(redirected from Ireland (island))
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.


Ireland, Irish Eire (ârˈə) [to it are related the poetic Erin and perhaps the Latin Hibernia], island, 32,598 sq mi (84,429 sq km), second largest of the British Isles. The island is divided into two major political units—Northern Ireland (see Ireland, Northern), which is joined with Great Britain in the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland (see Ireland, Republic of). Of the 32 counties of Ireland, 26 lie in the Republic, and of the four historic provinces, three and part of the fourth are in the Republic.

Geology and Geography

Ireland lies west of the island of Great Britain, from which it is separated by the narrow North Channel, the Irish Sea (which attains a width of 130 mi/209 km), and St. George's Channel. More than a third the size of Britain, the island averages 140 mi (225 km) in width and 225 mi (362 km) in length. A large central plain extending to the Irish Sea between the Mourne Mts. in the north and the mountains of Wicklow in the south is roughly enclosed by a highland rim. The highlands of the north, west, and south, which rise to more than 3,000 ft (914 m), are generally barren, but the central plain is extremely fertile and the climate is temperate and moist, warmed by southwesterly winds. The rains, which are heaviest in the west (some areas have more than 80 in./203 cm annually), are responsible for the brilliant green grass of the “emerald isle,” and for the large stretches of peat bog, a source of valuable fuel. The coastline is irregular, affording many natural harbors. Off the west coast are numerous small islands, including the Aran Islands, the Blasket Islands, Achill, and Clare Island. The interior is dotted with lakes (the most celebrated are the Lakes of Killarney) and wide stretches of river called loughs. The Shannon, the longest of Irish rivers, drains the western plain and widens into the beautiful loughs Allen, Ree, and Derg. The River Liffey empties into Dublin Bay, the Lee into Cork Harbour at Cobh, the Foyle into Lough Royle near Derry, and the Lagan into Belfast Lough.


Ireland to the English Conquest

The earliest evidence of humans in Ireland indicates that they had reached the island some 12,500 years, with more solid evidence for settlement 10,000 years ago. In the several centuries preceding the establishment of the Roman Empire a number of Celtic tribes invaded and conquered Ireland and established their distinctive culture (see Celt), although they do not seem to have come in great numbers. Ancient Irish legend tells of four successive peoples who invaded the country—the Firbolgs, the Fomors, the Tuatha De Danann, and the Milesians. The Romans, who occupied Britain for 400 years, never came to Ireland, and the Anglo-Saxon invaders of Britain, who ultimately established kingdoms over much of what is now England, subjecting or displacing the Celtic population there, did not greatly affect Ireland.

Until the raids of the Norse in the late 8th cent., Ireland remained relatively untouched by foreign incursions and enjoyed the golden age of its culture. The people, Celtic and non-Celtic alike, were organized into clans, or tribes, which in the early period owed allegiance to one of five provincial kings—of Ulster, Munster, Connacht, Leinster, and Meath (now the northern part of Leinster). These kings nominally served the high king of all Ireland at Tara (in Meath). The clans fought constantly among themselves, but despite civil strife, literature and art were held in high respect. Each chief or king kept an official poet (Druid) who preserved the oral traditions of the people. The Gaelic language and culture were extended into Scotland by Irish emigrants in the 5th and 6th cent.

Parts of Ireland had already been Christianized before the arrival of St. Patrick in the 5th cent., but pagan tradition continued to appeal to the imagination of Irish poets even after the complete conversion of the country. The Celtic Christianity of Ireland produced many scholars and missionaries who traveled to England and the Continent, and it attracted students to Irish monasteries, until the 8th cent. perhaps the most brilliant of Europe. St. Columba and St. Columban were among the most famous of Ireland's missionaries. All the arts flourished; Irish illuminated manuscripts were particularly noteworthy. The Book of Kells (see Ceanannus Mór) is especially famous.

The country did not develop a strong central government, however, and it was not united to meet the invasions of the Norse, who settled on the shores of the island late in the 8th cent., establishing trading towns (including Dublin, Waterford, and Limerick) and creating new petty kingdoms. In 1014, at Clontarf, Brian Boru, who had become high king by conquest in 1002, broke the strength of the Norse invaders. There followed a period of 150 years during which Ireland was free from foreign interference but was torn by clan warfare.

Ireland and the English

In the 12th cent., Pope Adrian IV granted overlordship of Ireland to Henry II of England. The English conquest of Ireland was begun by Richard de Clare, 2d earl of Pembroke, known as Strongbow, who intervened in behalf of a claimant to the throne of Leinster; in 1171, Henry himself went to Ireland, temporarily establishing his overlordship there. With this invasion commenced an Anglo-Irish struggle that continued for nearly 800 years.

The English established themselves in Dublin. Roughly a century of warfare ensued as Ireland was divided into English shires ruled from Dublin, the domains of feudal magnates who acknowledged English sovereignty, and the independent Irish kingdoms. Many English intermarried with the Irish and were assimilated into Irish society. In the late 13th cent. the English introduced a parliament in Ireland. In 1315, Edward Bruce of Scotland invaded Ireland and was joined by many Irish kings. Although Bruce was killed in 1318, the English authority in Ireland was weakening, becoming limited to a small district around Dublin known as the Pale; the rest of the country fell into a struggle for power among the ruling Anglo-Irish families and Irish chieftains.

English attention was diverted by the Hundred Years War with France (1337–1453) and the Wars of the Roses (1455–85). However, under Henry VII new interest in the island was aroused by Irish support for Lambert Simnel, a Yorkist pretender to the English throne. To crush this support, Henry sent to Ireland Sir Edward Poynings, who summoned an Irish Parliament at Drogheda and forced it to pass the legislation known as Poynings' Law (1495). These acts provided that future Irish Parliaments and legislation receive prior approval from the English Privy Council. A free Irish Parliament was thus rendered impossible.

The English Reformation under Henry VIII gave rise in England to increased fears of foreign, Catholic invasion; control of Ireland thus became even more imperative. Henry VIII put down a rebellion (1534–37), abolished the monasteries, confiscated lands, and established a Protestant “Church of Ireland” (1537). But since the vast majority of Irish remained Roman Catholic, the seeds of bitter religious contention were added to the already rancorous Anglo-Irish relations. The Irish rebelled three times during the reign of Elizabeth I and were brutally suppressed. Under James I, Ulster was settled by Scottish and English Protestants, and many of the Catholic inhabitants were driven off their lands; thus two sharply antagonistic communities were established.

Another Irish rebellion, begun in 1641 in reaction to the hated rule of Charles I's deputy, Thomas Wentworth, earl of Strafford, was crushed (1649–50) by Oliver Cromwell with the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives. More land was confiscated (and often given to absentee landlords), and more Protestants settled in Ireland. The intractable landlord-tenant problem that plagued Ireland in later centuries can be traced to the English confiscations of the 16th and 17th cent.

Irish Catholics rallied to the cause of James II after his overthrow (1688) in England (see the Glorious Revolution), while the Protestants in Ulster enthusiastically supported William III. At the battle of the Boyne (1690) near Dublin, James and his French allies were defeated by William. The English-controlled Irish Parliament passed harsh Penal Laws designed to keep the Catholic Irish powerless; political equality was also denied to Presbyterians. At the same time English trade policy depressed the economy of Protestant Ireland, causing many so-called Scotch-Irish to emigrate to America. A newly flourishing woolen industry was destroyed when export from Ireland was forbidden.

During the American Revolution, fear of a French invasion of Ireland led Irish Protestants to form (1778–82) the Protestant Volunteer Army. The Protestants, led by Henry Grattan, and even supported by some Catholics, used their military strength to extract concessions for Ireland from Britain. Trade concessions were granted in 1779, and, with the repeal of Poynings' Law (1782), the Irish Parliament had its independence restored. But the Parliament was still chosen undemocratically, and Catholics continued to be denied the right to hold political office.

Another unsuccessful rebellion was staged in 1798 by Wolfe Tone, a Protestant who had formed the Society of United Irishmen and who accepted French aid in the uprising. The reliance on French assistance revived anti-Catholic feeling among the Irish Protestants, who remembered French support of the Jacobite restoration. The rebellion convinced the British prime minister, William Pitt, that the Irish problem could be solved by the adoption of three policies: abolition of the Irish Parliament, legislative union with Britain in a United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and Catholic Emancipation. The first two goals were achieved in 1800, but the opposition of George III and British Protestants prevented the enactment of the Catholic Emancipation Act until 1829, when it was accomplished largely through the efforts of the Irish leader Daniel O'Connell.

Ireland under the Union

After 1829 the Irish representatives in the British Parliament attempted to maintain the Irish question as a major issue in British politics. O'Connell worked to repeal the union with Britain, which was felt to operate to Ireland's disadvantage, and to reform the government in Ireland. Toward the middle of the century, the Irish Land Question grew increasingly urgent. But the Great Potato Famine (1845–49), one of the worst natural disasters in history, dwarfed political developments. During these years blight ruined the potato crop, destroying the staple food of the Irish population; hundreds of thousands perished from hunger and disease. Many thousands of others emigrated; between 1847 and 1854 about 1.6 million went to the United States. The population dropped from an estimated 8.5 million in 1845 to 6.55 million in 1851 (and continued to decline until the 1960s). Exascerbating the situation was the lack of attention given to it in England, whose press scarcely mentioned the famine and whose leaders did almost nothing to alleviate Ireland's suffering. Irish emigrants in America formed the secret Fenian movement, dedicated to Irish independence. In 1869 the British prime minister William Gladstone sponsored an act disestablishing the Protestant “Church of Ireland” and thereby removed one Irish grievance.

In the 1870s, Irish politicians renewed efforts to achieve Home Rule within the union, while in Britain Gladstone and others attempted to solve the Irish problem through land legislation and Home Rule. Gladstone twice submitted Home Rule bills (1886 and 1893) that failed. The proposals alarmed Protestant Ulster, which began to organize against Home Rule. In 1905, Arthur Griffith founded Sinn Féin among Irish Catholics, but for the time being the dominant Irish nationalist group was the Home Rule party of John Redmond.

