Irish people
Overview
 
The Irish people are an ethnic group
Ethnic group
An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy...

 who originate in Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

, an island in northwestern Europe. Ireland has been populated for around 9,000 years (according to archaeological studies, see Prehistoric Ireland
Prehistoric Ireland
The prehistory of Ireland has been pieced together from archaeological and genetic evidence; it begins with the first evidence of Mesolithic hunter-gatherers settling in Ireland around 7000 BC and finishes with the start of the historical record, around AD 400. The prehistoric period covers the...

), with the Irish people's earliest ancestors recorded having legends of being descended from groups such as the Nemedians, Fomorians
Fomorians
In Irish mythology, the Fomoire are a semi-divine race said to have inhabited Ireland in ancient times. They may have once been believed to be the beings who preceded the gods, similar to the Greek Titans. It has been suggested that they represent the gods of chaos and wild nature, as opposed to...

, Fir Bolg
Fir Bolg
In Irish mythology the Fir Bolg were one of the races that inhabited the island of Ireland prior to the arrival of the Tuatha Dé Danann.-Mythology:...

, Tuatha Dé Danann
Tuatha Dé Danann
The Tuatha Dé Danann are a race of people in Irish mythology. In the invasions tradition which begins with the Lebor Gabála Érenn, they are the fifth group to settle Ireland, conquering the island from the Fir Bolg....

 and the Milesians
Milesians (Irish)
Milesians are a people figuring in Irish mythology. The descendants of Míl Espáine, they were the final inhabitants of Ireland, and were believed to represent the Goidelic Celts.-Myth:...

.

The main groups that interacted with the Irish in the Middle Ages include the Picts
Picts
The Picts were a group of Late Iron Age and Early Mediaeval people living in what is now eastern and northern Scotland. There is an association with the distribution of brochs, place names beginning 'Pit-', for instance Pitlochry, and Pictish stones. They are recorded from before the Roman conquest...

, Scots
Scottish people
The Scottish people , or Scots, are a nation and ethnic group native to Scotland. Historically they emerged from an amalgamation of the Picts and Gaels, incorporating neighbouring Britons to the south as well as invading Germanic peoples such as the Anglo-Saxons and the Norse.In modern use,...

 (themselves of Irish origin), and the Vikings.
Discussions
Encyclopedia
The Irish people are an ethnic group
Ethnic group
An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy...

 who originate in Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

, an island in northwestern Europe. Ireland has been populated for around 9,000 years (according to archaeological studies, see Prehistoric Ireland
Prehistoric Ireland
The prehistory of Ireland has been pieced together from archaeological and genetic evidence; it begins with the first evidence of Mesolithic hunter-gatherers settling in Ireland around 7000 BC and finishes with the start of the historical record, around AD 400. The prehistoric period covers the...

), with the Irish people's earliest ancestors recorded having legends of being descended from groups such as the Nemedians, Fomorians
Fomorians
In Irish mythology, the Fomoire are a semi-divine race said to have inhabited Ireland in ancient times. They may have once been believed to be the beings who preceded the gods, similar to the Greek Titans. It has been suggested that they represent the gods of chaos and wild nature, as opposed to...

, Fir Bolg
Fir Bolg
In Irish mythology the Fir Bolg were one of the races that inhabited the island of Ireland prior to the arrival of the Tuatha Dé Danann.-Mythology:...

, Tuatha Dé Danann
Tuatha Dé Danann
The Tuatha Dé Danann are a race of people in Irish mythology. In the invasions tradition which begins with the Lebor Gabála Érenn, they are the fifth group to settle Ireland, conquering the island from the Fir Bolg....

 and the Milesians
Milesians (Irish)
Milesians are a people figuring in Irish mythology. The descendants of Míl Espáine, they were the final inhabitants of Ireland, and were believed to represent the Goidelic Celts.-Myth:...

.

The main groups that interacted with the Irish in the Middle Ages include the Picts
Picts
The Picts were a group of Late Iron Age and Early Mediaeval people living in what is now eastern and northern Scotland. There is an association with the distribution of brochs, place names beginning 'Pit-', for instance Pitlochry, and Pictish stones. They are recorded from before the Roman conquest...

, Scots
Scottish people
The Scottish people , or Scots, are a nation and ethnic group native to Scotland. Historically they emerged from an amalgamation of the Picts and Gaels, incorporating neighbouring Britons to the south as well as invading Germanic peoples such as the Anglo-Saxons and the Norse.In modern use,...

 (themselves of Irish origin), and the Vikings. Due to this contact, Icelanders
Icelanders
Icelanders are a Scandinavian ethnic group and a nation, native to Iceland.On 17 June 1944, when an Icelandic republic was founded the Icelanders became independent from the Danish monarchy. The language spoken is Icelandic, a North Germanic language, and Lutheranism is the predominant religion...

 are noted for having some Irish descent. The Anglo-Norman
Anglo-Norman
The Anglo-Normans were mainly the descendants of the Normans who ruled England following the Norman conquest by William the Conqueror in 1066. A small number of Normans were already settled in England prior to the conquest...

 invasion of the High Middle Ages, the English plantations and the subsequent English rule of the country introduced the Normans
Normans
The Normans were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a region in northern France. They were descended from Norse Viking conquerors of the territory and the native population of Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock...

 and Flemish
Flemish people
The Flemings or Flemish are the Dutch-speaking inhabitants of Belgium, where they are mostly found in the northern region of Flanders. They are one of two principal cultural-linguistic groups in Belgium, the other being the French-speaking Walloons...

 into Ireland. Welsh
Welsh people
The Welsh people are an ethnic group and nation associated with Wales and the Welsh language.John Davies argues that the origin of the "Welsh nation" can be traced to the late 4th and early 5th centuries, following the Roman departure from Britain, although Brythonic Celtic languages seem to have...

, Picts
Picts
The Picts were a group of Late Iron Age and Early Mediaeval people living in what is now eastern and northern Scotland. There is an association with the distribution of brochs, place names beginning 'Pit-', for instance Pitlochry, and Pictish stones. They are recorded from before the Roman conquest...

, Bretons
Breton people
The Bretons are an ethnic group located in the region of Brittany in France. They trace much of their heritage to groups of Brythonic speakers who emigrated from southwestern Great Britain in waves from the 3rd to 6th century into the Armorican peninsula, subsequently named Brittany after them.The...

, and small parties of Gauls
Gauls
The Gauls were a Celtic people living in Gaul, the region roughly corresponding to what is now France, Belgium, Switzerland and Northern Italy, from the Iron Age through the Roman period. They mostly spoke the Continental Celtic language called Gaulish....

 and even Anglo-Saxons
Anglo-Saxons
Anglo-Saxon is a term used by historians to designate the Germanic tribes who invaded and settled the south and east of Great Britain beginning in the early 5th century AD, and the period from their creation of the English nation to the Norman conquest. The Anglo-Saxon Era denotes the period of...

 are known in Ireland from much earlier times.

There have been many notable Irish people throughout history. The 6th century Irish monk and missionary Columbanus
Columbanus
Columbanus was an Irish missionary notable for founding a number of monasteries on the European continent from around 590 in the Frankish and Lombard kingdoms, most notably Luxeuil and Bobbio , and stands as an exemplar of Irish missionary activity in early medieval Europe.He spread among the...

 is regarded as one of the "fathers of Europe", followed by Kilian of Würzburg
Saint Kilian
Saint Kilian, also spelled Killian , was an Irish missionary bishop and the apostle of Franconia , where he began his labours towards the end of the 7th century.-Background:...

 and Vergilius of Salzburg
Vergilius of Salzburg
Vergilius of Salzburg was an Irish churchman, an early astronomer and bishop of Salzburg. His obituary calls him the geometer.-Biography:...

. The scientist Robert Boyle
Robert Boyle
Robert Boyle FRS was a 17th century natural philosopher, chemist, physicist, and inventor, also noted for his writings in theology. He has been variously described as English, Irish, or Anglo-Irish, his father having come to Ireland from England during the time of the English plantations of...

 is considered the "father of chemistry
Chemistry
Chemistry is the science of matter, especially its chemical reactions, but also its composition, structure and properties. Chemistry is concerned with atoms and their interactions with other atoms, and particularly with the properties of chemical bonds....

". Famous Irish explorers include Brendan the Navigator, Robert McClure
Robert McClure
Sir Robert John Le Mesurier McClure was an Irish explorer of the Arctic.In 1854, he was the first to transit the Northwest Passage , as well as the first to circumnavigate the Americas.-Early life and career:He was born at Wexford, in Ireland, the posthumous son of one of Abercrombie's captains,...

, Ernest Shackleton
Ernest Shackleton
Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton, CVO, OBE was a notable explorer from County Kildare, Ireland, who was one of the principal figures of the period known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration...

 and Tom Crean. By some accounts, the first European child born in North America had Irish descent on both sides; while an Irishman was also the first European to set foot on American soil in Columbus' expedition
Voyages of Christopher Columbus
In the early modern period, the voyages of Columbus initiated European exploration and colonization of the American continents, and are thus of great significance in world history. Christopher Columbus was a navigator and an admiral for Castile, a country that later founded modern Spain...

 of 1492.

Large populations of people of Irish ethnicity live in many western countries, particularly in English-speaking countries. Historically, emigration has been caused by politics, famine and economic issues. An estimated 50 to 80 million people make up the Irish diaspora
Irish diaspora
thumb|Night Train with Reaper by London Irish artist [[Brian Whelan]] from the book Myth of Return, 2007The Irish diaspora consists of Irish emigrants and their descendants in countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, Argentina, New Zealand, Mexico, South Africa,...

 today, which includes Great Britain, the United States, Australia, Canada, Argentina, Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

, Jamaica, Trinidad
Trinidad
Trinidad is the larger and more populous of the two major islands and numerous landforms which make up the island nation of Trinidad and Tobago. It is the southernmost island in the Caribbean and lies just off the northeastern coast of Venezuela. With an area of it is also the fifth largest in...

, South Africa, New Zealand, Mexico, France, Germany and Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

. The largest number of people of Irish descent live in the United States—about ten times more than in Ireland itself. However, it had been recognised that the estimated numbers of the Irish dispora could be hugely inaccurate, including the majority of ancestral censuses conducted within the United States and Canada, in which it requires self-reported ancestry, often at times completely inaccurate. The majority of people living within immigrated populations (i.e. Australia, United States, Canada etc.) are of mixed ancestry due to decades, at times centuries, of inter-marriage with other immigrants or indigenous populations, hence claiming one specific ancestry is often at times personal preference or perceived ancestry rather than fact. The author Jim Webb
Jim Webb
James Henry "Jim" Webb, Jr. is the senior United States Senator from Virginia. He is also an author and a former Secretary of the Navy. He is a member of the Democratic Party....

 also suggests that a large number, he suspects near half of claimed Irish-American ancestry, especially for Protestants, are actually Ulster Scots (Scottish people who populated the Province
Provinces of Ireland
Ireland has historically been divided into four provinces: Leinster, Ulster, Munster and Connacht. The Irish word for this territorial division, cúige, literally meaning "fifth part", indicates that there were once five; the fifth province, Meath, was incorporated into Leinster, with parts going to...

 of Ulster
Ulster
Ulster is one of the four provinces of Ireland, located in the north of the island. In ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for administrative and judicial...

, not to be confused with Scottish People
Scottish people
The Scottish people , or Scots, are a nation and ethnic group native to Scotland. Historically they emerged from an amalgamation of the Picts and Gaels, incorporating neighbouring Britons to the south as well as invading Germanic peoples such as the Anglo-Saxons and the Norse.In modern use,...

)

Origins and antecedents

In its summary of their article 'Who were the Celts?' the National Museum Wales
National Museum Cardiff
National Museum Cardiff is a museum and art gallery in Cardiff, Wales. The museum is part of the wider network of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales...

 note "It is possible that future genetic studies of ancient and modern human DNA may help to inform our understanding of the subject. However, early studies have, so far, tended to produce implausible conclusions from very small numbers of people and using outdated assumptions about linguistics and archaeology." Nineteenth century anthropology studied the physical characteristics of Irish people in minute detail

Prehistoric and legendary ancestors

During the past 8,000 years of inhabitation, Ireland has witnessed many different peoples arrive on its shores. The ancient peoples of Ireland—such as the creators of the Céide Fields
Céide Fields
The Céide Fields is an archaeological site on the north Mayo coast in the west of Ireland, about 8 kilometres northwest of Ballycastle. The site is the most extensive Stone Age site in the world and contains the oldest known field systems in the world...

 and Newgrange
Newgrange
Newgrange is a prehistoric monument located in County Meath, on the eastern side of Ireland, about one kilometre north of the River Boyne. It was built around 3200 BC , during the Neolithic period...

—are almost unknown. Neither their languages nor terms they used to describe themselves have survived. As late as the middle centuries of the 1st millennium
1st millennium
File:1st millennium montage.png|From left, clockwise: Depiction of Jesus, the central figure in Christianity; The Colosseum, a landmark of the once Roman Empire; Gunpowder is invented during the latter part of the millennium, in China; Chess, a new board game, takes on popularity across the globe;...

 the inhabitants of Ireland did not appear to have a collective name for themselves. Ireland itself was known by a number of different names, including Banba
Banba
In Irish mythology, Banba daughter of Ernmas of the Tuatha Dé Danann, is the patron goddess of Ireland....

, Scotia
Scotia
Scotia was originally a Roman name for Ireland, inhabited by the people they called Scoti or Scotii. Use of the name shifted in the Middle Ages to designate the part of the island of Great Britain lying north of the Firth of Forth, the Kingdom of Alba...

, Fódla
Fódla
In Irish mythology, Fódla or Fótla , daughter of Ernmas of the Tuatha Dé Danann, was one of the tutelary goddesses of Ireland. Her husband was Mac Cecht....

, Ériu
Ériu
In Irish mythology, Ériu , daughter of Ernmas of the Tuatha Dé Danann, was the eponymous matron goddess of Ireland. Her husband was Mac Gréine ....

 by the islanders, Hibernia
Hibernia
Hibernia is the Classical Latin name for the island of Ireland. The name Hibernia was taken from Greek geographical accounts. During his exploration of northwest Europe , Pytheas of Massilia called the island Ierne . In his book Geographia Hibernia is the Classical Latin name for the island of...

 and Scotia
Scotia
Scotia was originally a Roman name for Ireland, inhabited by the people they called Scoti or Scotii. Use of the name shifted in the Middle Ages to designate the part of the island of Great Britain lying north of the Firth of Forth, the Kingdom of Alba...

 to the Romans
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, and Ierne to the Greeks
Greeks
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

.

Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 takes its name from Scotus which in Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 translates into Irishman (masculine form of Scoti
Scoti
Scoti or Scotti was the generic name used by the Romans to describe those who sailed from Ireland to conduct raids on Roman Britain. It was thus synonymous with the modern term Gaels...

. This is in reference to the Gaelic
Gaels
The Gaels or Goidels are speakers of one of the Goidelic Celtic languages: Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and Manx. Goidelic speech originated in Ireland and subsequently spread to western and northern Scotland and the Isle of Man....

 settlers from Ireland which was named Scotia
Scotia
Scotia was originally a Roman name for Ireland, inhabited by the people they called Scoti or Scotii. Use of the name shifted in the Middle Ages to designate the part of the island of Great Britain lying north of the Firth of Forth, the Kingdom of Alba...

 (feminine form of Scoti) during this Epoch. The settlers from Ireland in present-day Scotland were known as Scoti. The Romans
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 in the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

knew Scotland as Caledonia
Caledonia
Caledonia is the Latinised form and name given by the Romans to the land in today's Scotland north of their province of Britannia, beyond the frontier of their empire...

