Ireland's Wild Life
The land called Ireland separated from the European mainland in the
time period following the last Ice Age. Because of this separation and
effects of the glaciers the island has a smaller range of flora and
fauna than is found elsewhere in Europe. Much of Ireland was once
covered with forest, which have been cleared over most of the country.
These forests were very rich in lichens, mosses, liverworts and ferns.
Remnants of the forest, in the Killarney area, include oak
interspersed with holly and birch, with ash, hazel and yew forests in
limestone areas. In recent decades the planting programs have favoured
Sitka spruce, Scots, contorta and other pines, larches, Norway spruce
and Douglas fir. Most species of wild fauna and several species of
wild flora are protected. Conservation is a responsibility of the
National Parks and Wildlife Service of The Office of Public Works.
Raised peat bogs occur in the Central Plain in areas, varying in size
from a couple of hectares to a few square kilometres, while mountain
bogs are common in western areas. The flora of the bogs consists of a
large variety of bog-moss species as well as heather and sedges.
Glengariff and Killarney (Cork/Kerry) are very rich in bryophytes and
lichen species of extreme oceanic and even tropical distribution. The
Burren in Co. Clare is a region of bare carboniferous limestone,
containing arctic-alpine species surviving from the last glacier and
Mediterranean species at the northern end of their range.
Rivers and lakes contain a wide variety of fish. Salmon, trout, char,
pollan and eel all occur naturally and other varieties, such as pike,
roach and rainbow trout, have been introduced to the waters. The only
amphibians are a single species each of frog, toad and newt. There are
no snakes; the only reptile is the lizard. 380 species of wild birds
are recorded in Ireland, 135 breeds in the country. There is
considerable migration of birds to Ireland in spring and autumn, while
winter migration brings a number of species from Greenland and
Iceland. Three-quarters of the world population of the Greenland white
fronted goose winter in Ireland, which has been marked by the
establishment of an internationally important wildlife reserve in Co.
Wexford. There is also considerable migration, which passes Ireland
from birds which nest further north. Game shooting is strictly
controlled and, there is a national network of refuges where all game
shooting is prohibited. Some wild game bird stocks, such as pheasant
and mallard duck, are augmented through State-assisted restocking
programmes. Inland waters support colonies of swans, geese, waders,
duck, tern and gulls.
31 species of mammals exist. Examples of native development are the
Irish stoat and the Irish hare. Other animals include the fox, badger,
rabbit, otter, squirrel and hedgehog. Conservation of wildlife
habitats is achieved through the creation of nature reserves of which
there are 75, together with 5 refuges for fauna.
There are twelve large forest parks and over 400 smaller amenities.
The National Parks and Wildlife Service is also responsible for the
development and management of national parks and nature reserves, they
have established five national parks. These parks are located at
Killarney, Co. Kerry; Glenveagh, Co. Donegal; Connemara, Co. Galway;
The Burren, Co. Clare and the Wicklow Mountains, Co. Wicklow.
| Gaelic is the Celtic branch of the Indo-European
family of languages. About one person in five in Ireland can speak
Irish today, but only one in 20 use it daily. In Scotland
approximately 80,000 people speak Gaelic. |
Saint Patrick (about 389-461) is the patron saint of
Ireland. Patrick was born in Britain.|
Ireland, together with Britain, joined
the European Economic Community in 1973.|
population of the island as a whole is just under 6 million(2006),
4.20 million live in the Irish Republic and 1.7 million
live in Northern Ireland. |
a parliamentary democracy. The National Parliament
(Oireachtas) consists of the President and two Houses:
Dáil Éireann (the House of Representatives) and Seanad
Éireann (the Senate) Northern Ireland
has a parliamentary monarchy and an electoral democracy.
The voting age is 18 in both parts of Ireland.