Home Rule was finally enacted in 1914, with the provision that Ulster could remain in the union for six more years, but the act was suspended for the duration of World War I and never went into effect. In both Ulster and Catholic Ireland militias were formed. The Irish Republican Brotherhood, a descendent of the Fenians, organized a rebellion on Easter Sunday, 1916; although unsuccessful, the rising acquired great propaganda value when the British executed its leaders.

Sinn Fein, linked in the Irish public's mind with the rising and aided by Britain's attempt to apply conscription to Ireland, scored a tremendous victory in the parliamentary elections of 1918. Its members refused to take their seats in Westminster, declared themselves the Dáil Éireann (Irish Assembly), and proclaimed an Irish Republic. The British outlawed both Sinn Fein and the Dáil, which went underground and engaged in guerrilla warfare (1919–21) against local Irish authorities representing the union. The British sent troops, the Black and Tans, who inflamed the situation further.


A new Home Rule bill was enacted in 1920, establishing separate parliaments for Ulster and Catholic Ireland. This was accepted by Ulster, and Northern Ireland was created. The plan was rejected by the Dáil, but in autumn 1921, Prime Minister Lloyd George negotiated with Griffith and Michael Collins of the Dáil a treaty granting Dominion status within the British Empire to Catholic Ireland. The Irish Free State was established in Jan., 1922. A new constitution was ratified in 1937 that terminated Great Britain's sovereignty. In 1948, all semblance of Commonwealth membership ended with the Republic of Ireland Act.

See Ireland, Republic of and Ireland, Northern.


See N. Mansergh, The Irish Question, 1840–1921 (1965); J. C. Beckett, The Making of Modern Ireland, 1603–1921 (1966); K. S. Bottigheimer, Ireland and the Irish (1982); R. Munck, Ireland (1985); R. D. Crotty, Ireland in Crisis (1986); R. F. Foster, Modern Ireland, 1600–1972 (1989); J. Lee, Ireland, 1912–1985 (1989); T. Cahill, How the Irish Saved Civilization (1995); C. C. O'Brien, Religion and Nationalism in Ireland (1995); D. Kiberd, Inventing Ireland (1996); N. Davies, The Isles (2000); H. Kearney, The British Isles: A History of Four Nations (2d ed., 2006); T. Bartlett, Ireland (2010); J. Crowley et al., Atlas of the Great Irish Famine (2012); J. Kelly, The Graves Are Walking: The Great Famine and the Saga of the Irish People (2012); R. F. Foster, Vivid Faces: The Revolutionary Generation in Ireland, 1890–1923 (2015).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



an island in the archipelago of the Britain Isles. On the north, west, and south it is washed by the Atlantic Ocean and in the east by the Irish Sea, as well as by St. George’s Channel and the North Channel, which separate Ireland from the islands of Great Britain. Its area is 84,000 sq km. From north to south it is approximately 450 km long, and from west to east, about 300 km wide. The shoreline in the south, the west, and the north is deeply indented, with bays and numerous coastal islands, most of which are rocky. The interior regions are occupied by the Central Lowland, which extends to the eastern and western coasts. Ireland’s extremities are occupied primarily by low and medium-height mountains and plateaus (Carrantuohill; elevation, 1,041 m). The climate is moderate marine, with mild winters, cool summers, and abundant precipitation. There is a dense network of high-water rivers, such as the Shannon, many lakes (for example, Lough Neagh and Lough Erne), and bogs. Moors and meadows are also typical of the terrain. Most of the island is occupied by the Republic of Ireland. Located in the northeast corner of the island is Northern Ireland.



(Irish Republic; in Irish, Eire, Poblacht na h-Éireann).

Ireland is a Western European state that occupies five-sixths of the island of Ireland. It borders on Northern Ireland, which is a part of the United Kingdom, and it is located on important sea and air routes from Europe to North America. The area of the country is 70,283 sq km, and its population was 2, 971,000 in 1971. The capital is the city of Dublin. Ireland consists of four historical provinces and is divided for administrative purposes into 26 counties (see Table 1). The cities of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Waterford, and Dun Laoghaire are administered as independent units.

Ireland is a republic whose operative constitution was adopted as a result of the plebiscite of July 1, 1937, and went into effect on Dec. 29, 1937. The head of state is the president, who is elected by the people for a seven-year term. The president has the right to convoke and dissolve the lower house of parliament. In addition, he promulgates laws, appoints judges and other high officials, and serves as chief of the armed forces.

The highest legislative body is the parliament, which includes the president and two chambers: the House of Representatives and the Senate. The House of Representatives has 144 members, who are elected by the people under a system of universal suffrage, secret ballot, and proportional representation. The Senate is made up of 60 members, of whom 11 are appointed by the prime minister, six are chosen by National and Dublin universities, and 43 are elected indirectly from special lists. (Candidates are named to these lists by various organizations and associations.) The Senate’s electoral college consists of approximately 900 individuals, including members of the House of Representatives as well as members of the county and county borough councils. Both houses may sit for up to seven years. Citizens who have reached age 21 have the right to vote.

Table 1. Administrative and territorial divisions of Ireland
1 Part of the historical province of Ulster
Historical provincesArea (sq km)Population (1971 census)Principal administrative units (counties)
Connacht......17,100389,800Galway, Leitrim, Mayo,
Roscommon, Sligo
Leinster............19,6001,494,500Dublin, Carlow, Kildare,
Kilkenny, Louth, Laoighis,
Longford, Meath, Offaly,
Wicklow, Wexford,Westmeath
Munster........24,100880,000Kerry, Clare, Cork,
Limerick, Tipperary,
Ulster1.........8,000206,900Donegal, Cavan, Monaghan

Executive power is exercised by the government (administration), which is responsible to the House of Representatives. The prime minister is appointed by the president upon the suggestion of the House of Representatives, and the remaining members of the government are appointed by the president upon the suggestion of the prime minister.

In Ireland the local government bodies are the elected councils of the cities (municipalities) and counties.

Ireland’s judicial system includes courts of the first instance (the High Court, district and municipal courts, and courts of summary justice) and a court of final appeal—the Supreme Court, which also performs certain functions of a constitutional court.


The eastern shores of the Irish Republic are primarily low-lying and smooth, the southern coast is characterized by small bays with numerous rocky capes, and the western shores are of the ria type, with deeply indented bays (for example, the Ken-mare River and Bantry and Dingle bays).

Terrain. More than half of the territory of Ireland (in the center and in the north) is occupied by the Central Lowland (elevation, 40–100 m), with hills and ridges rising above it. It consists primarily of sandstones and limestones covered with morainic deposits. Located in the limestone areas are sinkholes, depressions, caves, and other forms of karst relief, as well as subterranean rivers and lakes. At the island’s extremities there are deeply dissected ridges of low and medium-elevation mountains with old worn down surfaces. Located in the southwest are the highest mountains in Ireland, the mountains of Kerry (Mt. Carrantuohill, 1,041 m).


Geological structure and mineral resources. Almost all of Ireland is located within the northeastern course of the British Caledonian system. It is characterized by a metamorphic zone (crystalline schists, gneisses, migmatites, and granites of the Upper Precambrian series) and a nonmetamorphic zone (sandstones, shales, conglomerates, spilites, and tuffs of the Lower Paleozoic series). In the geosynclinal complexes of northwestern Ireland there are nonconforming orogenic strata from the Devonian and Carboniferous periods (red sandstones, conglomerates, argillite, and carbonate and carboniferous rocks). Mesozoic morainic deposits and Paleocene plateau basalts developed in the northeast. Extending through the extreme south is the Hercynian Zone, which consists of shales and limestones of the Devonian and Carboniferous systems.

Ireland’s mineral resources include large reserves of peat. There are small coal deposits in Upper Paleozoic depressions in Kilkenny and Carlow counties. A postmagmatic deposit of lead and zinc (Shally-Silvermines) is located in the central part of the country. There is a copper pyrite deposit near Avoca, and there are stratified phosphorites in carboniferous limestones.


Climate. Ireland has a moderate marine climate. Unstable cyclonic weather prevails, with frequent showers, fogs, and winds. The winters are mild and without frosts, and the average January temperature ranges from 5° to 8°C. The summers are cool and cloudy, with an average July temperature of 14°–16°C. The total annual precipitation ranges from 700 to 800 mm in the east to between 1,000 and 1,500 mm in the west and to more than 2,000 mm in the mountains. The maximum precipitation occurs during the winter.

Rivers and lakes. Because of the high degree of moisture, a dense network of rivers, lakes, and swamps developed in Ireland. The rivers are at highwater throughout the year, and they do not freeze over. They are used for shipping and for producing electric power. The Shannon, which cuts through most of Ireland from east to west, is the country’s most important river. Most of Ireland’s lakes originate in tectonic-glacier or karst hollows in the Central Lowland. The largest of them are Lough Corrib, Lough Mask, and Lough Ree.

Soils and flora. Peat-bog and heather wastelands and meadows prevail. Associated with acidic peat-bog soils, the peat-bog wastelands are overgrown with cotton grass, whortleberry bushes, sedge, and sphagnum. On sandy soils (often, those with a thick ortstein horizon), heather wastelands are widespread. Common heather prevails on them (in the south, European heather). Under the meadows, acidic podzolic and meadow-podzolic soils have developed. The meadows are used extensively for the pasturing of livestock. Forests of oak, pine, and birch occupy less than 1 percent of Ireland’s territory.

Fauna. Ireland and the nearest continental regions of Western Europe have similar animal life. The species composition has been impoverished because of the island’s isolation as well as the development of animal husbandry, which has led to the destruction of a great number of wild animals.

The best-known natural parks are the Bourn-Vincent, the Phoenix, and the Curragh preserves.

Natural regions. The Central Lowland is characterized by a gently rolling, karst surface, abundant lakes and bogs, and mead-owland and heather. The western coastal region has a sharply indented shoreline and is dissected by low mountains. The climate is moist, and the prevalent vegetation is heather. The eastern coastal region is relatively smooth, with an alternation of medium-elevation mountains and small valleys. There are individual broad-leaved and coniferous forest tracts. The southern hilly coastal region enjoys the country’s mildest climate. Sharply dissected by mountain slopes, it has many short rivers.


