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A mission founded in on Iona by the Irish monk Saint Columba began a tradition of Irish missionary work that spread Celtic Christianity and learning to Scotland , England and the Frankish Empire on continental Europe after the fall of Rome.
From the 9th century, waves of Viking raiders plundered Irish monasteries and towns. The Vikings also were involved in establishing most of the major coastal settlements in Ireland: Dublin , Limerick , Cork , Wexford , Waterford , as well as other smaller settlements.
On 1 May , an expedition of Cambro - Norman knights with an army of about six hundred landed at Bannow Strand in present-day County Wexford. It was led by Richard de Clare , called Strongbow due to his prowess as an archer.
In , Henry arrived in Ireland in order to review the general progress of the expedition. He wanted to re-exert royal authority over the invasion which was expanding beyond his control.
Henry successfully re-imposed his authority over Strongbow and the Cambro-Norman warlords and persuaded many of the Irish kings to accept him as their overlord, an arrangement confirmed in the Treaty of Windsor.
The bull encouraged Henry to take control in Ireland in order to oversee the financial and administrative reorganisation of the Irish Church and its integration into the Roman Church system.
Henry was authorised to impose a tithe of one penny per hearth as an annual contribution. In turn, Henry accepted the title of Lord of Ireland which Henry conferred on his younger son, John Lackland , in This defined the Irish state as the Lordship of Ireland.
Over the century that followed, Norman feudal law gradually replaced the Gaelic Brehon Law so that by the late 13th century the Norman-Irish had established a feudal system throughout much of Ireland.
Norman settlements were characterised by the establishment of baronies, manors, towns and the seeds of the modern county system. From the midth century, after the Black Death , Norman settlements in Ireland went into a period of decline.
The Norman rulers and the Gaelic Irish elites intermarried and the areas under Norman rule became Gaelicised. In some parts, a hybrid Hiberno-Norman culture emerged.
In response, the Irish parliament passed the Statutes of Kilkenny in These were a set of laws designed to prevent the assimilation of the Normans into Irish society by requiring English subjects in Ireland to speak English, follow English customs and abide by English law.
By the end of the 15th century central English authority in Ireland had all but disappeared and a renewed Irish culture and language, albeit with Norman influences, was dominant again.
English rule was reinforced and expanded in Ireland during the latter part of the 16th century, leading to the Tudor conquest of Ireland. This control was consolidated during the wars and conflicts of the 17th century, including the English and Scottish colonisation in the Plantations of Ireland , the Wars of the Three Kingdoms and the Williamite War.
Irish losses during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms which, in Ireland, included the Irish Confederacy and the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland are estimated to include 20, battlefield casualties.
A further 50, [Note 1] were sent into indentured servitude in the West Indies. Physician-general William Petty estimated that , Catholic Irish and , Protestant settlers died, and , people were transported, as a result of the war.
If a prewar population of 1. The religious struggles of the 17th century left a deep sectarian division in Ireland.
Religious allegiance now determined the perception in law of loyalty to the Irish King and Parliament. After the passing of the Test Act , and the victory of the forces of the dual monarchy of William and Mary over the Jacobites , Roman Catholics and nonconforming Protestant Dissenters were barred from sitting as members in the Irish Parliament.
Under the emerging Penal Laws , Irish Roman Catholics and Dissenters were increasingly deprived of various and sundry civil rights even to the ownership of hereditary property.
Additional regressive punitive legislation followed in , and This completed a comprehensive systemic effort to materially disadvantage Roman Catholics and Protestant Dissenters, while enriching a new ruling class of Anglican conformists.
The " Great Frost " struck Ireland and the rest of Europe between December and September , after a decade of relatively mild winters.
The winters destroyed stored crops of potatoes and other staples and the poor summers severely damaged harvests. An estimated , people about one in eight of the population died from the ensuing pestilence and disease.
In the aftermath of the famine, an increase in industrial production and a surge in trade brought a succession of construction booms.
The population soared in the latter part of this century and the architectural legacy of Georgian Ireland was built. The British government, however, still retained the right to nominate the government of Ireland without the consent of the Irish parliament.