.

Likewise, the terms for people from Ireland—all from Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 sources—in the late Roman era were varied. They included Attacotti
Attacotti
Attacotti refers to a people who despoiled Roman Britain between 364 and 368, along with Scotti, Picts, Saxons, Roman military deserters, and the indigenous Britons themselves. The marauders were defeated by Count Theodosius in 368...

, Scoti
Scoti
Scoti or Scotti was the generic name used by the Romans to describe those who sailed from Ireland to conduct raids on Roman Britain. It was thus synonymous with the modern term Gaels...

, and Gael
Gaël
Gaël is a commune in the Ille-et-Vilaine department of Brittany in north-western France.It lies southwest of Rennes between Saint-Méen-le-Grand and Mauron...

. This last word, derived from the Welsh
Old Welsh language
Old Welsh is the label attached to the Welsh language from about 800 AD until the early 12th century when it developed into Middle Welsh. The preceding period, from the time Welsh became distinct from the British language around 550, has been called "Primitive Welsh".Many poems and some prose...

 gwyddel (meaning raiders), was eventually adopted by the Irish for themselves. However, as a term it is on a par with Viking
Viking
The term Viking is customarily used to refer to the Norse explorers, warriors, merchants, and pirates who raided, traded, explored and settled in wide areas of Europe, Asia and the North Atlantic islands from the late 8th to the mid-11th century.These Norsemen used their famed longships to...

, as it describes an activity (raiding, piracy) and its proponents, not their actual ethnic affiliations.

The term Irish and Ireland is derived from the Érainn, a people who once lived in what is now central and south Munster
Munster
Munster is one of the Provinces of Ireland situated in the south of Ireland. In Ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for administrative and judicial purposes...

. Possibly their proximity to overseas trade with western Great Britain, Gaul
Gaul
Gaul was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. The Gauls were the speakers of...

, and Iberia
Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

 led to the name of this one people to be applied to the whole island and its inhabitants. A variety of historical ethnic groups have inhabited the island, including the Airgialla
Airgíalla
Airgíalla or Airgialla was the name of an Irish federation and Irish kingdom which first formed around the 7th century...

, Fir Ol nEchmacht
Fir Ol nEchmacht
Fir Ol nEchmacht was the name of a group or race of people living in pre-historic Ireland. The name may be translated as Fir=men; Ol =race, people; nEchmacht=the given name of the people....

, Delbhna
Delbhna
The Delbna or Delbhna were an ethnic group in Ireland. They had a number of branches in central and western Ireland.*The Delbhna Tir Dha Locha were the most westerly branch, based in Iar Connacht....

, Fir Bolg
Fir Bolg
In Irish mythology the Fir Bolg were one of the races that inhabited the island of Ireland prior to the arrival of the Tuatha Dé Danann.-Mythology:...

, Érainn, Eóganachta
Eóganachta
The Eóganachta or Eoghanachta were an Irish dynasty centred around Cashel which dominated southern Ireland from the 6/7th to the 10th centuries, and following that, in a restricted form, the Kingdom of Desmond, and its offshoot Carbery, well into the 16th century...

, Mairtine
Mairtine
The Mairtine were an important people of late prehistoric Munster, Ireland, who by early historical times appear to have completely vanished from the Irish political landscape...

, Conmaicne
Conmaicne
The Conmhaicne or Conmaicne were an ancient tribal grouping that were divided into a number of distinct branches that were found scattered around Ireland in the early medieval period. They settled in Connacht, where they gave their name to several territories....

, Soghain
Soghain
The Soghain were a people of ancient Ireland. Dubhaltach Mac Fhirbhisigh identified them as part of a larger group called the Cruithin, and stated of them:...

, and Ulaid
Ulaid
The Ulaid or Ulaidh were a people of early Ireland who gave their name to the modern province of Ulster...

. In the cases of the Conmaicne, Delbhna, and perhaps Érainn, it can be demonstrated that the tribe took their name from their chief deity, or in the case of the Ciannachta, Eóganachta, and possibly the Soghain, a deified ancestor. This practise is paralled by the Anglo-Saxon
Anglo-Saxon
Anglo-Saxon may refer to:* Anglo-Saxons, a group that invaded Britain** Old English, their language** Anglo-Saxon England, their history, one of various ships* White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, an ethnicity* Anglo-Saxon economy, modern macroeconomic term...

 dynasties claims of descent from Woden
Woden
Woden or Wodan is a major deity of Anglo-Saxon and Continental Germanic polytheism. Together with his Norse counterpart Odin, Woden represents a development of the Proto-Germanic god *Wōdanaz....

, via his sons Wecta
Wecta
Wecta is mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the Historia Brittonum.He is considered mythological, though he shows up in the genealogies as a Saxon ancestor of Hengest and Horsa and the kings of Kent, as well as of Aella of Deira and his son Edwin of Northumbria.He appears in the Prose Edda...

, Baeldaeg, Casere
Casere
Casere is one of the sons of Woden, according to Historia Britonum. His son, Tætman, was the progenitor of the royal line of East Anglia....

 and Wihtlaeg.

The Greek
Greeks
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

 mythographer, Euhemerus
Euhemerus
Euhemerus was a Greek mythographer at the court of Cassander, the king of Macedon. Euhemerus' birthplace is disputed, with Messina in Sicily as the most probable location, while others champion Chios, or Tegea.-Life:...

, originated the concept of Euhemerism, which treats mythological accounts as a reflection of actual historical events shaped by retelling and traditional mores. In the 12th-century, Icelandic
Icelanders
Icelanders are a Scandinavian ethnic group and a nation, native to Iceland.On 17 June 1944, when an Icelandic republic was founded the Icelanders became independent from the Danish monarchy. The language spoken is Icelandic, a North Germanic language, and Lutheranism is the predominant religion...

 bard
Bard
In medieval Gaelic and British culture a bard was a professional poet, employed by a patron, such as a monarch or nobleman, to commemorate the patron's ancestors and to praise the patron's own activities.Originally a specific class of poet, contrasting with another class known as fili in Ireland...

 and historian Snorri Sturluson
Snorri Sturluson
Snorri Sturluson was an Icelandic historian, poet, and politician. He was twice elected lawspeaker at the Icelandic parliament, the Althing...

 proposed that the Norse
Norse mythology
Norse mythology, a subset of Germanic mythology, is the overall term for the myths, legends and beliefs about supernatural beings of Norse pagans. It flourished prior to the Christianization of Scandinavia, during the Early Middle Ages, and passed into Nordic folklore, with some aspects surviving...

 gods were originally historical war leaders and kings, who later became cult figures, eventually set into society as gods. This view is in agreement with Irish historians such T. F. O'Rahilly
T. F. O'Rahilly
Thomas Francis O'Rahilly was an Irish scholar of the Celtic languages, particularly in the fields of Historical linguistics and Irish dialects. He was a member of the Royal Irish Academy.-Biography:He was born in Listowel, County Kerry, Ireland...

 and Francis John Byrne
Francis John Byrne
Francis John Byrne is an Irish historian.Born in Shanghai where his father, a Dundalk man, captained a ship on the Yellow River, Byrne was evacuated with his mother to Australia on the outbreak of World War II...

; the early chapters of their respective books, Early Irish history and mythology (reprinted 2004) and Irish Kings and High-Kings (3rd revised edition, 2001), deal in depth with the origins and status of many Irish ancestral deities.

One legend states that the Irish were descended from one Míl Espáine
Míl Espáine
In Irish origin legends, Míl Espáine or Míl Espáne is the ancestor of the final inhabitants of Ireland, the "sons of Míl" or Milesians, who represent the vast majority of the Irish Gaels....

, whose sons supposedly conquered Ireland around 1000 BC or later. The character is almost certainly a mere personification of a supposed migration by a group or groups from Iberia
Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

 to Ireland. It is from this that the Irish were, as late as the 1800s, popularly known as "Milesian
Milesians (Irish)
Milesians are a people figuring in Irish mythology. The descendants of Míl Espáine, they were the final inhabitants of Ireland, and were believed to represent the Goidelic Celts.-Myth:...

". Medieval Irish historians, over the course of several centuries, created the genealogical dogma
Dogma
Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, or a particular group or organization. It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practitioners or believers...

 that all Irish were descendants of Míl, ignoring the fact that their own works demonstrated inhabitants in Ireland prior to his supposed arrival.

This doctrine
Doctrine
Doctrine is a codification of beliefs or a body of teachings or instructions, taught principles or positions, as the body of teachings in a branch of knowledge or belief system...

 was adapted between the 10th and 12th centuries, as demonstrated in the works of Eochaidh Ua Floinn
Eochaidh Ua Floinn
Eochaidh Ua Floinn was an Irish poet who held the post of Chief Ollam of Ireland. He died in 984 AD.His poems are preserved in the Book of Lecan, Lebor Gabála Érenn and other manuscripts and include poems on the different invasions of Ireland. Edward O'Reilly gives a full account of these in his...

 (936-1004); Flann Mainistrech
Flann Mainistrech
Flann Mainistrech was an Irish poet and historian.Flann was the son Echthigern mac Óengusso, who had been lector at the monastery of Monasterboice , in Irish Mainistir Buite, whence Flann's byname, meaning "of Monasterboice"...

 (died 25 November 1056); Tanaide (died c. 1075) and Gilla Cómáin mac Gilla Samthainde
Gilla Cómáin mac Gilla Samthainde
Gilla Cóemáin mac Gilla Samthainde, Irish poet, fl. 1072.Author of Annálad anall uile, a poem of fifty-eight quatrains, and a number of other works.-References:...

 (fl. 1072). Many of their compositions were incorporated into the compendium Lebor Gabála Érenn
Lebor Gabála Érenn
Lebor Gabála Érenn is the Middle Irish title of a loose collection of poems and prose narratives recounting the mythical origins and history of the Irish from the creation of the world down to the Middle Ages...

.

This tradition was enhanced and embedded in the tradition by successive historians such as Dubsúilech Ó Maolconaire
Dubsúilech Ó Maolconaire
Dubsúilech Ó Maolconaire was a member of the Ó Maolconaire family of Connacht, who served as historians and poets to the Síol Muireadaigh and their rulers, the Ó Conchubhair Kings of Connacht....

 (died 1270); Seán Mór Ó Dubhagáin
Seán Mór Ó Dubhagáin
Seán Mór Ó Dubhagáin was an Irish Gaelic poet.-Background:Ó Dubhagáinn was among the first notable members of the bardic family Baile Uí Dhubhagáin , near Loughrea, County Galway...

 (d.1372); Giolla Íosa Mór Mac Fir Bhisigh (fl. 1390–1418); Pilip Ballach Ó Duibhgeannáin
Pilip Ballach Ó Duibhgeannáin
Pilip Ballach Ó Duibhgeannáin was an Irish historian.A member of the Clan Ó Duibhgeannáin and a hereditary historian, Pilip was a resident of Cloonybrien, County Roscommon...

 (fl. 1579–1590) and Flann Mac Aodhagáin (alive 1640). The first Irish historian who questioned the reliability of such accounts was Dubhaltach Mac Fhirbhisigh
Dubhaltach Mac Fhirbhisigh
Dubhaltach MacFhirbhisigh, also known as Dubhaltach Óg mac Giolla Íosa Mór mac Dubhaltach Mór Mac Fhirbhisigh, Duald Mac Firbis, Dudly Ferbisie, and Dualdus Firbissius was an Irish scribe, translator, historian and genealogist...

 (murdered 1671).

Genetics

The frequency of Y-DNA haplogroup R1b
Haplogroup R1b (Y-DNA)
The point of origin of R1b is thought to lie in Eurasia, most likely in Western Asia. T. Karafet et al. estimated the age of R1, the parent of R1b, as 18,500 years before present....

 (the most common haplogroup in Europe) is highest in the populations of Atlantic Europe
Atlantic Europe
Atlantic Europe is a geographical and anthropological term for the western portion of Europe which borders the Atlantic Ocean. The term may refer to the idea of Atlantic Europe as a cultural unit and/or as an biogeographical region....

 and, due to European emigration, in North America, South America, and Australia. In Ireland and the Basque Country its frequency exceeds 90% and approaches 100% in Western Ireland. The incidence of R1b is 70% or more in Celtic regions - Cumbria
Cumbria
Cumbria , is a non-metropolitan county in North West England. The county and Cumbria County Council, its local authority, came into existence in 1974 after the passage of the Local Government Act 1972. Cumbria's largest settlement and county town is Carlisle. It consists of six districts, and in...

 and Cornwall
Cornwall
Cornwall is a unitary authority and ceremonial county of England, within the United Kingdom. It is bordered to the north and west by the Celtic Sea, to the south by the English Channel, and to the east by the county of Devon, over the River Tamar. Cornwall has a population of , and covers an area of...

 in England, northern Iberia
Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

 (Celtic - Galicia (Spain) and Basque Country ), western France (Celtic - Brittany
Brittany
Brittany is a cultural and administrative region in the north-west of France. Previously a kingdom and then a duchy, Brittany was united to the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province. Brittany has also been referred to as Less, Lesser or Little Britain...

), and Celtic Countries - Wales
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

 and Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 in Britain. R1b's incidence declines gradually with distance from these areas but it is still common across the central areas of Europe. R1b is the most frequent haplogroup in Germany, and is common in southern Scandinavia
Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

 and in Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

. This led to writers, such as Stephen Oppenheimer
Stephen Oppenheimer
Stephen Oppenheimer is a British paediatrician, geneticist, and writer. He is a member of Green Templeton College, Oxford and an honorary fellow of Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, and carries out and publishes research in the fields of genetics and human prehistory.-Career:Oppenheimer...

 and Bryan Sykes
Bryan Sykes
Bryan Sykes is a former Professor of Human Genetics at the University of Oxford and a current Fellow of Wolfson College.Sykes published the first report on retrieving DNA from ancient bone...

, to conclude that the majority of Irish people (and indeed all natives of the British Isles
British Isles
The British Isles are a group of islands off the northwest coast of continental Europe that include the islands of Great Britain and Ireland and over six thousand smaller isles. There are two sovereign states located on the islands: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and...

) primarily descend from an "Iberian refugium" population bottleneck
Population bottleneck
A population bottleneck is an evolutionary event in which a significant percentage of a population or species is killed or otherwise prevented from reproducing....

 dating back to the last ice age
Ice age
An ice age or, more precisely, glacial age, is a generic geological period of long-term reduction in the temperature of the Earth's surface and atmosphere, resulting in the presence or expansion of continental ice sheets, polar ice sheets and alpine glaciers...

.

However, this haplogroup is now believed by some to have originated over 12,000 years more recently than previously thought. It thus follows that Irish and many other R1b subclade
Subclade
In genetics, subclade is a term used to describe a subgroup of a subgenus or haplogroup. It is commonly used today in describing genealogical DNA tests of human mitochondrial DNA haplogroups and human Y-chromosome DNA haplogroups....

s will be considerably younger than the maximum age of 18,000 years. The previous estimates, based on inaccurate dating methods (30,000+ years BP), made R1b and its subclades seem to be more useful indicators of the paleolithic era populations of western Europe than they actually are. According to recent 2009 studies by Bramanti et al. and Malmström et al. on mtDNA, related western European populations appear to be largely from the neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 and not paleolithic
Paleolithic
The Paleolithic Age, Era or Period, is a prehistoric period of human history distinguished by the development of the most primitive stone tools discovered , and covers roughly 99% of human technological prehistory...

 era, as previously thought. There was discontinuity between mesolithic
Mesolithic
The Mesolithic is an archaeological concept used to refer to certain groups of archaeological cultures defined as falling between the Paleolithic and the Neolithic....

 central Europe and modern European populations mainly due to a extremely high frequency of haplogroup U (particularly U5) types in mesolithic central European sites.

