It is quite remarkable that Ireland, with a population of about 5 million, and Northern Ireland with a population of 1.9 million, has such a big cultural footprint.
Irish culture is known and cherished far beyond the boundaries of the little island.
There is a lot more to Irish culture than Irish Pubs and the Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations on 17 March that take place in bigger cities around the world!
The fascinating culture of Ireland is broad and encompasses nearly all aspects of life. It can be said that there is probably something that appeals to everyone!
Irish people are very proud of their Irish culture, Irish language and Irish traditions.
Some Irish culture can be traced to back to the ancient Celts.
Different styles of art evolved as part of Celtic culture. Celtic Insular art (also known as Hiberno-Saxon art) is one such style that developed in Ireland and Britain from about the 6th century. It gave rise to many of the Celtic symbols, including Celtic knotwork that we know today.
Irish Myths and Legends
The influence of the Celts can also be seen in many Irish myths and legends. Tales of the great gods and goddesses of Irish Celtic culture and their battles, revenges and affairs certainly make for interesting reading!
From a young age, the children in Ireland are told the beloved Irish legends, of the Children of Lir and the Salmon of Knowledge.
Ireland is known for having good storytellers, including four Nobel laureates in literature:
- W. B. Yeats (1923)
- George Bernard Shaw (1925)
- Samuel Beckett (1969)
- Seamus Heaney (1995)
The list of other well-known Irish writers could go on and on, but here are some other prominent names; Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, Jonathan Swift, Meave Binchy and Cecelia Ahern.
Ireland’s homegrown talent certainly has a prominent position on the world stage and its capital city, Dublin, is a UNESCO City of Literature.
Irish Food and Drink
Food and drink are an integral part of Irish culture. Irish stew, soda bread, black pudding (or blood sausage) and salted Irish butter are some of the most savoured Irish foods and are definitely worth a try, if you get the chance!
When it comes to alcoholic drinks, Ireland has plenty to offer. It has a wide range of famous beers, such as black stouts (Guinness), red ales (Galway Hooker), and spirits such as Irish Whiskey (Jameson and Bushmills) and Irish gin (Glendalough Wild Botanical Gin).
Music has always been an important part of Irish culture and so it is little surprise that Ireland has an incredibly eclectic music scene, from toe tapping Irish traditional music and Irish folk music, to the hugely popular bands of U2, Thin Lizzy and Westlife and the haunting voices of Enya, Sinéad O’Connor and the late Dolores O´Riordan of The Cranberries.
Riverdance, a stage production featuring Irish dancing and traditional Irish music and song, became a worldwide phenomenon after its first performance at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1994.
For a small nation, Ireland has a thriving sporting culture. It has its own unique sports of Gaelic football and hurling (for men) or camogie (for women) run by the Gaelic Athletic Association (or GAA).
Rugby is another popular sport and the Six Nations Championship is eagerly followed by many in Ireland. Irish horse racing also attracts large number of both domestic, as well as international spectators to the major annual horse racing events.
The picturesque landscape that possibly inspired many of Ireland’s writers has also become a sought after filming location for several big movies and television series.