In , members of the Protestant Dissenter tradition mainly Presbyterian made common cause with Roman Catholics in a republican rebellion inspired and led by the Society of United Irishmen , with the aim of creating an independent Ireland.
Despite assistance from France the rebellion was put down by British and Irish government and yeomanry forces. The passage of the Act in the Irish Parliament was ultimately achieved with substantial majorities, having failed on the first attempt in According to contemporary documents and historical analysis, this was achieved through a considerable degree of bribery, with funding provided by the British Secret Service Office, and the awarding of peerages, places and honours to secure votes.
Aside from the development of the linen industry, Ireland was largely passed over by the industrial revolution , partly because it lacked coal and iron resources   and partly because of the impact of the sudden union with the structurally superior economy of England,  which saw Ireland as a source of agricultural produce and capital.
More than one million people died from starvation and disease, while an additional two million people emigrated, mostly to the United States and Canada.
The period of civil unrest that followed until the end of the 19th century is referred to as the Land War. Mass emigration became deeply entrenched and the population continued to decline until the midth century.
Immediately prior to the famine the population was recorded as 8. The 19th and early 20th centuries saw the rise of modern Irish nationalism , primarily among the Roman Catholic population.
He was elected as Member of Parliament for Ennis in a surprise result and despite being unable to take his seat as a Roman Catholic. Unionists, especially those located in Ulster, were strongly opposed to Home Rule, which they thought would be dominated by Catholic interests.
To prevent this from happening, the Ulster Volunteers were formed in under the leadership of Edward Carson. Their formation was followed in by the establishment of the Irish Volunteers , whose aim was to ensure that the Home Rule Bill was passed.
The Act was passed but with the "temporary" exclusion of the six counties of Ulster that would become Northern Ireland. Before it could be implemented, however, the Act was suspended for the duration of the First World War.
The Irish Volunteers split into two groups. The majority, approximately , in number, under John Redmond , took the name National Volunteers and supported Irish involvement in the war.
The Easter Rising of was carried out by the latter group together with a smaller socialist militia, the Irish Citizen Army. The British response, executing fifteen leaders of the Rising over a period of ten days and imprisoning or interning more than a thousand people, turned the mood of the country in favour of the rebels.
Support for Irish republicanism increased further due to the ongoing war in Europe, as well as the Conscription Crisis of Simultaneously the Volunteers, which became known as the Irish Republican Army IRA , launched a three-year guerrilla war , which ended in a truce in July although violence continued until June , mostly in Northern Ireland.
It gave Ireland complete independence in its home affairs and practical independence for foreign policy, but an opt-out clause allowed Northern Ireland to remain within the United Kingdom, which it immediately exercised as expected.
Additionally, Members of the Free State Parliament were required to swear an oath of allegiance to the Constitution of the Irish Free State and make a statement of faithfulness to the King.
The civil war officially ended in May when de Valera issued a cease-fire order. During its first decade, the newly formed Irish Free State was governed by the victors of the civil war.
When de Valera achieved power, he took advantage of the Statute of Westminster and political circumstances to build upon inroads to greater sovereignty made by the previous government.
The oath was abolished and in a new constitution was adopted. However, it was not until that the state was declared, officially, to be the Republic of Ireland.
The state was neutral during World War II , but offered clandestine assistance to the Allies , particularly in the potential defence of Northern Ireland.
The Abwehr was also active in Ireland. To the authorities, counterintelligence was a fundamental line of defence. With a regular army of only slightly over seven thousand men at the start of the war, and with limited supplies of modern weapons, the state would have had great difficulty in defending itself from invasion from either side in the conflict.
Large-scale emigration marked most of the post-WWII period particularly during the s and s , but beginning in the economy improved, and the s saw the beginning of substantial economic growth.
This period of growth became known as the Celtic Tiger. In , it was the sixth-richest country in the world in terms of GDP per capita.
Social changes also occurred in this time, most markedly with the decline in authority of the Catholic Church. The financial crisis that began in dramatically ended this period of boom.
Northern Ireland resulted from the division of the United Kingdom by the Government of Ireland Act , and until was a self-governing jurisdiction within the United Kingdom with its own parliament and prime minister.
