Culture and History
Around 300 BC several Celtic families moved to Ireland, eventually bringing the Celtic language to the island. At the time there were a multitude of smaller kingdoms and principalities in Ireland, until Christianity came in the early 5th century from the Roman province of Britain. Among these Christians was also Patrick of Ireland, who is celebrated today as Ireland's national hero on St. Patrick's Day. By the forays of the Vikings around 800 AD, the Catholic flowering period was interrupted on Ireland. It was followed by further conquests by the Normans, Anglo-Normans and Scots.
Around 1600’s the first settlers of the English crown came to the northeast of the island. In 1801, Ireland, by the Act of Union, joined the Kingdom of Great Britain, therefore Ireland belonged not only to the United Kingdom, but also to the British Commonwealth. A potato crop failure, which sparked the Great Famine, the largest and most severe famine in Ireland between 1846 and 1849, eventually drove the nation into an active independence movement, as many Irish had felt abandoned by the British crown. During the famine, the Irish population shrank from 8.5 million inhabitants to six million inhabitants.
After some uprisings and protests, the Irish Free State, the predecessor of today's Republic of Ireland, was eventually founded on 6 December 1921. In 1949, Ireland resigned from the Commonwealth and has since been referred to as the Republic of Ireland. However, a part of the Irish wanted to remain in the United Kingdom: The six northern counties of Ulster formed in 1922 Northern Ireland and remain to this day part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Time and again there were tensions and conflicts between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Since 2005, the situation there has calmed and stabilized.
The core displays of local culture take place mainly in the major cities of Ireland, such as Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick). In Ireland, there are relatively small centers. Outside the cities, everyday life is largely dominated by agriculture and fisheries. Irish traditions also include Irish folk. The native music finds many classical instruments such as the flute, the fiddle (violin) and the harp. The local dance goes hand in hand with Irish music. Formation dances, tap dancing and set dance enjoy great popularity in Ireland and also have a centuries-old tradition. Some important writers are from Ireland, for example the world famous authors George Bernhard Shaw, James Joyce and Oscar Wilde.
- Bloomsday - commemoration and celebration of the life of Irish writer James Joyce, observed annually in Dublin and elsewhere on 16 June.
- St. Patrick’s Day - cultural and religious celebration held on 17 March, the traditional death date of Saint Patrick (AD 385–461), the primary patron saint of Ireland.
- Kilkenny Arts Festival - founded in 1974 by a collaboration of classical music enthusiasts. It was inclusive of many art-forms, other than the classical. Today it includes theatre, dance, the visual arts and crafts, as well as all forms of music and literature.
- Dublin Horse Show: The show events were divided into two main areas, presentation of horses and show jumping. The showing classes are a major showcase of the best of the Irish horse. Some classes are restricted to Irish-bred horses.
Saint Patrick’s Day, which falls on March 17th, is the most recognized local Irish holiday. May Day, is the first Monday of May, essentially it is a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland. It is a traditional Celtic festival and a time to campaign for workers’ rights. St Stephens Day, held on December 26th, is an occasion to commemorate the life of St Stephen, a Christian martyr; many people spend the day quietly with close friends or family. Just to name some of the main national holidays.
The Irish are not really known for their cuisine. This is partly due to the history of the country, which has been hit several times by famine. The most famous and worst famine took place between 1846 and 1851. Today’s Irish cuisine is very similar to British cuisine, including a traditional Irish breakfast such as bacon, sausage, stir-fry or fried egg, potato pancakes, mushrooms, baked beans and roasted tomatoes with toast. Also very popular are scones and tea with milk. Classically, a lot of stew is eaten in Ireland. Traditional soups are vegetable, chicken and beef soup. Where the Irish lack in cooking they more than make up for with their large repertoire of drinks: The most famous Irish drink is probably the Guinness beer, which is drunk in the local pubs. Ireland is also home to famous Irish whiskeys as well as scotch, cider and ale.