Ireland Key Facts (both north and south)

Our accompanying photographs show the changing aspects of life both past and present.

Tourist information centres

Please see





For more information on different aspects of Ireland, please consult Wikipedia

A brief summary of its Modern geographic and political History and government

Until 1922 the island of Ireland was one country and part of the United Kingdom, and like its other constituent countries of Scotland and Wales many of its people were involved in the development of the British Empire both cultural, economic and technological, and militarily.

It had 4 Provinces, Connaught, Leinster, Munster and Ulster.

In 1922, the Irish Free State was created under the Anglo-Irish Treaty of December 1921, as a Dominion within the British Empire, comprising of all 4 Provinces but Ulster had 6 of its counties (Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry/Derry and Tyrone) remaining as part of the United Kingdom as Northern Ireland, whilst the remaining 3 counties of Ulster (Cavan, Donegal and Monaghan) along with the other 3 Provinces formed part of the Irish Free State.

The Anglo-Irish Treaty of December 1921 ended the three-year Irish War of Independence between the forces of the self-proclaimed Irish Republic, the Irish Republican Army (IRA); and forces under the British Crown.

In the early months of the Irish Free State, the Irish Civil War was fought between its newly established National Army and the anti-Treaty IRA, who refused to recognise the state. This lasted until May 1923 being won by the government forces of the Irish Free State.

The anti-Treaty political party, Sinn Féin, refused to take its seats in the Irish Parliament, the Dáil, where Fianna Gael ruled with the relatively small Labour Party as the only opposition party.

In 1926, when Sinn Féin president Éamon de Valera failed to have this policy reversed, he resigned from Sinn Féin and founded Fianna Fáil. Fianna Fáil entered the Dáil following the 1927 general election, and entered government after the 1932 general election, when it became the largest party.

De Valera abolished the Oath of Allegiance and embarked on an economic war with the UK. In 1937 he drafted a new constitution, which was passed by a referendum in July of that year. The Free State came to an end with the coming into force of a new constitution on 29 December 1937 when the state took the name "Ireland" (Éire in the Irish language), and its currency the pound became known as the "Irish pound" and the coins were marked Éire.

The state was neutral during World War II and continued with a mainly agricultural economy. The Ireland Act 1949 changed this to "Republic of Ireland". It was not until after the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that the UK government accepted the preferred name of simply "Ireland", at the same time as Ireland dropped its territorial claim over Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile Northern Ireland was an important industrial economy which contributed with the rest of the United Kingdom during World War II. The 1998 Good Friday Agreement ended the civil strife which started in the late 1960s between its mainly Catholic and Protestant communities.

On 1 January 1973 Ireland joined the European Community (now known as the European Union) along with Britain and Denmark, and on 1 January 1999 replaced its official currency, the Irish pound, with the Euro.

Éire has also been incorporated into the names of Irish commercial and social bodies, such as Eir (formerly Eircom and Telecom Éireann) and its former mobile phone network, Eircell


With BREXIT, the whole of the UK comes out of the EU Customs Union as a single customs territory. Northern Ireland will be included in any future UK trade deals, but will have no tariffs or restrictions on goods crossing the Irish border in either direction, thereby creating a de facto customs border down the Irish Sea with Great Britain.

As reported by the BBC, “Northern Ireland will have a different relationship with the EU than the rest of the UK from 1 January 2021, because it will remain in the EU single market for goods.

That was part of the plan contained in the Brexit withdrawal agreement to keep the Irish land border between Northern Ireland (in the UK) and the Republic of Ireland (in the EU) as open as it is now.

In 2020 EU and UK negotiators reached a separate agreement on how this will work in practice.

Goods manufactured in Northern Ireland will continue to have seamless access to the EU, but as a result new bureaucracy will emerge within the UK between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

There will be document and physical checks on some food supplies, for example (although a three month grace period will begin on 1 January for many traders, before new measures are applied in full).

Pets being taken from Great Britain into Northern Ireland will also need an animal health certificate from a vet.

And because Northern Ireland is being treated differently, this agreement could have longer term constitutional significance for the UK.

Pro-independence politicians in Scotland will continue to ask why, if Northern Ireland can stay in parts of the single market, Scotland can't do the same.”

The geography of the island of Ireland see

Ireland is to the west of Great Britain and covers 32,590 sq mi (84,400 km2); the climate of both is mild, moist and changeable with abundant rainfall and a lack of temperature extremes.