Approximately 98 percent of all the inhabitants of Ireland are Irish. National minorities include the English (more then 30,000 persons), the Scots (about 10,000), who live chiefly in the eastern part of the country, and the Jews (about 4,000). The official languages are Irish and English, but the basic conversational language is English. Almost the entire religious part of the population is Catholic. Only a small part of the population is Protestant. The official calendar is the Gregorian.

Between 1841 and 1961 the population of Ireland (within roughly the same borders) decreased by more than half, from 6.5 million to 2.8 million, as a result of emigration caused by the poverty of the working people and the taking of land from the peasants. In the early 1960’s the flow of emigration began to decline, and the population gradually increased. Thus, between 1963 and 1970 the average annual growth rate was 0.5 percent. As of 1970, the labor force totaled 1,134,000, of whom 28 percent were engaged in agriculture and fishing and 30 percent in industry and construction. The average population density in Ireland (42 persons per sq km) is less than one-fifth the density of neighboring Great Britain. The eastern part of Ireland is the most densely populated. Approximately 48 percent of the population lives in the cities. As of 1966, the most important of them were Dublin (population, approximately 700,000, including the suburbs), Cork (122,000), and Limerick (55, 900).


Primitive communal structure and early feudal society (until the end of the 12th century). The appearance of human society on the territory of Ireland dates approximately to the sixth millennium B.C. During the fourth century B.C., Ireland began to be settled by Celtic tribes, which gradually assimilated the pre-Celtic population. The Roman conquest of Britain (first century A.D.) did not affect Ireland. The organizational unit of Ireland’s primitive communal structure was the clan, which continued to play an important role even during the period of the formation of a class society. (Vestiges of clan relations survived until the 19th century.) As early as the first few centuries of the Common Era, the process of social differentiation had resulted in the emergence of an aristocracy and various categories of dependent people, including slaves. Around the third century small territorial groups (tuathd), whose territorial borders initially coincided with the clans, began to develop under the leadership of ris (kings). The first early feudal states were outgrowths of the tuatha. The process of feudalization intensified as a result of the spread of Christianity during the fifth century. Beginning in 795, Ireland was subjected to invasions by the Norsemen. The prolonged struggle against the invaders culminated in the victory by Irish bands led by the ardri (high king) Brian Boramha (Boru) in 1014 at the battle of Clontarf.

Development of feudalism during the period of the assertion of English domination (end of the 12th through the end of the 17th century). The invasion of Irish territory by Anglo-Norman feudal lords between 1169 and 1171 led to the formation in the southeastern coastal region of an English colony, which later became known as the Pale (“boundary”). The conquerors introduced into the colony the manorial system, English laws, division into counties, and a parliament (established in 1297), which originally consisted only of barons and prelates but which subsequently included representatives from the cities. In 1495 under Poynings’ Law, the Parliament of the Pale was made subordinate to the English Parliament and the king of England. The basic mass of the population was transformed into a feudally dependent peasantry. Urban crafts and trade became somewhat more important, but the economic development of the independent part of Ireland (Eireshire) was retarded by the English colonizers’ wars of conquest. Agriculture was badly damaged, and livestock raising became the dominant branch of the economy, imposing a seminomadic way of life on part of the population.

Gradually, particularly from the 14th and 15th centuries, Eireshire was drawn into trade with England as well as with other countries. Despite the prohibition on mixed marriages, an Anglo-Irish aristocracy developed during the colonization of Ireland, which began in the 12th century. English colonization of Ireland increased sharply in the 16th century, and in 1541 the king of England, Henry VIII, was accorded the title of king of Ireland.

English absolutism pursued a course of enforced destruction of the clan system, confiscation of Irish lands (under the pretext of spreading the English Reformation to Ireland), and elimination of the power of the Anglo-Irish aristocracy as well as that of the Irish clan leaders. During the reign of Elizabeth I, English garrisons in Ireland were strengthened, and the colonial administration was reinforced. At the end of the 16th and the beginning of the 17th century the English colonized Munster, Ulster, and part of Leinster, which had not been parts of the Pale. A landlord class of English colonists was formed, and expropriated Irish peasants were transformed into day laborer-cottagers and bound tenants. The colonization policy provoked uprisings led by the clan chieftains Shane O’Neill, Desmond, Tyrone, and Tyrconnel.

An important stage in the colonization of Ireland coincided with the English bourgeois revolution of the mid-17th century. After the suppression of the Irish Uprising of 1641–52, Ireland became an arena for land confiscation and speculation of unprecedented scope. During the 16th and 17th centuries English colonizers acquired approximately six-sevenths of all Irish land. Land plunder and the formation in Ireland of a new English aristocracy, which became the bulwark of counterrevolution in England itself, were of considerable importance in establishing a base for the restoration of the Stuarts (1660). During the Restoration an insurgent struggle developed between the Irish peasants and landless gentry, on one side, and the landlords and colonial authorities on the other. During the coup d’etat of 1688–89 in England, a new Irish rebellion flared up (1688–91), which the English had difficulty in suppressing.

The period of the consolidation and development of capitalist relations under British colonial domination. Under the pretext of combating Catholic conspiracies, British authorities issued a series of punitive laws between the end of the 17th century and the mid-18th century, depriving Irish Catholics (the overwhelming majority of the Irish population) of their political and most of their civil rights and establishing a system of crude national and religious discrimination. The introduction during 1698–99 of high tariff duties on the export of Irish woolen products to England and abroad, as well as other measures by the English colonizers, led to the virtually complete destruction of the sources of cottage industries and handicrafts. Only the production of linen fabrics, wine-making, and the beginnings of cotton production survived. Large-scale manufacturing and factories began to appear in Ireland only at the end of the 18th century. The exploitation of Irish peasants under a system of semiserfdom was made even worse by the imposition of taxes and the payment of tithes to the alien Anglican Church and was the reason for the decline of agriculture.

The spontaneous resistance of the popular masses to colonial and social oppression took sharper and sharper forms. During the 1760’s and the beginning of the 1770’s secret peasant organizations were established (for example, the Whiteboys and the Oakboys—later, the Ribbonmen). Opposition attitudes took hold even in bourgeois circles. The War of Independence in North America (1775–83) and the Great French Revolution gave a powerful impetus to the upsurge in the national liberation movement in Ireland. Under pressure from the growing opposition, the British government was compelled to abolish some of the punitive laws and eliminate certain restrictions on trade and industry. Between 1782 and 1783 the autonomy of the Irish Parliament was established, and a protectionist policy promoted a limited growth of industry in Ireland. The representatives of the left wing of the society of United Irishmen (founded in 1791)—T. Wolfe Tone and E. Fitzgerald—advanced a program of struggle for an independent republic. However, the popular uprising that broke out in 1798 was suppressed. As of Jan. 1, 1801, the parliamentary autonomy of Ireland was eliminated in accordance with the Act of Union. The Irish Parliament was abolished, and Irish representatives received a certain number of seats in the British Parliament.

During the 19th century Ireland was completely converted into an agrarian appendage of the mother country. By 1850 there were 20 textile factories, employing 3,490 workers. Only a little more than 100 km of railroad tracks had been laid by 1846 (the first railroad had been built in 1836). Approximately six-sevenths of the Irish population was engaged in agriculture, in which the exploitation of bondsmen prevailed. About 1 million people perished in the famine of 1845–47. The plundering of the popular masses of Ireland provided one of the sources of capitalist accumulation and industrial growth in Great Britain. Emigration increased significantly and became a constant factor in Ireland’s historical development. (Between 1846 and 1851 approximately 1.5 million people left the country.)

An agrarian revolution began in the mid-1840’s. The decline of grain prices after the abolition of the Corn Laws in Great Britain in 1846 caused landowners to begin an intensive transition from a system of small-scale peasant tenant farming to large-scale animal husbandry. The eviction of small-scale tenant farmers from their lands (the purging of the estates) became an increasingly widespread practice. One of the principal results of the agrarian revolution was the rapid stratification of the peasantry and the emergence of large-scale capitalist farmers. In 1867 there were 8,209,549 acres of land in the hands of 38,800 large-scale tenant farmers, while 565,800 middle and small-scale tenant farmers held only 12,110,375 acres.

During the 1830’s the spontaneous peasant movement became a genuine “war against the tithe.” The working class began to take an increasingly active part in the national movement. Irish trade unions originated during the 1820’s and 1830’s. In 1829 the British government was compelled to grant Irish Catholics eligibility to vote. (At the same time, the property qualifications for voting were increased fivefold.) A movement developed for the repeal of the Anglo-Irish union. In 1840 the Repeal Association was established, within which the more radical Young Ireland group was formed in 1842. The radical elements of the national movement founded the Irish Confederation in 1847, whose revolutionary democratic leaders (J. Mitchel and J. S. Lawlor) called for an armed uprising against British domination, a revolutionary agrarian transformation, and the establishment of an alliance with the Chartists. British authorities suppressed the Irish Uprising of 1848. During the mid-19th century the predominant influence over the Irish national movement was gained by petit bourgeois revolutionaries—the Fenians, whose demands reflected Irish peasants’ protests against their eviction from their lands. In 1869 sections of the First International were established in Ireland.

During the period of Great Britain’s transition to imperialism, Ireland’s importance in the enlarged British colonial empire declined. The country’s economy continued to develop in an extremely one-sided manner, with the greatest growth occurring in food processing. During the general European agrarian crisis of the 1870’s and 1880’s, Ireland suffered a number of poor harvests and famine years, particularly in 1879.

At the center of Ireland’s political life during the 1870’s and 1880’s was the struggle for home rule (self-government within the framework of the British Empire), during which bourgeois liberal elements under I. Butt and later, C. S. Parnell and J. C. Biggar, leaders of the Home Rule League (founded in 1873), formed an alliance with the revolutionary democratic wing of the national liberation movement, led by M. Davitt and J. Devoy. In 1879 the Land League was founded. The broad scope of the peasant movement impelled the liberal advocates of home rule to seek a compromise with British ruling circles. The rejection of bills to grant home rule (1886 and 1893), as well as schism and disorder within the Home Rule Party, resulted in the abandonment of political activity by some of the Irish bourgeois intelligentsia, which instead concentrated its efforts on reviving the Celtic-Irish culture. At the same time, the Irish proletariat began to play an independent and active role. In 1896, J. Connolly founded the Marxist Irish Socialist Republican Party, which remained in existence until 1903.

