Cities in IRELAND
The Republic of Ireland (officially: Republic of Ireland and in Irish: Poblacht Na h'Éireann or Éire for short), is an island located to the west of Great Britain. In addition to the Republic of Ireland, the island also consists of Northern Ireland or Ulster, which belongs to the United Kingdom. The Irish Sea lies between Ireland and Great Britain, and Ireland is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean.
The central part of Ireland has an undulating landscape and is surrounded by an edge of mountains and hills. This part of Ireland is dotted with lakes and lakes including Lough Corrib and Lough Neagh, the largest lake in Ireland and Great Britain combined. It is also the most fertile part of the country.
Here you will also find the “bogs”, extensive peat areas. On the east coast are dunes and the emptyest and cleanest sandy beaches in Europe. The west coast is very irregularly shaped, with deep coves, high rocks and perpendicular cliffs. The highest "mountain" in Ireland is the Carrantuohill in the western county of Kerry, and is approximately 1040 meters high. A wide belt of small steep hills runs through the north, the “drumlins”.
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The longest river is the Shannon (370 km), which runs through the center of Ireland. The most famous islands in Ireland are the Aran Islands which are located in the Galway Bay on the west coast. Due to the shape and size of the island, no point on the island is more than 100 kilometers from the sea af.
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Ireland has a moderate, mild maritime climate. The influence of the Warm Gulf Stream is to blame for this. That is why Ireland does not have warm summers and severe winters. The temperature ranges from about 5 °C in January and February to about 15 °C in July and August. Because it is a fairly small island, there are only minor differences between the various parts of the country. The island is strongly influenced by low pressure areas migrating across the ocean to the European mainland; especially along the west coast it can often be very windy. The average annual rainfall across Ireland is large (approx. 1100 mm). The largest quantities fall along the west coast (1500-2000 mm in the extreme southwest). The capital Dublin is located in the driest zone of the country at approximately 750 mm. The number of days with precipitation is large, as is the average number of rain hours (700-1000 per year). More than half of Ireland's territory has an average of 225 rainy days per year. In the summer there is an average of about twelve days of rain. It can rain for days on end, but it can also be sunny weather for weeks. The least precipitation falls in the spring; the driest months are May and June. In general, snow rarely falls and frost days are also quite rare.
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Ireland is also known as the "green island" because of the many shades of green that dominate the island. Ireland is a country with few forests. Only 5% of Ireland is covered with forest, mostly planted softwood. In a distant past, much of Ireland was covered by forests, but over-grazing and logging between the 16th and 18th centuries led to widespread deforestation. Up to three meters high fuchsia hedges can be seen in the south. Palms, magnolias and strawberry trees even grow in sheltered places. Rhododendron is very common in Ireland. The flora of the Burren, a limestone plateau, is special. Alpine flora and Mediterranean flora grow here. In Ireland we also find elder bushes, honeysuckle, hawthorn, roses and the striking gorse. Orchids are mainly found in the dunes. The peatland is mainly covered with cranberries, peat mosses and heather.
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As a result of the long ice cover during the Pleistocene, most native animals have become extinct. Furthermore, there was no major immigration from mainland Europe, as Ireland was separated from Britain even earlier than the continent. The animal world is therefore poor; for example, all snakes, the mole, polecat and weasel, woodpecker, the dormouse and vole and the wild boar are missing. There is only one shrew species. There are still some small predators, including fox, badger and otter, ermine and the rare pine marten. Red deer are found in the southwest, deer in the northwest.
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The bird world shows more diversity. Several hundred species live in and around Ireland. Thousands of gannets nest on two rocky islands on the west coast, the Skelligs. Large colonies of razorbills, guillemots, cormorants, gulls and petrels are found along the coast and on the many islands. In winter many birds from Europe, the Arctic, Greenland, Iceland and Canada hibernate. You can see swans, geese, lapwings and godwits.
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The only reptile is the viviparous lizard; there are only two types of amphibians. Fish are numerous, both in the fresh water of the interior and in the sea surrounding Ireland. Ireland is a paradise for anglers. Salmon, trout and pike in rivers and inland waterways and in coastal waters include cod, mackerel herring, smelt, sharks and rays. Porpoises, dolphins and seals can also be observed off the coasts. Ireland has nearly 40 botanical and ornithological nature reserves, as well as freshwater fish reserves.
