Irish people

Irish people (Irish: Muintir na hÉireann or Na hÉireannaigh) are an ethnic group and nation native to the island of Ireland, who share a common history and culture. There have been humans in Ireland for about 33,000 years, and it has been continually inhabited for more than 10,000 years (see Prehistoric Ireland). For most of Ireland's recorded history, the Irish have been primarily a Gaelic people (see Gaelic Ireland). From the 9th century, small numbers of Vikings settled in Ireland, becoming the Norse-Gaels. Anglo-Normans also conquered parts of Ireland in the 12th century, while England's 16th/17th century conquest and colonisation of Ireland brought many English and Lowland Scots to parts of the island, especially the north. Today, Ireland is made up of the Republic of Ireland (officially called Ireland) and Northern Ireland (a part of the United Kingdom). The people of Northern Ireland hold various national identities including British, Irish, Northern Irish or some combination thereof.

Irish people
Muintir na hÉireann
Total population
c.70–80 million worldwide[1]
Regions with significant populations
Republic of Ireland    5,000,000+[2] (2021 estimate)[3]
Northern Ireland   1,900,200 (2020 estimate)[4]
United States36,000,000[5]
United Kingdom(excluding Northern Ireland) 14,000,000 (650,000 first generation)[6][7]
New Zealand600,000[11]
Netherlands11,308 (2021 estimate)[18]
Irish[N 1]
English (Hiberno-English dialects)[N 2]
Scots (Ulster Scots dialects)
Mainly Christianity
(majority Catholicism; minority Protestantism: Presbyterianism, Anglicanism, Methodism)
See also: Religion in Ireland
Related ethnic groups
Irish Travellers, Gaels, Anglo-Irish, Bretons, Cornish, English, Icelanders,[20] Manx, Scots, Ulster Scots, Welsh

The Irish have their own customs, language, music, dance, sports, cuisine and mythology. Although Irish (Gaeilge) was their main language in the past, today most Irish people speak English as their first language. Historically, the Irish nation was made up of kin groups or clans, and the Irish also had their own religion, law code, alphabet and style of dress.[citation needed]

There have been many notable Irish people throughout history. After Ireland's conversion to Christianity, Irish missionaries and scholars exerted great influence on Western Europe, and the Irish came to be seen as a nation of "saints and scholars". The 6th-century Irish monk and missionary Columbanus is regarded as one of the "fathers of Europe",[21] followed by saints Cillian and Fergal. The scientist Robert Boyle is considered the "father of chemistry", and Robert Mallet one of the "fathers of seismology". Irish literature has produced famous writers in both Irish- and English-language traditions, such as Eoghan Rua Ó Súilleabháin, Dáibhí Ó Bruadair, Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, W. B. Yeats, Samuel Beckett, James Joyce, Máirtín Ó Cadhain, Eavan Boland, and Seamus Heaney. Notable Irish explorers include Brendan the Navigator, Sir Robert McClure, Sir Alexander Armstrong, Sir Ernest Shackleton and Tom Crean. By some accounts, the first European child born in North America had Irish descent on both sides.[22] Many presidents of the United States have had some Irish ancestry.

The population of Ireland is about 6.9 million, but it is estimated that 50 to 80 million people around the world have Irish forebears, making the Irish diaspora one of the largest of any nation. Historically, emigration from Ireland has been the result of conflict, famine and economic issues. People of Irish descent are found mainly in English-speaking countries, especially Great Britain, the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. There are also significant numbers in Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Brazil. The United States has the most people of Irish descent, while in Australia those of Irish descent are a higher percentage of the population than in any other country outside Ireland.[23] Many Icelanders have Irish and Scottish Gaelic forebears.[citation needed]

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