At the beginning of the 20th century Ireland was increasingly subjected to economic bondage by British finance capital. Belfast shipbuilding, as well as iron and bauxite mining in the northern part of Ireland, fell into the hands of British monopolies. Monopolistic groupings began to be created within the country in urban public works, food processing, and trade. Under the pretext of encouraging tenant farmers to buy lands, new advantages for landowners were introduced (the 1903 law providing for a compulsory monetary bonus to be paid to landowners when their land had been bought).

The Revolution of 1905–07 in Russia promoted an upsurge in the workers’ and national liberation movement in Ireland. Organized in 1905, the Sinn Fein Party united representatives of the petite bourgeoisie and part of the bourgeois class and advocated Ireland’s political and economic independence. The Labour Party, whose leaders pursued a reformist policy, was founded in Ireland in 1912. The Union of Transport and Unskilled Workers became the center of the proletarian strike movement. (Founded in 1909, the union was led by J. Larkin and from 1910, by J. Connolly.) During a massive strike directed by the union in Dublin from August 1913 to January 1914, the so-called Irish Citizen Army—an armed proletarian organization—was created.

The revolutionary situation in Ireland prompted the British Liberal government to propose a new home rule bill, which was rejected three times by the House of Lords between 1912 and 1914. Opposition to home rule by the Conservatives, who claimed to be defending the independence of Protestant Northern Ireland, brought about a constitutional crisis in Ireland and almost led to civil war. With the outbreak of World War I (1914–18) the British government postponed the implementation of the Home Rule law, which had been passed by the House of Commons for the third time in May 1914. Proletarian organizations and part of the Irish petite bourgeoisie were opposed to the imperialist war and attempted to take advantage of Great Britain’s difficulties in order to realize Irish national needs through revolution. However, the Irish Uprising of 1916 was harshly suppressed.

The period of the general crisis of capitalism.THE NATIONAL LIBERATION WAR AGAINST BRITISH IMPERIALISM (1919–21). The victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution had a tremendous influence on the upsurge in the revolutionary struggle in Ireland. Throughout the country a national liberation anti-imperialist war developed between 1919 and 1921, which assumed the character of a bourgeois-democratic revolution. The moving force of this anti-imperialist war was provided by workers, farm laborers, small farmers, the democratic intelligentsia, and office workers.

However, the Irish proletariat still lacked sufficient strength, and without its own revolutionary party it could not lead the struggle. The leaders of the Irish Labour Party and the trade unions followed the Sinn Fein, which came out with general nationalistic and anti-imperialistic slogans. In January 1919, after their victory in elections to the British Parliament, the members of the Sinn Fein openly assembled in Dublin and formed the first Irish Parliament, which proclaimed Ireland’s independence. E. de Valera became the president of Ireland. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) openly engaged in military actions against the British Army and police. In December 1921 a peace treaty was signed between Great Britain and Ireland. Except for the six most industrially developed counties in the northeast, which remained within the United Kingdom, Ireland acquired the status of a dominion (the Irish Free State). Nevertheless, Great Britain retained the right to keep military bases on Irish territory and to receive “redemption” payments for the former holdings of British landlords. Moreover, the position of British capital remained secure. Thus, the settlement ensured Great Britain’s continued exploitation of Ireland in new ways.

DEVELOPMENTS AFTER THE FORMATION OF THE IRISH FREE STATE (UNTIL 1949). The conditions of the Anglo-Irish Treaty provoked the indignation of the great masses of Ireland’s population and caused a split in the Sinn Fein leadership, some of whom (De Valera, C. Brugha, and other republicans) favored continuing the struggle until complete independence was won. The civil war of 1922–23, a continuation of the national liberation war, was directed against the part of the Irish bourgeoisie that had made a deal with the British colonizers. During the civil war the Irish workers and peasants continued the class struggle for workers’ control of production and for the partition of large land holdings. Taking advantage of extensive military and financial aid from Great Britain and of the republican leadership’s lack of desire to support the demands of the popular masses, the dominion government, which consisted of right-wing members of the Sinn Fein, was victorious in the civil war. The bourgeois-democratic revolution in Ireland remained incomplete, for full national independence and economic-political unity had not been attained, and Ireland’s national economy remained bound to the British economy.

The government of W. Cosgrave was in power between 1922 and 1932. It represented the reactionary Cummann na Gaedheal Party (founded in 1923), which expressed the interests of the part of the Irish bourgeoisie that was closely linked with British imperialist capital. A regime of police terror was established throughout the country. The Cosgrave government was inclined toward a policy of maintaining the country’s position as an agrarian appendage of Great Britain. Mass unemployment, which rose particularly during the world economic crisis of 1929–33, emigration, and an acute shortage of land in the countryside were the results of the Cummann na Gaedheal administration. Moreover, Cosgrave’s reactionary policies led to an abrupt sharpening of national and class conflicts. During the years of crisis there was a noticeable upsurge in strikes and in the agrarian movement, and the national bourgeois forces opposing the regime consolidated themselves. The parliamentary elections of January 1932 were won by the Fianna Fáil Party (Soldiers of Destiny, founded in 1926) under the leadership of De Valera. The party represented the interests of the national bourgeoisie. Its platform, which advocated a complete break in the colonial ties binding Ireland to Great Britain and the establishment of a well-developed national economy, assured the Fianna Fail of the support of a considerable portion of the workers, farmers, farm laborers, and intelligentsia.

The De Valera government abolished the parliamentary oath to the British crown and succeeded in removing British naval bases from Ireland. In 1937 a new Irish constitution was adopted, under which the former British dominion became the “sovereign state of Eire,” only nominally connected with Great Britain. The redemption payments for land were allocated to the needs of capitalist industrialization. Under the protection of high tariff duties, a large number of industrial enterprises were constructed with the participation of the state. The power base of industry was considerably strengthened and expanded, and a certain amount of assistance was extended to the small farmers, who were being ruined. The government’s measures to strengthen and regulate the independent national economy evoked the opposition of British imperialism and the reactionary circles in Ireland associated with it. From 1932 through 1938, Great Britain and Ireland carried on a customs war, which was provoked when the British government sharply raised the customs duties on imported Irish agricultural products. At the same time, British capital and the Anglo-Irish capital connected with it retained their important positions in the Irish economy. Agriculture suffered from chronic difficulties, unemployment was not eliminated, and emigration continued.

Having merged with the Center Party, which represented the large-scale farmers, and the fascist Blue Shirt organization (founded in 1932), the Cummann na Gaedheal Party, which was in opposition to the new regime, was reorganized in 1933 as the Party of United Ireland. (It was subsequently renamed the Fine Gael—United Irish Party.) Organized and financed by the Irish big bourgeoisie, the mass fascist movement posed a serious threat to the workers’ movement, to all progressive forces in Ireland, and to the bourgeois parliamentary system. During the summer of 1933 and the autumn of 1934 the Blue Shirts attempted to seize power in Ireland by force and establish a totalitarian regime. Irish fascism was defeated in 1935 by the efforts of all the democratic forces. An important role in this victory was played by the Communist Party of Ireland, which was founded in June 1933 and which united the Communists of Eire and Northern Ireland.

The De Valera government persecuted workers’ and other democratic organizations and suppressed the strike movement. In 1935 many Communists and other progressive figures were arrested, and in 1940 the Communist Party of Eire was forced to cease temporarily its activity on the territory of Eire. (In Northern Ireland the party continued its activity under the name of the Communist Party of Northern Ireland.) The Irish government joined in the condemnation of Italian aggression against Ethiopia (1935–36). Nonetheless although Ireland took part in the work of the so-called Committee for Noninterference in Spanish Affairs during the national revolutionary war and fascist aggression in Spain (1936–39), the De Valera government in fact adopted a position that promoted the unleashing of fascist aggression, and it recognized the Franco regime. At the beginning of World War II (1939–45) the Irish government declared its neutrality, explaining that it was unable to enter into a military alliance with Great Britain, owing to the latter’s domination of part of the territory of Ireland.

DEVELOPMENT AFTER THE PROCLAMATION OF AN INDEPENDENT REPUBLIC (SINCE 1949). After many years of stubborn struggle by the Irish people, Ireland was proclaimed an independent republic in 1949, and its dissociation from the British Commonwealth was announced. Within the country the process of capitalist industrialization with the participation of the state continued. The working class grew considerably. Nevertheless, the traditionally one-sided development of the economy was not entirely overcome. A considerable part of the population was occupied in farming, which was carried on at a low level of agricultural technology and was basically directed at the British market. In the Irish economy, a secure, increasingly strong position is occupied by foreign capital, which controls the largest banks and many of the industrial enterprises. During the 1960’s the penetration of British, American, and West German capital into Ireland increased.

The principal efforts of the Irish government have been aimed at ensuring that Ireland’s entry into the Common Market, which followed that of Great Britain, will raise the country’s economy to a level at which it can be competitive in Western European markets. On this basis a number of five-year economic development programs were launched beginning in 1959. In December 1965 the governments of Ireland and Great Britain signed an agreement providing for the gradual elimination (in the course of ten years) of tariff barriers and the creation of a so-called Anglo-Irish zone. Progressive forces in Ireland are opposed to this agreement, which would in fact lead to the complete subordination of the Irish economy to British monopoly capital. The working classes of Ireland continue to suffer from chronic unemployment in the cities and overpopulation on the farms. (At the beginning of the 1970’s, 7 percent of the labor force was unemployed.) Emigration continues, though on a considerably smaller scale than before.

The Fianna Fail Party has been in power in Ireland during most of the postwar period. The Fine Gael formed governments during 1948–51 and 1954–57. In March 1973 its representatives formed a coalition government with Labour Party representatives. An important achievement for the democratic forces of Ireland was the merging of the central trade unions of the Irish Republic and those of Northern Ireland into a unified Irish Congress of Trade Unions in 1959. A unified Communist Party of Ireland was reestablished at the joint congress of the Irish Workers’ Party (founded in 1948) and the Communist Party of Northern Ireland in March 1970.

