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Ireland is made up of the Republic of Ireland containg 26 counties and Northern Ireland containing 6 counties. It is located in northwestern Europe, to the west of the United Kingdom, the North Atlantic Ocean, and the Irish Sea. It is a land steeped in history but not particularly with historical marvels. Ireland is known for its misty green countryside, its culture and tradition (including legends and folklore), and its warm-hearted and friendly people.
In Hibernia of yore, Ireland was too cold and bleak a country for the Romans to colonize. Many say that In fact the Romans were unsure of exactly where Ireland was and actually thought it was off the west coast of Spain.
The native Celtic people continued to worship the sun till they were ostensibly converted to Christianity by St. Patrick in the 5th century. The mythology says that Saint Patrick actually rid the country of snakes as well.
The invasions by the Vikings in the 9th century and by the Anglo-Normans in the 12th century were two significant events in Irish history. The British began concerted efforts to colonize Ireland in the 17th century but succeeded only a century later. Ireland united with Britain as part of the United Kingdom by Act of Union in 1801. The potato famine of 1845-1849 and the Easter Rising of 1916 were two other turning points in Irish history. In 1921 following a brief civil war the Irish Free State was born as a self-governing dominion of the British Empire, though six northern counties which had a Protestant majority were retained by Britain. The Irish Free State adopted a republican constitution in 1936 and was renamed Eire. It remained neutral during the Second World War. In 1949, it became the Republic of Ireland and withdrew from the Commonwealth. It joined the European Economic Community in 1973, now the European Union.
Ireland is a small country with picturesque countryside. If you want to explore some tourist destinations that are off-the-beaten-track, Ireland has plenty of them. To begin with, the Burren region is an extraordinary place with underground springs, caverns, chasms, and cracks. The most notable of such caves are known as the Aliwee Caves, which are being developed on a continous basis, to connect the naturally occuring sections of it.
The areas around Killarney are great for hiking and biking as well. Although if you can avoid the actual town of Killarney, you'll be better for it. Add to it the Aran Islands particularly Inis Meain, Clonmacnois , and Connemara, Galway and Sligo and you are sure to have a wonderful time close to nature.
If you are a poet/writer (or fancy yourself one), you'll find a culture that accepts and embraces the art of the word. Merely mentioning your avocation in a Dublin pub will get you requests to "Tell us a poem!"
Ireland's literary heritage lives throughout the country, from Yeat's grave, up north in Sligo, to the "Book of Kells" which is beautifully preserved in Trinity College and was written by Irish Monks in the 5th century.
Ireland is one of those ideal traveling destinations except for one thing: the weather. But you would be foolish to let this stop you. If it should pour down, you can always drop into the nearest pub for a pint.