The Country of Ireland
Ireland is an island on the western edge of Europe, 480 km long and 240 km wide, with a population of a little over six million. The capital city of the Republic of Ireland is Dublin. The country is a constitutional democracy and is a member of both the United Nations and the European Union.
Ireland is an English-speaking country and is well known for being friendly and safe. In fact, Ireland was voted the world’s friendliest country in 2008 and 2010 by Lonely Planet. There is a large international student population, studying in various disciplines, at each of the universities and institutes of technology that are dotted around the country.
The beauty of Ireland is legendary and is known as the “Emerald Isle,” offering rich green landscapes, over 5500 km of largely unspoiled coastline and metropolitan cities that are rich in history. In Ireland, the climate is mild year round. One is never more than 110 km from the sea, making it possible to take a day trip to the coast even from the most centrally located inland towns.
Ireland is also known as “The Land of Saints and Scholars,” since throughout the middle ages, it was the monks of Ireland who kept much of European education alive. This commitment to scholarship has continued down through the centuries. Ireland is now renowned for its focus on high-quality third-level education in training future leaders in the sciences, business and the arts. Ireland’s long-term investment in education has given a good return, as evidenced by the number of multinational companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple who have established themselves in Ireland because of its highly-educated, well-trained, young English-speaking workforce.
City of Dublin
Dublin began as a Viking settlement founded over one thousand years ago on the banks of the River Liffey and situated on a majestic broad sweeping bay. Dublin is now Ireland’s largest city, with over a million inhabitants. It is one of Europe’s finest capital cities, with a beautiful coastal location enhanced by some of the world’s most handsome architecture including magnificent squares and stately public buildings.
Dublin today is a thriving commercial and social centre. Multinational software companies rest beside 500 year-old pubs where traditional music continues to flourish. Dublin has a rich literary history, with natives Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, Seamus Heaney, Bernard Shaw, W.B. Yeats, James Joyce and Samuel Beckett, making Dublin the only city to host three Nobel Prize-winning writers. Dublin is a city where old and new styles and attitudes to life mix happily together and a city where half of the population is under 25 years old. In Dublin, one can look forward to an excellent range of activities and famously friendly people.
City of Cork
Located on the beautiful south coast, Cork is the second largest city in the state of Ireland. A vibrant city center, Cork has the amenities of large department stores, modern shopping malls and many excellent and affordable restaurants.
The surrounding environment is as varied as it is beautiful. Cork is ideally situated at the head of the inlet of Cork Harbour with the sea just to the south, and with mountains, hills and river valleys to the north and east.
Cork people are noted for their friendliness and their passion for all sports. Among Cork’s cultural offerings are an art school with public painting and sculpture galleries, an Opera House, two theatres and a city museum. The city has an active social life and is a centre each year for International Film, Choral and Jazz festivals.
City of Galway
Galway City is one of the fastest growing cities in Europe and is now the third largest city in the Republic of Ireland. It is nestled at the mouth of the Galway River on the western coast of Ireland.
Galway City is unique among Irish cities because of the strength of its Irish language, music, song and dancing traditions. The city is well known for its “Irishness”, and is in close proximity to the Galway Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking area). The language is visible on bilingual signage in shops and road signs and can be heard by some of the locals around the city.
Galway City has a wealth of cultural offerings, including festivals in literature, music, and the visual arts.
City of Limerick
Limerick is the Republic of Ireland’s fourth largest city and is capital of the country’s Midwest region. The city is built around the country’s longest river, the River Shannon.
Limerick has grown from its original Viking settlement roots to a modern metropolis. High-rise Dell Computer skyscrapers neighbour centuries-old churches and pubs.
Limerick has a strong and vibrant arts community, ranging from producing bands such as The Cranberries, to being the setting for the novel/film Angela’s Ashes.
City of Belfast
Situated on the River Lagan on the east coast of Northern Ireland, Belfast has a population of just over a quarter of a million people. Compact in size, Belfast has a rich history as the industrial hub of Ireland manufacturing everything from world-renowned Irish linen to the Titanic.
Today, Belfast offers all the amenities of a thriving, vibrant city. Its city center has undergone a major regeneration in recent years and the city itself boasts several exciting cultural quarters including the Titanic Quarter which attracts tourists from all over the world. As well as being an important center for business and commerce, the city boasts top-class restaurants and nightlife, chic boutiques, an eclectic and ever-growing arts scene plus easy access to spectacular countryside including the Giant’s Causeway and the Mourne Mountains.