Small groups of hunters settled in Ireland about 6,000 BC. Flint weapons and tools have been found on the north and east coast in particular. In the late Stone Age (from 3000 BC) other peoples invaded Ireland from the Mediterranean and the Atlantic coast. They practiced agriculture, kept animals and erected many megalithic tombs.
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The Bronze Age lasted from about 2000 BC. to 500 BC. Many weapons, tools and (including gold) jewelery from that period can still be seen in the National Museum in Dublin. From the fifth century BC. The Celts from Spain, France and southern Germany invaded Ireland in waves. They had iron weapons and, among other things, had little trouble submitting to the native population. The Celts spoke an Indo-European language, the basis for Irish or Gaelic. The Celts live according to the clan system. About 150 small kingdoms (tuatha) headed by a supreme king (Ard Rí). The Celtic people were divided into three classes, the free (warriors), the unfree (including druids, musicians and poets) and slaves. Celtic society had no scripture but had a highly regarded storytelling culture. The Romans left the Celts alone, which allowed the Celtic culture to flourish. The fall of the Roman Empire, from the third AD onwards, led to a period also known as the “Golden Age”. St. Patrick came to Ireland in 432 and converted all of Ireland within a few decades. St. Patrick and his followers founded churches and monasteries everywhere and also introduced the Latin alphabet. Due to the problems in mainland Europe (including the migration of people) it was relatively quiet in Ireland. Many scholars and monastic orders fled to Ireland, so that arts and science flourished.
The art of writing and illustrating reached a very high level; the Book of Kells is one of the most beautifully illustrated manuscripts from that period. The Golden Age came to an end with the Viking raids. The monasteries in particular were looted. Along the coast, trading posts were established by the Vikings from which later cities such as Dublin, Waterford and Cork emerged. They also introduced the money economy. In 1014, the Vikings were defeated at Clontarf. After this, the country fragmented and fell prey to mutual disputes. One of those deposed kings enlisted the help of Anglo-Norman troops (England and Normandy were joined by a personal union at the time), which began an almost 800-year domination of the English. The Irish obviously resisted the occupiers fiercely, and the Anglo-Normans failed to really subdue the Irish. On the contrary, the Anglo-Normans were more or less absorbed in the Irish people, using names and language. In the fifteenth century, large parts of Ireland were therefore dominated by the FitzGeralds from Kildare, an Anglo-Norman family. A major change began with the departure of Henry VIII from the Catholic Church. Henry put himself at the head of his own Anglican church, which of course he also wanted to import into Ireland. However, the Irish refused and remained Catholic, even when Henry closed monasteries and forbade the priesthood. After the lost uprising of 1534, Ireland was divided into 32 counties in 1540, a division that still exists today.
In the course of the sixteenth century, the Tudor princes Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elisabeth I subdued all of Ireland and the Celtic order slowly went under. In 1558, Elisabeth I forbade the celebration of Holy Mass, after which the Catholic Church went underground. Ulster, Northern Ireland, resisted most of the policies of Elisabeth I. A three-year uprising followed, but was lost. As a result, many Irish leaders fled to mainland Europe, the “Flight of the Earls”. At that time Ireland was completely dominated by the English. The six northern counties were taken over by Scottish and English Protestants, much to the anger of the Catholic Irish. Here, in fact, the dichotomy of Northern Ireland began, which has caused many problems to this day.
In 1641, the Irish revolted against the English who were brutally crushed by Oliver Cromwell, who came to power in England after a civil war. Tens of thousands of Irish people died. In 1660, the monarchy recovered in England and the Irish regained hope of reparation. However, James II was succeeded by the Protestant Willem III (van Oranje) who restored Protestant superiority after the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. The small group of Protestants did not feel safe from the large mass of Catholics who lived in extreme poverty.
18e en 19e eeuw
The Penal Laws were introduced between 1695 and 1705, which deprived Catholic Irish of almost all their rights. In response, many Irish immigrated to the United States. The Irish who stayed tried to preserve Irish culture underground. In 1778, the Penal Laws were somewhat softened, partly because England waged several wars and was afraid of a major uprising in Ireland. A parliament, albeit made up of Protestants, was even installed.
