 16% in 1993 to 5% in 2000. Due to the global economic downturn that began in 2001, however, even Ireland's booming economy slowed. Services, pharmaceuticals, and information technology are important sectors of the economy in the 21st century.
The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Ireland's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $136.9 billion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $34,100. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 4.9%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 2.7%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 5% of GDP, industry 46%, and services 49%.
According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $337 million or about $84 per capita and accounted for approximately 0.2% of GDP.
The World Bank reports that in 2003 household consumption in Ireland totaled $54.84 billion or about $13,730 per capita based on a GDP of $153.7 billion, measured in current dollars rather than PPP. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period 1990 to 2003 household consumption grew at an average annual rate of 5.6%. In 2001 it was estimated that approximately 21% of household consumption was spent on food, 10% on fuel, 4% on health care, and 7% on education. It was estimated that in 1997 about 10% of the population had incomes below the poverty line.
In 2005, Ireland's workforce was estimated at 2.03 million. Of those employed in 2003, an estimated 6.4% were in agriculture, 27.8% in industry, and 65.4% in services. The estimated unemployment rate in 2005 was 4.2%.
The right to join a union is protected by law, and as of 2002, about 31% of the labor force were union members. The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) represents 64 unions and is independent of political parties and the government. The right to strike, except for police and military personnel, is exercised in both the public and private sectors. Employers are legally prohibited from discriminating against those who participate in union activity. Collective bargaining is used to determine wages and other conditions of employment.
Children under age 16 are legally prohibited from engaging in regular, full-time work. Under certain restrictions, some part-time or educational work may be given to 14- and 15-year-olds. Violations of child labor laws are not common. The standard workweek is 39 hours, and the legal limit on industrial work is nine hours per day and 48 hours per week. A national minimum wage of $5.45 went into effect in 2001.
About 1,184,000 hectares (2,926,000 acres), or 17.2% of the total area, were devoted to growing crops in 2003. About 6% of the agricultural acreage is used for growing cereals, 1.5% for growing root and green crops, and the balance for pasture and hay. Thus most of the farmland is used to support livestock, the leading source of Ireland's exports. Most farms are small, although there has been a trend toward consolidation. Agriculture accounts for about 10% of Irish employment. In 2003, there were 135,250 agricultural holdings, with a farm labor force of 104,540 full-time and 140,980 part-time workers. Principal crops (with their estimated 2004 production) include barley, 1,159,000 tons; sugar beets, 1,500,000 tons; wheat, 849,000 tons; potatoes, 500,000 tons; and oats, 134,000 tons.
Over half of agricultural production, by value, is exported. The benefits of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy, which provides secure markets and improved prices for most major agricultural products, account in part for the increase of Ireland's agricultural income from £314 million in 1972 (before Ireland's accession) to £1,919.9 million in 1995. The estimated value of crop output was €1.3 billion in 2005.
The government operates a comprehensive network of services within the framework of the Common Agricultural Policy, including educational and advisory services to farmers. Under a farm modernization scheme, capital assistance is provided to farmers for land development, improvement of farm buildings, and other projects, with part of the cost borne by the EU. In 1974, pursuant to an European Community directive, incentives were made available to farmers wishing to retire and make their lands available, by lease or sale, for the land reform program.
With some 90% of Ireland's agricultural land devoted to pasture and hay, the main activity of the farming community is the production of grazing animals and other livestock, which account for about 53% of agricultural exports. In 2005, total livestock output was valued at €2.17 billion, with cattle and milk each accounting for around 40%. During 2002–04, livestock output was down 4.5% from 1999–2001.
The estimated livestock population in 2005 was 7,000,000 head of cattle (including 1.1 million dairy cows), 1,757,000 pigs, and 12,700,000 poultry. In 2005, butter production was estimated at 142,000 tons, cheese 118,750 tons, and wool (greasy) 12,000 tons. Milk production in 2005 was 5,500,000 tons.
Since livestock is a major element in the country's economy, the government is particularly concerned with improving methods of operation and increasing output. A campaign for eradication of bovine tuberculosis was completed in 1965, and programs are under way for eradication of bovine brucellosis, warble fly, and sheep scab.
Salmon, eels, trout, pike, perch, and other freshwater fish are found in the rivers and lakes; sea angling is good along the entire coast; and deep-sea fishing is done from the south and west coasts. The fishing industry has made considerable progress as a result of government measures to improve credit facilities for the purchase of fishing boats and the development of harbors; establishment of training programs for fishermen; increased emphasis on market development and research; establishment of hatcheries; and promotion of sport fishing as an attraction for tourists. The Irish fishing fleet consisted of 1,376 vessels with a capacity of 77,888 gross tons in 2002.
Leading varieties of saltwater fish are mackerel, herring, cod, whiting, plaice, ray, skate, and haddock. Lobsters, crawfish, and Dublin Bay prawns are also important. In 2003, the value of fish exports was $453.5 million, up 32% from 2000. Aquaculture accounted for 19% of the volume. The total fish production in 2003 was 364,861 tons. Mackerel, herring, and blue whiting accounted for 24% of the volume that year.
Once well forested, Ireland was stripped of timber in the 17th and 18th centuries by absentee landlords, who made no attempt to reforest the denuded land, and later by the steady conversion of natural forest into farms and grazing lands. In an effort to restore part of the woodland areas, a state forestry program was inaugurated in 1903; since then, over 350,000 hectares (865,000 acres) have been planted. More than half the planting is carried out in the western counties. In 2000, about 9.6% of Ireland was forested; about 95% of the trees planted are coniferous. The aim of the forestry program is to eliminate a large part of timber imports—a major drain on the balance of payments—and to produce a surplus of natural and processed timber for export. Roundwood removals totaled 2.5 million cu m (88 million cu ft) in 2004.