That there exists an especially strong genetic association between the Irish and the Basques, one even closer than the relationship between other west Europeans, was first challenged in 2005, and in 2007 scientists began looking at the possibility of a more recent Mesolithic- or even Neolithic-era entrance of R1b into Europe. A new study published in 2010 by Balaresque et al. implies either a Mesolithic- or Neolithic- (not Paleolithic) era entrance of R1b into Europe. However, all these genetic studies are in agreement that the Irish and Basque (along with the Welsh) share the highest percentage of R1b populations. Although the Welsh have a greater presumed Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 input than both the Irish and the Basques.[25] Genetic marker R1b averages from 83-89% amongst the Welsh
Welsh people
The Welsh people are an ethnic group and nation associated with Wales and the Welsh language.John Davies argues that the origin of the "Welsh nation" can be traced to the late 4th and early 5th centuries, following the Roman departure from Britain, although Brythonic Celtic languages seem to have...

.

Early expansion and the coming of Christianity

One Roman historian records that the Irish people were divided into "sixteen different nations" or tribes. Traditional histories assert that the Romans never attempted to conquer Ireland, although it may have been considered. The Irish were not, however, cut off from Europe; they frequently raided the Roman territories, and also maintained trade links.

Among the most famous people of ancient Irish history are the High Kings of Ireland, such as Cormac mac Airt
Cormac mac Airt
Cormac mac Airt , also known as Cormac ua Cuinn or Cormac Ulfada , was, according to medieval Irish legend and historical tradition, a High King of Ireland...

 and Niall of the Nine Hostages
Niall of the Nine Hostages
Niall Noígíallach , or in English, Niall of the Nine Hostages, son of Eochaid Mugmedón, was an Irish king, the eponymous ancestor of the Uí Néill kindred who dominated Ireland from the 6th century to the 10th century...

, and the semi-legendary Fianna
Fianna
Fianna were small, semi-independent warrior bands in Irish mythology and Scottish mythology, most notably in the stories of the Fenian Cycle, where they are led by Fionn mac Cumhaill....

. The 20th century writer Seumas MacManus
Seumas MacManus
Seumas MacManus was an Irish author, dramatist, and poet known for his ability to reinterpret Irish folktales for modern audiences. Born into a poor farming family in County Donegal he at first became a schoolteacher. He got started as a writer in the 1890s when he began contributing articles and...

 wrote that even if the Fianna and the Fenian Cycle
Fenian Cycle
The Fenian Cycle , also referred to as the Ossianic Cycle after its narrator Oisín, is a body of prose and verse centering on the exploits of the mythical hero Fionn mac Cumhaill and his warriors the Fianna. It is one of the four major cycles of Irish mythology along with the Mythological Cycle,...

 were purely fictional, it would still be representative of the character of the Irish people:
The introduction of Christianity to the Irish people during the 5th century brought a radical change to the Irish people's foreign relations. The only military raid abroad recorded after that century is a presumed invasion of Wales
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

, which according to a Welsh manuscript may have taken place around the 7th century. In the words of Seumas MacManus:
Following the conversion of the Irish to Christianity, Irish secular laws and social institutions remained in place.

Migration and invasion in the Middle Ages

Around the 5th century, Gaelic language and culture spread from Ireland to what is now the west of Scotland via the Dál Riata
Dál Riata
Dál Riata was a Gaelic overkingdom on the western coast of Scotland with some territory on the northeast coast of Ireland...

. These Gaels soon spread out to most of the rest of the country. "Scoti
Scoti
Scoti or Scotti was the generic name used by the Romans to describe those who sailed from Ireland to conduct raids on Roman Britain. It was thus synonymous with the modern term Gaels...

" is the name given by the Romans earlier in the millennium who encountered the inhabitants of Ireland. The Gaelic cultural and linguistic dominance of northern Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 is the origin of the name "Scotland". The territories of the Gaels and the Picts merged together to form the Kingdom of Alba
Kingdom of Alba
The name Kingdom of Alba pertains to the Kingdom of Scotland between the deaths of Donald II in 900, and of Alexander III in 1286 which then led indirectly to the Scottish Wars of Independence...

. The modern Scottish people
Scottish people
The Scottish people , or Scots, are a nation and ethnic group native to Scotland. Historically they emerged from an amalgamation of the Picts and Gaels, incorporating neighbouring Britons to the south as well as invading Germanic peoples such as the Anglo-Saxons and the Norse.In modern use,...

 have therefore been influenced historically by both the Irish people and the English people
English people
The English are a nation and ethnic group native to England, who speak English. The English identity is of early mediaeval origin, when they were known in Old English as the Anglecynn. England is now a country of the United Kingdom, and the majority of English people in England are British Citizens...

 to the south. The Isle of Man
Isle of Man
The Isle of Man , otherwise known simply as Mann , is a self-governing British Crown Dependency, located in the Irish Sea between the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, within the British Isles. The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who holds the title of Lord of Mann. The Lord of Mann is...

 and the Manx people
Manx people
The Manx are an ethnic group coming from the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea in northern Europe. They are often described as a Celtic people, though they have had a mixed background including Norse and English influences....

 also came under massive Gaelic influence in their history.

Irish missionaries such as Saint Columba
Columba
Saint Columba —also known as Colum Cille , Colm Cille , Calum Cille and Kolban or Kolbjørn —was a Gaelic Irish missionary monk who propagated Christianity among the Picts during the Early Medieval Period...

 brought Christianity to Pictish Scotland
Hiberno-Scottish mission
The Hiberno-Scottish mission was a mission led by Irish and Scottish monks which spread Christianity and established monasteries in Great Britain and continental Europe during the Middle Ages...

. The Irishmen of this time were also "aware of the cultural unity of Europe", and it was the 6th century Irish monk Columbanus
Columbanus
Columbanus was an Irish missionary notable for founding a number of monasteries on the European continent from around 590 in the Frankish and Lombard kingdoms, most notably Luxeuil and Bobbio , and stands as an exemplar of Irish missionary activity in early medieval Europe.He spread among the...

 who is regarded as "one of the fathers of Europe". Another Irish saint, Aidan of Lindisfarne
Aidan of Lindisfarne
Known as Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne, Aidan the Apostle of Northumbria , was the founder and first bishop of the monastery on the island of Lindisfarne in England. A Christian missionary, he is credited with restoring Christianity to Northumbria. Aidan is the Anglicised form of the original Old...

, has been proposed as a possible patron saint
Patron saint
A patron saint is a saint who is regarded as the intercessor and advocate in heaven of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, clan, family, or person...

 of the United Kingdom, while Saints Kilian
Saint Kilian
Saint Kilian, also spelled Killian , was an Irish missionary bishop and the apostle of Franconia , where he began his labours towards the end of the 7th century.-Background:...

 and Vergilius
Vergilius of Salzburg
Vergilius of Salzburg was an Irish churchman, an early astronomer and bishop of Salzburg. His obituary calls him the geometer.-Biography:...

 became the patron saints of Würzburg
Würzburg
Würzburg is a city in the region of Franconia which lies in the northern tip of Bavaria, Germany. Located at the Main River, it is the capital of the Regierungsbezirk Lower Franconia. The regional dialect is Franconian....

 in Germany and Salzburg
Salzburg
-Population development:In 1935, the population significantly increased when Salzburg absorbed adjacent municipalities. After World War II, numerous refugees found a new home in the city. New residential space was created for American soldiers of the postwar Occupation, and could be used for...

 in Austria, respectively.
Irish missionaries founded monasteries outside Ireland, such as Iona Abbey
Iona Abbey
Iona Abbey is located on the Isle of Iona, just off the Isle of Mull on the West Coast of Scotland. It is one of the oldest and most important religious centres in Western Europe. The abbey was a focal point for the spread of Christianity throughout Scotland and marks the foundation of a monastic...

, the Abbey of St Gall in Switzerland, and Bobbio Abbey
Bobbio Abbey
Bobbio Abbey is a monastery founded by Irish Saint Columbanus in 614, around which later grew up the town of Bobbio, in the province of Piacenza, Emilia-Romagna, Italy. It is dedicated to Saint Columbanus...

 in Italy.

Common to both the monastic and the secular bardic schools were Irish and Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

. With Latin, the early Irish scholars "show almost a like familiarity that they do with their own Gaelic". There is evidence also that Hebrew and Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 were studied, the latter probably being taught at Iona.
Since the time of Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

, Irish scholars had a considerable presence in the Frankish court
Carolingian Empire
Carolingian Empire is a historiographical term which has been used to refer to the realm of the Franks under the Carolingian dynasty in the Early Middle Ages. This dynasty is seen as the founders of France and Germany, and its beginning date is based on the crowning of Charlemagne, or Charles the...

, where they were renowned for their learning. The most significant Irish intellectual of the early monastic period was the 9th century Johannes Scotus Eriugena
Johannes Scotus Eriugena
Johannes Scotus Eriugena was an Irish theologian, Neoplatonist philosopher, and poet. He is known for having translated and made commentaries upon the work of Pseudo-Dionysius.-Name:...

, an outstanding philosopher in terms of originality. He was the earliest of the founders of scholasticism
Scholasticism
Scholasticism is a method of critical thought which dominated teaching by the academics of medieval universities in Europe from about 1100–1500, and a program of employing that method in articulating and defending orthodoxy in an increasingly pluralistic context...

, the dominant school of medieval philosophy
Medieval philosophy
Medieval philosophy is the philosophy in the era now known as medieval or the Middle Ages, the period roughly extending from the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century AD to the Renaissance in the sixteenth century...

. He had considerable familiarity with the Greek language, and translated many works into Latin, affording access to the Cappadocian Fathers
Cappadocian Fathers
The Cappadocian Fathers are Basil the Great , who was bishop of Caesarea; Basil's brother Gregory of Nyssa , who was bishop of Nyssa; and a close friend, Gregory of Nazianzus , who became Patriarch of Constantinople...

 and the Greek theological tradition, previously almost unknown in the Latin West.

The influx of Viking
Viking
The term Viking is customarily used to refer to the Norse explorers, warriors, merchants, and pirates who raided, traded, explored and settled in wide areas of Europe, Asia and the North Atlantic islands from the late 8th to the mid-11th century.These Norsemen used their famed longships to...

 raiders and traders in the 9th and 10th centuries resulted in the founding of many of Ireland's most important towns, including Cork
Cork (city)
Cork is the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland and the island of Ireland's third most populous city. It is the principal city and administrative centre of County Cork and the largest city in the province of Munster. Cork has a population of 119,418, while the addition of the suburban...

, Dublin, Limerick
Limerick
Limerick is the third largest city in the Republic of Ireland, and the principal city of County Limerick and Ireland's Mid-West Region. It is the fifth most populous city in all of Ireland. When taking the extra-municipal suburbs into account, Limerick is the third largest conurbation in the...

, and Waterford
Waterford
Waterford is a city in the South-East Region of Ireland. It is the oldest city in the country and fifth largest by population. Waterford City Council is the local government authority for the city and its immediate hinterland...

 (earlier Gaelic settlements on these sites did not approach the urban nature of the subsequent Norse trading ports). The Vikings left little impact on Ireland other than towns and certain words added to the Irish language, but many Irish taken as slaves inter-married with the Scandinavians, hence forming a close link with the Icelandic people. In the Icelandic Laxdœla saga
Laxdœla saga
Laxdæla saga ; also Laxdœla saga, Laxdoela saga, Laxdaela saga, or The Saga of the People of Laxárdalr) is one of the Icelanders' sagas. Written in the 13th century, it tells of people in the Breiðafjörður area of Iceland from the late 9th century to the early 11th century...

, for example, "even slaves are highborn, descended from the kings of Ireland." The first name of Njáll Þorgeirsson
Njáll Þorgeirsson
Njáll Þorgeirsson was a 10th century Icelandic lawyer who lived at Bergþórshvol and is one of the main protagonists of Njáls saga, a medieval Icelandic saga.Njáll was the son of Þorgeir "gollnir" Ófeigsson...

, the chief protagonist of Njáls saga, is a variation of the Irish name Neil
Neil
Neil is a masculine given name of Gaelic origin. The name is an Anglicisation of the Gaelic Niall which is of disputed derivation. The Gaelic name may be derived from words meaning "cloud", "passionate", or "champion". As a surname, Neil is traced back to Niall of the Nine Hostages who was an Irish...

. According to Eirik the Red's Saga, the first European couple to have a child born in North America was descended from the Viking Queen of Dublin
Kings of Dublin
The Vikings invaded the territory around Dublin in the 9th century, establishing the Norse Kingdom of Dublin, the earliest and longest lasting Norse kingdom in all of Europe outside of Scandinavia, excepting the so-called Kingdom of Mann and the Isles. This corresponded to most of present-day...

, Aud the Deep-minded
Aud the Deep-Minded
Aud the Deep-Minded was an earlier settler in Iceland.-Biography:...

, and a Gaelic slave brought to Iceland.

The arrival of the Anglo-Normans brought also the Welsh
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

, Flemish
Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

, Anglo-Saxons
Anglo-Saxons
Anglo-Saxon is a term used by historians to designate the Germanic tribes who invaded and settled the south and east of Great Britain beginning in the early 5th century AD, and the period from their creation of the English nation to the Norman conquest. The Anglo-Saxon Era denotes the period of...

, and Bretons. Most of these were assimilate
Cultural assimilation
Cultural assimilation is a socio-political response to demographic multi-ethnicity that supports or promotes the assimilation of ethnic minorities into the dominant culture. The term assimilation is often used with regard to immigrants and various ethnic groups who have settled in a new land. New...

d into Irish culture and polity by the 15th century, with the exception of some of the walled towns and the Pale
The Pale
The Pale or the English Pale , was the part of Ireland that was directly under the control of the English government in the late Middle Ages. It had reduced by the late 15th century to an area along the east coast stretching from Dalkey, south of Dublin, to the garrison town of Dundalk...

 areas. The Late Middle Ages
Late Middle Ages
The Late Middle Ages was the period of European history generally comprising the 14th to the 16th century . The Late Middle Ages followed the High Middle Ages and preceded the onset of the early modern era ....

 also saw the settlement of Scottish gallowglass
Gallowglass
The gallowglass or galloglass – from , gallóglach – were an elite class of mercenary warrior who came from Norse-Gaelic clans in the Hebrides and Highlands of Scotland between the mid 13th century and late 16th century...

 families of mixed Gaelic-Norse -Pict
Picts
The Picts were a group of Late Iron Age and Early Mediaeval people living in what is now eastern and northern Scotland. There is an association with the distribution of brochs, place names beginning 'Pit-', for instance Pitlochry, and Pictish stones. They are recorded from before the Roman conquest...

 descent, mainly in the north; due to similarities of language and culture they too were assimilated.

Surnames

The Irish were among the first people in Europe to use surnames as we know them today. It is very common for people of Gaelic
Gaels
The Gaels or Goidels are speakers of one of the Goidelic Celtic languages: Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and Manx. Goidelic speech originated in Ireland and subsequently spread to western and northern Scotland and the Isle of Man....

 origin to have the English versions of their surnames beginning with "O'" or "Mc" (less frequently "Mac" and occasionally shortened to just "Ma" at the beginning of the name).

"O'" comes from the Gaelic Ó which in turn came from Ua, which means "grandson", or "descendant
Kinship
Kinship is a relationship between any entities that share a genealogical origin, through either biological, cultural, or historical descent. And descent groups, lineages, etc. are treated in their own subsections....