The ideals of the French Revolution in 1789 led to the creation of the United Irishmen by Theobald Wolfe Tone. They strived for an independent Irish Republic with equal rights for Protestants and Catholics. In 1794 such organizations were banned by the English. In the north, on the other hand, the Protestants wanted nothing more than to stay with England. The Orange Order and the English that still exist today suppressed an attempt at Revolution in 1798 by Tone. The Act of Union of 1800 reversed limited Irish self-government and incorporated Ireland as a whole into the United Kingdom. This would last until 1921. In the 19th century, the Catholic Church recovered somewhat, culminating in the taking of a seat in the English Parliament by Catholic David O'Connell.
Between 1845 and 1847, Ireland suffered hunger from three successive failed potato harvests (Great Famine). One and a half million Irish died of starvation or epidemics. One and a half million Irish people emigrated, particularly to the United States and Australia. The British government offered hardly any help, on the contrary: exports of grain, meat and dairy products to England continued. In 1872, the Irish tenants gained slightly more rights by the introduction of secret elections. However, they did not think that was enough and founded the Land League. Action was taken everywhere and this eventually led to the abolition of the lease system. Attempts to gain self-government, called Home Rule, have failed for the time being.
In the early 20th century, various political (militant) movements such as Sinn Féin (We Only), the Irish Socialist Republican Party and the Irish Citizen Army were established, all of which showed strong nationalist traits. In 1912, the House of Commons adopted the Home Rule Bill. However, due to a veto from the House of Lords, this was canceled. The Northern Irish Orange men looked with dismay at Irish nationalism and even founded their own army, the Ulster Volunteers. Civil war seemed to be breaking out when the nationalists (Irish Republican Brotherhood) also set up their own army, the Irish Volunteers. However, the outbreak of World War I changed everything. Hundreds of thousands of Irish fought on the Allied side and thought they could claim the right to self-government as a kind of reward. However, the Irish Republican Brotherhood saw an opportunity to establish self-government precisely in the British weakness. All this led to an uprising in Dublin in 1916. Due to poor organization, the Easter uprising quickly came to an end. The English sent a small army and executed 14 rebel leaders.
Éamon de Valera, Sinn Féin foreman, survived because he had an American passport. The 1917 parliamentary elections were won by Sinn Féin. However, the elected representatives did not take their seat in Westminster, but met in Dublin. Under the leadership of De Valera, the declaration of independence of the Easter uprising was signed.
The British sent a paramilitary police force to Ireland and fought a bitter battle with the Irish Republic Army (IRA), which was established in 1919. In July 1919, an armistice was concluded. After negotiations, Ireland gained free state status in the British Commonwealth in 1921. They were even allowed to conduct their own foreign policy. The land was divided in two; the six northern counties (Ulster) remained connected to the United Kingdom, the remaining 26 counties forming the Irish Free State. The treaty did cause a split within the IRA. The Republicans of Irregulars led by De Valera did not agree. It led to a bloody civil war won in 1923 by the supporters of the treaty. In 1926 De Valera founded a new party, the Fianna Faíl. This party won the 1932 elections and De Valera became prime minister. The United Kingdom was in a constitutional crisis in 1934 after Edward VIII resigned. De Valera and parliament passed a new law that ousted the British king as head of state. At that time, Ireland became a sovereign state within the Commonwealth. Douglas Hyde was elected the first president in 1938. Ireland remained officially neutral during the Second World War, although De Valera and the IRA could not be denied any pro-German (and therefore anti-English) sentiments. In 1948, the government of De Valera was relieved by a coalition of which Fine Gael was the largest party. This government declared Ireland a republic in 1949, leaving the Commonwealth of Nations. With Prime Minister Seán Lemass taking office, things were going in the right direction economically. Foreign companies were brought in through favorable location regulations and low tax rates. Agriculture benefited in particular from its accession to the European Union in 1973. Due to the crisis in the 1980s, unemployment rose rapidly (up to 19% of the labor force), and 300,000 people left the country.
