Ireland, an island forming part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, is washed on the N., W., and S. by the Atlantic, and on the E. by the North Channel (13 miles wide), the Irish Sea (138 miles), and St George's Channel (47 to 69 miles), which separate it from the larger island of Great Britain. Its greatest length is 302 miles ; its average breadth 110 miles. Eirinn was known to the Greeks as feme, to the Romans as Hibenia and Juverna, in the 6-13th centuries as Scotia and the 'Isle of Saints.' It is divided into the four provinces of Ulster, Leinster, Mun-ster, and Connaught, and subdivided into thirty-two counties. The total area is 20,819,928 acres, or 32,531 sq. in., or nearly two-thirds of that of England without Wales. In 1801 the pop. was 5,395,456 (166 per sq. in.); in 1841, 8,175,124(251 per sq. m.); in 1901, after a steady decrease from emigration, only 4,458,775 (137 per sq. m.)

Provinces and Counties.

Area in Stat. Acres.

Pop. 1841.

Pop. 1881.

Pop. 1901.

Leinster.

Carlow..........................

221,344

86,228

46,568

37,748

Dublin..............

226,895

372,773

418,910

448,206

Kildare .........................

418,496

114,488

75,804

63,566

Kilkenny .......................

509,732

202,420

99,531

79,159

King's ...........................

493,985

146,857

72,852

60,187

Longford ......................

269,409

115,491

61,009

46,672

Louth ............................

202,123

128,240

77,684

65,820

Meath ...........................

579,861

183,828

87,469

67,497

Queen's ........................

424,854

153,930

73,124

57,417

Westmeath ....................

453,453

141,300

71,798

61,629

Wexford .......................

576,588

202,033

123,854

104,104

Wicklow .......................

500,178

126,143

70,386

60,824

Total...

4,876,918

1,973,731

1,278,989

1,152,829

MUNSTER.

Clare .............................

827,994

286,394

141,457

112,334

Cork...............................

1,849,686

854,118

495,607

404,611

Kerry ............................

1,185,918

293,880

201,039

165,726

Limerick .......................

680,842

330,029

180,632

146,098

Tipperary .....................

1,061,731

435,553

199,612

160,232

Waterford .....................

461,552

196,187

112,763

87,187

Total...

6,067,723

2,396,161

1,331,115

1,076,188

Ulster.

Antrim ..........................

762,080

360,875

421,943

461,532

Armagh.....................................

328,086

232,393

163,177

125,392

Cavan ..........................

477,399

243,158

129,476

97,541

Donegal ........................

1,197,154

296,448

206,035

173,722

Down ............................

. 612,399

361,446

272,107

289,627

Fermanagh ....................

457,369

156,481

84,879

65,430

Londonderry ................

522,315

222,174

164,991

144,404

Monaghan ....................

319,741

200,442

102,748

74,611

Tyrone ..........................

806,658

312,956

197,719

150,567

Total......

.5,483,201

2,386,373

1,743,075

1,582,826

CONNAUGHT.

Galway .........................

1,569,505

440,198

242,005

192,549

Leitrim .........................

392,363

155,297

90,372

69,343

Mayo ...........................

1,360,731

388,887

245,212

199,166

Roscommon .................

607,691

253,591

132,490

101,791

Sligo .............................

461,796

180,886

111,578

84,083

Total......

4,392,086

1,418,859

821,657

646,932

General Total..........