" of a named person. Names that begin with "O'" include Ó Briain (O'Brien
O'Brien
The O'Brien dynasty are a royal and noble house founded in the 10th century by Brian Boru of the Dál gCais or Dalcassians. After becoming King of Munster, through conquest he established himself as High King of Ireland...

), Ó Cheallaigh (O'Kelly
Kelly (name)
Kelly is a surname in the English language. The name has numerous origins. In some cases it is derived from toponyms located in Wales, Scotland and England, in other cases it is derived from patronyms in the Irish language.-Etymology:...

), Ó Conchobhair (O'Connor), Ó Domhnaill (O'Donnell
O'Donnell
O'Donnell , which is derived from the forename Domhnaill were an ancient and powerful Irish family, kings, princes, and lords of Tír Chonaill in early times, and the chief allies and sometimes...

), Ó Cuilinn (Cullen
Cullen (surname)
Cullen is a surname of Scottish or Irish origin. Cullen is a surname of Scottish origin. Cullen is a village and former royal burgh in Moray, Scotland, on the North Sea coast 20 miles east of Elgin. The village now has a population of 1,327 and is famous for Cullen Skink...

), Ó Máille (O'Malley
O'Malley (surname)
O'Malley is a surname of Irish origin , later changed in some members when they emigrated to Malia, and may refer to:* Bryan Lee O'Malley , comic book creator* Catherine Curran O'Malley , Maryland state judge...

), Ó Néill (O'Neill
O'Neill (surname)
The O'Neill dynasty is a group of families that have held prominent positions and titles throughout European history. The O'Neills take their name from Niall Glúndub, an early 10th century High King of Ireland from the Cenél nEógain...

), Ó Sé (O'Shea), Ó Súilleabháin (O'Sullivan
O'Sullivan
O'Sullivan or simply Sullivan is an Irish surname, associated with the southwestern part of Ireland, originally found in County Tipperary before the Anglo-Norman invasion, then in County Cork and County Kerry, which due to emigration is also common in Australia, North America and Britain...

), and Ó Tuathail (O'Toole
O'Toole (family)
The O'Tooles of Leinster, one of the leading families of that province, are descended from Tuathal mac Augaire, King of Leinster , who belonged to the Uí Dúnlainge dynasty...

).

"Mac" or "Mc" means "son". Names that begin with Mac include Mac Diarmada (MacDermott), Mac Cárthaigh (MacCarthy
McCarthy (surname)
The MacCarthy dynasty was one of Ireland's greatest medieval dynasties. It was and continues to be divided into several great branches. The MacCarthy Reagh, MacCarthy of Muskerry, and MacCarthy of Duhallow dynasties were the three most important of these, after the central or MacCarthy Mór...

), Mac Domhnaill (MacDonnell), and Mac Mathghamhna (MacMahon, MacMahony, etc.). However, "Mac" and "Mc" are not mutually exclusive, so, for example, both "MacCarthy" and "McCarthy" are used. While both "Mac" and "O'" prefixes are Gaelic in origin, "Mac" is more common in Scotland and in Ulster
Ulster
Ulster is one of the four provinces of Ireland, located in the north of the island. In ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for administrative and judicial...

 than in the rest of Ireland; furthermore, "Ó" is far less common in Scotland than it is in Ireland. The proper surname for a woman in Irish uses the feminine prefix ní (meaning daughter) in place of mac. Thus a boy may be called Mc Domhnaill whereas his sister would be called Ní Domhnaill.

There are a number of Irish surnames derived from Norse personal names, including Mac Suibhne
Clan Sweeney
Clan Sweeney is an Irish clan of Scottish origin. The clan did not permanently settle in Ireland before the beginning of the 14th century, when they became Gallowglass soldiers for the O'Donnell dynasty of Tyrconnell...

 (Sweeney) from Swein and McAuliffe from "Olaf". The name Cotter, local to County Cork
County Cork
County Cork is a county in Ireland. It is located in the South-West Region and is also part of the province of Munster. It is named after the city of Cork . Cork County Council is the local authority for the county...

, derives from the Norse personal name Ottir. The name Reynolds
Reynolds (surname)
Reynolds is a surname in the English language. There are two major lineages of the surname, Irish and English. Among the earliest recorded use of the surname is from the early 14th century; Walter Reynolds ‎of Worcester, England.-Irish Reynolds:...

 is an Anglicization of the Gaelic Mac Raghnaill, itself originating from the Norse names Randal or Reginald. Though these names were of Viking derivation some of the families who bear them appear to have had Gaelic origins.

"Fitz" is an old Norman French variant of the Old French word fils (variant spellings filz, fiuz, fiz, etc.), used by the Normans, meaning son. The Normans
Normans
The Normans were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a region in northern France. They were descended from Norse Viking conquerors of the territory and the native population of Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock...

 themselves were descendants of Vikings, who had settled in Normandy
Normandy
Normandy is a geographical region corresponding to the former Duchy of Normandy. It is in France.The continental territory covers 30,627 km² and forms the preponderant part of Normandy and roughly 5% of the territory of France. It is divided for administrative purposes into two régions:...

 and thoroughly adopted the French language and culture. With the exception of the Gaelic-Irish Fitzpatrick (Mac Giolla Phádraig) surname, all names that begin with Fitz – including FitzGerald
FitzGerald
The surname FitzGerald is a translation of the French-Norman fils de Gérald, or son of Gerald . Variant spellings include Fitz-Gerald and the modern Fitzgerald. The name can also be used as two separate words Fitz Gerald...

 (Mac Gearailt), Fitzsimons (Mac Síomóin/Mac an Ridire) and FitzHenry (Mac Anraí) – are descended from the initial Norman settlers. A small number of Irish families of Gaelic origin came to use a Norman form of their original surname—so that Mac Giolla Phádraig became Fitzpatrick – while some assimilated so well that the Gaelic name was dropped in favor of a new, Hiberno-Norman form. Another common Irish surname of Norman Irish
Hiberno-Norman
The Hiberno-Normans are those Norman lords who settled in Ireland who admitted little if any real fealty to the Anglo-Norman settlers in England, and who soon began to interact and intermarry with the Gaelic nobility of Ireland. The term embraces both their origins as a distinct community with...

 origin is the 'de' habitational prefix, meaning 'of' and originally signifying prestige and land ownership. Examples include de Búrca (Burke), de Brún, de Barra (Barry), de Stac (Stack), de Tiúit, de Faoite (White), de Londras (Landers), de Paor (Power). The Irish surname "Walsh" (in Gaelic Breathnach) was routinely given to settlers of Welsh
Welsh people
The Welsh people are an ethnic group and nation associated with Wales and the Welsh language.John Davies argues that the origin of the "Welsh nation" can be traced to the late 4th and early 5th centuries, following the Roman departure from Britain, although Brythonic Celtic languages seem to have...

 origin, who had come during and after the Norman invasion. The Joyce and Griffin/Griffith (Gruffydd) families are also of Welsh origin.

The Mac Lochlainn, Ó Maol Seachlainn, Ó Maol Seachnaill, Ó Conchobhair Mac Loughlin and Mac Diarmada Mac Loughlin families, all distinct, are now all subsumed together as MacLoughlin. The full surname usually indicated which family was in question, something that has being diminished with the loss of prefixes such as Ó and Mac. Different branches of a family with the same surname sometimes used distinguishing epithets, which sometimes became surnames in their own right. Hence the chief of the clan Ó Cearnaigh (Kearney) was referred to as An Sionnach (Fox), which his descendants use to this day. Similar surnames are often found in Scotland for many reasons, such as the use of a common language and mass Irish migration to Scotland in the late 19th and early to mid-20th centuries.

Late Medieval and Tudor Ireland

The Irish people of the Late Middle Ages were active as traders on the European continent. They were distinguished from the English (who only used their own language or French) in that they only used Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 abroad—a language "spoken by all educated people throughout Gaeldom". The explorer Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

 visited Ireland to gather information about the lands to the west. A number of Irish names are recorded on Columbus' crew roster, preserved in the archives of Madrid
Madrid
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan...

, and it was an Irishman named Patrick Maguire who was the first to set foot on American soil
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

 in 1492. According to Morison and Miss Gould, who made a detailed study of the crew list of 1492, no Irish or English sailors were involved in the voyage.

An English report of 1515 states that the Irish people were divided into over sixty Gaelic lordships and thirty Anglo-Irish lordships. The English term for these lordships was "nation" or "country". The Irish term "oireacht" referred to both the territory and the people ruled by the lord. Literally, it meant an "assembly", where the Brehon
Brehon
Brehon is the term in Gaelic-Irish culture for a judge. The Brehons were part of the system of "Brehon Law". The Brehons wore yellow robes when delivering verdicts. Several dozen families were recognised as hereditary brehon clans.-See also:* Mac an Bhaird...

s would hold their courts upon hills to arbitrate the matters of the lordship. Indeed, the Tudor lawyer John Davies
John Davies (poet)
Sir John Davies was an English poet and lawyer, who became attorney general in Ireland and formulated many of the legal principles that underpinned the British Empire.-Early life:...

 described the Irish people with respect to their laws:
Another English commentator records that the assemblies were attended by "all the scum of the country"—the labouring population as well as the landowners. While the distinction between "free" and "unfree" elements of the Irish people was unreal in legal terms, it was a social and economic reality. Social mobility was usually downwards, due to social and economic pressures. The ruling clan's "expansion from the top downwards" was constantly displacing commoners and forcing them into the margins of society.

As a clan-based society, genealogy
Genealogy
Genealogy is the study of families and the tracing of their lineages and history. Genealogists use oral traditions, historical records, genetic analysis, and other records to obtain information about a family and to demonstrate kinship and pedigrees of its members...

 was all important. Ireland 'was justly styled a "Nation of Annalists"'. The various branches of Irish learning—including law, poetry, history and genealogy, and medicine—were associated with hereditary learned families. The poetic families included the Uí Dhálaigh
Ó Dálaigh
The Ó Dálaigh were a learned Irish bardic family who first came to prominence early in the 12th century, when Cú Connacht Ó Dálaigh was described as "The first Ollamh of poetry in all Ireland" .-Name derivation:The name Ó Dálaigh means 'descendant of Dálach'...

 (Daly) and the MacGrath. Irish physicians, such as the O'Briens in Munster
Munster
Munster is one of the Provinces of Ireland situated in the south of Ireland. In Ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for administrative and judicial purposes...

 or the MacCailim Mor in the Western Isles, were renowned in the courts of England, Spain, Portugal and the Low Countries. Learning was not exclusive to the hereditary learned families, however; one such example is Cathal Mac Manus
Cathal Óg Mac Maghnusa
Cathal Óg Mac Maghnusa was the principal compiler of the Annals of Ulster.-References:*Cathal Óg Mac Maghnusa and the Annals of Ulster, by Aubrey Gwynn, in Clougher Record, 2/2 pp.230-43 and 2/3 , pp. 370-84. Ed...

, the 15th century diocesan priest who wrote the Annals of Ulster
Annals of Ulster
The Annals of Ulster are annals of medieval Ireland. The entries span the years between AD 431 to AD 1540. The entries up to AD 1489 were compiled in the late 15th century by the scribe Ruaidhrí Ó Luinín, under his patron Cathal Óg Mac Maghnusa on the island of Belle Isle on Lough Erne in the...

. Other learned families included the Mic Aodhagáin and Clann Fhir Bhisigh
Clan MacFhirbhisigh
Mac Fhirbhisigh was the surname of a family of Irish hereditary historians based for much of their known history at Leckan, Tireagh, Co. Sligo. They claimed descent from Dathí , said to be one of the last pagan Kings of Connacht, and were thus one of the many families who sprang from the Uí...

. It was this latter family which produced Dubhaltach Mac Fhirbhisigh
Dubhaltach Mac Fhirbhisigh
Dubhaltach MacFhirbhisigh, also known as Dubhaltach Óg mac Giolla Íosa Mór mac Dubhaltach Mór Mac Fhirbhisigh, Duald Mac Firbis, Dudly Ferbisie, and Dualdus Firbissius was an Irish scribe, translator, historian and genealogist...

, the 17th century genealogist and compiler of the Leabhar na nGenealach
Leabhar na nGenealach
Leabhar na nGenealach is a massive genealogical collection written mainly in the years 1649 to 1650, at the college-house of St. Nicholas's church, Galway, by Dubhaltach MacFhirbhisigh. He continued to add material until at least 1666, five years before he was murdered in 1671...

. (see also Irish medical families
Irish medical families
Irish medical families were hereditary practitioners of professional medicine in Gaelic Ireland, between 1100 and 1700.-Overview:Professional medical practitioners in the Gaelic world of Ireland and Scotland was mainly the preserve of a small number of learned families who passed the profession...

).

Plantations


After Ireland was subdued by England, the English—under James I of England
James I of England
James VI and I was King of Scots as James VI from 24 July 1567 and King of England and Ireland as James I from the union of the English and Scottish crowns on 24 March 1603...

 (reigned 1603–1625), the Lord Protector
Lord Protector
Lord Protector is a title used in British constitutional law for certain heads of state at different periods of history. It is also a particular title for the British Heads of State in respect to the established church...

 Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell was an English military and political leader who overthrew the English monarchy and temporarily turned England into a republican Commonwealth, and served as Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland....

 (1653–1658), William III of England
William III of England
William III & II was a sovereign Prince of Orange of the House of Orange-Nassau by birth. From 1672 he governed as Stadtholder William III of Orange over Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders, and Overijssel of the Dutch Republic. From 1689 he reigned as William III over England and Ireland...

 (reigned 1689–1702) and their successors—began the settling of Protestant Scottish and English colonists into Ireland, where they settled most heavily in the northern province
Provinces of Ireland
Ireland has historically been divided into four provinces: Leinster, Ulster, Munster and Connacht. The Irish word for this territorial division, cúige, literally meaning "fifth part", indicates that there were once five; the fifth province, Meath, was incorporated into Leinster, with parts going to...

 of Ulster
Ulster
Ulster is one of the four provinces of Ireland, located in the north of the island. In ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for administrative and judicial...

. The Plantations of Ireland
Plantations of Ireland
Plantations in 16th and 17th century Ireland were the confiscation of land by the English crown and the colonisation of this land with settlers from England and the Scottish Lowlands....

, and in particular the Plantation of Ulster
Plantation of Ulster
The Plantation of Ulster was the organised colonisation of Ulster—a province of Ireland—by people from Great Britain. Private plantation by wealthy landowners began in 1606, while official plantation controlled by King James I of England and VI of Scotland began in 1609...

 in the 17th century, introduced great numbers of Scottish, English as well as French Huguenot
Huguenot
The Huguenots were members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France during the 16th and 17th centuries. Since the 17th century, people who formerly would have been called Huguenots have instead simply been called French Protestants, a title suggested by their German co-religionists, the...

s as colonists.

Many Gaelic Irish were displaced during the 17th century plantations. Only in the major part of Ulster did the plantations of mostly Scottish prove long-lived; the other three provinces (Connacht
Connacht
Connacht , formerly anglicised as Connaught, is one of the Provinces of Ireland situated in the west of Ireland. In Ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for...

, Leinster
Leinster
Leinster is one of the Provinces of Ireland situated in the east of Ireland. It comprises the ancient Kingdoms of Mide, Osraige and Leinster. Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the historic fifths of Leinster and Mide gradually merged, mainly due to the impact of the Pale, which straddled...

, and Munster
Munster
Munster is one of the Provinces of Ireland situated in the south of Ireland. In Ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for administrative and judicial purposes...

) remained heavily Gaelic
Gaels
The Gaels or Goidels are speakers of one of the Goidelic Celtic languages: Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and Manx. Goidelic speech originated in Ireland and subsequently spread to western and northern Scotland and the Isle of Man....