The 1990 parliamentary election was surprisingly won by Mary Robinson. September 1997, Mary Robinson stepped down as president and was succeeded by Mary McAleese. On the Northern Ireland issue, a peace agreement was signed in 1998 between Ireland, Northern Ireland and Great Britain. One of the provisions was that the claims in the territory of Northern Ireland would be removed from the Constitution.
National elections were held in Ireland in May 2002. The governing parties, Fianna Fail (FF) and Progressive Democrats (PD) have emerged victorious and have again formed a center-right government that, compared to the previous period, can now count on a majority (88 seats out of 166) in the Dáil Éireann. Bertie Ahern was rewarded for a five-year term of government that included the greatest increase in prosperity in the state's existence. The largest opposition party (Fine Gael) suffered a loss and Labor remained unchanged, against expectations. The more pronounced opposition parties on the left, however, have done well. Sinn Fein (SF from 1 to 5 seats) and the Green Party both won. Furthermore, an unprecedentedly large number (13) of independent candidates were chosen, usually on one specific issue (such as health care).
The elections to the European Parliament on June 3, 2004, with a turnout of 61.0%, did not go well for the ruling party, the FF: 31.7%, a decrease of 7.2% compared to the elections of 1999. The junior partner PD did slightly better with a profit of 1%. The winner was the Sinn Fein, the IRA's political arm that raised its voting share to 8.1%, almost doubling it.
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In the summer of 2004, after the biggest electoral defeat for decades in the local elections and the elections to the European Parliament, which were so disappointing for Fianna Fail, it became clear that a policy change of course, together with a change in the ministerial team, was inevitable to build the confidence of to win back the voters. On September 29, 2004, Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, announced eleven changes to his cabinet. The most notable reappointments as minister were those of Brian Cowen (formerly Secretary of State) for Finance, Mary Harney for Public Health and the appointment of Dermot Ahern as the new Secretary of State.
New presidential elections were due to take place in October 2004, but as popular incumbent President Mary McAleese was the only candidate, it was not a vote. She was inaugurated for a second term on 11 November 2004. President McAleese, self from Northern Ireland, sees herself as President of all Irish. The head of government has been Brian Cowan since May 2008. In June 2008, Ireland decided in a referendum against a new European treaty. In October 2008, Ireland became the first country in Western Europe to go into recession, and in February 2009 more than 100,000 Irish people protested against the way the government is fighting the economic crisis. In October 2009, the Irish vote in a new referendum for the Lisbon Treaty.
On November 11, 2011, Michael Higging becomes the new President of Ireland. In February 2013 Prime Minister Enda Kenny apologized for the role that the Irish state played in the Magdalena Laundries. Here girls who "got into trouble" were exploited. Ireland will be back on its own feet in economic terms in December 2013 and will no longer need EU support. In April 2014, President Michael Higgins made the first ever state visit to Britain. In May 2015, the Irish vote in a referendum for same-sex marriage. In the February 2016 elections, the coalition loses the majority, but Fine Gaele remains the largest party. In April 2016, Kenny formed a minority coalition with Fianna Fail.
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In May 2017 announces his resignation after a scandal raised by a police whistleblower. In June he is succeeded by fellow party member and Leo Varadkar. In june 2020 Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael form a coalition with the Green Party, after the closely-fought February election put the left-wing republican Sinn Féin party in second place.
Since 1841, the population has declined almost continuously due to the famine of 1846 and emigration to the United States in particular. In 1841, 6.5 million Irishmen still lived on the island. In 1900 about 4.5 million, in 1915 about 4 million and in 1961 the lowest point was reached. The population had fallen to 2.8 million. The number of inhabitants grew again from 1961. There are 5,011,102 people living in Ireland in 2017. The average number of inhabitants per km2 is approximately 72. The Dublin metropolitan area is home to approximately a quarter of the total population, ie just over 1.1 million. Important cities are also Cork (190,000 inhabitants), Limerick (65,000), Galway (55,000) and Waterford (48,000).