Ireland was a leading European Union (EU) producer of lead and zinc in 2003, and an important producer of lead, alumina, and peat. Mineral production in 2003 included zinc, 419,014 kg, compared to 252,700 kg in 2002; mined lead, 50,339,000 tons, compared to 32,486,000 tons in 2002; and an estimated 1.2 million metric tons of alumina. Other commercially exploited minerals were silver, hydraulic cement, clays for cement production, fire clay, granite, slate, marble, rock sand, silica rock, gypsum, lime, limestone, sand and gravel, shales, dolomite, diatomite, building stone, and aggregate building materials.
Zinc production centered on three zinc-lead mines, the Lisheen (a joint venture of Anglo American PLC and Ivernia West PLC), the Galmoy (Arcon International Resources PLC), and the Tara (Outokumpu Oyj), three of Europe's most modern mines. Outokumpu announced that because of low zinc prices, it was closing the Tara Mine (at Navan, County Meath), the largest lead-zinc field in Europe, and putting it on care and maintenance; the Tara came into production in the late 1970s. The Galmoy Mine was producing 650,000 tons per year of ore at target grades of 11.3% zinc and 1% lead, and the Lisheen Mine, which mined its first ore in 1999 and began commercial production in 2001, initially planned to produce 160,000 tons per year of zinc concentrate, to be increased to 330,000 tons per year of zinc concentrate and 40,000 tons per year of lead in concentrate at full production; both were on the Rathdowney Trend mineralized belt, southwest of Dublin. Cambridge Mineral Resources PLC continued diamond and sapphire exploration work, identifying numerous diamond indicator minerals and recovering significant quantities of ruby and sapphire. Gold was discovered in County Mayo in 1989, with an estimated 498,000 tons of ore at 1.5 grams per ton of gold. There was a marked increase in mining exploration beginning in the early 1960s, resulting in Ireland becoming a significant source of base metals.
Ireland's energy and power sector is marked by a lack of any oil reserves, thus making it totally dependent upon imports. However, the country has modest natural gas reserves, and a small refining capacity.
In 2002, Ireland's imports of crude and refined petroleum products averaged 211,230 barrels per day. Domestic refinery production for that year averaged 65,230 barrels per day. Demand for refined oil products averaged 180,440 barrels per day.
Ireland's proven reserves of natural gas were estimated as of 1 January 2002 at 9.911 billion cu m. Output in 2001 was estimated at 815 million cu m, with demand and imports estimated at 4.199 billion cu m and 3.384 billion cu m, respectively, for that year.
Ireland's electric power generating sector is primarily based upon the use of conventional fossil fuels to provide electric power. Total generating capacity in 2002 stood at 4.435 million kW, of which conventional thermal capacity accounted for 4.049 million kW, followed by hydropower at 0.236 million kW and geothermal/other at 0.150 million kW. Total power production in 2002 was 22.876 billion kWh, of which 94% was from fossil fuels, mostly thermal coal and oil stations, 3.9% from hydropower, and the rest from geothermal/other sources.
Ireland's Coal production consists of high-ash semibituminous from the Connaught Field, and is used for electricity production. In 2002, Ireland imported 3,148,000 short tons of coal, of which 3,090,000 short tons consisted of hard coal, and 58,000 short tons of lignite.
Since the establishment of the Irish Free State, successive governments encouraged industrialization by granting tariff protection and promoting diversification. Following the launching of the First Program for Economic Expansion by the government in 1958, considerable progress was made in developing this sector of the economy, in which foreign industrialists played a significant role. The Industrial Development Authority (IDA) administers a scheme of incentives to attract foreign investment. In addition, several government agencies offer facilities for consulting on research and development, marketing, exporting, and other management matters.
Official policy favors private enterprises. Where private capital and interest were lacking, the state created firms to operate essential services and to stimulate further industrial development, notably in the fields of sugar, peat, electricity, steel, fertilizers, industrial alcohol, and transportation. Although efforts have been made to encourage decentralization, about half of all industrial establishments and personnel are concentrated in Dublin and Cork.
Industry grew by an average annual rate of more than 5% from 1968 to 1981, and peaked at 12% in 1984 before subsiding to an annual rate of about 4%. The greatest growth was in high technology industries, like electronics and pharmaceuticals, where labor productivity also was growing substantially, thus limiting increases in the number of jobs. The most important products of manufacturing, by gross output, are food, metal, and engineering goods, chemicals and chemical products, beverages and tobacco, nonmetallic minerals, and paper and printing. The making of glass and crystal are also important industries. Industrial production continued to grow into the late 1990s, the "Celtic Tiger" years, posting a 15.8% growth in 1998.
Industry employed 28% of the labor force in 2000, and accounted for 36% of GDP in 2001. The value of industry output in 2000 was 12.3% higher than in 1999. Computer and pharmaceutical enterprises, largely owned by foreign companies, were responsible for high manufacturing output in 2000. Although there is no formal governmental privatization plan, the government planned to privatize the state-owned natural gas distributor (Bord Gas), the state-owned airline (Aer Lingus), and the state-owned electricity distributor (ESB) as of 2002.
Ireland was shifting attention away from industry and towards services. Activity was quickened by preferential corporation tax rates for manufacturers and manufactures were decreasing relative to services and agriculture. Yet, in 2004 the industrial production growth rate was 7%.