 Irish. Eventually, the Anglo-Irish
Anglo-Irish
Anglo-Irish was a term used primarily in the 19th and early 20th centuries to identify a privileged social class in Ireland, whose members were the descendants and successors of the Protestant Ascendancy, mostly belonging to the Church of Ireland, which was the established church of Ireland until...

 and Protestant populations of those three provinces decreased drastically as a result of the political developments in the early 20th century in Ireland, as well as the Catholic Church's Ne Temere
Ne Temere
Ne Temere was a decree of the Roman Catholic Congregation of the Council regulating the canon law of the Church about marriage for practising Roman Catholics....

 decree for mixed marriages, which obliged the non-Catholic partner to have the children raised as Catholics.

Enlightenment Ireland

There have been notable Irish scientists. The Anglo-Irish scientist Robert Boyle
Robert Boyle
Robert Boyle FRS was a 17th century natural philosopher, chemist, physicist, and inventor, also noted for his writings in theology. He has been variously described as English, Irish, or Anglo-Irish, his father having come to Ireland from England during the time of the English plantations of...

 (1627–1691) is considered the father
Fathers of scientific fields
Those known as the father, mother, or considered the founder of a scientific field are the scientists who have made important contributions to that field...

 of chemistry
Chemistry
Chemistry is the science of matter, especially its chemical reactions, but also its composition, structure and properties. Chemistry is concerned with atoms and their interactions with other atoms, and particularly with the properties of chemical bonds....

 for his book The Sceptical Chymist
The Sceptical Chymist
The Sceptical Chymist: or Chymico-Physical Doubts & Paradoxes is the title of Robert Boyle's masterpiece of scientific literature, published in London in 1661. In the form of a dialogue, the Sceptical Chymist presented Boyle's hypothesis that matter consisted of atoms and clusters of atoms in...

, written in 1661. Boyle was an atomist, and is best known for Boyle's Law
Boyle's law
Boyle's law is one of many gas laws and a special case of the ideal gas law. Boyle's law describes the inversely proportional relationship between the absolute pressure and volume of a gas, if the temperature is kept constant within a closed system...

. The hydrographer Rear Admiral
Rear Admiral (Royal Navy)
Rear Admiral is a flag officer rank of the British Royal Navy. It is immediately superior to Commodore and is subordinate to Vice Admiral. It is a two-star rank and has a NATO ranking code of OF-7....

 Francis Beaufort
Francis Beaufort
Rear-Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort, FRS, FRGS was an Irish hydrographer and officer in Britain's Royal Navy...

 (1774–1857), an Irish naval officer of Huguenot descent, was the creator of the Beaufort scale
Beaufort scale
The Beaufort Scale is an empirical measure that relates wind speed to observed conditions at sea or on land. Its full name is the Beaufort Wind Force Scale.-History:...

 for indicating wind force. George Boole
George Boole
George Boole was an English mathematician and philosopher.As the inventor of Boolean logic—the basis of modern digital computer logic—Boole is regarded in hindsight as a founder of the field of computer science. Boole said,...

 (1815–1864), the mathematician who invented Boolean algebra, spent the latter part of his life in Cork
Cork (city)
Cork is the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland and the island of Ireland's third most populous city. It is the principal city and administrative centre of County Cork and the largest city in the province of Munster. Cork has a population of 119,418, while the addition of the suburban...

. The 19th century physicist George Stoney
George Johnstone Stoney
George Johnstone Stoney was an Irish physicist most famous for introducing the term electron as the "fundamental unit quantity of electricity"....

 introduced the idea and the name of the electron
Electron
The electron is a subatomic particle with a negative elementary electric charge. It has no known components or substructure; in other words, it is generally thought to be an elementary particle. An electron has a mass that is approximately 1/1836 that of the proton...

. He was the uncle of another notable physicist, George FitzGerald
George FitzGerald
George Francis FitzGerald was an Irish professor of "natural and experimental philosophy" at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, during the last quarter of the 19th century....

.

The Irish bardic system, along with the Gaelic culture
Gaels
The Gaels or Goidels are speakers of one of the Goidelic Celtic languages: Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and Manx. Goidelic speech originated in Ireland and subsequently spread to western and northern Scotland and the Isle of Man....

 and learned classes, were upset by the plantations, and went into decline. Among the last of the true bardic poets were Brian Mac Giolla Phádraig
Brian Mac Giolla Phádraig
Brian Mac Giolla Phádraig was a scholar and poet of noble descent from Ossory. Only a handful of his poems are still extant. A cry of despair against the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland, and its consequences for the world and class which he belonged to, his Faisean Chláir Éibhir bears a striking...

 (c. 1580–1652) and Dáibhí Ó Bruadair
Dáibhí Ó Bruadair
Dáibhí Ó Bruadair was one of the most significant Irish language poets of the 17th century. He lived through a momentous time in Irish history and his work serves as testimony to the death of the old Irish cultural and political order and the decline in respect for the once honoured and feared...

 (1625–1698). The Irish poets of the late 17th and 18th centuries moved toward more modern dialects. Among the most prominent of this period were Séamas Dall Mac Cuarta
Séamas Dall Mac Cuarta
Séamas Dall Mac Cuarta was a central figure in the seventeenth and eighteenth century Airgíalla school of poets and songwriters in the Irish language...

, Peadar Ó Doirnín
Peadar Ó Doirnín
-Biography:Ó Doirnín is one of the most celebrated of the Ulster poets in the eighteenth century and along with Art Mac Cumhaigh, Cathal Buí Mac Giolla Ghunna and Séamas Dall Mac Cuarta was part of the Airgíalla tradition of poetry and song...

, Art Mac Cumhaigh
Art Mac Cumhaigh
Art Mac Cumhaigh was, along with Cathal Buí Mac Giolla Ghunna, Peadar Ó Doirnín and Séamas Dall Mac Cuarta, among the most celebrated of the south Ulster and north Leinster poets in the eighteenth century...

, Cathal Buí Mac Giolla Ghunna
Cathal Buí Mac Giolla Ghunna
-Biography:Along with Peadar Ó Doirnín, Art Mac Cumhaigh and Séamas Dall Mac Cuarta, Cathal Buí Mac Giolla Ghunna one of the four most prominent of the south Ulster and north Leinster poets in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries...

, and Seán Clárach Mac Domhnaill
Seán Clárach Mac Domhnaill
-External links:* * -Sources:...

. Irish Catholics continued to receive an education in secret "hedgeschools", in spite of the Penal laws. A knowledge of Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 was common among the poor Irish mountaineers in the 17th century, who spoke it on special occasions, while cattle were bought and sold in Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 in the mountain market-places of Kerry
County Kerry
Kerry means the "people of Ciar" which was the name of the pre-Gaelic tribe who lived in part of the present county. The legendary founder of the tribe was Ciar, son of Fergus mac Róich. In Old Irish "Ciar" meant black or dark brown, and the word continues in use in modern Irish as an adjective...

.

For a comparatively small population of about 6 million people, Ireland has made an enormous contribution to literature. Irish literature
Irish literature
For a comparatively small island, Ireland has made a disproportionately large contribution to world literature. Irish literature encompasses the Irish and English languages.-The beginning of writing in Irish:...

 encompasses the Irish and English languages. Notable Irish writers
Irish fiction
Although the epics of Celtic Ireland were written in prose and not verse, most people would probably consider that Irish fiction proper begins in the 18th century. However, there are aspects of Early Irish prose that appear to have had some influence on the Irish novel: the use of exaggeration for...

 include Jonathan Swift
Jonathan Swift
Jonathan Swift was an Irish satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer , poet and cleric who became Dean of St...

 (1667–1745), Laurence Sterne
Laurence Sterne
Laurence Sterne was an Irish novelist and an Anglican clergyman. He is best known for his novels The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, and A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy; but he also published many sermons, wrote memoirs, and was involved in local politics...

, Oliver Goldsmith
Oliver Goldsmith
Oliver Goldsmith was an Irish writer, poet and physician known for his novel The Vicar of Wakefield , his pastoral poem The Deserted Village , and his plays The Good-Natur'd Man and She Stoops to Conquer...

, Bram Stoker
Bram Stoker
Abraham "Bram" Stoker was an Irish novelist and short story writer, best known today for his 1897 Gothic novel Dracula...

, James Joyce
James Joyce
James Augustine Aloysius Joyce was an Irish novelist and poet, considered to be one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant-garde of the early 20th century...

. Among the famous Irish poets are William Butler Yeats
William Butler Yeats
William Butler Yeats was an Irish poet and playwright, and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature. A pillar of both the Irish and British literary establishments, in his later years he served as an Irish Senator for two terms...

, Francis Ledwidge
Francis Ledwidge
Francis Edward Ledwidge was an Irish war poet from County Meath. Sometimes known as the "poet of the blackbirds", he was killed in action at the Battle of Passchendaele during World War I.-Early life:...

, "A.E." Russell
George William Russell
George William Russell who wrote under the pseudonym Æ , was an Irish nationalist, writer, editor, critic, poet, and painter. He was also a mystical writer, and centre of a group of followers of theosophy in Dublin, for many years.-Organisor:Russell was born in Lurgan, County Armagh...

 and Seamus Heaney
Seamus Heaney
Seamus Heaney is an Irish poet, writer and lecturer. He lives in Dublin. Heaney has received the Nobel Prize in Literature , the Golden Wreath of Poetry , T. S. Eliot Prize and two Whitbread prizes...

. Irish playwrights include Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish writer and poet. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London's most popular playwrights in the early 1890s...

, Lady Gregory, John Millington Synge
John Millington Synge
Edmund John Millington Synge was an Irish playwright, poet, prose writer, and collector of folklore. He was a key figure in the Irish Literary Revival and was one of the cofounders of the Abbey Theatre...

, Lord Dunsany, George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main talent was for drama, and he wrote more than 60...

, Samuel Beckett
Samuel Beckett
Samuel Barclay Beckett was an Irish avant-garde novelist, playwright, theatre director, and poet. He wrote both in English and French. His work offers a bleak, tragicomic outlook on human nature, often coupled with black comedy and gallows humour.Beckett is widely regarded as among the most...

, Sean O'Casey
Seán O'Casey
Seán O'Casey was an Irish dramatist and memoirist. A committed socialist, he was the first Irish playwright of note to write about the Dublin working classes.- Early life:...

, Brendan Behan
Brendan Behan
Brendan Francis Behan was an Irish poet, short story writer, novelist, and playwright who wrote in both Irish and English. He was also an Irish republican and a volunteer in the Irish Republican Army.-Early life:...

 and Brian Friel
Brian Friel
Brian Friel is an Irish dramatist, author and director of the Field Day Theatre Company. He is considered to be the greatest living English-language dramatist, hailed by the English-speaking world as an "Irish Chekhov" and "the universally accented voice of Ireland"...

. Some of the 20th century writers in the Irish language include Brian O'Nolan, Peig Sayers
Peig Sayers
Peig Sayers was an Irish author and seanachaí born in Dunquin , County Kerry, Ireland. Seán Ó Súilleabháin, the former archivist for the Irish Folklore Commission, described her as "one of the greatest woman storytellers of recent times".-Biography:She spent much of her early life as a domestic...

, Muiris Ó Súilleabháin
Muiris Ó Súilleabháin
Muiris Ó Súilleabháin became famous for his memoir of growing up on the Great Blasket Island off the western coast of Ireland, Fiche Bliain ag Fás , published in Irish and English in 1933...

, and Máirtín Ó Direáin
Máirtín Ó Direáin
Máirtín Ó Direáin born in Sruthán on Inismór in the Aran Islands was an Irish language poet.The son of a small-farmer, Máirtín Ó Direáin spoke only Irish until his mid-teens. He worked as a civil servant from 1928 until 1975...

.

20th century

In 1921, with the formation of the Irish Free State
Irish Free State
The Irish Free State was the state established as a Dominion on 6 December 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty, signed by the British government and Irish representatives exactly twelve months beforehand...

, six counties in the northeast remained in the United Kingdom as Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

.
It is predominately religion, historical, and political differences that divide the two communities of (nationalism
Irish nationalism
Irish nationalism manifests itself in political and social movements and in sentiment inspired by a love for Irish culture, language and history, and as a sense of pride in Ireland and in the Irish people...

 and unionism). Four polls taken between 1989 and 1994 revealed that when asked to state their national identity, over 79% of Northern Irish Protestants replied "British" or "Ulster" with 3% or less replying "Irish", while over 60% of Northern Irish Catholics replied "Irish" with 13% or less replying "British" or "Ulster". A survey in 1999 showed that 72% of Northern Irish Protestants considered themselves "British" and 2% "Irish", with 68% of Northern Irish Catholics considering themselves "Irish" and 9% "British". The survey also revealed that 78% of Protestants and 48% of all respondents felt "Strongly British", while 77% of Catholics and 35% of all respondents felt "Strongly Irish". 51% of Protestants and 33% of all respondents felt "Not at all Irish", while 62% of Catholics and 28% of all respondents felt "Not at all British".

Surnames in the nine-county Province of Ulster
Ulster
Ulster is one of the four provinces of Ireland, located in the north of the island. In ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for administrative and judicial...

 tend to differ based on which community families originate from. Ulster Protestants tend to have either English or Scottish
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 surnames while Catholics tend to have Irish surnames, although this is not always the case. There are many Catholics in nine-county Ulster with surnames such as Adams, Emerson, Whitson, Livingstone, Hardy, Tennyson, Galbraith, McCausland, MacDonald (this surname is also common with Highland Roman Catholics in Scotland), Dunbar, Groves, Legge, Scott, Gray, Page, Stewart, Roberts, Rowntree, Henderson, et al., due to intermarriage.

Recent history

Religions

In the Republic of Ireland, as of 2006, 3,681,446 people or about 86.83% of the population claim to be Roman Catholic. In Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

 about 53.1% of the population are Protestant (21.1% Presbyterian, 15.5% Church of Ireland, 3.6% Methodist, 6.1% Other Christian) whilst a large minority are Catholic at approximately 43.8%, as of 2001.
The 31st International Eucharistic Congress
International Eucharistic Congress
In the Roman Catholic church, a Eucharistic Congress is a gathering of clergy, religious, and laity to bear witness to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, which is an important Roman Catholic doctrine...

 was held in Dublin in 1932, that year being the supposed 1,500th anniversary of Saint Patrick's arrival. Ireland was then home to 3,171,697 Catholics, about a third of whom attended the Congress. It was noted in Time Magazine that the Congress' special theme would be "the Faith of the Irish." The massive crowds were repeated at Pope John Paul II's Mass
Mass
Mass can be defined as a quantitive measure of the resistance an object has to change in its velocity.In physics, mass commonly refers to any of the following three properties of matter, which have been shown experimentally to be equivalent:...

 in Phoenix Park
Phoenix Park
Phoenix Park is an urban park in Dublin, Ireland, lying 2–4 km west of the city centre, north of the River Liffey. Its 16 km perimeter wall encloses , one of the largest walled city parks in Europe. It includes large areas of grassland and tree-lined avenues, and since the seventeenth...

 in 1979. The idea of faith has affected the question of Irish identity even in relatively recent times, apparently more so for Catholics and Irish-Americans:
This has been a matter of concern over the last century for followers of nationalist ideologists such as DP Moran.