Northern Ireland, as part of the United Kingdom, was not neutral during the Second World War and Belfast suffered four bombing raids in Conscription was not extended to Northern Ireland and roughly an equal number volunteered from Northern Ireland as volunteered from the south.
Although Northern Ireland was largely spared the strife of the civil war, in decades that followed partition there were sporadic episodes of inter-communal violence.
Nationalists, mainly Roman Catholic, wanted to unite Ireland as an independent republic, whereas unionists, mainly Protestant, wanted Northern Ireland to remain in the United Kingdom.
The Protestant and Catholic communities in Northern Ireland voted largely along sectarian lines, meaning that the Government of Northern Ireland elected by "first-past-the-post" from was controlled by the Ulster Unionist Party.
Over time, the minority Catholic community felt increasingly alienated with further disaffection fuelled by practices such as gerrymandering and discrimination in housing and employment.
In the late s, nationalist grievances were aired publicly in mass civil rights protests, which were often confronted by loyalist counter-protests. Law and order broke down as unrest and inter-communal violence increased.
In , the paramilitary Provisional IRA , which favoured the creation of a united Ireland , emerged from a split in the Irish Republican Army and began a campaign against what it called the "British occupation of the six counties".
Other groups, on both the unionist side and the nationalist side, participated in violence and a period known as the Troubles began. Over 3, deaths resulted over the subsequent three decades of conflict.
There were several unsuccessful attempts to end the Troubles politically, such as the Sunningdale Agreement of In , following a ceasefire by the Provisional IRA and multi-party talks, the Good Friday Agreement was concluded as a treaty between the British and Irish governments, annexing the text agreed in the multi-party talks.
The substance of the Agreement formally referred to as the Belfast Agreement was later endorsed by referendums in both parts of Ireland.
The Agreement restored self-government to Northern Ireland on the basis of power-sharing in a regional Executive drawn from the major parties in a new Northern Ireland Assembly , with entrenched protections for the two main communities.
The Executive is jointly headed by a First Minister and deputy First Minister drawn from the unionist and nationalist parties. Violence had decreased greatly after the Provisional IRA and loyalist ceasefires in and in the Provisional IRA announced the end of its armed campaign and an independent commission supervised its disarmament and that of other nationalist and unionist paramilitary organisations.
The Assembly and power-sharing Executive were suspended several times but were restored again in In that year the British government officially ended its military support of the police in Northern Ireland Operation Banner and began withdrawing troops.
Politically, the island is divided between the Republic of Ireland, an independent state , and Northern Ireland a constituent country of the United Kingdom.
They share an open border and both are part of the Common Travel Area. Both the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom are members of the European Union , having both acceded to its precursor entity, the European Economic Community [EEC], in , and as a consequence there is free movement of people, goods, services and capital across the border.
The Republic of Ireland is a parliamentary democracy based on the British model, with a written constitution and a popularly elected president who has mostly ceremonial powers.
Its capital is Dublin. Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom with a local executive and assembly which exercise devolved powers.
Its capital is Belfast. Ultimately political power is held by the UK government , from which Northern Ireland has gone through intermittent periods of direct rule during which devolved powers have been suspended.
The Northern Ireland Secretary is a cabinet-level post in the British government. Along with England and Wales and with Scotland, Northern Ireland forms one of the three separate legal jurisdictions of the UK, all of which share the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom as their court of final appeal.
As part of the Good Friday Agreement , the British and Irish governments agreed on the creation of all-island institutions and areas of cooperation.
At least six of these policy areas must have an associated all-island "implementation bodies" and at least six others must be implemented separately in each jurisdiction.
The implementation bodies are: The British—Irish Intergovernmental Conference provides for co-operation between the Government of Ireland and the Government of the United Kingdom on all matter of mutual interest, especially Northern Ireland.
It has no formal powers but operates as a forum for discussing matters of common concern between the respective legislatures.
Despite the two jurisdictions using two distinct currencies the euro and pound sterling , a growing amount of commercial activity is carried out on an all-Ireland basis.
There are three World Heritage Sites on the island: Dublin is the most heavily touristed region  and home to several of the most popular attractions such as the Guinness Storehouse and Book of Kells.
It is a popular tourist destination for surfing and contains 5 Blue Flag beaches and Croaghaun one of the worlds highest sea cliffs.