20,819,928

8,175,124

5,174,836

4,458,775

In 1901 there were eight towns with pops. over 20,000 (Dublin 290,638, and Belfast 349,180); when there were 631,629 persons of Irish birth in England and Scotland, 1,618,567 in the United States, 227,561 in Australasia, 4184 in Cape Colony, and in Canada 989,858 persons of Irish origin. In 1851-1902, 3,921,222 persons emigrated from Ireland, over three-fourths to the United States, The surface of Ireland is, generally speaking, an undulating plain, relieved, more particularly towards the coasts, by detached groups of low hills. The principal ranges are the Mourne Mountains in Down, which attain their highest elevation in Slieve-Donard (2796 feet); the mountains of Wicklow, which rise in Lugnaquilla to a maximum height of 3039 feet; and Macgillicuddy's Reeks, in Kerry, their highest peak, Carran-Tual (3414 feet), being the loftiest in all Ireland. The mountains are built up of relatively hard crystalline schists and disturbed Lower Palaeozoic rocks, while the low grounds are nearly co-extensive with less indurated and comparatively undisturbed Upper Palaeozoic strata. The interior and larger portion of the island is quite flat, its centre being only 250 feet above the sea; it belongs almost exclusively to the carboniferous system. Ireland is not rich in minerals, but some coal (about 100,000 tons a year), a little iron, lead, besides salt, stone, limestone, etc. are wrought. The coasts on the N., W., and S. are in many places rocky and high, and indented with deep inlets, many of which form admirable harbours. The islands are small. Bogs or morasses occupy altogether 1,772,450 acres, or nearly one-ninth of the entire area - the largest being the Bog of Allen. The principal river of Ireland, and the largest in the United Kingdom, is the Shannon (q.v.). Others are the Liffey and Boyne, the Suir, Barrow, and Nore, the Black water, Erne, Foyle, Bann, etc. Dublin has water-communication with the Shannon by means of the Grand (165 miles) and Royal (76) canals, and Lough Neagh with the same river by the Ulster Canal and river Black-water. The largest lake is Lough Neagh (100,000 acres); others are Erne and Derg, also in Ulster; Conn, Mask, and Corrib, in Connaught; Allen, Ree, and Derg, expansions of the river Shannon ; and the lakes of Killarney (q.v.) in Munster. The name lough is also applied to many saltwater inlets.

The climate of Ireland bears a close resemblance to that of Great Britain, but is modified by the marked difference in the configuration of the surface, the greater distance from the continent of Europe, and the fact that it is more directly under the influence of the Gulf Stream. The mean annual temperature is 50.0° (that of England is 49.5°, that of Scotland 47.5°); and the temperature in Ireland is more equable. The eastern half of the island has a rainfall of from 30 to 40 inches, and the western half from 40 to 50 inches.

Ireland is mainly an agricultural country, but agriculture is backward, and farms and capital small; relations between landlord and tenant were very bad from of old ; the landlords seldom erected buildings, repaired farmsteads, or made permanent improvements. In 1879-80 the distress amongst the poorer sections of the community reached such a pitch that in 1881 the Land Law (Ireland) Act was passed. Its principal measures were designed to protect the tenant from paying more than a ' fair rent,' and to provide for loans being made to tenants to enable them to purchase their holdings on fair and equitable terms. Several subsequent amending acts have been passed, that of 1903 giving increased facilities for the purchase of holdings, and providing an aid fund of 12,000,000. The Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1898, established county councils in Ireland, reduced the poor assessment on agricultural land to half of its value, etc, Agriculture has benefited largely (especially small farms) by the development of co-operative' agricultural societies, of which there were 908 in 1904, 376 of them being creameries. Above 10,000,000 acres are permanently under grass, some 1,300,000 being devoted to cereals (oats 110,000, barley 158,000), 618,500 acres to potatoes, and 286,000 to turnips. The seas around the coasts of Ireland teem with fish; but, except that for salmon, the fisheries are not flourishing. The bulk of the commerce of Ireland is the exportation of agricultural produce and animals, principally to Great Britain.

Manufactures are few, except in Ulster, where linen is the staple industry ; but little of the flax used is Irish-grown, most of it being now imported from Belgium, etc. Shipbuilding is centred at Belfast; and brewing and distilling are also important industries.

