Ireland (Irish: Éire, Ulster Scots: Airlann) is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island in the world. It lies to the north-west of continental Europe and is surrounded by hundreds of islands and islets. The Republic of Ireland covers five-sixths of the island. Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom, covers the remainder and is located in the northeast of the island. The population of Ireland is estimated to be 6.2 million. Slightly less than 4.5 million are estimated to live in the Republic of Ireland and slightly less than 1.8 million live in Northern Ireland.
Relatively low-lying mountains surrounding a central plain to epitomise the Ireland's geography with several navigable rivers extending inland. The island has a lush vegetation, a product of its mild but changeable oceanic climate, which avoids extremes in temperature. Thick woodlands covered the island until the 1600s. Today, it is the most deforested area in Europe. Twenty-six mammal species are native to Ireland, with some, such as the red fox, hedgehog and badger, being very common. Others, like the Irish hare, red deer and pine marten are less so.
Irish culture has had a significant influence on culture world-wide, particularly in the fields of literature and, to a lesser degree, science and learning. A strong indigenous culture, expressed for example through native sports and the Irish language, exists alongside a regional culture, such as Rugby football and golf. Read more ...
The murder of Julia Martha Thomas dubbed the "Barnes Mystery" or the "Richmond Murder" by the press, was one of the most notorious crimes in late 19th-century Britain. Thomas, a widow in her 50s who lived in Richmond in southwest London, was murdered on 2 March 1879 by her maid, Kate Webster, a 30-year-old Irishwoman. Webster disposed of the body by dismembering it, boiling the flesh off the bones, and throwing most of the remains into the River Thames. Part of Thomas' remains were subsequently recovered from the river. Her severed head remained missing until October 2010, when the skull was found during building works being carried out for Sir David Attenborough.
After the murder, Webster posed as Thomas for two weeks, but was exposed and fled back to Ireland and her uncle's home at Killanne near Enniscorthy, County Wexford. She was arrested there on 29 March and was returned to London, where she stood trial in July 1879 when she was convicted and sentenced to death. She finally confessed to the murder the night before she was hanged, on 29 July, at Wandsworth Prison. The case attracted huge public interest and was widely covered by the press in Great Britain and Ireland. Webster's behaviour after the crime and during the trial further increased the notoriety of the murder. Read more...
Simon Byrne was an Irish bare-knuckle prize fighter, nicknamed "The Emerald Gem", who lived between 1806 and 1833. As the heavyweight boxing champion of Ireland, he was drawn to England by larger prize money and hopes of becoming the heavyweight champion there as well. He became one of only six fighters ever to have been involved in fatal fights since both survivor and deceased since records began in 1741.
Byrne fought in an era when English boxing, although illegal, was patronised by many powerful individuals. Its patronage and popularity did not, however, free it from corruption, heavy betting, and staged fights. Byrne fought eight recorded matches, but accounts of his career focus on the last three, against the Scottish champion Alexander McKay, the English champion Jem Ward, and James Burke for the vacant championship of England. The injuries McKay received in his fight with Byrne resulted in his death the following day, and rioting in his home country of Scotland. His final contest in May 1833 was a gruelling 99 rounds against James Burke that lasted for 3 hours and 6 minutes, the longest ever recorded prize fight. Byrne died three days later as the result of damage to his brain caused by the beating he had received. Read more...
Selected series: Irish cities