The countryside has become increasingly depopulated due to strong emigration. 63.8% of the Irish therefore live in cities. In the 1980s many Irish immigrated to Great Britain in particular due to high unemployment and the poor economic situation (average 19,000 per year). In total, about 50,000 Irish people emigrate abroad each year. Significantly, there are more people of Irish descent living in the United States than in Ireland itself. Increased prosperity brought a record number of immigrants (22,800) to Ireland in 1998. Half of them were Irish returning to Ireland. A special group are the itinerants or travelers (also called Tinkers), a tramps people, but no gypsies. They are descendants of the poor farmers who were driven off their land by the English Landlords. The famine of 1846 also forced many Irish people to look for food. The descendants of this group also still roam and keep alive with doing chores and selling tin and copper objects. Ireland's symbols are the harp and three-leaf clover (shamrock).
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English is the official language of Ireland. The very different Irish (Gaelic), the old Celtic language, is still a compulsory subject in primary school. Irish is related to Scottish Gaelic, Welsh and Breton. Irish is still the working language in some regions and communities. Such regions are called "The Gaeltacht". About 70,000 people in seven Gaeltachts still master Irish.
Until the sixteenth century people still spoke generally Irish, after which the English forbidden to speak Irish. The great famine and mass emigration disrupted rural Irish life and with it the Irish language. Moreover, if one wanted to achieve anything in England-dominated Ireland, one had to learn to speak and write English. At present, both nationalists and tourism organizations believe that maintaining the Irish language is of great importance. Irish is easier to write than to speak. The pronunciation differs greatly from the spelling. To illustrate the major difference between English and Irish, here are the first lines of the Irish national anthem, "The soldiers song", in the two languages:
Soldiers are we, whose lives are pledged to Ireland.
some have come from a land beyond the sea.
Sinne Fianna Fáil, atá faoi gheall ag Eirinn.
Buion dár slua thar toinn do ráinig chughainn.
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The vast majority of the Irish population is Roman Catholic. A very small minority are Protestants. Protestants and Roman Catholics live here peacefully side by side, unlike in Northern Ireland. Ireland is still very Catholic not only in theory, but also in practice. Many Irish still go to church at least once a week. Ireland has several popular pilgrimage sites such as the town of Knock, the Croagh Patrick and Slemish mountains and Station Island in Lough Derg. In the Irish Republic, approximately 95% of the population is Roman Catholic, 3.6% Anglican, 0.7% Presbyterian, and 0.1% Jewish. Formally, church and state have been separated since 1973, but the influence of the church on public life is still great. For example, it has only been possible for couples to officially divorce since 1995. The church also continues to play an important role in education. Many schools are financed by the Church. However, the influence on young people has become less and less in recent years. Ireland (Republic and Ulster) is one ecclesiastical province with four archdioceses and 22 dioceses.
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Ireland has been a parliamentary democratic republic since the new 1937 constitution. The president, the head of state, is elected for seven years in direct elections. The Irish Parliament (Oireachtas) consists of the Seanad (Upper House or Senate) and the Dáil Éireann (Lower House or House of Representatives). The Seanad consists of 60 members and the Dáil Éireann of 166 members. The Dáil is directly elected by the people and is therefore the most important. There is universal suffrage for all citizens aged eighteen and older. The regions are governed by the so-called county council. The county council is responsible for, among other things, road construction, health care, housing and benefits. Furthermore, the county council takes the place of the city councils in the mostly small towns. For the current political situation see chapter history.
Children are of school age from six to fifteen years old. They can start primary education from the fourth year. Secondary education lasts five years and takes place in four types of schools. These are schools for general secondary education, state school communities, middle schools and vocational schools. Secondary education is divided into a first phase of three years and a phase of two years. After the first phase, you will receive an intermediate diploma (Intermediate Certificate), after the second phase, the final diploma (Learning Certificate). If you have a Learning Certificate with good grades, you can study at the University of Dublin or the National University of Ireland with offices in Galway, Dublin and Cork. Dublin et al. also have a number of technical colleges.
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Trinity College is the oldest university in Ireland. The university was founded by Queen Elizabeth I in 1592 and existed 400 years in 1992. The university site has a total area of 40 hectares.