Stately homes , built during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries in Palladian , Neoclassical and neo-Gothic styles, such as, Castle Ward , Castletown House , Bantry House , Glenveagh Castle are also of interest to tourists.
Skellig Michael , County Kerry. Newgrange , County Meath. Ireland has an ancient industry based on peat known locally as "turf" as a source of energy for home fires.
A form of biomass energy, this source of heat is still widely used in rural areas. However, due to the ecological importance of peatlands in storing carbon and their rarity, the EU is attempting to protect this habitat by fining Ireland if they are dug up.
In cities, heat is generally supplied by heating oil , although some urban suppliers distribute "sods of turf" as "smokeless fuel". An area in which the island operates as a single market is electricity.
Both networks were designed and constructed independently post partition. However, as a result of changes over recent years they are now connected with three interlinks  and also connected through Great Britain to mainland Europe.
As with electricity, the natural gas distribution network is also now all-island, with a pipeline linking Gormanston, County Meath , and Ballyclare , County Antrim.
A decreasing supply is coming from the Kinsale gas field off the County Cork coast   and the Corrib Gas Field off the coast of County Mayo has yet to come on-line.
The County Mayo field is facing some localised opposition over a controversial decision to refine the gas onshore. The Republic has a strong commitment to renewable energy, and ranks as one of the top 10 markets for cleantech investment in the Global Green Economy Index.
Large wind farms have been constructed in Cork, Donegal, Mayo and Antrim. The construction of wind farms has in some cases been delayed by opposition from local communities, some of whom consider the wind turbines to be unsightly.
The Republic is hindered by an ageing network that was not designed to handle the varying availability of power that comes from wind farms. As the term British Isles is controversial in relation to Ireland, the alternate term Britain and Ireland is often used as a neutral term for the islands.
A ring of coastal mountains surround low plains at the centre of the island. The highest of these is Carrauntoohil Irish: The island consists of varied geological provinces.
In the west, around County Galway and County Donegal , is a medium to high grade metamorphic and igneous complex of Caledonide affinity, similar to the Scottish Highlands.
Across southeast Ulster and extending southwest to Longford and south to Navan is a province of Ordovician and Silurian rocks, with similarities to the Southern Uplands province of Scotland.
Further south, along the County Wexford coastline, is an area of granite intrusives into more Ordovician and Silurian rocks, like that found in Wales.
The west-coast district of the Burren around Lisdoonvarna has well-developed karst features. Hydrocarbon exploration is ongoing following the first major find at the Kinsale Head gas field off Cork in the mids.
This has increased activity off the west coast in parallel with the " West of Shetland " step-out development from the North Sea hydrocarbon province.
Dunluce Castle , County Antrim. Benbulbin , County Sligo. Connemara , County Galway. Glendalough , County Wicklow. Ardfert Cathedral , County Kerry.
Glenbeg Lough , County Cork. Overall, Ireland has a mild but changeable oceanic climate with few extremes. The climate is typically insular and is temperate , avoiding the extremes in temperature of many other areas in the world at similar latitudes.
Precipitation falls throughout the year but is light overall, particularly in the east. The west tends to be wetter on average and prone to Atlantic storms, especially in the late autumn and winter months.
These occasionally bring destructive winds and higher total rainfall to these areas, as well as sometimes snow and hail. The regions of north County Galway and east County Mayo have the highest incidents of recorded lightning annually for the island, with lightning occurring approximately five to ten days per year in these areas.
Inland areas are warmer in summer and colder in winter. Ireland is sometimes affected by heat waves, most recently in , , , and Because Ireland became isolated from mainland Europe by rising sea levels before the last ice age had completely finished, it has fewer land animal and plant species than Great Britain, which separated later, or mainland Europe.
There are 55 mammal species in Ireland and of them only 26 land mammal species are considered native to Ireland. Aquatic wildlife, such as species of sea turtle , shark , seal , whale , and dolphin , are common off the coast.
About species of birds have been recorded in Ireland. Many of these are migratory, including the barn swallow. Several different habitat types are found in Ireland, including farmland, open woodland, temperate broadleaf and mixed forests , conifer plantations, peat bogs and a variety of coastal habitats.
