Wednesday, 24 April 2013

CHAPTER 6: IRELAND


Food: The national dish, Irish stew, is made from lamb, potatoes, onions, carrots and parsley. The Irish are even more fond of drinking tea than the English, and an average Irish person drinks 6 cups a day.

Sport: The national sport of Ireland is Gaelic football. Another Irish sport is hurling. In this sport, you hit the ball with a stick. The day after Christmas the Irish people go to horse races which has a long history in Ireland. Other popular sports are rugby, football and golf.

Music and dance :The love for typical Irish music is very strong. Irish dancing is also popular and the show Riverdance was an international success. There are many Irish rock and pop stars: U2, Boyzone, Westlife, Enya or Van Morrison.The best-known traditional Irish song is probably ‘Danny Boy’. The music is Irish but the words were written by an Englishman.

The Economy: Ireland has been a poor country with many problems but from 1995 to 2007 there was an economy boom there. The economy grew fast. People called Ireland the ‘Celtic Tiger’ at this time. Unfortunately, as in many other countries, the Irish economy got worse after 2008.

Iconic Places :Dublin is the capital of the Republic of Ireland. It has Georgian buildings, a castle, art galleries and a famous theatre, the Abbey theatre. The river Liffey passes through the centre. In 1916 there was The Easter Rising in Dublin. This was part of the revolution by Irish Republicans against the English. Some of them organised the revolution from inside the Post Office and you can still see the bullet holes in the stone.Trinity College, Dublin, is the most important Irish university. In the library you can see the Book of Kells, a book that is more than 1,200 years old. It contains parts of the Bible.Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland. For many years it was divided between the Catholics and the Protestants. There was a lot of fighting but since the Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998, it has been peaceful.The Giant’s Causeway is on the east coast of Northern Ireland. It was formed by a volcano. There are columns of rock which look like a man-made road.In the walls of Blarney castle near the city of Cork an ancient piece of bluestone called the Blarney Stone. People believe that if you kiss the stone you will start to speak very well.The west coast of Ireland in the Atlantic Ocean is famous for the great beauty. The lakes of Killarney are in a ring of mountains. There is a good place to eat the local fish, trout.In many places there are very tall round towers. The most famous ones are: the Rock of Cashel and Glendalough. They were built in the middle Ages.

Iconic People: There are many Irish heroes. Did you know that some of the Presidents of the USA had Irish ancestors? For ex.Teddy Roosevelt, J.F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. Even Barack Obama’s mother came from Ireland. The famous outlaw Billy the Kid was Irish too. There are many famous writers and artists: G.B.Shaw, W.B.Yeast, Samuel Beckett and Seamus Heaney, who all won the Novel Prize. Oscar Wilde was also Irish.George Best was the greatest footballer in the world for the Northern Ireland people.Bob Geldof was the leader of an Irish punk band, the Boomtown Rats, and soon became famous for his fight against world poverty.Mary Robinson was the first woman president of Ireland between 1990 and 1997 and later was the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. She has fought for the rights of women and has also done a lot for the poor and hungry.

Saint Patrick : He wasn’t Irish but Irish pirates caught him. He was slave in Ireland. He escaped, but returned to Ireland around CE450. He converted the Irish people to Christianity.The Irish celebrate St.Patrick’s Day on 17thMarch with special parades. These take place not just in Ireland but anywhere where there are Irish Communities.

Stories from the past: There are lots of stories in Ireland about leprechauns or ‘the little people’. Leprechauns are little old men who wear green or red jackets, carry a stick and wear a tall hat. If you catch a leprechaun, maybe you will find his pot of gold and he might give you three wishes. You shouldn’t trust them.
There are many Celtic legends. One of them is ‘Deirdre of the Sorrows’. Deirdre was a beautiful young woman but when she was a baby, the druids said that she would cause the death of many men. The king sent her to live in the forest until she was a teenager. Then he wanted to marry her. But Deirdre fell in love with another man and married him and they escaped to Scotland. After 7 years, they returned to Ireland. But the king had died. Deirdre’s husband and his brothers were killed and Deirdre died of a broken heart.Ireland has not an easy history. For centuries, the English controlled the country. It is divided into the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. It has experienced the potato Famine, the War of independence and the troubles. In the past many Irish people went to live in other countries because they wanted to escape from poverty.

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