Ireland's Geography

Ireland which often goes by its shorter name, Eire, is the 20th biggest island in the world, sitting in the north Atlantic off the European coast. It takes up an area slightly larger than America's state, West Virginia. Yet, it is the second biggest member of the British Isles archipelago, next to Britain which is the largest.

Ireland has always been famous for its unpredictable and mostly wet weather. One day it may be hot, the next day, cold, sunny for one hour, then rainy for the next. The reason for this is that Ireland is right under what's called a weather convergence. This means it is hit by three weather systems at once. Cold air blasts it from the North Pole, Asia contributes warm, dry winds and the Gulf Stream provides the rain. Ireland is overcast about half the year. Rain occurs more frequently in the west, while the southeast portion of the country generally gets more sun.

There is a huge difference in Ireland in the length of days between the winter and the summer. An average June day runs over 18 hours, while a day in December can be as short as just 7 hours long. And during some summer evenings in Ireland, the skies never go black, but remain at a level just below twilight.

Ireland's main natural resources include natural gas, peat, copper, lead, zinc, silver, barite, gypsum, limestone, and dolomite. Many of the country's key industries are based on their natural resources, including fishing, forestry, mining, livestock, and other kinds of agriculture and fish farming.

Ireland's county system began its existence right after the Normans invaded the island, in the early 1200's and was completed in 1607, when the last Gaelic kingdom was dissolved, leaving it divided into thirty-two counties. Today, Ireland still has 32 counties in total, 26 of which are within the republic, and 6 belong to Northern Ireland.

County Cork, located in the southern tip of the island is the largest of the traditional counties and is within the province of Munster. The harbour area to the immediate east of the city of Cork is where a large number of pharmaceutical and medical companies are located. As a tourist area, it is home to the famed Blarney Stone, and West Cork is well known for its rugged natural beauty, fine beaches and friendly people.

County Mayo in western Ireland offers the river Moy in the northeast of the county, which is well known for excellent salmon fishing. It is also home to Knock, Ireland's National Marian Shrine.

You will find County Kerry in southwest Ireland. It is the nation's most famous county in terms of travel and tourism. It offers a vast array of natural scenic attractions. It is also the most visited county in Ireland by the Irish themselves. There are glorious sandy beaches, spectacular mountains, and fantastic natural beauty. The Killarney area contains lakes and mountains. For the vacationing athlete there's golf, horseback riding, fishing, sailing, bicycling, climbing and hiking.

County Dublin is home of the city of Dublin, the capital of Ireland, and the nation's biggest city. Dublin abounds in tourist attractions from Trinity College to the Custom House, the GPO, to the O'Connell Street Bridge, and from Dublin Castle to Temple Bar. Dublin is filled with historical buildings and statues, and in the city's streets you will even be able to walk in the footsteps of the infamous Molly Malone.

Shannon is in the southeast corner of county Clare, Ireland. It is where you will find Ireland's 2nd largest airport to which the town lends it's name. Shannon is an access point for those flying from the UK, Europe and USA. In Shannon, you will find Bunratty Castle, built in 1425, the most authentic medieval castle in Ireland. It was restored in 1954 and is furnished and contains tapestries from its earlier date. The Folk Park, which stretches for 26 acres, is a living recreation of nineteenth century Ireland. It includes a village street, a watermill, and a blacksmiths forge. Situated on the coast of West Clare, are the Cliffs of Moher. These are natural ramparts against the might of the Atlantic, which rises to great heights as it washes over them.