Ireland’s main geographical features include low central plains surrounded by coastal mountains. The highest peak is Carrauntoohil (Irish: Corrán Tuathail), which is 1,041 meters (3,415 feet) above sea level. The western coastline is rugged, with many islands, peninsulas, headlands and bays. The island is bisected by the River Shannon, which at 360.5 km (224 mi) with a 102.1 km (63 miles) estuary is the longest river in Ireland and flows south from County Cavan in Ulster to meet the Atlantic just south of Limerick. There are a number of sizeable lakes along Ireland's rivers, of which Lough Neagh is the largest.

Please see


The current population of Ireland is 4,964,289 as of Friday, December 25, 2020, based on Worldometer elaboration of the latest United Nations data.

The largest cities and towns by population size of Northern Ireland
and their location in their Local Government Districts

1 Belfast, Belfast around 337,000

2 Londonderry/Derry Derry City and Strabane over 85,000

3 Craigavon Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon over 70,000

4 Newtownabbey , Antrim and Newtownabbey around 67,000

5 Bangor, Ards and North Down over 63,000

6 Lisburn, Lisburn and Castlereagh around 50,000

7 Ballymena Mid and East Antrim around 31,000

8 Newtownards Ards and North Down around 29,000

9 Newry Newry, Mourne and Down over 28,000

10 Carrickfergus Mid and East Antrim around 28,000

11 Coleraine Causeway Coast and Glens around 25,000

12 Antrim Antrim and Newtownabbey over 23,000

The largest cities and towns by population size of the Republic of Ireland

1 Dublin, Leinster just over 1 million

2 Cork, Munster just over 190,000

3 Limerick, Munster just over 90,000

4 Galway, Connaught over 70,000

5 Tallaght, Leinster nearly 65,000 (close to the city of Dublin)

6 Waterford, Munster around 48,000

7 Swords, Leinster around 37,000 (close to the city of Dublin)

8 Drogheda, Leinster around 34,000

9 Dundalk, Leinster around 34,000

10 Bray, Leinster around 33,000 (close to the city of Dublin)

11 Dún Laoghaire, Leinster around 27,000 (close to the city of Dublin)

12 Navan, Leinster around 25,000


The main airports are: (please see )

Ireland has 5 International Airports:

Dublin Airport - North of Dublin City on the east coast

Cork Airport - Just south of Cork City on the south coast

Shannon Airport - North of Limerick City on the west coast

Knock Airport (Ireland West Airport Knock) - in County Mayo in the North West

Belfast Airport - west of Belfast City in the North East.

If you plan to visit another European Country first then other airports for your Ireland flights are:

Kerry Airport: Served by flights from Berlin-Schonfield, Dublin, Franfurt Hahn, London-Luton and London-Stansted.

Donegal Airport

George Best Belfast City Airport

City of Derry Airport

The main ferry routes:

There are a large number of ferry routes to and from Ireland, with connections from France, Wales, Scotland, Isle of Man, England and Spain. Irish Ferries, Stena Line, P&O Ferries and Brittany Ferries are the most popular shipping companies offering connections between these destinations. Isle of Man Steam Packet run the crossings from Douglas, whilst Stena Line, Irish Ferries and P&O Ferries deliver ferry crossings to Ireland from England, Scotland and Wales.

There are a huge range of daily ferries to Ireland throughout the year. Crossing times range from a duration of two hours from Cairnryan to Larne to eight hours to Belfast from Liverpool Birkenhead.

For further details on routes and operators please see and

France to Ireland  (although the number of these route sailings may increase in 2021. Please see Brexit: Why Irish freight trade is avoiding Britain: "Stena has started a new route from Dublin to Cherbourg to go alongside its existing route from Rosslare to Cherbourg. It now has 14 weekly crossings between Ireland and the continent compared to six last year)

Cherbourg to Rosslare Ferry: Brittany Ferries: 1 Sailing Weekly 15 hr 29 min and also Stena Line: 1 Sailing Weekly 16 hr. The number of crossings in 2021 is set to increase due to the current Brexit-related shift for direct routes to trade directly with the EU.

Cherbourg to Dublin Ferry: Irish Ferries: 3 Sailings Weekly, 19 hr 15 min. (According to Irish public broadcaster RTÉ, a new weekend sailing from Dublin to Cherbourg will also begin on 23 January 2021, resulting in a temporary reduction in weekend capacity on the Dublin to Holyhead route.)