Europe

Ireland joined the European Community in 1973, and Irish citizens became additionally Citizens of the European Union
Citizenship of the European Union
Citizenship of the European Union was introduced by the Maastricht Treaty . European citizenship is supplementary to national citizenship and affords rights such as the right to vote in European elections, the right to free movement and the right to consular protection from other EU states'...

 with the Maastricht Treaty
Maastricht Treaty
The Maastricht Treaty was signed on 7 February 1992 by the members of the European Community in Maastricht, Netherlands. On 9–10 December 1991, the same city hosted the European Council which drafted the treaty...

 signed in 1992. This brought a further question for the future of Irish identity; whether Ireland was "closer to Boston than to Berlin:"

Celebrities

Famous Irish singers and musicians have included the harpist Turlough O'Carolan
Turlough O'Carolan
Turlough Carolan, also known as Turlough O'Carolan, was a blind, early Irish harper, composer and singer whose great fame is due to his gift for melodic composition. He was the last great Irish harper-composer and is considered by many to be Ireland's national composer...

 (1670–1738), Catherine Hayes
Catherine Hayes
Catherine Hayes [married name Bushnell] was the first Irish-born opera diva to achieve international acclaim....

 and Count John McCormack; and more recently U2
U2
U2 are an Irish rock band from Dublin. Formed in 1976, the group consists of Bono , The Edge , Adam Clayton , and Larry Mullen, Jr. . U2's early sound was rooted in post-punk but eventually grew to incorporate influences from many genres of popular music...

, Enya
Enya
Enya is an Irish singer, instrumentalist and songwriter. Enya is an approximate transliteration of how Eithne is pronounced in the Donegal dialect of the Irish language, her native tongue.She began her musical career in 1980, when she briefly joined her family band Clannad before leaving to...

, The Script, The Coronas
The Coronas
The Coronas are an Irish rock and indie band. They have released three studio albums, Heroes or Ghosts , Tony Was An Ex-Con and "Closer to You"...

, Clannad
Clannad
Clannad are an Irish musical group, from Gaoth Dobhair, County Donegal. Their music has been variously described as bordering on folk and folk rock, Irish, Celtic and New Age, often incorporating elements of an even broader spectrum of smooth jazz and Gregorian chant...

, Christy Moore
Christy Moore
Christopher Andrew "Christy" Moore is a popular Irish folk singer, songwriter, and guitarist. He is well known as one of the founding members of Planxty and Moving Hearts...

, Planxty
Planxty
Planxty is an Irish folk music band formed in the 1970s, consisting initially of Christy Moore , Dónal Lunny , Andy Irvine , and Liam O'Flynn...

, Thin Lizzy
Thin Lizzy
Thin Lizzy are an Irish hard rock band formed in Dublin in 1969. Two of the founding members, drummer Brian Downey and bass guitarist/vocalist Phil Lynott met while still in school. Lynott assumed the role of frontman and led them throughout their recording career of thirteen studio albums...

, The Clancy Brothers
The Clancy Brothers
The Clancy Brothers were an influential Irish folk music singing group, most popular in the 1960s, they were famed for their woolly Aran jumpers and are widely credited with popularizing Irish traditional music in the United States. The brothers were Patrick "Paddy" Clancy, Tom Clancy, Bobby Clancy...

, Tommy Makem
Tommy Makem
Thomas "Tommy" Makem was an internationally celebrated Irish folk musician, artist, poet and storyteller. He was best known as a member of The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. He played the long-necked 5-string banjo, guitar, tin whistle, and bagpipes, and sang in a distinctive baritone...

, The Corrs
The Corrs
The Corrs are an Irish band which combine pop rock with traditional Celtic folk music. The brother and sisters are from Dundalk, Ireland. The group consists of the Corr siblings: Andrea ; Sharon ; Caroline ; and Jim .The Corrs came to international prominence with their performance at the...

, The Undertones
The Undertones
The Undertones are a punk rock/new wave band formed in Derry, Northern Ireland, in 1975.The original line-up of the Undertones released thirteen singles and four studio albums — The Undertones , Hypnotised , Positive Touch and The Sin of Pride — before disbanding in July 1983.Music guide Allmusic...

, Dónal Lunny
Dónal Lunny
Dónal Lunny is an Irish folk musician. Lunny has been at the forefront of the evolution of traditional Irish music for more than thirty-five years and has participated within the renaissance of traditional Irish music in that time period...

, Van Morrison
Van Morrison
Van Morrison, OBE is a Northern Irish singer-songwriter and musician. His live performances at their best are regarded as transcendental and inspired; while some of his recordings, such as the studio albums Astral Weeks and Moondance, and the live album It's Too Late to Stop Now, are widely...

, Gilbert O'Sullivan
Gilbert O'Sullivan
Gilbert O'Sullivan is an Irish-English singer-songwriter, best known for his early 1970s hits "Alone Again ", "Clair" and "Get Down". The music magazine, Record Mirror, voted him the No...

, Rory Gallagher
Rory Gallagher
William Rory Gallagher, ; 2 March 1948  – 14 June 1995, was an Irish blues-rock multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and bandleader. Born in Ballyshannon, County Donegal, Ireland, and raised in Cork, Gallagher recorded solo albums throughout the 1970s and 1980s, after forming the band Taste...

, Phil Lynott
Phil Lynott
Philip Parris "Phil" Lynott was an Irish musician who first came to prominence as a founding member, principal songwriter, and frontman of the Irish rock band Thin Lizzy....

, Gary Moore, Sinéad O'Connor
Sinéad O'Connor
Sinéad Marie Bernadette O'Connor is an Irish singer-songwriter. She rose to fame in the late 1980s with her debut album The Lion and the Cobra and achieved worldwide success in 1990 with a cover of the song "Nothing Compares 2 U"....

, Bob Geldof
Bob Geldof
Robert Frederick Zenon "Bob" Geldof, KBE is an Irish singer, songwriter, author, occasional actor and political activist. He rose to prominence as the lead singer of the Irish rock band The Boomtown Rats in the late 1970s and early 1980s alongside the punk rock movement. The band had hits with his...

, Shane MacGowan
Shane MacGowan
Shane Patrick Lysaght MacGowan is an Irish musician and singer, best known as the original singer and songwriter of The Pogues.-History:...

, David King, The Cranberries
The Cranberries
The Cranberries are an Irish rock band formed in Limerick in 1989 under the name The Cranberry Saw Us, later changed by vocalist Dolores O'Riordan. The band currently consists of O'Riordan, guitarist Noel Hogan, bassist Mike Hogan and drummer Fergal Lawler...

, James Galway
James Galway
- External links : IMGArtists.com 15 September 2008. AllAboutJazz.com 5 August 2008.*...

, Colm Wilkinson
Colm Wilkinson
Colm Wilkinson is an Irish tenor, best known for originating the role of Jean Valjean in Les Misérables and for playing the title role in The Phantom of the Opera .Due to his association with these musicals, he reprised the role of...

, Johnny Logan
Johnny Logan (singer)
Johnny Logan , is an Australian-born Irish singer and composer. He is regarded as "Mister Eurovision", having participated in the Eurovision Song Contest many times since the 1970s, and, since 1992, has been the most successful artist in Eurovision history.Logan has won the international contest on...

, Damien Rice
Damien Rice
Damien Rice is an Irish singer-songwriter, musician and record producer who plays guitar, piano, clarinet and percussion....

, Chris de Burgh
Chris de Burgh
Chris de Burgh is a British/Irish singer-songwriter. He is most famous for his 1986 love song "The Lady in Red".-Early life:...

, Glen Hansard
Glen Hansard
Glen Hansard is the Academy Award–winning principal songwriter and vocalist/guitarist for Irish group The Frames and one half of folk rock duo, The Swell Season...

, Kíla
Kíla
Kíla are an Irish folk music/World music group, originally formed in 1987 in the Irish Language secondary school, Coláiste Eoin in Co. Dublin. Kila's blend of Irish traditional music and World Music with a modern rock sensibility is generally credited with breathing new life into contemporary Irish...

, Jedward
Jedward
John Paul Henry Daniel Richard Grimes and Edward Peter Anthony Kevin Patrick Grimes are an Irish hip pop duo. They are identical twins and perform under the name Jedward...

, Boyzone
Boyzone
Boyzone are an Irish boy band comprising Keith Duffy, Mikey Graham, Ronan Keating,Shane Lynch, and formerly Stephen Gately. Boyzone have 19 singles in the top 40 UK charts and 21 singles in the Ire charts. The group currently have 6 UK number one singles and 9 number one singles in Ireland with 12...

, Westlife
Westlife
Westlife are an Irish boy band established on 3 July 1998. They are to disband in 2012. The group's line-up was Nicky Byrne, Kian Egan, Mark Feehily, Shane Filan, and Brian McFadden . The group are the only act in British and Irish history to have their first seven singles peak at number one...

, The Dubliners
The Dubliners
The Dubliners are an Irish folk band founded in 1962.-Formation and history:The Dubliners, initially known as "The Ronnie Drew Ballad Group", formed in 1962 and made a name for themselves playing regularly in O'Donoghue's Pub in Dublin...

, Noel Gallagher
Noel Gallagher
Noel Thomas David Gallagher is an English musician and singer-songwriter, formerly the lead guitarist, backing vocalist and principal songwriter of the English rock band Oasis. He is currently fronting his solo project, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds.Raised in Burnage, Manchester with his...

 and Liam Gallagher
Liam Gallagher
William John Paul "Liam" Gallagher is an English musician and singer-songwriter, the former frontman of the English rock band Oasis and currently of the band Beady Eye. Gallagher's erratic behaviour, distinctive singing style, and abrasive attitude have been the subject of commentary in the press...

.

Famous Irish actors include Maureen O'Hara
Maureen O'Hara
Maureen O'Hara is an Irish film actress and singer. The famously red-headed O'Hara has been noted for playing fiercely passionate heroines with a highly sensible attitude. She often worked with director John Ford and longtime friend John Wayne...

, Peter O'Toole
Peter O'Toole
Peter Seamus Lorcan O'Toole is an Irish actor of stage and screen. O'Toole achieved stardom in 1962 playing T. E. Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia, and then went on to become a highly-honoured film and stage actor. He has been nominated for eight Academy Awards, and holds the record for most...

, Jeremy Renner
Jeremy Renner
Jeremy Lee Renner is a two-time Academy-Award-nominated American actor and musician. Renner appeared in films throughout the 2000s, mostly in supporting roles. He came to prominence in films such as Dahmer , S.W.A.T. , Neo Ned , 28 Weeks Later and The Hurt Locker...

, Liam Neeson
Liam Neeson
Liam John Neeson, OBE is an Irish actor who has been nominated for an Oscar, a BAFTA and three Golden Globe Awards.He has starred in a number of notable roles including Oskar Schindler in Schindler's List, Michael Collins in Michael Collins, Peyton Westlake in Darkman, Jean Valjean in Les...

, Richard Harris
Richard Harris
Richard St John Harris was an Irish actor, singer-songwriter, theatrical producer, film director and writer....

, Greer Garson
Greer Garson
Greer Garson, CBE was a British-born actress who was very popular during World War II, being listed by the Motion Picture Herald as one of America's top ten box office draws in 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945, and 1946. As one of MGM's major stars of the 1940s, Garson received seven Academy Award...

, Pierce Brosnan
Pierce Brosnan
Pierce Brendan Brosnan, OBE is an Irish actor, film producer and environmentalist. After leaving school at 16, Brosnan began training in commercial illustration, but trained at the Drama Centre in London for three years...

, Spike Milligan
Spike Milligan
Terence Alan Patrick Seán "Spike" Milligan Hon. KBE was a comedian, writer, musician, poet, playwright, soldier and actor. His early life was spent in India, where he was born, but the majority of his working life was spent in the United Kingdom. He became an Irish citizen in 1962 after the...

, Stephen Boyd
Stephen Boyd
Stephen Boyd was an Irish actor, from Glengormley, Northern Ireland, who appeared in around 60 films, most notably in the role of Messala in Ben-Hur.-Biography:...

, Brendan Gleeson
Brendan Gleeson
Brendan Gleeson is an Irish actor. His best-known films include Braveheart, Gangs of New York, In Bruges, 28 Days Later, the Harry Potter films, The Guard and the role of Michael Collins in The Treaty...

, Cillian Murphy
Cillian Murphy
Cillian Murphy is an Irish film and theatre actor. He is often noted by critics for his chameleonic performances in diverse roles and distinctive blue eyes and general sex appeal....

, Colm Meaney
Colm Meaney
Colm J. Meaney is an Irish actor widely known for playing Miles O'Brien in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. He is second only to Michael Dorn in most appearances in Star Trek episodes. He has guest-starred on many TV shows from Law & Order to The Simpsons...

, Colin Farrell
Colin Farrell
Colin James Farrell is an Irish actor, who has appeared in such film as Tigerland, Miami Vice, Minority Report, Phone Booth, The Recruit, Alexander and S.W.A.T....

, Robert Sheehan, Saoirse Ronan
Saoirse Ronan
Saoirse Una Ronan is an Irish film actress. She began her career as a child and came to international prominence in 2007 after co-starring in the film Atonement, which gained her nominations for a BAFTA, a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.Ronan has since appeared in...

, Brendan Coyle
Brendan Coyle
-Early life and family:Coyle was born in Corby, Northamptonshire, to an Irish father and Scottish mother; his parents moved to Corby from Strabane, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. Coyle holds Irish and British citizenship. He is the great nephew of football manager Sir Matt Busby...

 and Jonathan Rhys Meyers. One of the most significant national Irish media figures is Gay Byrne
Gay Byrne
Gabriel Mary "Gay" Byrne is a veteran Irish presenter of radio and television. His most notable role was first host of The Late Late Show over a 37-year period spanning 1962 until 1999...

, who presented The Late Late Show from 1962–1999. There are several other Irish broadcasters of note who developed careers outside of Ireland, such as Terry Wogan
Terry Wogan
Sir Michael Terence Wogan, KBE, DL , or also known as Terry Wogan, is a veteran Irish radio and television broadcaster who holds dual Irish and British citizenship. Wogan has worked for the BBC in the United Kingdom for most of his career...

, Graham Norton
Graham Norton
Graham William Walker, known by his stage name Graham Norton , is an Irish actor, comedian, television presenter and columnist...

 and Eamonn Andrews
Eamonn Andrews
Eamonn Andrews, CBE , was an Irish television presenter based in the United Kingdom.-Life and career:...

, who are well known internationally.

Famous Irish film directors include Pat O'Connor
Pat O'Connor (director)
Pat O'Connor, born in Ardmore, County Waterford, is an Irish film director.In 1982, O'Connor won a Jacob's Award for his direction of the RTÉ TV adaptation of William Trevor's short story, Ballroom of Romance starring Cyril Cusack and Brenda Fricker. It was shot near the village of Ballycroy,...

, Terry George
Terry George
Terry George is an Irish screenwriter and director. Born and raised in Belfast, Northern Ireland much of his film work involves the Troubles in Northern Ireland...

, Brian Desmond Hurst
Brian Desmond Hurst
thumb|right|200px|Portrait by [[Allan Warren]]Brian Desmond Hurst was a Belfast-born film director. Responsible for over 30 movies as director, Hurst was Ireland's most prolific movie director during the 20th century.-Early life:Hurst was born Hans Hurst in Ribble Street, East Belfast"". into a...

, and Neil Jordan
Neil Jordan
Neil Patrick Jordan is an Irish filmmaker and novelist. He won an Academy Award for The Crying Game.- Early life :...

.

Also, Miranda Cosgrove
Miranda Cosgrove
Miranda Taylor Cosgrove is an American actress and singer-songwriter. Her career began at the age of three, where she participated in television commercials. Cosgrove's film debut was in 2003, as Summer Hathaway in School of Rock...

 is an American celebrity of Irish descent

Famous Irish news personalities include Soledad O'Brien
Soledad O'Brien
María de la Soledad Teresa O'Brien is an American Broadcast journalist. She is currently the host of the "In America" documentary unit on CNN, and is best known for anchoring the CNN marquee morning newscast American Morning from July 2003 to April 2007, with Miles O'Brien...

 of CNN.