Ireland has been a member of the UN since 1955. On a number of occasions, its delegates have spoken out for the resolution of international disputes by means of negotiations, for a lessening of international tensions, and for the adoption of effective disarmament measures. In 1963 the government of Ireland signed the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty and in 1968, the Nuclear Nonprolifera-tion Treaty. In connection with the sharp turn for the worse in the situation in Northern Ireland between the late 1960’s and early 1970’s and especially in response to the repressive measures taken by British authorities against the Irish fighters for civil rights, the government of the Irish Republic has condemned the actions of the British government several times and has advocated a political settlement of the problem of Northern Ireland.


Marx, K., and F. Engels. Sock, 2nd ed., vol. 9, pp. 161–67; vol. 16, pp. 421–26, 459–526; vol. 18, pp. 74–76; vol. 23, pp 709–24; vol. 29, pp. 43-5; vol. 31, pp 336–39; vol. 32, pp. 336–39, 348–49, 530–32.
Arkhiv Marksa i Engel’sa, vol. X. Moscow, 1948.
Lenin, V. I. Poln. sobr. soch, 5th ed., vol. 23, pp. 400–404, 416–18; vol. 24, pp. 365–68; vol. 25, pp. 73–76, 299–307; vol. 30, pp. 52–57.
Saprykin, Iu. M. Angliiskaia kolonizatsiia lrlandii v XVI-nach. XVII vv. Moscow, 1958.
Saprykin, Iu. M. Irlandskoe vosstanie XVII v. Moscow, 1967.
Osipova, T. S. Osvoboditel’naia bor’ba irlandskogo naroda protiv angliiskoi kolonizatsii (vtoraia pol. XVI-nach. XVII v.). Moscow, 1962.
Kerzhentsev, P. M. Irlandiia v bor’be za nezavisimost’, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1936.
Tarle, E. V. Irlandiia ot vosstaniia 1798 g. do agrarnoi reformy nyneshnego ministerstva. Soch, vol. 1. Moscow, 1957.
Cherniak, E. B. Massovoe dvizhenie v Anglii i lrlandii v kon. XVIII-nach XIX v. Moscow, 1962.
Kolpakov, A. D. Irlandiia—ostrov miatezhnyi. Moscow, 1965.
Connolly, J. Rabochii klass v istorii lrlandii. Moscow, 1969. (Translated from English.)
Larkin, Jr., J., and S. Murray. Zhizn’ i bor’ba rabochego klassa i krest’ianstva v lrlandii. Moscow, 1930. (Translated from English.)
Jackson, T. A. Bor’ba lrlandii za nezavisimost’. Moscow, 1930. (Translated from English.)
Fox, R. W. Marx, Engels, and Lenin on Ireland. New York, 1940.
Burke, J. F. Outlines of the Industrial History of Ireland. [Dublin, 1940.]
Curtis, E. A History of Ireland, 4th ed. London, 1942.
Istoriia Anglii i lrlandii: Bibliograficheskii ukazatel’ literatury, izdannoi v SSSR za 1918–1962 gg. Compiled by A. N. Baikova. Moscow, 1963.
Johnston, E. M. Irish History: A Select Bibliography. London, 1969.
L. I. GOL’MAN (before 1918) and A. D. KOLPAKOV (since 1918)

Political parties. The Fine Gael (United Irish Party) was established in 1933. The most right-wing party in Ireland, it represents the interests of the big landowning bourgeoisie and the large-scale farmers. The Irish Labour Party, which was founded in 1912, is a social democratic party that relies on the trade unions. Founded in 1926, the Fianna Fail (Soldiers of Destiny) represents the interests of big industrial and commercial capital and also unites some of the farmers and the intelligentsia. The Sinn Fein (Ourselves Alone) was founded in 1905. It unites representatives of the petite bourgeoisie and the bourgeois intelligentsia and advocates the unification of Ireland. The Communist Party of Ireland was founded in 1933.

Trade unions and other social organizations. The first Irish trade unions were founded during the 1820’s and the 1830’s. Formed in 1959 by the merger of the central unions of the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions unites more than 100 trade unions and more than 30 local trade unions and has more than 600,000 members (1973). The Ireland-USSR Society was founded in 1949.

General state of the economy. Since Ireland gained political independence, its economic structure has made essential progress, although it still depends very heavily on the economy of Great Britain. Ireland has been transformed from a backward agrarian country into an agrarian-industrial country. Industry is developing at a considerably more rapid pace than agriculture (an average of 8–10 percent per year). Between 1958 and 1968 the average annual increase in the gross national product was 4.1 percent; however, by 1970 this pace began to slacken somewhat. From 1938 to 1968 industrial production tripled, and the export of industrial goods doubled. Industrialization, which is absorbing the country’s surplus population, is being achieved by expanding and strengthening the state sector (electrical power production, peat processing, shipbuilding, and petrochemistry), as well as by encouraging the influx of foreign capital, which presently controls about 56 percent of Irish industry. (As of 1971, approximately 60 percent of all the industrial installations built between 1960 and 1970 were owned by foreign capital.) About half of all foreign investments in the Irish economy come from British companies. Considerable investments have also been made in Ireland by American and Western European monopolies. More than one-third of Ireland’s gross national product is exported. Because its domestic market is small, the country needs the British market in order to sell its products. Thus, for example, Ireland exports foodstuffs, beverages, and almost all of its livestock (for fattening) to Great Britain. As of 1970, approximately 30 percent of the gross national product was provided by industry and approximately 15 percent by agriculture. In 1970 there were 42,400 workers without jobs.

Agriculture. More than 40 percent of all agricultural lands and more than 30 percent of the cattle are held by large-scale livestock raisers, who run their farms on a capitalist basis. (Their farms, consisting of holdings of more than 40 hectares [ha], represent 7.4 percent of all Ireland’s farms.) Large-scale capitalist farms play the principal role in commodity production. As of 1966, the most numerous category of small and smallest farms (40 percent of all farms with holdings of less than 2 ha) owned only 6 percent of the farmland and less than one-tenth of the cattle. The number of ruined small farmers grows from year to year. The large farms make extensive use of the labor of landless farmers and those who own very little land. Farm machinery is owned primarily by the large-scale farmers. As of 1969, there were 78,000 tractors (as compared with an average of 15,000 between 1948 and 1952).

More than 70 percent of Ireland’s territory is used for agriculture. As of 1969, of the total 6.9 million ha, 17 percent was being plowed or used for orchards (as compared with 10 percent in 1955), approximately 53 percent was used for pastures and meadows, and about 3 percent was covered with forests and shrubbery. More than three-fourths of the value of the country’s agricultural output is provided by animal husbandry, the most important branch of which is the breeding of cattle. Ireland surpasses all other European countries in the number of horned cattle per capita and in the export of live cattle, and it holds one of the top places in the capitalist world in the export of beef and veal (160,000 tons in 1971). During 1969–70, Ireland had 5.8 million cattle (including 1.6 million cows), about 4 million sheep, 1.1 million pigs and 9.7 million fowl. (See Table 2.)

Table 2. Products of animal husbandry (thousand tons)
1 Annual average2 Average yield, 2,480 kg per cow3 Unwashed/washed wool

To a considerable degree, crop growing serves the needs of animal husbandry. Of the cultivated lands, 30 percent are planted with cereal crops. (See Table 3.)

FISHING. In 1970, 81,000 tons of fish were caught. Among fresh water fish, salmon, trout, and eels are commercially important and among salt water fish, herring, cod, and mackerel.

Table 3. Sown areas (thousand ha) and harvests (thousand tons) of the most important agricultural crops
1 Annual average
Sugar beets.............2460725975

Industry. The principal source of energy is peat. A small amount of anthracite is mined. During the 1960’s, Ireland became outstanding among the capitalist countries of Europe in the mining of polymetallic ores, with mines located in the central part of the country (near Iynagh). The concentrated ore is exported to the Federal Republic of Germany (the FRG), Belgium, and the Netherlands. Pyrites, phosphorites, and bauxites are also mined in Ireland.

In the energy balance petroleum accounts for 45 percent; peat, 25 percent; coal, 20 percent; and hydroelectric power, 10 percent. Only one-third of Ireland’s energy requirements are provided by local resources. As of 1969, about 80 percent of the electric power was furnished by thermoelectric power plants operating primarily on peat. A thermoelectric power plant with a capacity of 300,000 kW was constructed in 1972 on Great Island near the city of Waterford. It was designed to be operated on imported petroleum. Among the functioning hydroelectric power plants the most important is the Ardnacrusha on the Shannon River, with a capacity of 85,000 kW. In County Wicklow construction is under way on an atomic power plant.

In terms of the value of output as well as the number of employees, an important part of the processing industry (about 30 percent in 1968) consists of various branches of the food-processing industry, including meat packing (canned meats), the production of condensed and dry milk, butter, and cheeses, fish canning, flour milling, sugar refining, brewing (the large Guiness Plant in Dublin), and whisky distilling. The leather, textile, and garment industries occupy a significant position in Ireland’s industry. Heavy industry is represented by individual enterprises. Located near Cork is the country’s only ferrous metallurgical plant, Irish Steel Holdings, which is able to meet only about one-third of Ireland’s demand for steel. Shipbuilding is an outstanding branch of machine building. Shipyards and dry docks are located in Dublin and Cork. There are farm machinery plants in Wexford and Dundalk, automobile (over 50,000 units) and tractor assembly shops owned by an American corporation (the Ford Motor Company) in Dublin and Cork, and a plant that makes textile looms in Shannon (a suburb of Limerick). The electrical engineering industry is being developed in Dublin and Cork. Electric household appliances and radios are produced in Limerick, and a chemicals industry (fertilizers and plastics) and a petroleum refinery are being established in Cork. There are also building materials enterprises. (See Table 4.)