The major organizations doing scientific research in Ireland are the Agricultural Institute (established in 1958) and the Institute for Industrial Research and Standards (1946). The Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies, established by the state in 1940, includes a School of Theoretical Physics and a School of Cosmic Physics. The Royal Irish Academy, founded in 1785 and headquartered in Dublin, promotes study in science and the humanities and is the principal vehicle for Ireland's participation in international scientific unions. It has sections for mathematical and physical sciences and for biology and the environment.
The Royal Dublin Society (founded in 1731) promotes the advancement of agriculture, industry, science, and art. Ireland has 13 other specialized learned societies concerned with agriculture, medicine, science, and technology. Major scientific facilities include the Dinsink Observatory (founded in 1785) and the National Botanic Gardens (founded in 1795), both in Dublin.
Most scientific research is funded by the government; the government advisory and coordinating body on scientific matters is the National Board for Science and Technology. Medical research is supported by the Medical Research Council and Medico-Social Research Board. Veterinary and cereals research is promoted by the Department of Agriculture. The Department of Fisheries and Forestry and the Department of Industry and Energy have developed their own research programs. The UNESCO prize in science was awarded in 1981 for the development of clofazimines, a leprosy drug produced by the Medical Research Council of Ireland with aid from the Development Cooperation Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Research and development (R&D) expenditures in 2001 (the latest year for which data was available) totaled $1.427 million, or 1.14% of GDP. Of that amount, 67.2% came from the business sector, with 25.2% coming from the government. Foreign sources accounted for 6%, while higher education provided 1.7%. As of 2002, there were some 2,471 researchers per one million people that were actively engaged in R&D. In that same year, high-tech exports were valued at $31.642 billion and accounted for 41% of manufactured exports. Ireland has 21 universities and colleges that offer courses in basic and applied science. In 1987–97, science and engineering students accounted for 31% of university enrollment. In 2002, a total of 29.3% of all bachelor's degrees awarded were in the sciences (natural, mathematics and computers, and engineering).
Dublin is the financial and commercial center, the distribution point for most imported goods, and the port through which most of the country's agricultural products are shipped to Britain and the Continent. Cork, the second-largest manufacturing city and close to the transatlantic port of Cobh, is also important, as is Limerick, with its proximity to Shannon International Airport. Other important local marketing centers are Galway, Drogheda, Dundalk, Sligo, and Waterford.
The trend in retail establishments was changing from small shops owned and operated by individuals, to larger department stores, outlets, and chain stores operated by management companies. As of 2002, there were about 52,000 retail and 2,500 wholesale outlets across the country. There were about 9,000 retail food outlets. A 21% value-added tax applies to most goods and services.
|Italy-San Marino-Holy See||4,233.5||1,203.9||3,029.6|
|(…) data not available or not significant.|
Office business hours are usually 9 or 9:30 am to 5:30 pm. Shops are generally open from 9 am to 6 pm, although most supermarkets are open until 9 pm on Thursday and Friday. In general, banking hours are 10 am to 12:30 pm and 1:30 to 4 pm, Monday through Friday, and 3 to 5 pm on Thursday. Most offices are closed on Saturday, and shops close on either Wednesday or Saturday afternoon. Businesses may close for extended periods during the months of July and August.
Ireland began opening to free trade in the 1960s. It is now one of the most open and largest exporting markets (on a per capital level). Growth was heavily encouraged by the export sectors in the 1990s and the average annual export volume growth was near an annual rate of 20% between 1996 and 2000.
Computers and office products have become some of Ireland's most profitable export products (28%). The country also manufactures musical instruments (5.2%), making 12.7% of the world's exports. Other export items include chemicals like nitrogen compounds (10.9%), electronic circuitry (5.2%), and medicines (4.9%).
As of 2003, the United States absorbed 20.5% of Ireland's exports, the United Kingdom 18.1%, Belgium 12.6%, Germany 8.3%, France 6.1%, Netherlands 5.1%, and Italy 4.6%. Import partners include the United Kingdom (34.8% of imports), the United States (15.6%), Germany (8.1%), and the Netherlands (4.1%). Imported commodities include data processing equipment, machinery and equipment, chemicals, petroleum and petroleum products, textiles, and clothing.
The volume of Irish exports increased dramatically 1995–2000, registering an average annual growth of 16.9%; the rate of import growth over the same period was only slightly lower at 16.6%. The year 2000 was the first since 1991 that the current account was not in surplus. The reduction of the balance of payments surplus in the early 2000s suggested that the level of Irish imports was increasing due to increased demand for luxury items and services, rather than from a decline in exports. The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reported that in 2002 the purchasing power parity of Ireland's exports was $85.3 billion while imports totaled
|Balance on goods||37,807.0|
|Balance on services||-14,306.0|
|Balance on income||-26,142.0|
|Direct investment abroad||-3,528.0|
|Direct investment in Ireland||26,599.0|
|Portfolio investment assets||-161,319.0|
|Portfolio investment liabilities||106,389.0|
|Other investment assets||-48,864.0|
|Other investment liabilities||84,028.0|
|Net Errors and Omissions||-1,178.0|
|Reserves and Related Items||1,890.0|
|(…) data not available or not significant.|
$48.3 billion resulting in a trade surplus of $37 billion. Irish export growth during those years, in fact, consistently surpassed EU growth. However, the slowdown in the global economy and the slower than predicted growth in the euro area was expected to negatively impact Irish exports.
