Magical Ireland, an Island of Many Names

Ireland is often called the Emerald Isle, but throughout history, this beautiful land has been known by many different names from settlers, visitors, and invaders. 

Ireland is believed to have been settled by the Scots about 9,000 years ago, who called the island Scota, and later Éire (still found in the constitution, on passports, on stamps, and coins). It was also called Erin, the Republic, or the “Land of Saints and Scholars.” The Greeks called it Overnia or Iernis, and the Romans referred to it as Hibernia or Terra Finalia for “final remote country.” Settlers from Spain called it Muicinis, or “the Island of the pig,” These are just a few of score of names given to this lush, rainy island nation.

When Goddesses Ruled

The name Éire comes from Irish mythology. The island was settled by the Celts, who believed life and the island were ruled by fairies, druids, and three goddesses, Éire, Fodla, and Banbha. The myth goes that the the three goddesses each wanted the country to carry their names. One of them – Éire – won the honor. Not to be left, out, literary Ireland was named after Fodla, and poetic Ireland after Banbha. You can find Éire spelled as Éirinn, which you may have heard the saying “Erin go bragh” or “Ireland forever.” The name Ireland is a combination of the goddess’s name Éire combined with “land.” 

The Celts

The Celts arrived around 1200 BC. A very artistic and spiritual culture, they wrote poetry, songs, and created magnificent works of art, recognized by the elaborate interwoven swirling designs. The Celtic language, over time, merged with the language of the locals, evolving into the lyrical Irish language.

The Vikings in Dublin

The Vikings settled in Dublin about 841, establishing the city as a busy trading center. Dublin soon became the most prosperous trading center of the western Viking world. They called it “Dubh Linn,” which means “black pool.” At the time, a large pool was created where two rivers met, which was dark in color due to peat staining. 

The Irish Language

Irish is the first language of about 170,000 people in Ireland, and a second language for about 1 million worldwide. When visiting Ireland, you are most likely to hear English spoken unless you venture in to smaller villages and rural areas. Irish is one of the ten oldest languages spoken on earth. It was banned in schools in the 18th century, but the Irish people were engaged in a long and difficult fight for freedom. They fought for their right to self-rule, finally achieving independence in 1937, when the Irish and English became the two official languages of the country.

Ireland is a beautiful island nation with an exceptionally lively and creative atmosphere. It abounds with historical sites with about 30,000 castles and ruins to visit. The people are known for being welcoming, friendly, and hospitable. The art of storytelling, traditional Irish music, and a food scene that is catching attention worldwide makes Ireland one of my favorite places to visit, whether to enjoy the city, the magnificent countryside, or just enjoy a culture that is warm, friendly, and entirely unique. 

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