Capital | Dublin (Republic of Ireland), Belfast (Northern Ireland)
Population | 4,670,976 (July 2011 est.)
Area | 70,280 SQ KM
Official Language | English, Irish
Holidays | Saint Patrick's Day, 17 March
Currency | Euro (EUR)
Time Zone | UTC 0
Best Time to Visit | May to September, when the weather is warmer and the days are longer
Connecting with the Culture | Enjoying Dublin’s gorgeous old pubs and cutting-edge nightclub. Visiting the ancient ring fort of Dún Aengus. Feeling history come alive at beautifully restored Kilkenny Castle. Exploring the country’s past at County Offaly’s Clonmacnoise monastery city. Checking out the murals in West Belfast for an insight into the history of the Troubles. Sampling the whiskey at Bushmills Distillery, Country Antrim.
Read | McCarthy’s Bar, a terrifically funny account of the author’s quest to explore his cultural heritage.
Listen | to anything by U2 and Sinead O’Connor, or more recent offerings by Damien Rice such as 0.
Watch | The Commitments for good fun and The Quiet Man for an all-time classic family favourite.
Eat | soda bread, a fry-up, smoked salmon and Kimberly biscuits.
Drink | Guinness, whiskey and red lemonade.
In a Word | What’s the craic? (what’s happening?)
Characteristics | Potatoes; harps; shamrocks; Guinness; the good people (leprechauns); American tourists; shillelaghs; ceilidh; the Corrs; the Troubles; James Joyce.
Surprises | The Irish drink more tea per capita than any other nation in the world; until the 19th century the national colour of the Emerald Isle was blue, as the flag of St Patrick featured a gold harp on a blue background.
NEWS ABOUT IRELAND:
Vatican: Irish Catholic trainee priests should attend child protection classes
(3.11.12) - Every trainee Catholic priest in Ireland must attend child protection classes, the Vatican has recommended in a major report on how the church handled the republic's clerical abuse scandals. Vatican Radio released the findings of the Holy See's widespread investigation into seminaries and dioceses across the island of Ireland. It was ordered directly by Pope Benedict XVI as Rome sought to address the child abuse crisis that has severely undermined its reputation and authority in the republic. (READ MORE from The Guardian)