In 1979, Ireland joined the European Monetary System, thus severing the 150-year-old tie with the British pound. The Central Bank of Ireland, established in 1942, is both the monetary authority and the bank of issue. Its role quickly expanded considerably, particularly in monetary policy. Commercial deposits with the Central Bank have strongly increased since 1964, when legislation first permitted it to pay interest on deposits held for purposes other than settlement of clearing balances. Since July 1969, the Central Bank has accepted short-term deposits from various institutions, including commercial and merchant banks. With the advent of the European Monetary Union (EMU) in 1999, authority over monetary policy shifted to the European Central Bank.
The commercial banking sector is dominated by two main Irish-owned groups, the Bank of Ireland Group and the Allied Irish Banks Group. Successive governments have indicated that they would like to see a third banking force (possibly involving a strategic alliance with a foreign bank). Other major banks include the National Irish Bank, a member of the National Australia Bank, and Ulster Bank, a member of the National Westminster Bank Group. The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand deposits—an aggregate commonly known as M1—were equal to $21.1 billion. In that same year, M2—an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual funds—was $94.1 billion. The money market rate, the rate at which financial institutions lend to one another in the short term, was 3.31%.
A number of other commercial, merchant, and industrial banks also operate. Additionally, Ireland's post office operates the Post Office Savings Banks and Trustee Savings Banks. The Irish stock exchange has its trading floor in Dublin. All stockbrokers in Ireland are members of this exchange. The Irish Stock Exchange is small by international standards, with a total of 76 domestic companies listed at the end of 2001. Total market capitalization at the end of 2001 was (21.8 billion for the government securities market, making it one of the EU's smallest stock markets, however fast-growing.
The Stock Exchange Act came into effect on 4 December 1995, and separated the Dublin Stock Exchange from the London Stock Exchange. Since that date, the Dublin Stock Exchange has been regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. As of 2004, there were a total of 53 companies listed on the Irish Stock Exchange, which had a market capitalization of $114.085 billion. In 2004, the ISEQ index rose 26% from the previous year to 6,197.8.
Insurance firms must be licensed by the Insurance Division of the Ministry of Industry, Trade, Commerce, and Tourism. The regulatory body is the Irish Brokers' Association. The Insurance Acts of 1936 and 1989 outline the monitoring of insurers, brokers, and agents.
In Ireland, workers' compensation, third-party automobile, bodily injury, and property damage liability are compulsory. In 1997, shareholders of Irish Life, Ireland's largest life assurance company, unanimously approved the company's £100 million ($163 million) takeover of an Illinois life assurance company, Guarantee Reserve. In 2003, the value of direct premiums written totaled $17.328 billion, of which life premiums accounted for $9.037 billion. Hibernian General in 2003 was Ireland's top non-life insurer, with net written nonlife premiums (less reinsurance) of $992.2 million, while Irish Life was the nation's leading life insurer with gross written life premiums of $2.362 million.
|Revenue and Grants||17,762||100.0%|
|General public services||3,810||21.9%|
|Public order and safety||…||…|
|Housing and community amenities||366||2.1%|
|Recreational, culture, and religion||119||0.7%|
|(…) data not available or not significant.|
Ireland's fiscal year follows the calendar year. Expenditures of local authorities are principally for health, roads, housing, and social welfare.
The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 Ireland's central government took in revenues of approximately $70.4 billion and had expenditures of $69.4 billion. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately $1 billion. Public debt in 2005 amounted to 27.5% of GDP. Total external debt was $1.049 trillion.
Government outlays by function were as follows: general public services, 21.9%; defense, 2.9%; economic affairs, 16.7%; housing and community amenities, 2.1%; health, 16.3%; recreation, culture, and religion, 0.7%; education, 13.6%; and social protection, 25.9%.
To stimulate economic expansion and encourage investment in Irish industry, particularly in the area of industrial exports, tax adjustments have been made to give relief to export profits, expenditures for mineral development, shipping, plant and machinery, new industrial buildings, and investments in Irish securities. As of 1 January 2003, with Ireland's accession to the EU, the government had mostly completed the transition of the tax regime from an incentive regime to a low, single-tax regime with 12.5% as the country's rate for most corporate profits. Passive income, including that from interest, royalties, and dividends, is taxed at 20%. Capital gains are also taxed at 20%. As of 2005, Ireland was party to double-taxation agreements with 42 countries the terms of which provide for the reduction or elimination of many capital income tax rates and related withholding taxes. The incentive 10% corporation tax rate, applied to industrial manufacturing, to projects licensed to operate in the Shannon Airport area, and to various service operations, was still in effect in 2003, but, in an agreement with the European Commission, was scheduled to be phased out by 2010.
Ireland has a progressive personal income tax with a top rate of 42% on incomes above €29,400 for single taxpayers. Married taxpayers are subject to a higher income threshold level. For those over 65 years old, tax exemptions amounted to €15,000 per person. Deductions were available for mortgage payments and pension contributions. Since 1969, the government has encouraged artists and writers to live in Ireland by exempting from income tax their earnings from their works of art. Royalties and other income from patent rights are also tax-exempt. The gift and inheritance taxes are based upon the relationship of the beneficiary to the donor. Between a parent and child, the tax-free threshold in 2003 was €441,200; for any other lineal descendent, the tax-free threshold was one-tenth this amount, or €44,120; and for any other person, one-twentieth, or €22,060. Land taxes are assessed at variable rates by local governments, and there is a buildings transfer tax based on the price of the transfer.
