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Irish Tourism

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The story of Ireland is generally agreed to have begun around 8000-4000 BC when humans first settled and began farming, marking the start of the Stone Age. Between 600-150 BC, Celtic tribes began to arrive on the island from mainland Europe, bringing with them the long-standing influence to culture, art, and myths that most people associate as “Irish” to this very day. The official language of the Republic of Ireland, Irish (Gaeilge) stems from Celtic language. The Celts maintained a simple agricultural society, although inter-tribal war was often quite common across the countrysides as a struggle to establish recognized “king hood” over Ireland. While the Romans never conquered Ireland, and it is debatable whether they ever made it to the island at all (“Romans in Ireland?”).

Christian missionaries were the next great influence to the country, arriving in the late 4th and early 5th centuries. While there were many missionaries before him, perhaps the most famous and universally recognizable was St. Patrick – the legendary Catholic Saint who drove all the snakes out of Ireland, and gave everyone an excuse to be Irish every March 17th! Incidentally, it is true that there are no snakes in Ireland, though this has to do with geography rather than actual feats performed by St. Patrick. Ophidiophobes take note, as this may make Ireland even more enticing as a travel destination (“Why Ireland has no snakes”) St. Patrick's mission to Ireland was designed to convert the Irish kings and blend Gaelic culture and religions into a fusion with Christianity. While establishment of Christianity was initially slow, it began to take seed and flourish in the many hundreds of years that followed.

An influx of English settlers proceeded, and their establishments began to dot the coasts and countrysides as more and more colonists arrived, increasing agriculture and commerce in Ireland. In 1534, Britain's King Henry VIII declared himself the head of the Church of England, and coerced Irish Parliament and Englishmen living in Ireland to declare him King of Ireland in 1541. King Henry VIII was a major opponent of Catholicism, and he sent many Protestant settlers to Ireland in an official English policy of “plantation” leading to great sectarian conflict. Henry VIII's successor, Britain's King James I continued this trend, sending thousands more Protestant English farmers to Ireland to take over land owned by Catholic farmers. New laws forbade Catholics from voting, owning land, practicing their religion, or attending school. In 1845, a blight struck potato crops nationwide, destroying the staple food of a growing population. As trade agreements were still controlled by London, Ireland was forced to export abundant harvest of wheat and dairy products to Britain and further overseas, leaving an estimated two million people to either die of hunger or emigrate from Ireland (with the majority of Irish emigrants going to the United States of America).

The next several hundred years of Irish history are marked with a series of failed rebellion after failed rebellion as the Irish unsuccessfully attempted to oust the English and their tyranny. That is until Easter Sunday, April 24th 1916 when two groups of armed rebels, led by Padraig Pearse, seized key points in and around Dublin. During this Easter Rising, Pearse read the Proclamation of the Republic which declared an Irish Republic independent of Britain. Britain responded in kind, and battles ensued causing casualties on both sides and among the civilian population. The members of the uprising eventually surrendered six days later and, while the majority of the public was actually opposed to the Rising, public opinion turned when the British administration responded by executing all seven signatories to the proclamation. Fallout from the event lead to the War of Independence from 1919 to 1921 in which the Irish Republican Army waged a guerrilla war against British forces, eventually resulting in a treaty in which Britain gave up most of the control of Ireland, but continues to rule over six counties in the north, which it deems Northern Ireland. Civil war between those who accept the treaty with the English and those who want all of Ireland to be free of British rule rages in full-force for the next two years, and on-and-off between small pocket forces for the next seventy-seven years before Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland agree to and adopt a peace deal knows as The Good Friday Agreement. Modern day Ireland now finds itself a member of the European Union, focusing hard on its economy and the stability of its citizens; looking forward to a brighter future of independence and peace.

Population and Demographics

A July 2014 estimate cites Ireland's population as being 4,832,765, a 1.2% population increase over previous census data (“Ireland Demographics

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