However, agriculture drives current land use patterns in Ireland, limiting natural habitat preserves,  particularly for larger wild mammals with greater territorial needs.
With no large apex predators in Ireland other than humans and dogs, such populations of animals as semi-wild deer that cannot be controlled by smaller predators, such as the fox, are controlled by annual culling.
There are no snakes in Ireland and only one species of reptile the common lizard is native to the island. Extinct species include the Irish elk , the great auk , brown bear and the wolf.
Some previously extinct birds, such as the golden eagle , been reintroduced in about the year after decades of extirpation.
Ireland is now one of the least forested countries in Europe. Much of the land is now covered with pasture and there are many species of wild-flower.
Gorse Ulex europaeus , a wild furze , is commonly found growing in the uplands and ferns are plentiful in the more moist regions, especially in the western parts.
It is home to hundreds of plant species, some of them unique to the island, and has been "invaded" by some grasses, such as Spartina anglica. The algal and seaweed flora is that of the cold-temperate variety.
The total number of species is  and is distributed as follows:. The island has been invaded by some algae, some of which are now well established.
Because of its mild climate, many species, including sub-tropical species such as palm trees , are grown in Ireland. The island itself can be subdivided into two ecoregions: The long history of agricultural production, coupled with modern intensive agricultural methods such as pesticide and fertiliser use and runoff from contaminants into streams, rivers and lakes, impact the natural fresh-water ecosystems and have placed pressure on biodiversity in Ireland.
A land of green fields for crop cultivation and cattle rearing limits the space available for the establishment of native wild species.
Hedgerows, however, traditionally used for maintaining and demarcating land boundaries, act as a refuge for native wild flora.
This ecosystem stretches across the countryside and acts as a network of connections to preserve remnants of the ecosystem that once covered the island.
Subsidies under the Common Agricultural Policy , which supported agricultural practices that preserved hedgerow environments, are undergoing reforms.
The Common Agricultural Policy had in the past subsidised potentially destructive agricultural practices, for example by emphasising production without placing limits on indiscriminate use of fertilisers and pesticides; but reforms have gradually decoupled subsidies from production levels and introduced environmental and other requirements.
Remnants of native forest can be found scattered around the island, in particular in the Killarney National Park. Natural areas require fencing to prevent over-grazing by deer and sheep that roam over uncultivated areas.
Grazing in this manner is one of the main factors preventing the natural regeneration of forests across many regions of the country.
People have lived in Ireland for over 9, years. The different eras are termed mesolithic , neolithic , Bronze Age , and Iron Age.
Many survived into late medieval times, others vanished as they became politically unimportant. Over the past years, Vikings , Normans , Welsh , Flemings , Scots , English , Africans , Eastern Europeans and South Americans have all added to the population and have had significant influences on Irish culture.
The population rebounded and multiplied over the next century, but another devastating famine in the s caused one million deaths and forced over one million more to emigrate in its immediate wake.
Over the following century the population was reduced by over half, at a time when the general trend in European countries was for populations to rise by an average of three-fold.
Traditionally, Ireland is subdivided into four provinces: Connacht west , Leinster east , Munster south , and Ulster north.
In a system that developed between the 13th and 17th centuries,  Ireland has 32 traditional counties. Twenty-six of these counties are in the Republic of Ireland and six are in Northern Ireland.
The six counties that constitute Northern Ireland are all in the province of Ulster which has nine counties in total.
As such, Ulster is often used as a synonym for Northern Ireland, although the two are not coterminous. In the Republic of Ireland, counties form the basis of the system of local government.
Counties Dublin , Cork , Limerick , Galway , Waterford and Tipperary have been broken up into smaller administrative areas. However, they are still treated as counties for cultural and some official purposes, for example postal addresses and by the Ordnance Survey Ireland.
Counties in Northern Ireland are no longer used for local governmental purposes,  but, as in the Republic, their traditional boundaries are still used for informal purposes such as sports leagues and in cultural or tourism contexts.
City status in Ireland is decided by legislative or royal charter. Dublin , with over 1 million residents in the Greater Dublin Area , is the largest city on the island.