The major indirect tax is Ireland's value-added tax (VAT) instituted 1 January 1972 with a standard rate of 16.37% plus a number of reduced, intermediate, and increased rates. As of 1 March 2002, the standard rate was increased to 21% from 20%, and the reduced rate of 12.5% increased to 13.5% as of 1 January 2003. The reduced rate applies to domestic fuel and power, newspapers, hotels and new housing. Ireland also has an extensive list of goods and services to which a 0% VAT rate is applied including, books and pamphlets, gold for the Central Bank, basic foodstuffs and beverages, agricultural supplies, medicines and medical equipment, and, more unusually, children's clothing and footwear, and wax candles. A 4.8% rate applies to livestock by unregistered farmers. Excise duties are charged on tobacco products, alcohol, fuel, and motor vehicles. Per unit and/or annual stamp taxes are assessed on checks, credit cards, ATM cards, and Laser cards.
From the time of the establishment of the Irish Free State, government policy was to encourage development of domestic industry by maintaining protective tariffs and quotas on commodities that would compete with Irish-made products. Following Ireland's admission to the European Community (now the European Union), the country's tariff schedule was greatly revised. The schedule vis-à-vis third-world countries and the United States was gradually aligned with EC tariffs and customs duties between Ireland and the EC were phased down to zero by July 1977. Duty rates on manufactured goods from non-EU countries range from 5–8%, while most raw materials enter duty-free. Certain goods still require import licenses and tariffs are based on the Harmonized System. The Shannon Free Trade Zone, the oldest official free trade area in the world, is located at the Shannon International Airport.
The Irish government has successfully attracted FDI (foreign direct investment) over the years with various policies and preferential tax rates. To stimulate economic expansion, the Industrial Development Authority encourages and facilitates investment by foreign interests, particularly in the development of industries with export potential. Special concessions include nonrepayable grants to help establish industries in underdeveloped areas and tax relief on export profits. Freedom to take out profits is unimpaired. Engineering goods, computers, electronic products, electrical equipment, pharmaceuticals and chemicals, textiles, food-stuffs, leisure products, and metal and plastic products are among the items produced. Much of the new investment occurred after Ireland became a member of the European Union.
Annual foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows into Ireland increased steadily through the 1990s. In the period 1988 to 1990, Ireland's share of world FDI inflows was only 70% of its share of world GDP, but for the period 1998 to 2000, Ireland's share of FDI inflows was over five times its share of world GDP. In 1998, annual FDI inflow reached $11 billion, up from $2.7 billion in 1997, and then jumped to almost $15 billion in 1999. FDI inflows to Ireland peaked in 2000, at over $24 billion, mainly from high-tech computer and pharmaceutical companies. FDI inflow dropped sharply to $9.8 billion in 2001 with the global economic slowdown.
Leading sources of foreign investors, in terms of percent of foreign companies invested in Ireland, have been the United States (43%), the United Kingdom (13%), Germany (13%), other European countries (22%), Japan (4%), and others (5%). As of 2000, the primary destinations of foreign investment were, in order, manufacturing, finance, and other services.
Government policies are premised on private enterprise as a predominant factor in the economy. Specific economic programs adopted in recent decades have attempted to increase efficiency in agriculture and industry, stimulate new export industries, create employment opportunities for labor leaving the agricultural sector, and reduce unemployment and net emigration. In pursuit of these objectives, the government provides aids to industry through the Industrial Development Authority (IDA), the Industrial Credit Co., and other agencies. Tax concessions, information, and advisory services are also provided.
The IDA seeks to attract foreign investment by offering a 10% maximum corporation tax rate for manufacturing and certain service industries, generous tax-free grants for staff training, ready-built factories on modern industrial estates, accelerated depreciation, export-risk guarantee programs, and other financial inducements. IDA also administers industrial estates at Waterford and Galway. The Shannon Free Airport Development Co., another government-sponsored entity, administers an industrial estate on the fringes of Shannon Airport, a location that benefits from proximity to the airport's duty-free facilities. A third entity, Udaras Na Gaeltachia, promotes investment and development in western areas where Irish is the predominant language. As of 1986 there were some 900 foreign-owned plants in Ireland.
Price control legislation was introduced under the Prices Act of 1958, amended in 1965 and 1972. In general, manufacturers, service industries, and professions are required to obtain permission from the Ministry of Commerce and Trade for any increase. Price changes are monitored by a National Prices Commission, established in 1971. The economic plan for 1983–1987, called The Way Forward, aimed at improving the cost-competitiveness of the economy by cutting government expenditures and restraining the growth of public service pay, among other measures. The 1987–1990 Program for National Recovery is generally credited with creating the conditions to bring government spending and the national debt under control. The 1991–1993 Program for Economic and Social Progress was to further reduce the national debt and budget deficit and to establish a schedule of wage increases.
A 1994–1999 national development plan called for investment of £20 billion and aimed to achieve an average annual GDP growth rate of 3.5%. The government hoped to create 200,000 jobs through this plan, with funding by the state, the EU, and the private sector. Half of the money was earmarked for industry, transport, training, and energy.
At the end of the 1990s, Ireland boasted the fastest growing economy in the EU with a 9.5% GDP real growth rate in 1998. Total expenditures on imports and exports in 2000 were equivalent to 175% of GDP, far ahead of the EU average, which made Ireland's economy one of the most open in the world. Ireland became known as the "Celtic Tiger," to compare with the formerly fast-growing economies of East Asia prior to the Asian financial crisis of 1997. In 2000, the economy grew by 11.5%, the highest growth rate ever recorded in an OECD member country. Wage inequality grew, however, and spending on infrastructure failed to keep pace with social or industrial demands. Corporate taxes were as low as 12.5% in some circumstances in the early 2000s. Economic growth decelerated rapidly in 2001, to 6%. Inflation fell as did housing prices, but they rose again in 2002. Tax increases were expected in 2003 and 2004, and the government was facing pressures to cut spending. GDP growth was 4.4% in 2003 and 4.5% in 2004.