Roscoff to Cork Ferry: Brittany Ferries: 1 Sailing Weekly, 13 hr

Roscoff to Rosslare Ferry: Brittany Ferries: 1 Sailing Weekly, 13 hr

Wales to Ireland

Fishguard to Rosslare Ferry: (Stena Line) 1 crossing daily, 3 hr 15 min

Pembroke to Rosslare Ferry: (Irish Ferries) 1 crossing daily, 4 hr 1 min

Holyhead to Dublin Ferry:

Stena Line Holyhead - Dublin: 3 crossings daily 3 hr 15 min

And also Holyhead - Dublin: Irish Ferries: 4 Daily 3h 15m

Scotland to (Northern) Ireland

Cairnryan to Larne Ferry: P&O Irish Sea Ferries: 7 Daily, 2h

Cairnryan to Belfast Ferry: Stena Line: 5 Daily, 2h 22m

Isle of Man to Ireland: by the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company:

Douglas to Belfast: 1 Weekly 2h 45m

Douglas to Dublin: 1 Weekly 2h 55m

England to Ireland

There are 2 ferry routes operating between England and Ireland offering you combined total of 23 sailings per week. P&O Irish Sea operates 1 route, Liverpool to Dublin which runs 12 times weekly. Stena Line operates 1 route, Liverpool Birkenhead to Belfast which runs 11 times weekly.  The number of these routes sailings may increase in 2021.

Spain to Ireland:

Bilbao to Rosslare Ferry: Brittany Ferries: 2 Sailings Weekly, 26 hr 45 min

Santander to Cork Ferry: Brittany Ferries: 2 Sailings Weekly, 26 hr 30 min

Popular Ferry Operators: (with their shortest crossing times, although the number of these route sailings may increase in 2021)

Irish Ferries: 16 Sailings Weekly; time of crossing: 3 hr 1 min

Stena: 14 Sailings Weekly; time of crossing 2 hr 15 min

P&O: 7 Sailings Daily; time of crossing 2 hr

Brittany Ferries: 1 Sailing Weekly; time of crossing 13 hr

If you are planning on taking your car to Ireland, please see: and

For a selection of ferries in Ireland, please see:

Public utilities and the emergency services in Ireland and Northern Ireland

Éire has also been incorporated into the names of Irish commercial and social bodies, such as Eir (formerly Eircom and Telecom Éireann) and its former mobile phone network, Eircell

In Northern Ireland please see the following websites:

Emergency contact information

Contact Number Details

Fire, police and ambulance 999

PSNI non-emergency 101

Crimestoppers 0800 555 111

Flooding Incident Line 0300 2000 100 Use this number to report serious flooding (24 hours a day, seven days a week)

In the Republic of Ireland:

There are two emergency numbers in Ireland — 112 and 999. Both are free of charge to call. Call the emergency services by dialling 112 or 999 from a mobile or fixed phone line. 112 also works in any EU country and from any phone, free of charge.


The Royal Irish Constabulary existed throughout Ireland until it was disbanded on 30 August 1922, and was replaced by the Garda Síochána in the Irish Free State and the Royal Ulster Constabulary in Northern Ireland.

From 1922 to 2001, The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) became the police force in Northern Ireland. In 2001, it became assimilated into the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

Please see

In Ireland you drive on the left - just like in the UK, and you will need either a full valid national driving license or an international driving permit. Northern Ireland uses miles per hour, while the Republic of Ireland uses kilometres. In Ireland, passengers are required by law to wear seat belts at all times in the front and back of the vehicle. Please see



Irish and Ulster language and culture

The United Kingdom and Ireland have separate media, although British television, newspapers and magazines are widely available in Ireland giving people in Ireland a high level of familiarity with the culture of the United Kingdom. Irish newspapers are also available in the UK, and Irish state and private television is widely available in Northern Ireland.

The culture of Ireland includes language, literature, music, art, folklore, cuisine, and sport associated with Ireland and the Irish people.

For most of its recorded history, Irish culture has been primarily Gaelic (see ).

It has also been influenced by Anglo-Norman, English and Scottish culture. The Anglo-Normans invaded Ireland in the 12th century, and the 16th/17th century conquest and colonisation of Ireland saw the emergence of the Anglo-Irish and Scots-Irish (or Ulster Scots).

Today, there are often notable cultural differences between those of Catholic and Protestant (especially Ulster Protestant) background, and between travellers and the settled population. Due to large-scale emigration from Ireland, Irish culture has a global reach and festivals such as Saint Patrick's Day and Halloween are celebrated all over the world.