In sport, modern Irish figures include Colm Cooper
Colm Cooper
Colm ‘Gooch’ Cooper is an Irish sportsperson. He plays Gaelic football with his local club Dr. Croke’s and has been a member of the Kerry senior inter-county team since 2002. Cooper is regarded as one of the greatest players of his generation.-Club:Cooper helped Dr. Crokes win the 2000 Kerry...

, Peter Canavan
Peter Canavan
Peter Canavan is manager of Fermanagh and an Irish former Gaelic football player for Tyrone, and is one of the most decorated players in the game's history, winning two All-Ireland Senior Football Championship medals, six GAA All Stars Awards , four provincial titles, and two National Leagues and...

, Darragh Ó Sé
Darragh Ó Sé
Darragh Ó Sé is a former Irish sportsperson. He plays Gaelic football with his local club An Ghaeltacht and was a member of the Kerry senior inter-county team from 1994 until 2009. Ó Sé has made more championship appearances than any other player in the history of the game...

 and Pádraic Joyce
Pádraic Joyce
Pádraic Joyce |Galway]], Ireland) is a current inter-county Gaelic football player for Galway. He plays his club football with Killererin. He is regarded in GAA circles as one of the best forwards in the game over the past decade. His key abilities include excellent accuracy both from frees and...

 (Gaelic football
Gaelic football
Gaelic football , commonly referred to as "football" or "Gaelic", or "Gah" is a form of football played mainly in Ireland...

), Henry Shefflin
Henry Shefflin
Henry Shefflin is an Irish sportsperson. He plays hurling with his local club Ballyhale Shamrocks and has been a member of the Kilkenny senior inter-county team since 1999...

, Joe Canning
Joe Canning
Joe Canning is an Irish sportsperson. He plays hurling with his local club Portumna and has been a member of the Galway senior inter-county team since 2008....

 and Seán Óg Ó hAilpín
Seán Óg Ó hAilpín
Seán Óg Ó hAilpín is an iconic Irish-Fijian sportsperson. A former dual player, he currently plays hurling with his local club Na Piarsaigh and is a member of the Cork senior inter-county team. Ó hAilpín captained Cork to the All-Ireland title in 2005...

 (hurling
Hurling
Hurling is an outdoor team game of ancient Gaelic origin, administered by the Gaelic Athletic Association, and played with sticks called hurleys and a ball called a sliotar. Hurling is the national game of Ireland. The game has prehistoric origins, has been played for at least 3,000 years, and...

); George Best
George Best
George Best was a professional footballer from Northern Ireland, who played for Manchester United and the Northern Ireland national team. He was a winger whose game combined pace, acceleration, balance, two-footedness, goalscoring and the ability to beat defenders...

, Packie Bonner
Packie Bonner
Patrick Joseph "Packie" Bonner is an Irish former football goalkeeper for Celtic and the Republic of Ireland, who earned 80 caps after making his debut on his 21st birthday...

, Richard Dunne
Richard Dunne
Richard Patrick Dunne is an Irish footballer who plays as a defender for Aston Villa and the Republic of Ireland national football team. With Ireland he was a member of the 2002 FIFA World Cup squad and helped his team qualify for UEFA Euro 2012.Dunne began his professional career at Everton...

, Robbie Keane
Robbie Keane
Robert David "Robbie" Keane is an Irish association football player who plays as a striker for Los Angeles Galaxy in Major League Soccer and captains the Irish national football team....

, Roy Keane
Roy Keane
Roy Maurice Keane is an Irish former footballer and manager. In his 18-year playing career, he played for Cobh Ramblers in the League of Ireland, Nottingham Forest and Manchester United, before ending his career at Celtic in Scotland....

, Shay Given
Shay Given
Séamus John James "Shay" Given is an Irish footballer who plays for Aston Villa and the Republic of Ireland national team as a goalkeeper. He won the PFA's Player of the Year in 2002....

, Steve Staunton
Steve Staunton
Stephen "Steve" Staunton is an Irish association football manager and former professional footballer, who was most recently manager of Darlington...

, Pat Jennings
Pat Jennings
Patrick Anthony "Pat" Jennings OBE is a Northern Ireland former football player. He played 119 games for Northern Ireland as a goalkeeper, a figure which at the time was a world record and is still a Northern Ireland record, in an international career which lasted for over 22 years...

, Danny Blanchflower
Danny Blanchflower
Robert Dennis "Danny" Blanchflower was a former Northern Ireland international footballer and football manager, and journalist who captained Tottenham Hotspur F.C. during its double-winning season of 1961. He was ranked as the greatest player in Spurs history by The Times in 2009...

 and Martin O'Neill
Martin O'Neill
Martin Hugh Michael O'Neill, OBE, is a Northern Irish football manager and former player.Until resigning the post on 9 August 2010, he was manager of Aston Villa. Starting his career in his native Northern Ireland, O'Neill moved to England where he spent most of his playing career with Nottingham...

 (soccer); Pádraig Harrington
Padraig Harrington
Pádraig P. Harrington is an Irish professional golfer who plays on The European Tour and The PGA Tour. He has won three major championships: The Open Championship in 2007 and 2008 and the PGA Championship, also in 2008.-Background:...

, Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy is a Northern Irish professional golfer from Holywood in County Down. He has represented Europe, Great Britain & Ireland, and Ireland as both an amateur and a professional. He had a successful amateur career, topping the World Amateur Golf Ranking for one week as a 17-year-old in 2007...

, Paul McGinley
Paul McGinley
Paul McGinley is an Irish golfer who plays on the European Tour. He is most famous for holing the winning putt for the European team in the 2002 Ryder Cup. He currently resides in Sunningdale, England....

 and Darren Clarke
Darren Clarke
Darren Christopher Clarke is a professional golfer from Northern Ireland who currently plays on the European Tour and has previously played on the PGA Tour. He has won 22 tournaments worldwide on a number of golf's main tours including the European Tour, the PGA Tour, the Sunshine Tour and the...

 (golf); Steve Collins
Steve Collins
Stephen Collins, more commonly known as Steve Collins, is a former professional boxer. Known as the "The Celtic Warrior", Collins is the former WBO middleweight and super middleweight champion....

, Barry McGuigan
Barry McGuigan
Finbarr Patrick McGuigan MBE , known as Barry McGuigan and nicknamed The Clones Cyclone, is a former Irish and British professional boxer who became a world featherweight champion.-Background:...

 and Bernard Dunne
Bernard Dunne
Bernard Dunne is a retired Irish professional boxer and a former WBA, and European super bantamweight champion.On Saturday 21 March 2009, Dunne waged the war that he would be best remembered for and defeated Ricardo Cordoba in the 11th round to become the WBA super bantamweight champion in a fight...

 (boxing
Boxing
Boxing, also called pugilism, is a combat sport in which two people fight each other using their fists. Boxing is supervised by a referee over a series of between one to three minute intervals called rounds...

); Keith Wood
Keith Wood
Keith Gerard Mallinson Wood and educated at St Munchin's College, Limerick is a former international rugby union footballer who played hooker for Ireland, the Lions, Garryowen, Harlequins and Munster....

, Brian O'Driscoll
Brian O'Driscoll
Brian O'Driscoll is an Irish professional rugby union player. He is the current captain of the Ireland Rugby team and captained Leinster Rugby until the start of 2008 season. He also captained the British and Irish Lions for their 2005 tour of New Zealand...

, and Paul O'Connell
Paul O'Connell
Paul O'Connell is an Irish rugby union player who plays lock for Munster and Ireland. He also captained the British and Irish Lions on their 2009 tour to South Africa.-Early life:...

 (Rugby Union
Rugby union
Rugby union, often simply referred to as rugby, is a full contact team sport which originated in England in the early 19th century. One of the two codes of rugby football, it is based on running with the ball in hand...

); Sir Tim O'Brien, Bt.
Sir Tim O'Brien, 3rd Baronet
Sir Timothy "Tim" Carew O'Brien, 3rd Baronet was born at Dublin on 5 November 1861 and died at Ramsey, Isle of Man on 9 December 1948. He was an Irish baronet who played cricket for England in five Test matches....

, William Porterfield
William Porterfield
William Thomas Stuart Porterfield in Donemana, Northern Ireland, is an Irish cricketer. He is a left-handed batsman and the captain of the Ireland cricket team. He has played for the senior Ireland since 2006 and the Under-19s since 2003...

, Niall O'Brien
Niall O'Brien (cricketer)
Niall John O'Brien is an Irish cricketer educated at Marian College, Ballsbridge. He is a left-handed batsman and wicket-keeper. O'Brien's brother Kevin plays with him in the Irish team...

, Ed Joyce
Ed Joyce
Edmund Christopher Joyce is an Irish cricketer who has played for both the Irish and English national cricket teams. After beginning his career with Middlesex, he moved to Sussex in 2009. A left-handed batsman and occasional right-arm bowler of medium pace, Joyce is widely regarded as one of the...

 and Eoin Morgan
Eoin Morgan
Eoin Joseph Gerard Morgan is an Irish cricketer who plays for the England national cricket team. A left-handed batsman, he plays county cricket for Middlesex and has been selected for England's Test, ODI and Twenty20 squads. He originally represented his native Ireland at international level...

 (cricket
Cricket
Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of 11 players on an oval-shaped field, at the centre of which is a rectangular 22-yard long pitch. One team bats, trying to score as many runs as possible while the other team bowls and fields, trying to dismiss the batsmen and thus limit the...

); Dame Mary Peters
Mary Peters (athlete)
Dame Mary Elizabeth Peters, DBE, DL is a former British athlete, competing mainly in the pentathlon and shot put.-Biography:Mary Peters was born in Halewood, Lancashire, but moved to Ballymena at age eleven...

, Eamonn Coghlan
Eamonn Coghlan
Eamonn Christopher Coghlan is an Irish Senator and former athlete, who specialised in middle distance track events and the 5000 metres...

, John Treacy
John Treacy
John Treacy is a former Irish athlete and Olympic medalist, who represented Ireland at four Olympic Games between 1980 and 1992.- Career :...

 and Sonia O'Sullivan
Sonia O'Sullivan
Sonia O'Sullivan in Cobh, County Cork. She began her running career in Ballymore Running Club which is located in the eastern side of Cobh Town. She was one of the world's leading female 5000 m runners for most of the 1990s and early first decade of the 21st century...

 (athletics
Athletics (track and field)
Athletics is an exclusive collection of sporting events that involve competitive running, jumping, throwing, and walking. The most common types of athletics competitions are track and field, road running, cross country running, and race walking...

); Sean Kelly
Seán Kelly (cyclist)
John James 'Sean' Kelly is an Irish former professional road bicycle racer. He was one of the most successful road cyclists of the 1980s, and one of the finest classics riders of all time. From turning professional in 1977 until his retirement in 1994, he won nine monument classics, and 193...

 and Stephen Roche
Stephen Roche
Stephen Roche is a retired professional road racing cyclist. In a 13-year professional career, he peaked in 1987, becoming only the second cyclist to win the Triple Crown of victories in the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia stage races, plus the World road race championship...

 (cycling); Michelle Smith
Michelle Smith
Michelle Smith is a retired Irish swimmer and practising Irish barrister. She was a triple gold medallist at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, for the 400 m individual medley, 400 m freestyle and 200 m individual medley...

, Andrew Bree
Andrew Bree
Andrew Patrick Bree is a breaststroke swimmer from Helen's Bay, Co. Down Northern Ireland. He is a 2-time Irish Olympian, having swum at the 2000 and 2008 Olympics....

 (swimming); Dave Finlay
Dave Finlay
David John "Fit" Finlay Jr. is a Northern Irish professional wrestler and road agent. He is perhaps best known for his time in World Championship Wrestling and WWE as an active wrestler and later as a road agent...

, Sheamus (wrestling
Wrestling
Wrestling is a form of grappling type techniques such as clinch fighting, throws and takedowns, joint locks, pins and other grappling holds. A wrestling bout is a physical competition, between two competitors or sparring partners, who attempt to gain and maintain a superior position...

); and Brian Carney (Rugby League
Rugby league
Rugby league football, usually called rugby league, is a full contact sport played by two teams of thirteen players on a rectangular grass field. One of the two codes of rugby football, it originated in England in 1895 by a split from Rugby Football Union over paying players...

)

Ireland has produced many famous comedians, known both nationally and internationally. Many of them draw their humour from being Irish, or from their province, county or locality. Irish comedians who were born or raised in Dublin include Dave Allen
Dave Allen (comedian)
David Tynan O'Mahoney , better known as Dave Allen, was an Irish comedian, very popular in Great Britain, Australia, and Canada in the 1960s and 1970s. He also became known in the United States through repeats of his shows on public television. His career had a major resurgence during the late...

, Frank Kelly
Frank Kelly
Frank Kelly is an Irish actor, singer and writer, whose career has covered television, radio, theatre, music, screenwriting and film. He is best known for his role as Father Jack Hackett in the comedy Father Ted. He is the son of the cartoonist Charles E...

, Dermot Morgan
Dermot Morgan
Dermot John Morgan was an Irish comedian, actor and former schoolteacher, who achieved international renown for his roles as Father Ted Crilly in the Channel 4 sitcom Father Ted and a strip club MC in Taffin....

, Ed Byrne
Ed Byrne
Ed Byrne is a Perrier Award-nominated, Irish stand-up comedian, voice over artist and actor. He has presented television shows Uncut! Best Unseen Ads and Just for Laughs, and is a regular guest on various television panel games...

, Andrew Maxwell
Andrew Maxwell
Andrew Maxwell is an Irish stand-up comedian. Raised in Kilbarrack, Dublin, and now resident in London, he is a father of two. He regularly appears on The Panel.-Early life:...

, and Jason Byrne
Jason Byrne (comedian)
Jason Byrne is an Irish comedian born in Ballinteer, Dublin, Ireland. In August 2008, he made his twelfth Edinburgh Fringe Festival appearance and is a regular at the Kilkenny Cat Laughs comedy festival....

. Ulster
Ulster
Ulster is one of the four provinces of Ireland, located in the north of the island. In ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for administrative and judicial...

-born comedians include Colin Murphy
Colin Murphy (comedian)
Colin Murphy is an Irish comedian. He was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland but now lives in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland. He is best known for his television work hosting and co-writing The Blizzard of Odd, The Unbelievable Truth, and as resident panelist on The Panel for RTÉ and The Blame Game...

, Patrick Kielty
Patrick Kielty
Patrick Kielty is an Irish comedian and television personality from Dundrum, Northern Ireland.-Background:He was affected by The Troubles in Northern Ireland. On 25 January 1988 his father, businessman Jack Kielty, was shot dead by the Ulster Defence Association /"Ulster Freedom Fighters" , a...

, Jake O'Kane
Jake O'Kane
Jake O’Kane is a Belfast-based stand-up comedian, and a resident compère of Northern Ireland’s longest running comedy club, The Empire Laughs Back at The Empire Music Hall in Belfast....

, Conal Gallen
Conal Gallen
Conal Gallen is an Irish comedian and singer from Ballybofey, County Donegal. He is best known for his comedic songs, including "Anna From Buncrana" and "Horse It in to ya Cynthia". Conal has made numerous live appearances around Ireland, on both sides of the border, in venues such as The...

 and Ardal O'Hanlon
Ardal O'Hanlon
Ardal O'Hanlon is an Irish comedian and actor, best known for his roles in television sitcoms as Father Dougal McGuire in Father Ted and George Sunday in My Hero.-Early life:...