A social insurance program exists for all employees and self-employed persons, and for all residents with limited means. The system is financed through employee contributions, employer contributions, and government subsidies. Benefits are available for old age, sickness, disability, survivorship, maternity, work injury, unemployment, and adoptive services. There are also funds available for those leaving the workforce to care for one in need of full time assistance. The system also provides bereavement and a widowed parent's grant. The universal medical care system provides medical services to all residents. The workmen's compensation act was first initiated in 1897. Parents with one or more children are entitled to a family allowance.
The predominance of the Roman Catholic Church has had a significant impact on social legislation. Divorce was made legal only in 1995. Contraceptives, the sale of which had been entirely prohibited, became available to married couples by prescription in the early 1980s. In 1985, the need for a prescription was abolished, and the minimum age for marriage was raised from 14 to 18 for girls and from 16 to 18 for boys. Abortion remains illegal.
Domestic abuse and spousal violence remain serious problems, although improvements were seen in 2004. The government funds victim support centers, and there are active women's rights groups to address these issues. The law prohibits gender discrimination in the workplace, but inequalities persist regarding promotion and pay. The government addresses the issue of child abuse, and funds systems to promote child welfare.
The government attempts to curb discrimination against foreign workers and the ethnic community known as "Travellers." There have been reports of racially motivated incidents including violence and intimidation. In general, the government respects the human rights of its citizens.
Health services are provided by regional boards under the administration and control of the Department of Health. A comprehensive health service, with free hospitalization, treatment, and medication, is provided for low-income groups. The middle-income population is entitled to free maternity, hospital, and specialist services, and a free diagnostic and preventive service is available to all persons suffering from specified infectious diseases. Insurance against hospital and certain other medical expenses is available under a voluntary plan introduced in 1957.
Since World War II, many new regional and county hospitals and tuberculosis sanatoriums have been built. As of 2004, there were an estimated 237 physicians, 51 dentists, and 83 pharmacists per 100,000 population. In addition, there were more than 1662 nurses per 100,000 people, the third most per capita in the world.
While deaths from cancer, particularly lung cancer, and heart disease are rising, those from many other causes have been decreasing rapidly. Infant mortality has been reduced from 50.3 per 1,000 live births in 1948 to 5.39 in 2005. Tuberculosis, long a major cause of adult deaths, declined from 3,700 cases in 1947 to only 15 per 100,000 in 2000. Average life expectancy at birth in 2005 was 77.56 years. The general mortality rate was an estimated 8 per 1,000 people as of 2002. The major causes of death were heart and circulatory disease, cancer, and ischemic heart disease. Heart disease rates were higher than average for highly industrialized countries.
The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 0.10 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 2,800 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 100 deaths from AIDS in 2003.
The aim of public housing policy is to ensure, so far as possible, that every family can obtain decent housing at a price or rent it can afford. Government subsidies are given to encourage home ownership, and local authorities provide housing for those unable to house themselves adequately. Housing legislation has encouraged private construction through grants and loans. Projected and existing housing needs are assessed regularly by local authorities, and their reports are the basis for local building programs, which are integrated with national programs and reconciled with available public resources.
According to the 2002 census, there were about 1,279,617 dwellings available in permanent housing units. Of these, about 74% were owner occupied. The number of households was listed as 1,287,958, with 43.7% of all households living in single-family detached homes. The average number of persons per household was 2.95.
Ten years of education are compulsory. Primary school covers eight years of education, with most students entering at age four. This is followed by a three-year junior secondary school and a two-year senior secondary program. Some schools offer a transition year program between the junior and senior levels. This transition year is meant to be a time of independent study for the student, when he or she focuses on special interests, while still under the guidance of instructors, in order make a decision concerning the direction of their future studies. At the senior level, students may choose to attend a vocational school instead of a general studies school. While private, religious-based secondary schools were once the norm, there are now many multi-denominational, public schools available at all levels. Coeducational programs have also grown substantially in recent years. The academic year runs from September to June. The primary languages of instruction are Irish and English.
Primary school enrollment in 2003 was estimated at about 96% of age-eligible students. The same year, secondary school enrollment was about 83% of age-eligible students; 80% for boys and 87% for girls. It is estimated that nearly all students complete their primary education. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 19:1 in 2003.
Ireland has two main universities: the University of Dublin (Trinity College) and the National University of Ireland, which consists of three constituent colleges in Dublin, Galway, and Cork. St. Patrick's College, Maynooth, is a recognized college of the National University. Universities are self-governing, but each receives an annual state grant, as well as supplementary grants for capital outlays. There are also various colleges of education, home economics, technology, and the arts. In 2003, about 52% of the tertiary age population were enrolled in some type of higher education program. The adult literacy rate has been estimated at about 98%.
As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 4.3% of GDP, or 13.5% of total government expenditures.
Trinity College Library, which dates from 1591 and counts among its many treasures the Book of Kells and the Book of Durrow, two of the most beautiful illuminated manuscripts from the pre-Viking period, is the oldest and largest library in Ireland, with a stock of 4.1 million volumes. The Chester Beatty Library, noted for one of the world's finest collections of Oriental manuscripts and miniatures, is also in Dublin. The National Library of Ireland, which also serves as a lending library, was founded in 1877 and houses over one million books, with special collections including works on or by Jonathan Swift and W. B. Yeats. The National Photographic Archive of over 600,000 photographs is also housed in the National Library. The University College Dublin library has more than one million volumes. The Dublin City Public Library system has about 31 branches and service points and holdings of over 1.5 million items.