Belfast, with , residents, is the largest city in Northern Ireland. City status does not directly equate with population size. For example, Armagh , with 14, is the seat of the Church of Ireland and the Roman Catholic Primate of All Ireland and was re-granted city status by Queen Elizabeth II in having lost that status in local government reforms of In the Republic of Ireland, Kilkenny , seat of the Butler dynasty , while no longer a city for administrative purposes since the Local Government Act , is entitled by law to continue to use the description.
The population of Ireland collapsed dramatically during the second half of the 19th century. A population of over 8 million in was reduced to slightly more than 4 million by In part, the fall in population was due to death from the Great Famine of to , which took about 1 million lives.
However, by far the greater cause of population decline was the dire economic state of the country which led to an entrenched culture of emigration lasting until the 21st century.
Emigration from Ireland in the 19th century contributed to the populations of England, the United States, Canada and Australia, in all of which a large Irish diaspora lives.
As of [update] , 4. As of [update] , a total of Irish leaders have been prominent in the Catholic Church in the United States for over years while the Irish have been leaders in the Presbyterian and Methodist traditions as well.
With growing prosperity since the last decade of the 20th century, Ireland became a destination for immigrants. Since the European Union expanded to include Poland in , Polish people have made up the largest number of immigrants over ,  from Central Europe.
There has also been significant immigration from Lithuania , the Czech Republic and Latvia. Up to 50, eastern and central European migrant workers left Ireland in response to the Irish financial crisis.
The two official languages of the Republic of Ireland are Irish and English. Each language has produced a noteworthy literature. Irish, though now only the language of a minority, was the vernacular of the Irish people for over two thousand years and was possibly introduced during the Iron Age.
It began to be written down after Christianisation in the 5th century and spread to Scotland and the Isle of Man, where it evolved into the Scottish Gaelic and Manx languages respectively.
The Irish language has a vast treasury of written texts from many centuries, and is divided by linguists into Old Irish from the 6th to 10th century, Middle Irish from the 10th to 13th century, Early Modern Irish until the 17th century, and the Modern Irish spoken today.
It remained the dominant language of Ireland for most of those periods, having influences from Latin , Old Norse , French and English.
It declined under British rule but remained the majority tongue until the early 19th century, and since then has been a minority language.
The Gaelic Revival of the early twentieth century has had a long-term influence. Irish is taught in mainstream Irish schools as a compulsory subject, but teaching methods have been criticised for their ineffectiveness, with the lack of level of ability after, typically, fourteen years of instruction cited.
There is now an extensive network of urban Irish speakers in both the Republic and Northern Ireland , especially in Dublin and Belfast.
They represent an expanding demographic, [ citation needed ] and their children often attend Irish-medium schools Gaelscoileanna. It has been argued that they tend to be more highly educated than monolingual English speakers.
Traditional rural Irish-speaking areas, known collectively as the Gaeltacht , are in linguistic decline. The main Gaeltacht areas are in the west, south-west and north-west.
English in Ireland was first introduced during the Norman invasion. It was spoken by a few peasants and merchants brought over from England, and was largely replaced by Irish before the Tudor conquest of Ireland.
It was introduced as the official language with the Tudor and Cromwellian conquests. The Ulster plantations gave it a permanent foothold in Ulster, and it remained the official and upper-class language elsewhere, the Irish-speaking chieftains and nobility having been deposed.
Language shift during the 19th century replaced Irish with English as the first language for a vast majority of the population.
Shelta , the language of the nomadic Irish Travellers is native to Ireland. This combination of cultural influences is visible in the intricate designs termed Irish interlace or Celtic knotwork.
These can be seen in the ornamentation of medieval religious and secular works. The style is still popular today in jewellery and graphic art,  as is the distinctive style of traditional Irish music and dance, and has become indicative of modern "Celtic" culture in general.
Religion has played a significant role in the cultural life of the island since ancient times and since the 17th century plantations , has been the focus of political identity and divisions on the island.
These missions brought written language to an illiterate population of Europe during the Dark Ages that followed the fall of Rome , earning Ireland the sobriquet, "the island of saints and scholars".
Since the 20th century the Irish pubs worldwide have become, especially those with a full range of cultural and gastronomic offerings, outposts of Irish culture.
