THE ENGLISH SPEAKING COUNTRIES + Ireland
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English is the world language, the language of international communication in many areas of life: trade, air and sea transport, tourism, sport and entertainment. More and more people also need English for studying at universities and colleges. New ideas in science, technology and medicine happen so quickly that is impossible and very expensive to translate everything into different languages. So most things are published in English, and if you want to study some subject, f.e. Biology or business, you need to know professional words and phrases.
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It is spoken by around 350 million people. It is used as a first language in countries such as Australia, Canada, GB, Ireland, New Zealand, the USA and many of the countries in the Caribbean. In other countries it is used as a second language, it is a way in which people who have different languages communicate with each other. This is especially true in many parts of Africa and India. In these countries and former British colonies English is an official language.
The Commonwealth consists of most of the countries that were once parts of the British Empire. In these countries is English first or second language.
There are fifty members. Some are very large countries like Canada, India and Australia. Some are just small islands like Barbados and Tonga. The Head of the Commonwealth is the Queen. There is also a Secretary-General, who is chosen from any one of the fifty countries.
However, English in all these countries is not the same. Australian, American or Irish English has another pronunciation or stresses, so sometimes you cannot understand, although you can speak English.
USA has no official national language, but English is used like a natural language by all Americans, because is very simple. The American variety is popular between no-native speakers, too.
American English is simpler in spelling (harbor-harbour) and grammar (Do you have? – Have you?). Some words have different pronunciation and some words are different in both languages.
THE REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
The Republic of Ireland (Ireland or Éire in Irish Gaelic) occupies about five-sixth of the total area of Ireland – The Emerald Isle. The rest of the island is occupied by Northern Ireland, the part of British Kingdom.
Ireland divides into four provinces – Ulster, Munster, Leinster and Connaught, and 26 counties.
Most of the island is a central plain ringed by low mountains in the west and south and by lowlands in the east. The Shannon River in the British Isles goes thought the country and forms many important lakes (loughs in Irish Gaelic). The seacoast is wild and beautiful.
The climate is temperate, with mild winters and cool summers. Heavy rainfall all the year encourages green vegetation and that is why it was called The Emerald Isle.
Most of the soil is fertile, suitable for farming. Farming is the most important part of Ireland’s economy – most of that is for meat and dairy products, like butter and milk.
Ireland isn’t so rich in natural resources, but it has big reserves of peat. You can find it everywhere in Ireland in the ground. It is the greatest source of energy and people use it like fuel in their houses. They make it for centuries.
The larges towns in Ireland are on the coasts. Dublin (Baile Átha Cliath – it means “Dark Pool”) is the capital city and it has over one million inhabitants. Dublin is famous for its pubs – where you can drink a pint of stout, dark beer of Ireland. In the oldest church in Dublin, St Patrick’s Cathedral, is buried Jonathan Swift, the author of Gulliver’s Travels.
Another major towns are Cock, Limerick or Tipperary.
Among the first inhabitants of Ireland were wise Druids, something like priests. In about 300 B. C. Ireland was conquered by the Celts from France who called themselves Gaels and brought their language into the country. They established capital kingdom with the capital of Tara. In the fifth century came Patrick, a priest, and converted the people to Christianity and taught them to read and write. This Patrick, later to be known as St Patrick, is Patron Saint of Ireland. To explain the Holy Trinity, he used the three loops of shamrock, which became Ireland’s national emblem. St Patrick’s Day, 17th March is celebrated like a day of the “wearing of the green”.
From the 5th to the 8th century it was the golden era of Irish culture – schools and monasteries were built, Gaelic literature and music started.
Then Vikings invaded to Ireland and after them Normans.
Henry VIII, who took the title King of Ireland, imposed his Protestant religion in the country. In 17th century religious persecution increased – Catholics could not buy the land and they hadn’t rights to vote or trade.
In 1801 the Act of Union joined the Irish Parliament to the Parliament of GB and no Catholics were allowed to sit there. One of the people, who fought and won Catholic emancipation, was Daniel O’Connell – the “uncrowned king of Ireland”. Another great leader was Charles Parnell, who returned Irish land to Irish ownership.
In 1845 the Great Famine hit Ireland. Starvation, diseases and mass emigration reduced the population of one half.
In 1899 the Sinn Féin movement started in England. It means “We Ourselves” and at first it supported the passive resistance to British ruler. Later it organized an army of volunteers known as the Irish Republican Army (IRA), which made a rebellion in 1916 in Dublin. The Irish Republic was proclaimed that day, but the rebels were executed. In 1922 the Irish Free Stated was admitted, consisting of 26 Catholic counties and Protestant Northern Ireland. In 1949 the state was renamed the Republic of Ireland and left the British Commonwealth of Nations.
The Irish national anthem is called “The Soldier’s Song”.
People living in the republic are bilingual – they speak Irish Gaelic and English, which is their second official language. Irish Gaelic is complicated and it’s different from English.
The Republic of Ireland is an independent country with a political system set up on a democratic principle like in USA.
The head of the state is the President elected for 7 years by the direct vote of the people. He appoints members of the Government headed by the Prime Minister. The Government is responsible to the House of Representatives. Together with the Senate forms the National Parliament.
Among the political parties the greatest attention is attracted by Sinn Féin, supporting the IRA. One wing is using terrorist methods in its fight for the reunification of Ireland. Fights between Catholics and Protestants are now very topical and Ireland could be a threat for the Great Britain.
The Irish flag is tricolor with vertical stripes of green, white and orange. The green colour symbolizes the Emerald Isle and the majority of Catholics. White is the need for peace and understanding between Catholics and Protestants represented by the orange stripes. Orange was the colour of William III of the Protestant House of Orange.
Ireland has always been primarily agricultural producing mainly beef and dairy products. Irish linen and Irish whisky have a long tradition, but the economy recently growths in light engineering and electronics. Tourism is also one of the fast growing industries.
Ireland is a land, where traditions are still important. It’s a land of very nice music, culture and nature. But there is a problem of fundamentalism and terrorists, which can be very dangerous.
I like Irish culture and music a lot and I want to travel to Ireland in future.
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