Dublin, the center of cultural life in Ireland, has several museums and a number of libraries. The National Museum contains collections on Irish antiquities, folk life, fine arts, natural history, zoology, and geology. The National Gallery houses valuable paintings representing the various European schools from the 13th century to the present. The National Portrait Gallery provides a visual survey of Irish historical personalities over the past three centuries. The Municipal Gallery of Modern Art has a fine collection of works by recent and contemporary artists. There is a Heraldic Museum in Dublin Castle; the National Botanic Gardens are at Glasnevin; and the Zoological Gardens are in Phoenix Park. There is a James Joyce Museum in Dublin housing personal memorabilia of the great writer, including signed manuscripts. Yeats Tower in Gort displays memorabilia of W. B. Yeats. The Dublin Writers' Museum opened in 1991.
Public libraries and small museums, devoted mostly to local historical exhibits, are found in Cork, Limerick, Waterford, Galway, and other cities.
In 2003, there were an estimated 491 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people. The same year, there were approximately 880 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people.
An autonomous public corporation, Radio Telefis Éireann (RTE), is the Irish national broadcasting organization. Ireland's second radio service, Raidio na Gaeltachta, an Irish language broadcast, was launched by RTE in 1972; it broadcasts VHF from County Galway. In 2004, there were an additional 49 independent radio stations. RTE operates three television networks and there is one independent television station. In 2003, there were an estimated 695 radios and 694 television sets for every 1,000 people. About 134 of every 1,000 people were cable subscribers. Also in 2003, there were 420.8 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 317 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet. There were 1,245 secure Internet servers in the country in 2004.
In 2001, there were eight independent national newspapers, as well as many local newspapers. There were three major independent current affairs magazines along with hundreds of special interest magazines. Ireland's major newspapers, with political orientation and estimated 2002 circulation, are: Sunday Independent, Fine Gael, 310,500; Sunday World, independent, 229,000; Irish Independent, Fine Gael, 168,200; Irish Times, independent, 119,200; Irish Examiner (in Cork), 63,600; and Cork Evening Echo, Fine Gael, 28,800. Waterford, Limerick, Galway, and many other smaller cities and towns have their own newspapers, most of them weeklies. The Censorship of Publication Board has the right to censor or ban publication of books and periodicals. In 2003, the Board censored nine magazines for containing pornographic materials.
The constitution provides for free speech and a free press; however, government bodies may decree without public hearing or justification any material unfit for distribution on moral grounds. The Office of Film Censor, which rates films and videos before they can be distributed, can ban or require edits of movies which contain content considered to be "indecent, obscene, or blasphemous," or which expresses principles "contrary to public morality." In 2001, 26 videos were banned, primarily for violent or pornographic content. In 2004, one video was banned.
The Chambers of Commerce of Ireland in Dublin is the umbrella organization for regional chambers. The Irish Congress of Trade Unions is also based in Dublin. There are trade unions and professional associations representing a wide variety of occupations. The Consumers Association of Ireland is active in advocating consumer information services.
The oldest and best known of the learned societies are the Royal Dublin Society, founded in 1731, and the Royal Irish Academy, founded in 1785. The Royal Irish Academy of Music was added in 1856, the Irish Society of Arts and Commerce in 1911, the Irish Academy of Letters in 1932, and the Arts Council of Ireland in 1951. Many organizations exist for research and study in medicine and science, including the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland.
National youth organizations include the Church of Ireland Youth Council, Comhchairdeas (the Irish Workcamp Movement), Confederation of Peace Corps, Federation of Irish Scout Associations, Irish Girl Guides, Girls' Brigade Ireland, Junior Chamber, Student Christian Movement of Ireland, Voluntary Service International, Workers Party Youth, Young Fine Gael, and chapters of YMCA/YWCA. The Irish Sports Council serves as an umbrella organization for numerous athletic organizations both on amateur and professional levels.
Civil rights organizations include the Irish Council for Civil Liberties and the National Women's Council of Ireland. Several organizations are available to represent those with disabilities. International organizations with chapters in Ireland include the Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, and Amnesty International.
Among Ireland's numerous ancient and prehistoric sights are a restored Bronze Age lake dwelling (crannog ) near Quin in County Clare, burial mounds at Newgrange and Knowth along the Boyne, and the palace at the Hill of Tara, the seat of government up to the Middle Ages. Numerous castles may be visited, including Blarney Castle in County Cork, where visitors kiss the famous Blarney Stone. Some, such as Bunratty Castle and Knappogue Castle, County Clare, and Dungaire Castle, County Galway, offer medieval-style banquets, and some rent rooms to tourists.
Among Dublin's tourist attractions are the Trinity College Library, with its 8th-century illuminated Book of Kells; Phoenix Park, the largest enclosed park in Western Europe and home of the Dublin Zoo; and literary landmarks associated with such writers as William Butler Yeats, James Joyce, Jonathan Swift, and Oscar Wilde. Dublin has long been noted for its theaters, foremost among them the Abbey Theatre, Ireland's national theater, which was founded in 1904 by Yeats and Lady Gregory. Dublin was the European Community's Cultural Capital of Europe for 1991, during which time the National Gallery, Civic Museum, and Municipal Gallery were all refurbished and several new museums opened, including the Irish Museum of Modern Art.
Traditional musical events are held frequently, one of the best known being the All-Ireland Fleadh at Ennis in County Clare. Numerous parades, concerts, and other festivities occur on and around the St. Patrick's Day holiday of 17 March. Ireland has numerous golf courses, some of worldwide reputation. Fishing, sailing, horseback riding, hunting, horse racing, and greyhound racing are other popular sports. The traditional sports of Gaelic football, hurling, and camogie (the women's version of hurling) were revived in the 19th century and have become increasingly popular. The All-Ireland Hurling Final and the All-Ireland Football Final are held in September.