Ireland has made a large contribution to world literature in all its branches, both in Irish and English. Poetry in Irish is among the oldest vernacular poetry in Europe, with the earliest examples dating from the 6th century.
Irish remained the dominant literary language down to the nineteenth century, despite the spread of English from the seventeenth century on.
The latter part of the nineteenth century saw a rapid replacement of Irish by English. By , however, cultural nationalists had begun the Gaelic revival , which saw the beginnings of a modern literature in Irish.
Other notable eighteenth century writers of Irish origin included Oliver Goldsmith and Richard Brinsley Sheridan , though they spent most of their lives in England.
The playwright and poet Oscar Wilde , noted for his epigrams, was born in Ireland. In the 20th century, Ireland produced four winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature: Although not a Nobel Prize winner, James Joyce is widely considered to be one of the most significant writers of the 20th century.
Music has been in evidence in Ireland since prehistoric times. Outside religious establishments, musical genres in early Gaelic Ireland are referred to as a triad of weeping music goltraige , laughing music geantraige and sleeping music suantraige.
In the 19th century, public concerts provided access to classical music to all classes of society. Yet, for political and financial reasons Ireland has been too small to provide a living to many musicians, so the names of the better-known Irish composers of this time belong to emigrants.
Irish traditional music and dance has seen a surge in popularity and global coverage since the s. In the middle years of the 20th century, as Irish society was modernising, traditional music had fallen out of favour, especially in urban areas.
Groups and musicians including Horslips , Van Morrison and Thin Lizzy incorporated elements of Irish traditional music into contemporary rock music and, during the s and s, the distinction between traditional and rock musicians became blurred, with many individuals regularly crossing over between these styles of playing.
The earliest known Irish graphic art and sculpture are Neolithic carvings found at sites such as Newgrange  and is traced through Bronze age artefacts and the religious carvings and illuminated manuscripts of the medieval period.
During the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, a strong tradition of painting emerged, including such figures as John Butler Yeats , William Orpen , Jack Yeats and Louis le Brocquy.
The Irish philosopher and theologian Johannes Scotus Eriugena was considered one of the leading intellectuals of the early Middle Ages. Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton , an Irish explorer, was one of the principal figures of Antarctic exploration.
He, along with his expedition, made the first ascent of Mount Erebus and the discovery of the approximate location of the South Magnetic Pole. Robert Boyle was a 17th-century natural philosopher, chemist, physicist, inventor and early gentleman scientist.
Father Nicholas Joseph Callan , Professor of Natural Philosophy in Maynooth College , is best known for his invention of the induction coil , transformer and he discovered an early method of galvanisation in the 19th century.
With Sir John Douglas Cockcroft , he was the first to split the nucleus of the atom by artificial means and made contributions to the development of a new theory of wave equation.
Sir Joseph Larmor , a physicist and mathematician, made innovations in the understanding of electricity, dynamics, thermodynamics and the electron theory of matter.
His most influential work was Aether and Matter, a book on theoretical physics published in George Johnstone Stoney introduced the term electron in Notable mathematicians include Sir William Rowan Hamilton , famous for work in classical mechanics and the invention of quaternions.
Cosgrave was a specialist in number theory and discovered a digit prime number in and a record composite Fermat number in John Lighton Synge made progress in different fields of science, including mechanics and geometrical methods in general relativity.
He had mathematician John Nash as one of his students. Kathleen Lonsdale , born in Ireland and most known for her work with crystallography , became the first female president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science.
Ireland has nine universities, seven in the Republic of Ireland and two in Northern Ireland, including Trinity College, Dublin and the University College Dublin , as well as numerous third-level colleges and institutes and a branch of the Open University, the Open University in Ireland.
Gaelic football is the most popular sport in Ireland in terms of match attendance and community involvement, with about 2, clubs on the island.
The island fields a single international team in most sports. One notable exception to this is association football, although both associations continued to field international teams under the name "Ireland" until the s.
The sport is also the most notable exception where the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland field separate international teams.
Northern Ireland has produced two World Snooker Champions. Gaelic football , hurling and handball are the best-known of the Irish traditional sports, collectively known as Gaelic games.
During the redevelopment of the Lansdowne Road stadium in —10, international rugby and soccer were played there. The game has been played in an organised fashion in Ireland since the s, with Cliftonville F.