Transportation. As of 1967, approximately two-thirds of the domestic freight haulage was done by trucks, 20 percent by ships, and 13 percent by railroad. The country has about 85,000 km of highways. In 1970, more than 2,000 km of railroad tracks were in use (in 1947, 3,900 km). Inland shipping routes are the Shannon River, the Grand Canal, and the Royal Canal. Maritime cargo is carried primarily by British ships. As of 1968, the tonnage of the Irish merchant fleet was only 173,000 gross registered tons. The principal ports are Dublin and Cork. The petroleum port of Bantry Bay is being built near the latter. Dublin Airport is an international air terminal.

Foreign trade. Between 1938 and 1968 the volume of exports increased seven times. In 1969 the export of industrial products exceeded the export of agricultural products for the first time. As of 1970, the chief exports were meat and meat products (18 percent of the value of exports) and livestock (13 percent; in the prewar period livestock accounted for almost half of Ireland’s exports for many years). Other exports include textile goods and clothing (10 percent), machinery and equipment (7 percent), ores and scrap metal (5 percent), and chemicals (4 percent). Ireland’s chief imports were machinery and equipment, including means of transportation (about 28 percent), chemicals (about 10 percent), and textiles, petroleum, and petroleum products. Ireland suffers from a chronic deficit in its balance of trade, which is basically covered by income from foreign tourists (1.8 million in 1970), money sent from emigrants, and other revenues. Of Ireland’s exports, 66.6 percent goes to Great Britain, 10 percent to the USA, and 2.9 percent to the FRG. Great Britain provides 53.4 percent of Ireland’s imports, the USA, 7 percent, and the FRG, 7 percent (1970 figures).

Table 4. Production of principal types of industrial goods
1 1948–52, annual average2 1967
Peat (million tons).......-2.24.72
Coal (thousand tons).........120.0172.0154.0
Electric power (billion kW hrs.)..0.381.05.1
Steel (thousand tons)...........80.0
Lead (thousand tons; by content in concentrates)...58.7
Zinc (thousand tons; by content in concentrates)...97.5
Cement (thousand tons).....109.0444.01,271
Cotton fabrics (million sq m)...7.09.323.0
Woolen fabrics (million sq m)...8.0
Condensed milk (thousand tons)93.01255.0
Dry milk (thousand tons).......3.0154.0
Beer (thousand gallons).........3,727
Sugar (thousand tons)..........152.0
Radio receivers (thousand units)-50103.0
Televisions (thousand units)......87.0

The monetary unit is the Irish pound, which is the equivalent of the British pound sterling.

Internal differences. The capital region of Dublin is the country’s principal industrial region. In the central region (part of the provinces of Leinster and Munster, located east of the Shannon River) animal husbandry prevails. (Also located there are such industrial centers as Drogheda and Dundalk.) The region of Cork is an industrial region that is second only to the Dublin area. The southern region (part of the province of Munster, including the counties of Cork, Limerick, and Kerry) is dominated by dairy and meat animal husbandry and agriculture. However, it also has industrial centers at Limerick and Water-ford. The northern region (the provinces of Connacht and Ulster) is an agricultural region, with an industrial center at Galway.


Streletskaia, L. N. Irlandskaia respublika. Moscow, 1953.
Rabinovich, I. E. Velikobritaniia. Irlandiia. Moscow, 1966.
Encyclopaedia of Ireland. Dublin, 1968.
Statistical Abstract of Ireland. Dublin. (Yearbook.)


Ireland’s armed forces consist of an army, an air force, and a navy. The commander in chief is the president. There is a Council of Defense. The army is made up of volunteers. As of 1972, there were about 9,500 men in the armed forces, including about 8,600 in the army. There are six army brigades, consisting of infantry battalions and other subunits. The weapons are British. Ireland has one officers’ training school. The country’s territory is divided into three military districts (Eastern, Southern, and Western). The air force (approximately 500 men) is part of the army. The navy (about 400 men) has three corvettes.

Medicine and public health. According to data for 1969, the birthrate was 21.5 per 1,000 inhabitants, the total mortality rate was 11.6 per 1,000 inhabitants, and the infant mortality rate was 20.6 per 1,000 live births. The principal causes of death are diseases of the circulatory organs, malignant tumors, diseases of the central nervous system and the respiratory organs, diseases of old age, and tuberculosis.

In 1966 there were 3,000 physicians working in Ireland (one physician per 962 inhabitants), 600 dentists, 1,700 pharmacists, and 16,500 nurses and midwives. There were 273 hospitals with 38,500 beds (13.3 beds per 1,000 inhabitants).


Veterinary services. Because Ireland is an island and because the country has adopted the strictest veterinary and sanitary measures, the most dangerous diseases do not occur among its farm animals. (Foot-and-mouth disease has not appeared since 1941, malignant anthrax, since 1962, hog cholera, since 1958, and tuberculosis of cattle, since 1965.) In addition, recorded cases of infections such as leukosis in poultry, brucellosis in cattle, infectious keratoconjunctivitis and leptospirosis have been noted only sporadically and only in some regions. Certain helminthiases (especially fascioliasis in cattle) are widespread, as are subcutaneous gadflies and certain skin diseases (for example, psoroptosis), all of which cause considerable losses to animal husbandry. As of 1970 there were 1,211 veterinarians in the country.

In 1922 private schools established by religious denominations (Catholic or Protestant) came under the control of the Irish government. Elementary schools began to be administered by the state, while all secondary schools remained private. Education is compulsory for children between ages six and 14. There are no independent preschool institutions, but children between age four and six may attend the preschool divisions of the elementary schools. The elementary schools have a six-year curriculum. Although 90 percent of their financial support comes from the state, the elementary schools are greatly influenced by church organizations. Because most of its population lives in rural areas, Ireland has many one-room elementary schools, in which one teacher conducts all grades, and two-room elementary schools, in which each of two teachers takes two grades. The former account for 17 percent of the total number of schools and the latter for 56 percent. During the academic year 1968–69 there were 497,128 pupils enrolled in 4,260 elementary schools.

Almost all of Ireland’s secondary schools are located in the cities, and fees are charged for instruction. The curriculum, which is five or six years long, is divided into two cycles. The basic cycle (three to four years) culminates in examinations for the intermediate certificate, which grants students the opportunity to enroll in specialized higher institutions. The senior course (two years) prepares the graduating pupils to take examinations on the entire secondary school curriculum. Those who pass are entitled to enroll in higher educational institutions. Secondary school instruction follows traditional academic lines, emphasizing the study of languages (including Latin) and mathematics. During the academic year 1968–69 there were 145,024 pupils enrolled in 601 secondary schools. Secondary schools offering a combination of curricula (for example, academic, technical, and practical) have begun to be established.

Elementary school teachers are trained at four-year state teachers colleges, whose course is based on the elementary curriculum, and at special two-year teachers colleges, whose curriculum is designed to follow that of the incomplete secondary school. During the academic year 1967–68 teachers colleges had an enrollment of 1,893 students. Secondary school teachers are trained at universities. After passing through the general university course, they receive one year specialized pedagogical training.

Ireland’s higher educational institutions are the University of Dublin (Trinity College, founded in 1591) and the National University of Ireland (founded in 1909), which is a federation of university colleges. In the academic year 1968–69 there were more than 18,000 students enrolled in the system of higher education. Fees are charged for instruction.

The largest libraries are the university libraries, the National Library in Dublin (founded in 1877; more than 500,000 volumes), and the Dublin Public Library (more than 850,000 volumes). Located in Dublin are the National Museum of Ireland (founded in 1731), the National Gallery of Ireland (founded in 1864), the Gallery of Modern Art, and the Civic Museum (founded in 1953).


The oldest scientific institutions of Ireland are the Royal Dublin Society, founded in 1731 to promote the development of agriculture, industry, science, and art, and the Royal Irish Academy, which was founded in 1786. Among the institutions established in the 19th century are the Royal Zoological Society (1830), the Dublin University Biological Association (1874), and the Royal Academy of Medicine (1882). Scientific institutions established in the 20th century include the Irish Astronomical Society (1937) and the Institute of Chemistry of Ireland (1950).

In 1974 there were more than 70 newspapers and journals published in Ireland in Irish and English. Among the most important English-language newspapers are The Irish Press (1931; circulation, more than 95,000), The Sunday Press (1949; circulation, 434, 300), and the Evening Press (1954; circulation 152,000), all of which are close to the leadership of the Fianna Fáil Party. (All figures in this section date from 1974.) Catholic newspapers include the Irish Independent (1905; circulation, 175, 200) and the Sunday Independent (1905; circulation, 349, 300). Other newspapers published in English are the Evening Herald (1891; circulation, 139, 400) and The Irish Times (1859; circulation 69, 400). The journal of the Communist Party of Ireland is the Irish Socialist Review, the first issue of which came out in December 1969. Among the newspapers published in Irish are Iris Oifigiuil, an official government publication founded around 1922, and Inniu, founded in 1943. The largest provincial newspaper is the Cork Examiner, which is published in English. Founded in 1841, it has a circulation of 63, 100.

The Irish Features Agency, a news agency, is located in Dublin. The first radio broadcast in Ireland was made in January 1926, and television broadcasts began in December 1961. Radio and televion are supervised by the state board on radio and television broadcasting, Radio Telefis Eireann. Broadcasts are conducted in Irish and English.


Literature has developed in both Irish and English. The heroic epic, with the central figure of Cuchulain, originated during the first few centuries of the Common Era and dominated the oral tradition for several centuries. Although it was first written down in the eighth and ninth centuries, the oldest surviving copies date from the 12th century. The epic of Cuchulain takes the form of rather brief prose sagas, with the exception of the Táin Bó Cúailnge (The Cattle Raid of Cooley). Poetic inserts are generally of later origin. Of interest are the mythological sagas, as well as the Fenian saga cycle that originated no earlier than the ninth century and tells of a fearless joyful host and of the poet Ossian. During the Middle Ages the poetry of the bards attained a high level. In the 13th and 14th centuries an especially large number of bards came from the O’Dalaigh clan (for example, Donough Mor, Muireadhach Albanach, and Geoffrey Fionn). The English colonization of Ireland, which began in the 12th century, had a devastating effect on literature. However, despite the harshly punitive laws directed at eliminating Ireland’s independent culture, the prohibition of the Irish language, and the destruction of manuscripts, Irish literature continued to develop.

