Ireland was settled around 6000 BC by people of Celtic and Anglo-Norman origin. Legend has it that St. Patrick arrived in 432 and helped to convert the country to Christianity from Paganism and Druidism. Christianity became intertwined with the nation’s history through Viking invasions and the Norman Conquest of the 12th Century. Although Ireland became part of the British Empire in 1800, the country fought for its independence, first during the Easter Rising of 1916 and then during the Anglo-Irish War of 1919-1921. Ireland battled religious strife between its Catholic and Protestant populations, as well as economic difficulties, including the Great Famine of 1845-1852. Since then, Ireland has successfully dealt with “the Troubles” in the northern part of the country and jump-started its formerly stagnant economy. Recently, liberalized social policies have led to unionist and nationalist political victories at the national level, as well as the full disarmament of the Irish Republican Army.
Lay of the Land: The island of Ireland is separated from Scotland on the northeast by the North Channel, from England on the east by the Irish Sea, and from Wales on the southeast by St. George’s Channel. Its west coast fronts the Atlantic Ocean. The terrain gives Ireland the appearance of a giant bathtub; the mountainous coastal rim protects the low-lying interior of farms, pastures, bogs, and cities.
The Irish were among the Europeans to first to reach America. Irish-born William Ayers was a crewman on Columbus’s 1492 voyage. Immigrants in the 17th Century were mainly poor Catholics, coming over as indentured servants or unskilled laborers.
From 2003 to 2007, US imports from Ireland were dominated by medicinal, dental and pharmaceutical preparations, which averaged $16 billion annually. Other top imports were other scientific, medical and hospital equipment, averaging $2 billion; soft beverages and processed coffee, averaging $1.7 billion; industrial organic chemicals, averaging $1.4 billion; clocks and other household goods, averaging $1.8 billion.
North Ireland Past Derails Awards Ceremony
According to the State Department, in 2007 there were some reports in Ireland of police abuse and inadequate care for prisoners with mental disabilities. There were also instances of discrimination against immigrants, racial minorities, and Travellers, of trafficking in persons, mistreatment of children, and domestic violence.
Frederick A. Sterling
Michael Collins has served as Ireland’s ambassador to the United States since August 14, 2007. Born in Dublin June 25, 1953, he earned a BSc from Trinity College, Dublin in 1978, and attended Blackrock College’s Institute of Public Administration.
Thomas C. Foley served as the United States ambassador to Ireland from October 18, 2006, until President George W. Bush left office. Foley holds a BA in economics from Harvard and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where he was a classmate of George W. Bush.