lfe Tones. And there are other famous Irishmen, like Sir Ernest Shackleton in the exploration of Antarctica, Nobel physicist Ernest Walton, Sir John Cockcroft, John Stewart Bell of Bell’s Theorem fame, Sir William Hamilton for his invention of quaternions, and Francis Y. Edgeworth for the famous Edgeworth Box.
Ireland, My Ireland
What do we really know about the country of Ireland. I have been to Scotland, mostly to play golf. And numerous times to England, for general tourism, and to attend Wimbledon. But the “luck of the Irish” is something that we are all familiar with, but may not know much more. Let’s see what we can learn in a few paragraphs.
First, Ireland is a large island, except for Northern Ireland, which is still part of the U.K. To the east is the North Channel, the Irish Sea, and St. George’s Channel. It is the second largest island on the British Isles, and the third largest in Europe. The population runs about 6.4 million, mostly smiling Irish eyes.
In culture, Ireland shares the same language as Britain, along with their love of soccer, rugby, horse racing, and golf. I will spare you the details of the Norman invasion, or even beyond that, into antiquity and medieval times. Any decent history book will give you a better description than I ever can.
But the Great Famine of 1840 killed about a million people, with another million hightailing it out of there. In that decade, half of all immigrants to the U.S. were from Ireland! Long story short, finally in 1921, Ireland gained its independence from the U.K., via the Anglo-Irish Treaty. It was led by the pro-independence hero, Sinn Fein. You can read about Northern Ireland for yourself, as it is too detailed and depressing for me to highlight for you.
For now, Ireland is part of the European Union. By the time I get there in October, it could exit the EU, as would England. Ireland has a very old economy, based on peat, a source of energy for home heating, and still widely used. Natural gas and electricity networks have evolved with their commitment to renewable energy.
Rain is light, particularly in the east. The west is wetter and prone to storms off of the Atlantic Ocean. But the island has three World Heritage sites: The Giant’s Causeway, Bru na Boinne, and Skelling Michel. The most visited sites are Blarney Castle, Holy Cross Abbey, Rock of Cashel, the Cliffs of Moher, and Bunratty Castle.
Much like back home, agriculture is big here, along with cattle and forestry. People have lived here for 9,000 years. Roman Catholics account for 73% of the island, with the Anglican Church of Ireland the largest. The Muslim community is growing, with a 50% increase between 2006 and 2011. Ireland has four provinces and 32 counties. English and Irish are the two main languages.
Irish music and dance has become more popular since the 1960s. Traditional Irish music also has surged with groups like the Chieftains, the Dubliners, the Clancy Brothers, and the Wo
Most famously, many famous Irish golfers have found success around the world. Paddy Harrington won the British Open in 2007 and 2008. In 2010 at Pebble Beach, Graeme McDowell became the first Irishman to win the U.S. Open. Add Rory McIlroy in the 2011 U.S. Open and Darren Clarke in the 2011 Open. Maybe I should bring my clubs!
With only two days here, I imagine I will confine my adventures to the big city of Dublin. But you never know!