Ireland 2009

Éire, The Emerald Isle, green, rain, 39 more shades of green, shamrocks, potatoes, leprechauns, drunks, Guinness, poitín, bar fights, "Irish Time" (being 2 hours late for everything), Catholicism, Celts. Any other clichés go here.

Ireland is the second largest island in the British Isles archipelago. Renowned for its Celtic heritage and strong Catholic influence, it is divided into two separate countries; Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland (normally just called Ireland, though that confuses it with the name of the island). Northern Ireland is one of the four constituent countries of the United Kingdom, while the Republic of Ireland is an independent country. Both are divided into separate counties, which are as important to the Irish as states are to the United States of America, or countries are to the rest of us.

Ireland is a major tourist destination, with nearly twice as many tourists annually as there are residents. Most go to enjoy the lush greenery and the carefree, laid-back Irish attitude. I last visited Ireland 16 years ago, at the end of my time in school there. Given the lack of photos that accompany that stay, this gallery attempts to make up for it by reclaiming the memories and adding new ones, so ... it's ... erm ... large.

Most places in Ireland have old Gaelic names, and Anglicised versions of them. The Anglicised names usually try very hard to sound like their Gaelic counterparts, and the vast majority of Ireland is English-speaking (children learn Irish Gaelic in school, then forget it afterwards). Irish Gaelic is used by a mere 3% of the population, in isolated Gaeltacht areas. As a result, I shall use the Anglicised version of the names everywhere, as that is what the vast majority of the Irish population will use.

A note to visitors; drivers in Ireland have their flaws that are worth being aware of before attempting to drive there (this applies to Northern Ireland as well - convert to mph as appropriate):