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My father is half Irish, making me a quarter Irish. The culture in Ireland is like many other countries in Europe, English speaking, euro using, and generally modernized with a few towns left untouched, which make their money off of agriculture or some form of commercial farming. My family doesn't religiously practice anything from the Irish culture, its just something that is said when someone asks where my family is from. So having now learned so much about the Irish culture, I find it interesting but it does not affect my view of the country.

Surface Culture
Some things that would be called surface culture of the Irish people, is their diet. The Irish are famous for their potato crop, and for their brewing of beer. But the potatoes actually have a long history in Ireland, from barely surviving the great famine, to now becoming a tradition in America, and other countries. For example, on St. Patrick's day in Philadelphia, a local company that specializes in Irish sweet potatoes, the potatoes are eaten by many people to commemorate The Great Irish Potato Famine.

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Traditional jack-o'-lantern made from a turnip Some Ireland grown potatoes

Deeper Culture
Other deeper aspects of my culture, is how the Irish people grew with Halloween as an important holiday. Halloween has been an important Celtic Holiday for centuries, it was actually brought to the Americas in the 1840's by people fleeing the Potato Famine. In Ireland, they would carve turnips instead of pumpkins, the Irish would go from house to house begging for soul cakes, much like how children in America go from house to house for candy.

Some common misconceptions of the Irish, red hair is not nearly as abundant as it is told to be, and not EVERYONE drinks 24/7, though the pubs are quite a popular place. Many many years ago, it was thought by lots of people here in America, that the Irish immigrants, were more animal-like then human. England used to have that same notion, not fearing to wipe them out with the Potato Famine, which is now commonly believed to be brought on by the English missionaries.

external image 9%20Oldest%20Pub.jpg Left: The oldest pub in Ireland

Culture Universals

Language: Gaeilge (main Irish language) is closely related to Scottish Gaeilge, Welsh, Cornish, and Breton. Like many other countries, there are different forms of their main language dispersed through the small towns of Ireland, with small variations from Gaeilge, to a new language adapted from other countries all together

Belief: Like many other countries, Ireland has one main religion, Catholic, with around 90% of the population attending weekly mass. There are many other smaller groups that have different religious beliefs, probably learned from missionaries from England centuries ago.

external image Catholic-single-network-faith.jpg The cross

Institution: Like every culture, Ireland has a form of marriage, a very similar style to ours, in a way that it differs from couple to couple and their wishes for how it is to be done, a small gathering or a full out party. They also have a system of government, a democratic state with a parliamentary system, with a President, Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, and so on.

Technology: Ireland is fairly advanced when it comes to technology, they started out with simple agriculture systems, like every other country that farms. But they also have modern technology, in much needed areas such as medical research. In 2006, the SeptiFast test sprouted from an Irish company, which is a very high tech, or sheik technology that is used today to test blood for things such as bad bacteria and fungi.

Food: Back when Vikings inhabited early Ireland, they mainly consumed meat, such as cattle, sheep, and pigs. Wild goose and fish was also common, along with a wide range of berries and nuts, especially hazel. In The Middle Ages, the dominant food source was cattle, this was before the potato had arrived in 16th century. When potatoes were introduced to Ireland, they were meant as just a garden crop, until they became the main food for Ireland's poor. The reliance on the potato as Ireland's staple crop, made them extremely vulnerable to any potato diseases.

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As for the food of modern times, Ireland's cuisine is very influenced by western culture, as well by England's dishes. Common dishes include pizza, Chinese food, curry, and seafood. Ireland also eats lots of its hand-made cheeses. Fish and chips has become as popular in Ireland as it has in England, but with the suddenly high demand for fast food, obesisty has become a problem, and Ireland now has one of the highest rates of heart diseases in the world.

There are four traditional items of clothing, Aran sweaters, Brogues, Flat Caps, and the Grandfather shirt. But in current times, they wear clothing similar to ours, and similar to most of Europe's.

