IrelandA crossroads for many cultures, the “island of saints and scholars” mixed Celtic, Christian, Viking, and Norman traditions to yield distinctive Irish creations, such as large standing stone crosses, exceptional illuminated manuscripts and soaring round towers. Long after the Celtic culture was lost to Roman conquest, Ireland remained a safe haven. While Europe languished in the Dark Ages of Barbarian invasion, Ireland flourished in a golden age evident through flowering Irish art, literature and scholarship. Indeed, Ireland celebrates a long tradition of significant artistic endeavour, from the magnificent Book of Kells to the literary achievements of James Joyce.
A ring of coastal mountains surrounds low central plains. The island's lush vegetation, a product of its mild climate and frequent but soft rainfall, earns it the nickname "Emerald Isle." Offering a patchwork of green fields, towering cliffs, forested mountains, ancient peat bogs and spectacular beaches, Ireland presents you with an enchanting landscape. Because of Ireland’s agrarian history, the country has also managed to maintain its natural beauty and farming heritage without ever being too far away from a town or city.
Today Ireland exists as a young, modern, ethnically diverse, society. In recent times, Ireland has grown as a nation, and with it a reinvigorated patronage of the arts. Long a country of emigration, Ireland was transformed into a country where people from around the world moved to live and work. Once again, new cultures have added their own traditions, enriching Ireland’s future. Throughout the years, as Ireland achieved these successes, it maintains its reputation as a friendly and welcoming place, home to a people proud of their rich culture and history.