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Geography, Topography, and a Political Perspective

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Geography, Topography, and a Political Perspective

Ireland

Geography, Topography, and a Political Perspective

There are four provinces in Ireland: Connacht (western Ireland), Munster (southern Ireland), Leinster (eastern Ireland), and Ulster (Northern Ireland). The Republic of Ireland is comprised of the provinces of Connacht, Munster, and Leinster; the province of Ulster is referred to as Northern Ireland and is under Britain's jurisdiction. Northern and Southern Ireland are differentiated not only by geographical differences, but also by political and religious views. Approximately 5/6 of the 27,136 square mile island is referred to as the Republic of Ireland and claimed freedom during the year 1922, when it separated from Britain's rule. This was not an easy transition of political power for the Irish, but rather the beginning of a tumultuous war between Northern Ireland and the Republic. They fought not only because the Republic wanted Britain to relinquish power over Northern Ireland, but also because of a difference in religious values and beliefs (Spencer, 14). Primarily Roman Catholic prior to the mid 16th century, Ireland was influenced by England's schism from the Roman Catholic Church during the reign of King Henry VIII. Only a small percentage (about 10%) of the Republic of Ireland is Protestant, including Methodist and Presbyterian, however Northern Ireland is predominately Protestant and thus this religious rivalry has played an integral role in the separation of Northern and Southern Ireland and has been the foundation for many political issues and disputes. Interestingly, this religious division is not apparent within the Republic of Ireland because they do not feel threatened by the minority of Protestants politically or religiously (Spencer, 26). Subsequently, religion plays an important part within the Irish culture, as well as its political history. It was not until The Good Friday Peace Agreement, signed in 1998, that the Protestants and Catholics reached a cease-fire and agreed to stop the fighting and vandalism (Spencer, 14) The importance of religion to the Irish culture is exemplified through the role of religious characters throughout literature and film, as apparent in Sheridan's The Field.

Topographically, there are several features unique to Ireland; the bogs are one of the most significant topographical features that exemplify Ireland's uniqueness. Ireland's climate is conducive to the development of this wetland resource. There are two types of bogs that are found in Ireland: blanket bogs (man-made), and raised bogs (nature produced). The blanket bog is typically found in areas of western Ireland where it characteristically has exceptionally high rates of rainfall per year. It is referred to as the blanket bog because from a distance it appears to cover and protect the land. Ironically, the bog does protect Ireland's history; archaeologists have found the exploration and research of bogs to be beneficial in acquiring artifacts and fossils from centuries past. Additionally, the bogs offer access to clean water and enable the water supply to be preserved from environmental influences. Bogs also provide a source of fuel for the Irish; the top layer of the bog, referred to as peat or turf once cut, can be recycled and used as a source of fuel. Unfortunately, because it is used as such a valuable resource, the blanket bog is not able to reproduce as quickly as it is being destroyed (www.Wesleyjohnston. com).

In contrast, the raised bogs are found primarily in central Ireland and are a naturally occurring wetland. The raised bogs originally formed after the cessation of the Ice Age at which point many lakes formed throughout central Ireland. As time passed, the lakes became covered with peat and the water supply diminished. However, the raised bogs are still a significant wetland feature in Ireland and much is being done to conserve and preserver these wetlands. (http://www.wesleyjohnston.com).

Industry and Economy

Ireland has had a primarily agricultural and horticultural economy: cattle, sheep, hogs, horses, and poultry as well as wheat, barley, oats, potatoes, hay, turnips, and sugar beet crops. Most of rural Ireland is found in the South Eastern portion of the country. More recently, there has been environmental action taken to preserve these agricultural areas and reforestation programs have been implemented.

Although it is not a significant part of the Irish economy, the fishing industry does play a minute role. Most of the fishing industry exists near the coastal shores of Ireland, however, the inland water regions are known for eel, trout, and salmon. The Irish did not exploit the sea like most Island inhabitants. Perhaps this reverence for the sea, as well as their fear of the unknown, originated

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