Between the 16th and 18th centuries radical changes occurred in Irish history and literature. The patriotic theme prevailed in both secular and religious literature. In the poem “The Fall of Gael” the poet-warrior F. O’Naiv, who had taken part in the uprisings of the 1560’s, addressed the feeling of national worth among Irishmen, summoning them to unity. At the end of the 16th century tragic notes became more noticeable in poetry. The exile G. Nugent’s song “Farewell, Ireland,” which was written in the form of a folk lament, is imbued with the theme of farewell to the motherland, which subsequently became one of the leading motifs in Irish poetry. Elegaic motifs permeate E. O’Hussey’s “Ode to the Maguire,” in which the poet laments a clan leader. During the 17th century old manuscripts that were threatened with destruction were gathered and copied. The multivolume Annals of the Four Masters (1632–36) was based on this work. In his History of Ireland (c. 1640) the poet, historian, and theologian G. Keating (15707–1646?) described his native land during the time when it had been independent.

The works of D. O’Bruadair (16257–98) and E. O’Rahilly (1670–1726) reflected the crisis of aristocratic poetry. Poets from various undefined ranks emerged, whose works focused on everyday events, including the toil of the peasants. The poetry of the bards declined with the decline of the clans, although classical traditions were still strong during the first half of the 18th century (for example, in the creative art of T. O’Carolan, 1670–1738). The 18th century saw the completion of a reform in poetry that had begun as early as the 16th century with a break from the traditional poetics of the bards. Reflected in the creative work of O. R. O’Sullivan (1748–75) were the moods of the peasant masses, their way of life, and their national and religious self-awareness. In the narrative poem The Midnight Court (1780), B. Merriman (17477–1805) parodied the classical genre of the aisling (“vision”) and gave allegorical expression to a protest against the enslavers. A militant spirit permeates the poetry written during the upsurge in the national liberation movement (for example, the poem “Kathleen ni Houlihan” by W. Heffernan, 1720–1803). Many poets and publicists, including T. Dermody (1775–1802), W. Drennan (1754–1820), and J. Orr (1770–1816), were associated with the society known as the United Irishmen, which had assimilated the ideas of the Great French Revolution. A picture of revolutionary Europe is given in the Autobiography and the Diaries of T. Wolfe Tone (1763–98), one of the leaders of the uprising of 1798.

Since the end of the 18th century an increasing proportion of Irish literature has been written in English. Its development, however, has closely followed Irish literary traditions and folklore. For many 19th- and 20th-century poets, translating works from Irish into English became a means of mastering the national imagery. Irish Melodies (1807–34) by T. Moore (1776–1852) provides many vivid examples of romantic lyricism. The revolutionary character of Irish romanticism, which flourished during the 1840’s, was determined by its link with the national-liberation movement. Progressive writers such as T. Davis (1814–45) and J. C. Mangan (1803–49) formed a group around the journal The Nation. The patriotic ballad, which was often based on the motifs of ancient poetry, became the most popular genre. In prose the historical novel became a common form (G. Griffin, 1803–40, and J. Banim, 1798–1842), as did the family novel of everyday life (Maria Edgeworth, 1767–1849). The peasant theme prevailed in the short stories and novels of W. Carleton (1794—1869), whose works reflected the tragic aspect of Irish reality.

The cultural movement of the end of the 19th century—the Irish Renaissance—achieved considerable success in poetry and drama. Its inspirational leader was W. B. Yeats (1865–1939). In the creative work of G. Russell (1867–1935), J. Stephens (1882–1950), Isabella A. Gregory (1852–1932), P. Colum (1881–1972), and J. Campbell (1879–1944), an interest in national mythology and history, as well as in folk art, prevailed. The plays of J. M. Synge (1871–1909) represent a major stage in the development of realism in Irish literature.

The poets P. Pearse (1879–1916), T. MacDonagh (1878–1916), and J. Plunkett (1887–1916), all of whom were executed by British authorities, were among the participants in the Irish Uprising of 1916, which determined the subsequent path of Ireland’s literary development. During the revolutionary upsurge, the heroism of the struggle and protest against the cruel oppressors was expressed in the creative work of Yeats, Stephens, and Russell.

A special place in Irish literature is occupied by Shaw (1856–1950), an English writer who was by origin an Irishman. He perceived the limited quality of the Irish national liberation movement, which was divorced from the contemporary social movement (for example, the play John Bull’s Other Island, 1907). J. Joyce (1882–1941) created vivid pictures of Irish life in The Dubliners (1914) and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916). The novel Ulysses (1922), in which Joyce departed from realism, described the crisis of bourgeois civilization in a modernistic literary form.

During the 1920’s and 1930’s prominence was achieved by writers who were participants in the national liberation movement, which was the leading theme of their creative work. Among these writers were S. O’Casey (1880–1964), P. O’Don-nell (born in 1896), F. O’Connor (1903–66), S. O’Faolain (born in 1900), L. O’Flaherty (born in 1897), and J. Phelan (1895–1960). Attention to the class contradictions within the national liberation movement contributed to the emergence of the social novel (for example, O’Donnell’s We Will Yet Overcome, 1930; O’Faolain’s A Nest of Simple Folk, 1933; and L. O’Flaherty’s Famine, 1937). In his plays and his six-volume autobiographical epic (the first volume was entitled I Knock at the Door [1939] and the sixth Sunset and Evening Star [1954]), O’Casey realistically presented conditions in Ireland, the poetic image of which is an assertion of the socialist ideal.

The rejection of nationalistic ideas and attention to social problems characterized the literature of the late 1950’s and 1960’s. A comparison of modern Ireland with the ideals of the national revolution is the subject of the dramas of B. Behan (1923–1964) and P. Galvin (born in 1925). In the poetry of P. Kavanagh (1905–67), E. Milne (born in 1903), and J. Montague (born in 1929) social motifs resound. Many of the poems in the collections Flight to Africa (1963) and Old-fashioned Pilgrimage (1967) by A. Clarke (born in 1896) satirically depict life in Ireland. The social aspect of the national liberation struggle prevails in the epic poem The Battle of Aughrim (1968) by R. Murphy (born in 1927) and in the poems of S. Heaney (born in 1930). A feeling of the dissatisfaction, helplessness, and loneliness of modern man is conveyed in the short stories and novels of Mary Lavin (born in 1912), O’Connor, O’Faolain, Edna O’Brien (born in 1932), M. Wall (born in 1908), J. McGahern (born in 1935), A. Higgins (born in 1933), and J. Banville (born in 1946).

Although they endure terrible experiences, the heroes of the short stories and novels of W. Macken (1915–68) preserve their will to live. In the novel The Hungry Grass (1969), R. Power (born in 1928) attempts to reveal the contemporary contradictions in the nation’s development by comparing Ireland’s past with its present. In the novel Strumpet City (1969), J. Plunkett (born in 1920) endeavors to explain the social basis of the cataclysms shaking modern Ireland, which are expressions of religious and nationalistic antagonism. J. Carrick’s novel With O’Leary in the Grave (1971) is one of the first echoes of the struggle for civil rights in Northern Ireland.


Aleksina, L. M. “Idei natsional’no-osvoboditel’noi bor’by v irlandskoi poezii XVI-XVII vv.” Trudy Leningradskogo gos. bibliotechnogo in-ta im N. K. Krupskoi, 1963, vol. 14.
Smirnov, A. A. “Drevneirlandskii epos.” In Iz istoriizapadno-evropeiskoi literatury. Moscow-Leningrad, 1965.
Sarukhanian, A. P. “K voprosu ob anglo-irlandskikh literaturnykh svia-ziakh XVIII-XIX vv.” In Iz istorii literaturnykh sviazei XIX v. Moscow, 1962.
Sarukhanian A. P. “Tema natsional’no-osvoboditel’nogo dvizheniia v irlandskoi literature 30-kh gg.” In Zarubezhnaia literatura, 30-e gody XX veka. Moscow, 1969.
Gwynn, S. Irish Literature and Drama in the English Language. London [1936].
Flanagan, T. The Irish Novelists. 1800–1850. New York, 1959.
O’Connor, F. A Short History of Irish Literature. New York, 1967.
Power, P. C. The Story of Anglo-Irish Poetry, 1800–1922. Cork, 1967.
Hyde, D. A Literary History of Ireland, 2nd ed. London, 1967.
Hogan, R. After the Irish Renaissance. Minneapolis, 1967.
Blacam, A. de. A First Book of Irish Literature, 2nd ed. New York-London, 1970.


Dating back to the Bronze Age are dolmens and cromlechs, burial mounds with funeral chambers, and bronze and gold ornaments with geometric decoration. During the Iron Age (from the fifth through the fourth century B.C.) the Celts decorated their metal artifacts with complex linear designs. After Ireland’s conversion to Christianity (from the fifth through the 12th century) monasteries with chapels, cells, and bell towers up to 40 m high were built in such places as Glendalough and Kells. A decorative richness and energy of woven, ribbonlike ornamentation characterize even the stone crosses, which often had thematic reliefs, as well as bronze brooches, croziers, plates (with enamel, filagrees, and animal motifs), and, particularly, miniatures. Splendid in their dynamism, variety, and colorfulness, the miniatures ornamented the pages of manuscripts (for example, The Book of Kells, c. 800; now in Trinity College, Dublin). During the 11th and 12th centuries, Romanesque chapels were built (for example, in Cashel County). Although they were primitive in composition, they were sometimes elegantly decorated with sculpture. Romanesque churches were also erected, including the cathedrals at Clonmacnois and Clonfert. From the end of the 12th century through the 14th century, Gothic cathedrals such as Christ Church and St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin were built, most of them with a single nave and a tower above the transept.

English colonization retarded the development of Irish art. From the 17th through the beginning of the 19th century official administrative buildings, palaces, and private homes were built in Dublin in the style of English classicism by the architects W. Robinson, W. Chambers, T. Cooley, J. Gandon, and F. Johnson. From 1829 churches were designed in the spirit of the English neo-Gothic style. In the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century districts of standardized buildings in an eclectic style were constructed in port cities.

