To the west of the British Isles lies the island of Ireland. From the middle ages Ireland has been subjected to British domination, which has created
a society divided along religious lines.
Today Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, while the
Republic of Ireland to the south is an independent state.
Ireland is known as a very beautiful and hospitable country with a rich cultural history.
Dublin, the capital of Ireland, is famous for its literature, having produced many influential writers including
James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw,
William Butler Yeats and Oscar Wilde. The Book of Kells, an illustrated gospel produced by Celtic monks around 800 A.D. is now housed at the
Trinity College Library.
Beer enthusiasts should visit the Guinness Storehouse to learn more about the world-famous beverage and claim a free pint.
Near Cork in the south of the country, Blarney Castle houses the Blarney Stone- a block of bluestone built into the castle wall.
Kissing the Blarney Stone is supposed to give the kisser the
Gift of the Gab, meaning great eloquence and skill at flattery. Famous kissers include
Winston Churchill, Laurel and Hardy,
Mick Jagger, and Homer Simpson!
In Northern Ireland, the most popular tourist attraction is the
Giant's Causeway, an area of rock columns at the edge of the sea, created by an ancient volcanic eruption. Legend has it the Causeway was built by
the warrior Finn McCool to walk to Scotland to fight his rival there.
Ireland is also famous for music, and Irish folk music is particularly well-known, having been popularised by bands like
The Dubliners and The Pogues. Other famous Irish bands include rockers
Thin Lizzy, U2, The Cranberries,
Sinead O'Connor and Van Morrison.