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Due to a lack of its own industries, minerals and its isolated location, Ireland was economically lagging behind most other countries of the European Union for a long time. In recent years, however, Ireland has experienced tremendous economic growth and unemployment has fallen significantly. It also leads to strong export growth. Foreign companies were lured to Ireland because of low wages, favorable tax rates and establishment premiums. In 1995, about 1000 foreign companies were established in Ireland. Another important factor in the development of the Irish economy is the large-scale financial aid from the European Union, especially for agriculture. Tourism is also an increasingly important source of income.
However, Ireland experienced a period of high economic growth in the 1990s (an average annual economic growth of 9.9% was achieved in the period 1995-2000), making Ireland the second richest country in 2006 of the EU (after Luxembourg) and the fourth richest country in the world (after Luxembourg, Norway and the United States). Ireland was known as the Celtic Tiger in the 1990s, a term referring to the Asian Tigers, who previously experienced similarly spectacular growth. In the 21st century, the economy has plummeted again. Ireland has been hit by the credit crunch. With shrinkage in the beginning and in 2011,2012 and 2013 very little economic growth of 2.2%, 0.2 and 0.6% respectively. Meanwhile, things are going a lot better with growth. In 2017 this was 7.2%. Ireland's GDP is among the highest in the world, reaching $ 73,200 per capita in 2017.
Agriculture, livestock and fishing
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Agriculture has been one of the main pillars of the Irish economy. Milk production and export meat in particular make a lot of money. In addition, potatoes, sugar beets, barley and wheat are grown. Sheep are generally kept in the highlands. Two-thirds of farms are small or very small, and therefore focus on self-sufficiency. The large companies are particularly specialized in beef cattle. For a long time, fishing was concentrated on salmon exports. In recent years, sea fishing has again become an albeit modest source of income. They include mackerel, cod, herring, plaice and haddock. At present there are ± 10,000 people working in the fishing industry.
Accession to the European Union and EU agricultural policy has led to specialization and intensification, especially in the fertile east and south of Ireland. This not only lost employment, but also sharpened the contrast with the extensive sheep farming in the west and northwest. The sector contributes 1.2% to GDP. 5% of the population works in the sector. (2017)
Industry and Mining
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The main industries in Ireland are the food and beverage, steel and mechanical engineering industries. Rapid growers are computers, pharmaceuticals and electronics. Glass industry and textile industry also play an important role. Dublin and Galway are the main industrial centers. Ireland has been a major producer of lead zinc ore with a high silver content since 1970. Furthermore, one also mines gypsum, limestone and sulfur and copper ore. A lot of peat is still being extracted for industrial and domestic use. Petroleum and natural gas are extracted off the southwestern coast. The sector contributes 38.6% to GDP. 11% of the population works in the sector. (2017)
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The export of medicines tops the export rankings. Other important export products are dairy products, meat, clothing, yarns, chemicals, computers and machines. Imports are mainly fuels, food, technical equipment and petroleum. Great Britain, the United States, Germany, France and the Netherlands are the main trading partners. The main import and export ports are Dublin and Cork.
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The services sector is the major growth sector of the Irish economy. Financial and business services are very high for a country like Ireland. Many international companies have also established their consumer services for the European market in Ireland. The sector contributes 60.2% to GDP and 84% of the population also works in the sector. (2017)
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Only the larger towns are connected by railways. Secondary lines cannot be made profitable in sparsely populated Ireland. However, the railways are of great importance for freight transport. Bus services have an important share in passenger transport. Inland waterway transport, on the other hand, is of little economic importance. Maritime transport with Great Britain and the European mainland is increasing rapidly, especially in the tourist season. International airports are located near Dublin, Shannon and Cork. Ireland has its own airline, Aer Lingus-Irish International Airlines.
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Dublin has a number of interesting museums. For example, Dublinia provides an overview of medieval Dublin in the period 1170-1540. The National Gallery of Ireland has the largest painting collection in the country, approximately 2,000 paintings, including work by the Irish School. The Dublin Writers' Museum highlights the life and work of George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett, James Joyce and Jonathan Swift, among others. Examples of beautiful architecture include the Georgian Marrion Square, the Bank of Ireland and the General Post Office. Notable are Kilmainham Goal, an old prison. Furthermore, the catacombs of St. Michan's Church, where mummified human bodies can be seen. For children there is the Dublin Zoo and a city tour.