, while Leinster
Leinster
Leinster is one of the Provinces of Ireland situated in the east of Ireland. It comprises the ancient Kingdoms of Mide, Osraige and Leinster. Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the historic fifths of Leinster and Mide gradually merged, mainly due to the impact of the Pale, which straddled...

 has also produced, Dara Ó Briain
Dara Ó Briain
Dara Ó Briain is an Irish stand-up comedian and television presenter, noted for hosting topical panel shows such as The Panel and Mock the Week....

, Neil Delamere, Tommy Tiernan
Tommy Tiernan
Tommy Tiernan is an Irish comedian, actor and writer. He and Hector Ó hEochagáin present The Tommy and Hector Show on i102-104FM. Tiernan also featured in Father Ted.-Early life:...

, Deirdre O'Kane
Deirdre O'Kane
Deirdre O'Kane originally from Drogheda, County Louth, Ireland, became a stand-up comic in 1996 and got into the finals of the BBC New Comedy Awards of that year. She has played at the Edinburgh Festival every year since including 2001 where she not only performed her own solo show, Deirdre O'Kane...

 and Dylan Moran
Dylan Moran
Dylan Moran is an Irish stand-up comedian, writer, actor and filmmaker. He is best known for his sardonic observational comedy, the UK television sitcom Black Books , and his work with Simon Pegg in Shaun of the Dead and Run Fatboy Run...

. Munster
Munster
Munster is one of the Provinces of Ireland situated in the south of Ireland. In Ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for administrative and judicial purposes...

 and Connaught
Connacht
Connacht , formerly anglicised as Connaught, is one of the Provinces of Ireland situated in the west of Ireland. In Ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for...

 have produced comedian Pat Shortt
Pat Shortt
Pat Shortt is an actor, comedian and entertainer. In 2007, he starred in the film Garage, directed by Lenny Abrahamson for which he won the Best Actor award at the 2008 IFTAs...

, Graham Norton
Graham Norton
Graham William Walker, known by his stage name Graham Norton , is an Irish actor, comedian, television presenter and columnist...

, and comedienne Pauline McLynn
Pauline McLynn
Pauline McLynn is an Irish actress, comedienne and author, best known for playing Mrs Doyle in the Channel 4 sitcom Father Ted, and Libby Croker in the Channel 4 comedy drama Shameless.- Early life :...

 respectively. Comedians of Irish descent, born outside Ireland, include George Carlin
George Carlin
George Denis Patrick Carlin was an American stand-up comedian, social critic, actor and author, who won five Grammy Awards for his comedy albums....

, Des Bishop
Des Bishop
Des Bishop is an Irish comedian and was brought up in New York. He is now primarily based in Ireland, after moving to County Wexford in 1990 at the age of 14.-Approach to Comedy:...

 (who performed the first live stand up gig in Irish), Conan O'Brien
Conan O'Brien
Conan Christopher O'Brien is an American television host, comedian, writer, producer and performer. Since November 2010 he has hosted Conan, a late-night talk show that airs on the American cable television station TBS....

, Stephen Byrne (broadcaster) and Jimmy Carr
Jimmy Carr
James Anthony Patrick "Jimmy" Carr is an English-Irish comedian and humourist. He is known for his deadpan delivery and dark humour. He is also a writer, actor and presenter of radio and television....

.

Irish diaspora

The Irish diaspora consists of Irish emigrants
Emigration
Emigration is the act of leaving one's country or region to settle in another. It is the same as immigration but from the perspective of the country of origin. Human movement before the establishment of political boundaries or within one state is termed migration. There are many reasons why people...

 and their descendants in countries
Country
A country is a region legally identified as a distinct entity in political geography. A country may be an independent sovereign state or one that is occupied by another state, as a non-sovereign or formerly sovereign political division, or a geographic region associated with a previously...

 such as the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and nations of the Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

 such as Jamaica
Jamaica
Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length, up to in width and 10,990 square kilometres in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about south of Cuba, and west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

 and Barbados
Barbados
Barbados is an island country in the Lesser Antilles. It is in length and as much as in width, amounting to . It is situated in the western area of the North Atlantic and 100 kilometres east of the Windward Islands and the Caribbean Sea; therein, it is about east of the islands of Saint...

. These countries, known sometimes as the Anglosphere
Anglosphere
Anglosphere is a neologism which refers to those nations with English as the most common language. The term can be used more specifically to refer to those nations which share certain characteristics within their cultures based on a linguistic heritage, through being former British colonies...

, all have large minorities of Irish descent, who in addition form the core of the Catholic Church in those countries. People of Irish descent also feature strongly in Latin America, especially in Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

 and important minorities in Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, Chile, and Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

. In 1995, President Mary Robinson
Mary Robinson
Mary Therese Winifred Robinson served as the seventh, and first female, President of Ireland from 1990 to 1997, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, from 1997 to 2002. She first rose to prominence as an academic, barrister, campaigner and member of the Irish Senate...

 reached out to the "70 million people worldwide who can claim Irish descent." Today the diaspora
Diaspora
A diaspora is "the movement, migration, or scattering of people away from an established or ancestral homeland" or "people dispersed by whatever cause to more than one location", or "people settled far from their ancestral homelands".The word has come to refer to historical mass-dispersions of...

 is believed to contain an estimated 80 million people.

There are also large Irish communities in some mainland European countries, notably in Spain, France and Germany. Between 1585 and 1818, over half a million Irish departed Ireland to serve in the wars on the continent, in a constant emigration romantically styled the "Flight of the Wild Geese
Flight of the Wild Geese
The Flight of the Wild Geese refers to the departure of an Irish Jacobite army under the command of Patrick Sarsfield from Ireland to France, as agreed in the Treaty of Limerick on October 3, 1691, following the end of the Williamite War in Ireland...

". In the early years of the English Civil War
English Civil War
The English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists...

, a French traveller remarked that the Irish "are better soldiers abroad than at home". Later, Irish brigades in France and Spain fought in the Wars of the Spanish and Austrian Succession and the Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

. In the words of Arthur Wellesley
Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington
Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, KG, GCB, GCH, PC, FRS , was an Irish-born British soldier and statesman, and one of the leading military and political figures of the 19th century...

, the Irish-born "Iron Duke" of Wellington
Duke of Wellington
The Dukedom of Wellington, derived from Wellington in Somerset, is a hereditary title in the senior rank of the Peerage of the United Kingdom. The first holder of the title was Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington , the noted Irish-born career British Army officer and statesman, and...

, a notable representative of the Irish military diaspora
Irish military diaspora
The Irish military diaspora refers to the many people of either Irish birth or extraction who have served in foreign military forces, regardless of rank, duration of service, or success....

, "Ireland was an inexhaustible nursery for the finest soldiers".

The most famous cause of emigration was the Great Famine of the late 1840s. A million are thought to have emigrated to Liverpool
Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

 as a result of the famine. For both the Irish in Ireland and those in the resulting diaspora
Irish diaspora
thumb|Night Train with Reaper by London Irish artist [[Brian Whelan]] from the book Myth of Return, 2007The Irish diaspora consists of Irish emigrants and their descendants in countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, Argentina, New Zealand, Mexico, South Africa,...

, the famine entered folk memory
Folk memory
Folk memories is a term sometimes used to describe stories, folklore or myths about past events that have passed orally from generation to generation. The events described by the memories may date back hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands of years and often have a local significance...

 and became a rallying point for various nationalist movements
Irish nationalism
Irish nationalism manifests itself in political and social movements and in sentiment inspired by a love for Irish culture, language and history, and as a sense of pride in Ireland and in the Irish people...

.

People of Irish descent are the second largest self-reported ethnic group in the United States, after German American
German American
German Americans are citizens of the United States of German ancestry and comprise about 51 million people, or 17% of the U.S. population, the country's largest self-reported ancestral group...

s. Nine of the signatories of the American Declaration of Independence were of Irish origin. Among them was the sole Catholic signatory, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Charles Carroll of Carrollton was a wealthy Maryland planter and an early advocate of independence from Great Britain. He served as a delegate to the Continental Congress and later as United States Senator for Maryland...

, whose family were the descendants of Ely O’Carroll, an Irish prince who had suffered under Cromwell.
At least twenty-five presidents of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 have some Irish ancestral origins, including George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

. Since John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

 took office in 1961, every American President has had some Irish blood. An Irish-American, James Hoban
James Hoban
James Hoban was an Irish architect, best known for designing The White House in Washington, D.C.-Life:James Hoban was born and raised in a thatched cottage on the Earl of Desart's estate in Cuffesgrange, near Callan in Co. Kilkenny...

, was the designer of the White House
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

. Commodore John Barry
John Barry (naval officer)
John Barry was an officer in the Continental Navy during the American Revolutionary War and later in the United States Navy. He is often credited as "The Father of the American Navy"...

 was the father of the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

.

In the mid-19th century, large numbers of Irish immigrants were conscripted into Irish regiments of the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 at the time of the Mexican-American War. The vast majority of the 4,811 Irish-born soldiers served in the U.S. Army, but some defected to the Mexican Army
Mexican Army
The Mexican Army is the combined land and air branch and largest of the Mexican Military services; it also is known as the National Defense Army. It is famous for having been the first army to adopt and use an automatic rifle, , in 1899, and the first to issue automatic weapons as standard issue...

, primarily to escape mistreatment by Anglo-Protestant officers and the strong anti-Catholic discrimination in America. These were the San Patricios, or Saint Patrick's Battalion
Saint Patrick's Battalion
The Saint Patrick's Battalion , formed and led by Jon Riley, was a unit of 175 to several hundred immigrants and expatriates of European descent who fought as part of the Mexican Army against the United States in the Mexican-American War of 1846 to 1848. Most of the battalion's members had...

—a group of Irish led by Galway
Galway
Galway or City of Galway is a city in County Galway, Republic of Ireland. It is the sixth largest and the fastest-growing city in Ireland. It is also the third largest city within the Republic and the only city in the Province of Connacht. Located on the west coast of Ireland, it sits on the...

-born John O'Riley, with some German
Roman Catholicism in Germany
The German Catholic Church, part of the worldwide Catholic Church, is under the leadership of the Pope, curia in Rome, and the German bishops. The current president of the conference is Robert Zollitsch, the archbishop to Freiburg, the country's second largest diocese with 2.07 million Catholics...

, Scottish
Roman Catholicism in Scotland
Roman Catholicism in Scotland , overseen by the Scottish Bishops' Conference, is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, the Christian Church in full communion with the Pope, currently Pope Benedict XVI. After being firmly established in Scotland for a millennium, Catholicism was outlawed following...

 and American Catholics
Roman Catholicism in the United States
The Catholic Church in the United States is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, the Christian Church in full communion with the Pope. With more than 68.5 registered million members, it is the largest single religious denomination in the United States, comprising about 22 percent of the population...

. They fought until their surrender at the decisive Battle of Churubusco
Battle of Churubusco
The Battle of Churubusco took place on August 20, 1847, in the immediate aftermath of the Battle of Contreras during the Mexican-American War. After defeating the Mexican army at Churubusco, the U.S. Army was only 5 miles away from Mexico City, the capital of the nation...

, and were executed outside Mexico City
Mexico City
Mexico City is the Federal District , capital of Mexico and seat of the federal powers of the Mexican Union. It is a federal entity within Mexico which is not part of any one of the 31 Mexican states but belongs to the federation as a whole...

 by the American government on 13 September 1847. The battalion is commemorated in Mexico each year on 12 September.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, 300,000 free emigrants and 45,000 convicts left Ireland to settle in Australia. Today, Australians of Irish descent are one of the largest self-reported ethnic groups in Australia, after English and Australian. In the 2006 Census, 1,803,741 residents identified themselves as having Irish ancestry either alone or in combination with another ancestry. However this figure does not include Australians with an Irish background who chose to nominate themselves as 'Australian' or other ancestries. The Australian embassy in Dublin states that up to 30 percent of the population claim some degree of Irish ancestry.

It is believed that as many as 30,000 Irish people emigrated to Argentina between the 1830s and the 1890s. Today Irish-Argentines number over 1,000,000—about 1.25% of the population. Some famous Argentines of Irish descent include Che Guevara
Che Guevara
Ernesto "Che" Guevara , commonly known as el Che or simply Che, was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, intellectual, guerrilla leader, diplomat and military theorist...

, former president Edelmiro Julián Farrell
Edelmiro Julián Farrell
General Edelmiro Julián Farrell Plaul was an Argentine military officer of Irish descent. He was the de facto president of Argentina between 1944 and 1946....

, and admiral William Brown
William Brown (admiral)
Admiral William Brown was an Irish-born Argentine Admiral. Brown's victories in the Independence War, the Argentina-Brazil War, and the Anglo-French blockade of the Río de la Plata earned the respect and appreciation of the Argentine people, and today he is regarded as one of Argentina's national...

. There are people of Irish descent all over South America, such as the Chilean liberator Bernardo O'Higgins
Bernardo O'Higgins
Bernardo O'Higgins Riquelme was a Chilean independence leader who, together with José de San Martín, freed Chile from Spanish rule in the Chilean War of Independence. Although he was the second Supreme Director of Chile , he is considered one of Chile's founding fathers, as he was the first holder...

 and the Peruvian photographer Mario Testino
Mario Testino
-Early Life:Testino grew up in Lima, the eldest son of a businessman. When he was young he wanted to be a priest. Testino recalls being unpopular at school because of his flamboyance. He was good at math and went on to study economics at Universidad del Pacífico, where his insistence on wearing...

. Although some Irish retained their surnames intact, others were assimilated into the Spanish vernacular. The last name O'Brien, for example, became Obregón.

People of Irish descent are also one of the largest self-reported ethnic groups in Canada, after English
English Canadian
An English Canadian is a Canadian of English ancestry; it is used primarily in contrast with French Canadian. Canada is an officially bilingual state, with English and French official language communities. Immigrant cultural groups ostensibly integrate into one or both of these communities, but...

, French
French Canadian
French Canadian or Francophone Canadian, , generally refers to the descendents of French colonists who arrived in New France in the 17th and 18th centuries...

 and Scottish Canadian
Scottish Canadian
Scottish Canadians are people of Scottish descent or heritage living in Canada. As the third-largest ethnic group in Canada and among the first to settle in Canada, Scottish people have made a large impact on Canadian culture since colonial times...

s. As of 2006, Irish Canadian
Irish Canadian
Irish Canadian are immigrants and descendants of immigrants who originated in Ireland. 1.2 million Irish immigrants arrived, 1825 to 1970, at least half of those in the period from 1831-1850. By 1867, they were the second largest ethnic group , and comprised 24% of Canada's population...

s number around 4,354,155.

See also

  • European ethnic groups
    European ethnic groups
    The ethnic groups in Europe are the various ethnic groups that reside in the nations of Europe. European ethnology is the field of anthropology focusing on Europe....

  • Irish martial arts
    Irish martial arts
    There are a number of traditional martial arts styles native to Ireland.The Irish language term for "martial arts" is .Traditional styles include Dornálíocht , Coraíocht , Speachóireacht , and Batadóireacht .- Boxing :Dornálaíocht, pronounced "durn-awly-okt" is the Irish word for boxing, dorn...

  • List of expatriate Irish populations
  • List of Ireland-related topics
  • List of Americans of Irish descent
  • The Ireland Funds
    The Ireland Funds
    The Ireland Funds are a global fundraising network for people of Irish ancestry and friends of Ireland, dedicated to raising funds to support programs of peace and reconciliation, arts and culture, education and community development throughout the island of Ireland...


External links

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