From Encyc

Ireland is the second-largest island in the British Isles. Until 1922, the whole of it was part of the United Kingdom. However, in that year it was split between the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland. The Free State ultimately was formed into a constitutional republic in 1949. It was later formally declared the Republic of Ireland.

Following independence, the British government gave up some naval bases in the then Irish Free State. This came back to bite them during World War II, when they could have used the bases to help protect the Atlantic convoys from U-boat attacks. Ireland was officially neutral during the Second World War and interned both Allied and Axis military in the Curragh Military Camp. Approximately 5,000 members of the Irish military deserted, and volunteered to fight for the Allies. They were not pardoned until 2012.[1]

Ireland is known for being very green; the "Emerald Isle". Guinness Stout and a number of other beers are produced there. Many people of Irish ancestry live in the northeastern United States and Canada. The official symbol of the country is the Irish harp (cláirseach Ghaelach) and the national colour is a shade of blue known as St. Patrick's blue and appears in the national Coat of Arms.

Irish culture has a rich mythology. The original language, Irish Gaelic, nearly became extinct in the early 20th century but is making a comeback. Irish literature includes James Joyce, Jonathan Swift and Flann O'Brien. An American derivative of Irish dancing spawned the international blockbuster phenomenon known as Riverdance.