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The eastern coast of South East Ireland has beautiful long sandy beaches. The southern coast is dotted with rocks, bays, fishing villages and small beaches. Several long-distance paths and cycle routes run through this part of Ireland. In addition, there is plenty of fish-rich water for sport fishermen. Kilkenny, the most beautiful medieval city, and Ennis Corthy are very worthwhile. There are many monasteries, castles, manors and churches. The Glendalough Valley has eighteen medieval religious monuments. Bray is one of the oldest seaside resorts in Ireland. Near Maynooth is St. Patrick's College, one of the largest seminars in the world. Kildare is the center of Irish racing and trotting. Irish National Heritage Park, a historic open-air museum, is located in Ferrycarrig near Wexford. Churchtown lighthouse is said to be the oldest in the world, at least 1,600 years old. Dunmor Cave is a stalactite cave formed 25 million years ago. St. Patrick's Rock, near Cashel, is home to one of Ireland's most beautiful Romanesque churches. The Viking & Medieval Heritage Museum in Waterford displays important finds from the Viking era.
Most tourists flock to the counties of Cork and Kerry. These counties are characterized by the jagged coast, beautiful walking and cycling routes and subtropical vegetation. Furthermore, many castles, abbeys and fortresses. The Cork Public Museum pays great attention to the Irish freedom struggle against the English. An internationally renowned jazz festival is held in late September and a film festival in October focusing on black and white films and documentaries. Dursey Island can only be visited via a cable car. Many tourists hike or drive through the Gap of Dunloe, a six-kilometer long gorge carved out by a glacier. A very popular car route is the Ring of Kerry. Special boat trips are organized in Dingle to view the harbor dolphin Fungi. Dunbeg Fort is a preserved Iron Age fort. A notable attraction is Geraldine Tralee in Tralee, the capital of Kerry. Here you can take a mini train through a “real” medieval city with tramps, musicians, drunks and old crafts.
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Western Ireland is also one of the favorite holiday destinations with beautiful landscapes, beautiful beaches, walking and cycling routes and many historical sites. There is a special museum in Limerick, the National Self Portrait Collection with a collection of self-portraits of mainly Irish artists. Near Cratloe is the Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, which shows, among other things, rural life in the nineteenth century. The Cliffs of Moher rise perpendicularly 200 meters from the sea, and that over a width of eight kilometers, very impressive. Lisdoonvarna is Ireland's only spa. The Burren has been a national park since 1991 and somewhat resembles a lunar landscape. Galway is best known for its many festivals. In July, the eleven-day Galway Arts Festival takes place with many performances in the field of theater, visual arts, literature and music. Life and work of the famous Irish poet William Butler Yeats can be seen in Thoor Ballylee, a sixteenth century tower house. The Connemara region is of breathtaking beauty. Connemara National Park consists of heather, grassland, forests, peat and mountains. The wild orchids also stand out. The Aran Islands are located at the entrance of the Galway Bay. Dún Aengus, a prehistoric fortress, is situated on a cliff edge. Also very impressive is the Conor Fort, located on a rock wall above a small valley.
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The northwest is not often visited by tourists from Europe and America, partly due to its location near Northern Ireland. Croagh Patrick is a sacred mountain and therefore a place of pilgrimage. Achill Island is Ireland in miniature: it has beaches, rocks, lakes, hills and mountains. Knock is also a well-known pilgrimage site. Strokestown houses the Famine Museum, which focuses on the Great Famine that struck nineteenth-century Ireland. Prehistoric graves can be found near Castlebaldwin. Yeats town of Sligo is home to the Yeats Memorial Museum and the Yeats Memorial Building. Forty prehistoric stone funerary monuments lie on the Knocknarea peninsula.
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North East Ireland is not as spectacular in landscape as the rest of Ireland. Nevertheless, it is still a popular tourist destination. The burial mounds of Dowth, Knowth and Newgrange are on the UNESCO list of world monuments. The National Center of Environment provides a lot of information about everything that has to do with the environment. Dundalk's history since 1750 can be seen at the County Museum.
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