Irish artists of the 18th century, including the portraitists C. Jervas, N. Hone the Elder, H. D. Hamilton, the landscape painter G. Barret, and T. Barker, the creator of the first panorama, worked primarily in England. Beginning in the 1840’s the struggle for national self-determination stimulated a striving for realism and originality in N. Hone the Younger’s lyric landscapes as well as in W. Osborne’s urban and genre scenes. At the beginning of the 20th century a national realistic school developed, whose works are represented by portraits by John B. Yeats, P. Tuohy, J. Keating, and C. Lamb, as well as by landscapes by J. H. Craig and P. Henry. Jack B. Yeats’ temper-mental, romantic painting reflected the variety in the lives of the Irish people.

Under the Irish Republic a number of modern architectural complexes have been built (the works of the architects M. Scott and T. Kennedy in Dublin and Galway), as well as industrial and transportation facilities and settlements. However, outdated urban construction and planning continue to prevail in Irish architecture. In addition to realistic traditions in painting (the landscapes of N. McGuiness, D. Hill, and D. O’Neill) and sculpture (busts by L. Campbell, A. O’Connor, and F. McWil-liam), a decorative stylization has become widespread (L. Le-Brocquy, M. Jellett, and stained glass by E. Hone), as have numerous varieties of modernism.

The traditional Irish dwelling is built of crude, plastered and whitewashed stone and is roofed with straw. Characteristic folk arts and handicrafts are woven woolen goods, such as shawls with motley fringes, embroidery in bright woolen threads against a dark background, smooth white linen, wooden utensils, and various products woven of straw and reeds.


Henry, F. Irish Art During the Viking Invasions (800–1020 A.D.). London [1967].
Arnold, B. A Concise History of Irish Art. London [1969]

Irish sagas contain traces of the choral singing and polyphony that were common among the Celtic tribes. However, the surviving examples of Irish folk music are monophonic, based on seven-step diatonic scales. The rhythm and meter of Irish music are linked to the accentuation and assonance of Irish folk verse. Irish folk songs (love, ceremonial, work, and joke songs) are characterized by a long melodic line, symmetrical structure and, for the most part, a three-beat measure. Melodies with original five- and seven-beat rhythms are also encountered. The harmonic system of Irish folk music was determined by the series of notes on the harp and the bagpipes—the folk instruments of Ireland. The harp was used to accompany the songs of the bards. Harpists also performed in competitions at fairs and village festivals. Among the dances known since the 14th century are Irish varieties of the jig, reel, hornpipe, and set dance.

The music folklore of Ireland reflects the people’s age-old liberation struggle against British domination. The patriotic theme has resounded in Irish songs since the 14th century. (Later, during the 18th and 19th centuries, revolutionary songs of resistance were created.) Although they retarded the development of the Irish national culture, the English conquerers brought to Ireland their own highly developed church music. By the end of the 16th century, organs had been installed in city churches, and polyphonic religious music began to be composed and performed in Ireland. At the same time, the palaces of the feudal lords became centers of music culture, whose development was furthered during the 16th and 17th centuries by the first professional composers and harpists. Among them were Rory Dall O’Catháin, J. and H. Scott, Caroll O’Daly, T. Con-nellan, and W. Connellan, all of whom were composers of love songs and of melodies for the harp. Another early composer— the bard T. O’Carolan (end of the 17th to the beginning of the 18th century)—wrote many dance melodies.

With the assertion of British economic and political domination in the mid-17th century, the Irish aristocracy turned increasingly to the musical practice of the British aristocracy. Irish bards and harpists, whose artistry had ceased to correspond to courtly tastes, abandoned refined, poetic-musical forms and turned to the traditions of folk poetry and music, thus democratizing their art. The simplification of the musical idiom facilitated the spread of songs and dances among the urban population of Ireland. Guilds of “shop” musicians were formed. At the same time, the instrumental music of the harpists, which was based on the old harmonic system of folk music, began to seem archaic and lost its popularity. During the 18th and 19th centuries, however, the originality of the old-fashioned music of the Irish harpists attracted musicians in Great Britain and on the Continent, and performances of the romantic folk ballads, with their sharply expressed themes, became popular. Traditional Irish harp music was used by British composers in 18th-century ballad operas, and it was rearranged by Beethoven.

Among Ireland’s outstanding musicians in the 18th century were the composer and harpist D. Murphy, who gave concerts in France and other European countries; the singer and composer M. Kelly; and the pianist and composer J. Field, who lived in Russia for many years and who created the nocturne, a new genre of piano music. During the 19th century, the country’s most distinguished musician was the opera composer and singer M. Balfe, and during the 20th century its most outstanding musicians were the composers C. Stanford and A. Bax, who worked in Great Britain. A great deal of Irish music folklore was reflected in the creative work of the British composer E. J. Moeran. Contemporary Ireland has not produced any famous musicians.

Music education is provided in the Irish Academy of Music (a conservatory founded in Dublin in 1856). The music centers are Dublin and Cork, which have symphony orchestras, choral groups, and music societies. In 1963 the Irish National Opera Company was founded in Dublin.


Henebry, R. A Handbook of Irish Music. Cork, 1928.
Music in Ireland: A Symposium. Oxford, 1952.
The Royal Irish Academy of Music: 1856–1956, Dublin, 1956.
O’Sullivan, D. Songs of the Irish. New York, 1960.


From pagan times the people of Ireland have practiced the art of oral poetry and the declamatory skill of the poet-storyteller, which determined the aesthetic principles of the Irish national theater. In Dublin during the 16th century English guilds staged productions of mystery plays, and beginning in the 17th century theaters were established for the English aristocracy. The development of a national art in Ireland was retarded by British authorities.

At the end of the 19th century, as a result of the movement to develop a national culture (the Irish Renaissance), which is associated with the activity of the Gaelic League, Yeats and Gregory founded the Irish Literary Theater in Dublin (1899–1901). In 1901 the theater merged with an amateur group and was renamed the Irish National Dramatic Society; it later became a permanent establishment in Dublin—the Abbey Theater. In 1922 the Dramatic League was founded. In 1929 E. Hilton and M. Mac Liammoir organized a theater in Dublin, where the innovative methods and devices of the contemporary theater were affirmed. Between 1928 and 1931 productions were staged in Gaelic at a theater in Galway. Since 1939, productions in Gaelic have been staged at the Abbey Theater as well.


Gvozdev, A. A. “Irlandskii teatr.” Iskusstvo i zhizn’, 1940, no. 6.
Mac Liammoir, M. Theatre in Ireland. Dublin, 1950.
Fay, G. The Abbey Theatre: Cradle of Genius. Dublin, 1958.
Malone, A. The Irish Drama. [London, 1965.]
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Official name: Ireland

Capital city: Dublin

Internet country code: .ie

Flag description: Three equal vertical bands of green (hoist side), white, and orange

National anthem: “The Soldier’s Song” by Peadar Kearney

National emblem: Harp

Geographical description: Western Europe, occupying five-sixths of the island of Ireland in the North Atlantic Ocean, west of Great Britain

Total area: 27,136 sq. mi. (70,282 sq. km.)

Climate: Temperate maritime; modified by North Atlantic Current; mild winters, cool summers; consistently humid; overcast about half the time

Nationality: noun: Irishman(men), Irishwoman(women), Irish (collective plural); adjective: Irish

Population: 4,109,086 (July 2007 CIA est.)

Ethnic groups: Celtic, English

Languages spoken: English (official), Irish (or Gaelic, also official)

Religions: Roman Catholic 88.4%, Church of Ireland 3%, other Christian 1.6%, Muslim, 1%, Jewish 0.1%, other, unspecified, or none 8.35%

Legal Holidays:

August HolidayAug 1, 2011; Aug 6, 2012; Aug 5, 2013; Aug 4, 2014; Aug 3, 2015; Aug 1, 2016; Aug 7, 2017; Aug 6, 2018; Aug 5, 2019; Aug 3, 2020; Aug 2, 2021; Aug 1, 2022; Aug 7, 2023
Christmas DayDec 25
Easter MondayApr 25, 2011; Apr 9, 2012; Apr 1, 2013; Apr 21, 2014; Apr 6, 2015; Mar 28, 2016; Apr 17, 2017; Apr 2, 2018; Apr 22, 2019; Apr 13, 2020; Apr 5, 2021; Apr 18, 2022; Apr 10, 2023
June HolidayJun 6, 2011; Jun 4, 2012; Jun 3, 2013; Jun 2, 2014; Jun 1, 2015; Jun 6, 2016; Jun 5, 2017; Jun 4, 2018; Jun 3, 2019; Jun 1, 2020; Jun 7, 2021; Jun 6, 2022; Jun 5, 2023
May Day HolidayMay 2, 2011; May 7, 2012; May 6, 2013; May 5, 2014; May 4, 2015; May 2, 2016; May 1, 2017; May 7, 2018; May 6, 2019; May 4, 2020; May 3, 2021; May 2, 2022; May 1, 2023
New Year's DayJan 1
October HolidayOct 31, 2011; Oct 29, 2012; Oct 28, 2013; Oct 27, 2014; Oct 26, 2015; Oct 31, 2016; Oct 30, 2017; Oct 29, 2018; Oct 28, 2019; Oct 26, 2020; Oct 25, 2021; Oct 31, 2022; Oct 30, 2023
St. Patrick's DayMar 17
St. Stephen's DayDec 26
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.


John (Nicholson). 1879--1962, English composer, esp of songs


1. an island off NW Europe: part of the British Isles, separated from Britain by the North Channel, the Irish Sea, and St George's Channel; contains large areas of peat bog, with mountains that rise over 900 m (3000 ft.) in the southwest and several large lakes. It was conquered by England in the 16th and early 17th centuries and ruled as a dependency until 1801, when it was united with Great Britain until its division in 1921 into the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland
2. Republic of Ireland a republic in NW Europe occupying most of Ireland: established as the Irish Free State (a British dominion) in 1921 and declared a republic in 1949; joined the European Community (now the European Union) in 1973. Official languages: Irish (Gaelic) and English. Currency: euro. Capital: Dublin. Pop.: 3 999 000 (2004 est.). Area: 70 285 sq. km (27 137 sq.miles)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005