Irish culture has to some degree been inherited and modified by the Irish diaspora, which in turn has influenced the home country. Though there are many unique aspects of Irish culture, it shares substantial traits with those of Britain, other English-speaking countries, other predominantly Catholic European countries, and the other Celtic nations. For more information, please see And also

Languages for further information please see

Irish and English are the most widely spoken languages in Ireland. English is the most widely spoken language on the island overall, and Irish is spoken as a first language only by a small minority, primarily, though not exclusively, in the government-defined Gaeltacht regions in the Republic.

A larger minority speak Irish as a second language, with 40.6% of people in the Republic of Ireland claiming some ability to speak the language in the 2011 census. Article 8 of the Constitution of Ireland states that Irish is the national and first official language of the Republic of Ireland. English in turn is recognised as the State's second official language. Hiberno-English, the dialect of English spoken in most of the Republic of Ireland, has been greatly influenced by Irish.

In contrast Northern Ireland, like the rest of the United Kingdom, has no official language. English, however, is the de facto official language, and Ulster English is common. In addition, Irish and Ulster Scots have recognition under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, with 8.1% claiming some ability in Ulster Scots and 10.7% in Irish.

In addition, the dialect and accent of the people of Northern Ireland is noticeably different from that of the majority in the Republic of Ireland, being influenced by Ulster Scots and Northern Ireland's proximity to Scotland.

Several other languages are spoken on the island, including Shelta, a mixture of Irish, Romany and English, spoken widely by Travellers. Two sign languages have also been developed on the island, Northern Irish Sign Language and Irish Sign Language.

Irish and Northern Irish currency and stamps

On 1 January 1973 Ireland joined the European Community along with Britain and Denmark, and on 1 January 1999 replaced its official currency, the Irish pound, with the Euro.

The livery of the Royal Mail and Post Office service in Northern Ireland is red, as in the rest of the UK, and in the Republic of Ireland it is green ( ).

For further information please see the following websites:

Local government in Ireland and devolution in Northern Ireland

On 1 January 1973 Ireland joined the European Community (now known as the European Union) along with Britain and Denmark, and on 1 January 1999 replaced its official currency, the Irish pound, with the Euro.

For further information please see the following websites: Showing the different counties.

Northern Ireland: “Local government in Northern Ireland is made up of 11 local councils, run by elected councillors. They look after a range of services such as your local sport and leisure centre or arranging your bin collections.”

Republic of Ireland:

And “The Republic of Ireland has 31 local authorities that are responsible for a range of local services, including:



Recreation and amenities



Environmental protection

Fire services

Register of electors

Most (26) local authorities are county councils. There are also 3 city councils (Dublin, Galway and Cork) and 2 councils that oversee a city and a county (Limerick and Waterford).

Voters elect councillors to represent them at local level. Ireland currently has 949 elected councillors. They make policy decisions at council meetings. Local councils are managed by a chief executive who oversees the day-to-day running of the council.”


For further information please see

Most of the transport system in Ireland is in public hands, either side of the Irish border. The Irish road network has evolved separately in the two jurisdictions into which Ireland is divided, while the Irish rail network was mostly created prior to the partition of Ireland.

In the Republic of Ireland, the Minister for Transport, acting through the Department of Transport, is responsible for the state's road network, rail network, public transport, airports and several other areas. Although some sections of road have been built using private or public-private funds, and are operated as toll roads, they are owned by the Government of Ireland. The rail network is also state-owned and operated, while the government currently still owns the main airports. Public transport is mainly in the hands of a statutory corporationCóras Iompair Éireann (CIÉ), and its subsidiaries, Bus Átha Cliath (Dublin Bus), Bus Éireann (Irish Bus), and Iarnród Éireann (Irish Rail).

On 1 November 2005, the Irish government published the Transport 21 plan which includes €18bn for improved roads and €16bn for improved rail, including the Western Railway Corridor and the Dublin Metro.

The Republic of Ireland's transport sector is responsible for 21% of the state's greenhouse gas emissions.[1]

In Northern Ireland, the road network and railways are in state ownership. The Department for Infrastructure is responsible for these and other areas (such as water services). Two of the three main airports in Northern Ireland are privately operated and owned. The exception is City of Derry Airport, which is owned and funded by Derry City Council. A statutory corporation, the Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company (which trades as Translink) operates public transport services through its three subsidiaries – NI Railways Company Limited, Ulsterbus Limited, and Citybus Limited (now branded as Metro).

In the Republic of Ireland, for further travel information please see: Or call Transport for Ireland on +353 1 879 8300

For further travel information in Northern Ireland please see: Or call Translink on 028 90 66 66 30


Our charity through its photographic survey aims to show what to expect at a venue; please see


For more information please see the following websites: