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 Economy of the Republic of Ireland is modern, relatively small, and trade-dependent with growth averaging a robust 10% in 1995–2000. Agriculture, once the most important sector, is now dwarfed by industry, which accounts for 46% of GDP, about 80% of exports, and employs 29% of the labour force. Although exports remain the primary engine for the Republic's robust growth, the economy is also benefiting from a rise in consumer spending and recovery in both construction and business investment. Read more...
George Ivan Morrison OBE (generally known as Van Morrison) (born August 31, 1945) is a Grammy Award-winning Northern Irish singer, songwriter, author, poet and multi-instrumentalist, who has been a professional musician during the last five decades. He plays a variety of instruments, including the guitar, harmonica, keyboards, drums, and saxophone. Featuring his characteristic growl — a unique mix of folk, blues, Irish, scat, and Celtic influences — Morrison is widely considered one of the most unusual and influential vocalists in the history of rock and roll. Critic Greil Marcus has gone so far as to say that "no white man sings like Van Morrison."
Known as "Van the Man" by his fans, Morrison first rose to prominence as the lead singer of the Northern Irish band, Them, penning their seminal 1964 hit "Gloria". A few years later, Morrison left the band for a successful solo career.
Morrison has pursued an idiosyncratic musical path. Much of his music is tightly structured around the conventions of American soul and R&B, such as the popular singles "Brown Eyed Girl", "Moondance", "Domino" and "Wild Night". An equal part of his catalogue consists of lengthy, loosely connected, spiritually inspired musical journeys that show the influence of Celtic tradition, jazz, and stream-of-consciousness narrative, such as his classic album Astral Weeks and lesser known works such as Veedon Fleece and Common One. The two strains together are sometimes referred to as "Celtic Soul".
Morrison's career, spanning some five decades, has influenced many popular musical artists. In 1993 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2003. In 2000, Morrison ranked #25 on American cable music channel VH1's list of its 100 greatest artists of rock and roll, and in 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked Van Morrison 42nd on their list of The Immortals: 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. Paste Magazine ranked him 20th in their list of 100 Greatest Living Songwriters In 2006 and Q Magazine ranked him 22nd on their list of 100 Greatest Singers in April 2007. Read more...
Selected series: Irish cities