A passport is required of all visitors. Visas are not required for stays of up to 90 days, although an onward/return ticket may be needed.
Income from tourism and travel contributes significantly to the economy. Approximately 6,774,000 tourists visited Ireland in 2003, about 61% of whom came from the United Kingdom. That same year tourism receipts totaled $5.2 billion. There were 62,807 hotel rooms in 2002, with a 59% occupancy rate.
According to the US Department of State in 2005, the daily cost of staying in Dublin was $403; in Cork, $292.
A list of famous Irish must begin with St. Patrick (c.385–461), who, though not born in Ireland, represents Ireland to the rest of the world. Among the "saints and scholars" of the 6th to the 8th centuries were St. Columba (521–97), missionary to Scotland; St. Columban (540?–616), who founded monasteries in France and Italy; and Johannes Scotus Erigena (810?–80), a major Neoplatonic philosopher.
For the thousand years after the Viking invasions, the famous names belong to warriors and politicians: Brian Boru (962?–1014), who temporarily united the kings of Ireland and defeated the Vikings; Hugh O'Neill (1547?–1616), Owen Roe O'Neill (1590?–1649), and Patrick Sarsfield (d. 1693), national heroes of the 17th century; and Henry Grattan (1746–1820), Wolf Tone (1763–98), Edward Fitzgerald (1763–98), Robert Emmet (1778–1803), Daniel O'Connell (1775–1847), Michael Davitt (1846–1906), Charles Stewart Parnell (1846–91), Arthur Griffith(1872–1922), Patrick Henry Pearse (1879–1916), and Éamon de Valera (b.US, 1882– 1975), who, with many others, fought Ireland's political battles. The politician and statesman Seán MacBride (1904-88) won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1974.
Irishmen who have made outstanding contributions to science and scholarship include Robert Boyle (1627–91), the physicist who defined Boyle's law relating to pressure and volume of gas; Sir William Rowan Hamilton (1805–65), astronomer and mathematician, who developed the theory of quaternions; George Berkeley (1685–1753), philosopher and clergyman; Edward Hincks (1792–1866), discoverer of the Sumerian language; and John Bagnell Bury (1861–1927), classical scholar. The nuclear physicist Ernest T. S. Walton (1903–95) won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1951.
Painters of note include Sir William Orpen (1878–1931), John Butler Yeats (1839–1922), his son Jack Butler Yeats (1871–1957), and Mainie Jellet (1897–1944). Irish musicians include the pianist and composer John Field (1782–1837), the opera composer Michael William Balfe (1808–70), the tenor John McCormack (1884–1945), and the flutist James Galway (b.Belfast, 1939).
After the Restoration, many brilliant satirists in English literature were born in Ireland, among them Jonathan Swift (1667–1745), dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin and creator of Gulliver's Travels; Oliver Goldsmith (1730?–74); Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751–1816); Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (1854–1900); and George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950).
Thomas Moore (1779–1852) and James Clarence Mangan (1803–49) wrote patriotic airs, hymns, and love lyrics, while Maria Edgeworth (1767–1849) wrote novels on Irish themes. Half a century later the great literary revival led by Nobel Prize-winning poet-dramatist William Butler Yeats (1865–1939), another son of John Butler Yeats, produced a succession of famous playwrights, poets, novelists, and short-story writers: the dramatists Lady Augusta (Persse) Gregory (1859?–1932), John Millington Synge (1871–1909), Sean O'Casey (1884–1964), and Lennox Robinson (1886–1958); the poets AE (George William Russell, 1867–1935), Oliver St. John Gogarty (1878–1957), Pádraic Colum (1881–1972), James Stephens (1882–1950); Austin Clarke (1890–1974), Thomas Kinsella (b.1928), and Seamus Heaney (b.1939), who won the 1995 Nobel Prize in literature; the novelists and short-story writers George Moore (1852–1932), Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, 18th baron of Dunsany (1878–1957), Liam O'Flaherty (1896–1984), Seán O'Faoláin (1900–91), Frank O'Connor (Michael O'Donovan, 1903–66), and Flann O'Brien (Brian O'Nolan, 1911–66). Two outstanding authors of novels and plays whose experimental styles have had worldwide influence are James Augustine Joyce (1882–1941), the author of Ulysses, and Samuel Beckett (1906–89), recipient of the 1969 Nobel Prize for literature.
The Abbey Theatre, which was the backbone of the literary revival, also produced many outstanding dramatic performers, such as Dudley Digges (1879–1947), Sara Allgood (1883–1950), Arthur Sinclair (1883–1951), Maire O'Neill (Mrs. Arthur Sinclair, 1887–1952), Barry Fitzgerald (William Shields, 1888–1961), and Siobhan McKenna (1923–1986). For many years Douglas Hyde (1860–1949), first president of Ireland (1938–45), spurred on the Irish-speaking theater as playwright, producer, and actor.
In addition to the genres of Irish folk and dance music, contemporary Irish popular and rock music has gained international attention. Van Morrison (b.1945), is a singer and songwriter from Belfast whose career began in the 1960s and was going strong in the 2000s. Enya (b.1961), is Ireland's best-selling solo musician. The Irish rock band U-2 is led by Bono (b.1960): Bono has also spearheaded efforts to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia, to fight world poverty, to campaign for third-world debt relief, and to raise world consciousness to the plight of Africa, including the spread of HIV/AIDS on the continent.
Ireland has no territories or colonies.
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