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Aran Sweater Flat Cap

Culture Diffusion

England, changed the culture of the Irish people for the worst, forever. They had managed to buy up all the land, and distribute it between the rich and of people of their own country, instead of the Irish that had been living their for generations. The Irish had to pay these men that owned land to grow crops on it, and to live on it. These tenants of their own land, were horribly treated, their houses burned down if they weren't able to pay the rent, and the crops that they grew for their families sent away to England. Because there was little space where the Irish could grow food, The Great Famine, lasted for five years, from 1845 to 1850. Over half of the population had either died, or for the richer, emigrated to the Americas. To this day statues are across Ireland in remembrance of The Great Famine. Around 150 years later, the economic depression has not completely lifted, and the population is still very small compared to what it should of been.

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A map of the food distribution during the Great Famine (1845-1850)
My analysis: Ireland is a changed country since the famine, and because of the many people that left or died during the famine, it is missing a large portion of its culture. Because of the famine, Ireland has holidays for it, and is undoubtedly more cautious and depends much more on other crop then just potatoes. The famine will always shadow Ireland's past, and affect how people feel about its future.
external image mother-children%20%28The%20Great%20Famine%29.JPG Left: Suffering during the famine.

How Does the Physical Geography Affect the Culture?

Ireland is a fairly large country, and there are several different regions with different climates and elevation. The following regions are the nine main generalizations of Ireland.

The North-Western Caledonian Province: This area was stripped of soil back in the ice age, so the people mainly populate the coasts of this area to make their money off of commercial fishing rather then agriculture. Many rivers are also in this area, in the valleys, providing fresh water.

The Antrim Plateau: This is an extensive sheet of basalt that extends to over 360 meters. This is home to the largest fresh water lake in the British Isles. Because the basalt, this area is only good for agriculture in a few of the sheltered glens (valleys), so this area is sparsely populated.

The Drumlin Belt: This area is made up of tightly-packed hillocks, called Drumlins, formed in a wide belt crossing Ireland. These areas are poor for agriculture, and people that come from this area often own very small farms.

external image drumlin_belt.gifThe Drumlin Belt

The Western Caledonian Province: This area has been so eroded by the ice age, and so stripped of soil, that the whole interior is not populated, and is sparsely populated on the outer edges.

The Mourne Uplands: This is an isolated of indigenous peaks, that were seriously hit by glaciers causing the area to have sharp dome like figures made of rock. Because of the rock formations, this area is not inhabited, but it has been an inspiration for many of Ireland's famous poets.

The Central Plain: The Shannon basin dominates this area, with limestone underlying it all, and is covered in glacial drift. People inhabit this area, with smaller towns on the west but it is very well developed on the east coast, because of the flatness of the area.

The Southern Hill and Vale Province: This region is like an extension of The Central Plain, with a few more mountains emerging from the bed rock such as Slieve Bloom and the Galtee mountains. This area is decently populated with people, mainly for agriculture purposes. It is no where in this area as populated it is on the east coast of The Central Plain.

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The Galtee Mountains
The South-Eastern Caledonian Province: This granite mass area, consists of Ireland's largest mountain range, and on the top is covered with a blanket blog, which is good for extensive sheep rearing, but is still sparsely populated. This area is also home to Powerscourt Falls, Ireland's tallest waterfall (106m, 350 feet).

external image 2326367579_20e0346b68.jpgPowerscourt Falls

The Munster Ridge and Valley Province: This area is full of geological interest, the different styles of erosion going on the area has created parallel ridges of sandstone mountains, where valleys have been flooded by the sea, peninsulas have been formed. This area is not heavily populated, but some flat land here is found to farm on or raise cattle, so people still inhabit this place.


Callahan, Bob. The Big Book of American Irish Culture. New York: Viking, 1987. Print.

Unknown. "Traditions and Customs in Ireland." YourIrish.com. Web. 2 Jan. 2010.

Courvrette, Shelly. "The Great Famine." Basquill Family Tree. Web. 3 Jan. 2010. <http://basquill.cat-sidh.net/index.html>.

Many Contributers. "Irish Cuisine." Wikipedia. Web. 3 Jan. 2010.