It was most popular, especially in its first decades, around Belfast and in Ulster. However, some clubs based outside Belfast thought that the IFA largely favoured Ulster-based clubs in such matters as selection for the national team.
However, both the IFA and FAI continued to select their teams from the whole of Ireland, with some players earning international caps for matches with both teams.
Both also referred to their respective teams as Ireland. Northern Ireland qualified for the World Cup finals in reaching the quarter-finals , and and the European Championship in The Republic qualified for the World Cup finals in reaching the quarter-finals , , and the European Championships in , and Across Ireland, there is significant interest in the English and, to a lesser extent, Scottish soccer leagues.
Unlike soccer, Ireland continues to field a single national rugby team and a single association, the Irish Rugby Football Union IRFU , governs the sport across the island.
The Irish rugby team have played in every Rugby World Cup , making the quarter-finals in six of them. Ireland also hosted games during the and the Rugby World Cups including a quarter-final.
There are four professional Irish teams; all four play in the Pro14 and at least three compete for the Heineken Cup.
Irish rugby has become increasingly competitive at both the international and provincial levels since the sport went professional in During that time, Ulster ,  Munster  and  and Leinster , and  have won the Heineken Cup.
In addition to this, the Irish International side has had increased success in the Six Nations Championship against the other European elite sides.
This success, including Triple Crowns in , and , culminated with a clean sweep of victories, known as a Grand Slam , in and Horse racing and greyhound racing are both popular in Ireland.
There are frequent horse race meetings and greyhound stadiums are well-attended. The island is noted for the breeding and training of race horses and is also a large exporter of racing dogs.
Olive Loughnane won a silver medal in the 20k walk in the World Athletics Championships in Berlin in Ireland has won more medals in boxing than in any other Olympic sport.
Boxing is governed by the Irish Athletic Boxing Association. In Kenneth Egan won a silver medal in the Beijing Games.
Katie Taylor has won gold in every European and World championship since Golf is very popular, and golf tourism is a major industry attracting more than , golfing visitors annually.
Three golfers from Northern Ireland have been particularly successful. Open , and the first European to win that tournament since Rory McIlroy , at the age of 22, won the U.
The west coast of Ireland, Lahinch and Donegal Bay in particular, have popular surfing beaches, being fully exposed to the Atlantic Ocean.
Since just before the year , Bundoran has hosted European championship surfing. Scuba diving is increasingly popular in Ireland with clear waters and large populations of sea life, particularly along the western seaboard.
There are also many shipwrecks along the coast of Ireland, with some of the best wreck dives being in Malin Head and off the County Cork coast.
The temperate Irish climate is suited to sport angling. While salmon and trout fishing remain popular with anglers, salmon fishing in particular received a boost in with the closing of the salmon driftnet fishery.
Coarse fishing continues to increase its profile. Sea angling is developed with many beaches mapped and signposted,  and the range of sea angling species is around For example, whilst from the Middle Ages until the arrival of the potato in the 16th century the dominant feature of the Irish economy was the herding of cattle, the number of cattle a person owned was equated to their social standing.
For this reason, pork and white meat were more common than beef and thick fatty strips of salted bacon known as rashers and the eating of salted butter i.
All of these influences can be seen today in the phenomenon of the " breakfast roll ". The introduction of the potato in the second half of the 16th century heavily influenced cuisine thereafter.
Great poverty encouraged a subsistence approach to food and by the midth century the vast majority of the population sufficed with a diet of potatoes and milk.
Since the last quarter of the 20th century, with a re-emergence of wealth in Ireland, a "New Irish Cuisine" based on traditional ingredients incorporating international influences  has emerged.
An example of this new cuisine is "Dublin Lawyer": Traditional regional foods can be found throughout the country, for example coddle in Dublin or drisheen in Cork, both a type of sausage, or blaa , a doughy white bread particular to Waterford.
Irish whiskey, as researched in by the CNBC American broadcaster, remains popular domestically and has grown in international sales steadily over a few decades.
Stout , a kind of porter beer , particularly Guinness , is typically associated with Ireland, although historically it was more closely associated with London.
Porter remains very popular, although it has lost sales since the midth century to lager.
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