Ireland is represented in the imperial parliament by 28 peers elected for life in the House of Lords and 103 members in the House of Commons. The executive is vested in a lord-lieutenant, who is assisted by a chief-secretary and a privy-council (appointed by the crown). Most of the inhabitants (over 3,310,000 in 1901) belong to the Roman Catholic Church, which has four archbishops (Armagh, Dublin, Cashel, and Tuam)and 24 bishops. Until 1871 the established church of Ireland was a branch of the Church of England ; since its disestablishment the Church of Ireland is presided over by two archbishops (Dublin and Armagh) and eleven bishops. Next in importance come the Presbyterians and Meth-odists. The most important university in Ireland is that of Dublin (q.v.) or Trinity College. The Royal University of Ireland (1880) is not a teaching, but only an examining body. Teaching institutions are the three Queen's Colleges of Belfast, Cork, and Galway (1849), and the Royal College of Science (1867) in Dublin. The Roman Catholic University of Ireland (1854) is supported by private contributions. St Patrick's College, Maynooth (q.v., 1795) educates Roman Catholic priests. And there are Presbyterian theological colleges at Belfast and Londonderry. There are over 8700 elementary schools in Ireland under the Commissioners of National Education, with 726,550 enrolled pupils and an average attendance of about 482,500. Of the schools 4199 were Roman Catholic, 1523 were Protestant, and 2981 were mixed. Seven training-colleges had over 1000 students. There are 3300 miles of railway in Ireland.

In prehistoric times Ireland seems like Britain to have been inhabited by peoples of the Iberian stock, who were successively invaded and subdued by Nemedians, Firbolgs, Tuatha De Danann, and Scots or Milesians. Most of these invaders seem to have been Celtic, some of the Cymric (British), and some of the Goidelic branch. The Scots were distinctly Goidelic. Ultimately the resulting races, Iberian at base but Celticised by degrees, had assumed the Celtic type of civilisation and the Erse (Goidelic) language. The septs, tribes, or kingdoms were numerous, and constantly at war; though with curious permutations and combinations, some, or many of them, at times accepting the over-lordship of an Ard-righ or chief king. Irish history really begins with the christianisation of Ireland by St Patrick, a Briton of Strathclyde, early in the 5th century. In the 8th century came Danish or Norse sea-rovers, who established themselves in the east of Ireland, and, weakened by Brian Boru, and utterly defeated by him at Clon-tarf in 1014, were ultimately absorbed in the mass of the population. The intestinal strifes of the Irish potentates still went on as before, and led in 1167-72 to the Norman invasion. Ireland had to undergo just 100 years later, and under Henry II., the fate England underwent under Henry's great-grandfather, William the Conqueror. Much of the Irish soil was parcelled out, as England had been, amongst Norman nobles; but this change, so far from tending to consolidate Ireland into one kingdom, or into an organised province of the English monarchy, seemed but to have introduced additional elements of faction, feud, and warfare. The Norman chiefs fought with the Irish ones, and with one another; and became, as was said, 'more Irish than the Irish themselves.' Henry VII. made an effort to reduce Ireland to order on Tudor lines; rebellions, expeditions, slaughterings, and confiscations went on in the reigns of Henry VIII. and Elizabeth, the Reformation providing a new element of hostility between the English government and the Irish people. Under James I. vast confiscations took place, and great settlements, especially in Ulster, of English and Scottish immigrants. 'The massacre of 1641' was directed against these aliens. Cromwell made a re-settlement with a vengeance. The adhesion of the Irish to James II. brought William III. on them; and after the battle of the Boyne and the surrender of Limerick (1691) came the penal laws, which with many vastly more cruel provisions, debarred Catholics from all share in the Irish parliament. In 1782 the Irish Protestant parliament had greater powers and dignities conferred on it; and under Grattan's influence, the emancipation of the Catholics seemed near. But Irish hopes were blighted by the obstinacy of George III. Hereupon the society of the United Irishmen became a distinctly rebellious organisation, and fomented the short and futile rebellion of 1798. The union of the parliaments came into force in 1801. The next great events in Irish history are Roman Catholic Emancipation in 1829; O'Connell's agitation for the repeal of the union, begun in 1842; the Potato Famine of 1846; the Fenian movement of 1867; the Disestablishment of the Irish Church (1871); Mr Gladstone's Land Act (1881); the Home Rule movement under Parnell; the Home Rule Bill of 1886, defeated in the House of Commons; and that of 1893, defeated in the House of Lords.

There are histories of Ireland by Darcy M'Gee (1869), Keating (1880), J. H. M'Carthy (1883), Lady E. Lawless (1888), Joyce (1893 and 1903), Walpole (1893), O'Grady (1893), O'Connor Morris (1898), and Father D'Alton (1904).