The People of Ireland
50% of Irish people are under 25 year old. The Irish people are hard-working, very honest and known for their friendliness, hospitality, sense of fun and wonderful humour. Family life is important in Ireland and children are included in most events. In the rural areas people often maintain a great sense of the old, traditional Irish ways, but in the urban areas, Ireland is very modern.
Irish people are well educated. Education is partly funded by the government and is free for the most part. School is compulsory for children 5 – 15 years old. Approximately 80% of Irish students complete secondary school and approximately 50% continue on to higher education. The majority of primary schools are day schools; however, there are a few boarding schools in Ireland. Homeschooling is allowed in Ireland with some regulation, however there are only a small number of families that do home school. ?
Traditional foods of Ireland are simple and include lamb, Irish stew, sausage, homemade cheeses, fresh fish, fresh baked breads and scones, fish & chips (chippers), potatoes, cabbage, carrots, corned beef, cabbage and boxty. The Irish are known for their large breakfasts called “frys”. To explore some Irish recipes, see our Recipes Section.
Today the foods of Ireland feature their local ingredients and include sophisticated international cooking technique and gourmet dishes. All types of international cuisine are found in Ireland.
Ireland is known to be a nation of scholars and there are many well known authors, playwrights and poets from the Emerald Isle. James Joyce, Frank McCourt, Jonathan Swift, Oliver Goldsmith, Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett, George Bernard Shaw, William Butler Yates and Seamus Heaney are just a few of the greats.
Singing is a favourite pastime in Ireland and traditional Celtic music is an important part of the Irish culture. Some of the traditional musical instruments consist of the button accordion, harp, tin whistle, fiddle, bedhran (drum), and Uilleann pipes. For additional information on the instruments of Irish music Click Here.
Contemporary music is also very popular in Ireland and Ireland boasts many famous musicians and bands such as; Enya, Sinead O’Connor, Chieftains and U2. There is plenty of opportunity in Ireland to enjoy classical, pop, rock and jazz concerts. For a listing of Irish music, check our Music section.
The Irish word “céili” is
used to describe an informal evening of traditional Irish music and dancing. Irish step-dancing is performed mostly with the legs and feet while the arms hang stiffly at the side. The traditional
Irish dress for Irish female dancers are copies of the traditional Irish peasant dress and feature elaborate Gaelic designs. The shoes are similar to ballet shoes which are laced over the feet
and the ankles. The male's costume is less elaborate; men wear plain kilts or pants and jackets and folded cloaks hanging from the shoulders, called brats.
RiverDance and Lord of the Dance have brought international acclaim to Irish music and dance. RiverDance is an exciting performance of music, dancing and singing. The performance depicts the evolution of Irish culture and its influence on other cultures through immigration during the potato famine. The Lord of the Dance is an outstanding dance performance and a celebration of the Celtic heritage.
Handicrafts and Activities
Some of the traditional Irish crafts include woolen sweaters, woven wool clothing, Irish linen, Irish lace, jewelry making, peat sculptures, fine glassware, musical instruments and pottery.
Walking is one of Ireland's biggest attractions, and the country has miles of tailor-made walks. Other popular activities in Ireland include gardening, enjoying nature, fishing, boating, water sports, mountaineering and golfing.
Irish pubs are famous and important part of the Irish lifestyle. Children are allowed in the pubs, though they are not allowed to drink alcoholic beverages.
Story Telling, Myths and Legends
Ireland is well known for its many myths and legends which began long ago when the Celts ruled Ireland and many tales were told by the Druids. There are many fun and wonderful stories of fairies and leprechauns – the little people. It is said that fairies dwell in mounds in the earth and to touch one of these mounds is to bring bad luck. Leprechauns, on the other hand, bring good luck – especially if you can catch one. It is said that leprechauns are mischievous, but will lead you to their pot of gold, which they keep at the end of the rainbow. However, they’ll disappear should you take your eyes off them for even just a moment. There are also many other tales of skilled warriors, the eerie wail of the Banshee, brave queens and gods , lovers and a horse spirit who can take the form of a handsome man…the list goes on and on. The Irish are wonderful story-tellers and there are many books available on Irish myths and legends. Click Here for our book section of Ireland.
Castles of Ireland
Ireland contains many castles, stone towers and stone walls, some in ruins and some which have
been restored. The fortified castles of Ireland were used for defense against intruders.
There are many famous castles in Ireland, but the most famous is perhaps The Blarney Castle, which is famed for its stone, which is believed to have the power to bestow the gift of eloquence on all those who kiss it. For additional information on the Blarney Stone visit Sacred Sites
Note: Blarney means talking pleasantly to deceive, without offending.
The most popular sports in Ireland are Hurling (field sport played with sticks) and Gaelic football. Other popular sports are soccer, horseback riding, rugby, golf, horse racing, cycling and many water sports