February 4, 2018
3260 IRELAND / UNITED KINGDOM (Northern Ireland) - The map of the island
Located in the North Atlantic, Ireland is the third-largest island in Europe (after Great Britain and Iceland), separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel, the Irish Sea, and St George's Channel. Politically, the island is divided between the Republic of Ireland (with Dublin as capital city), which covers five-sixths of the island, and Northern Ireland (with Belfast as capital city), which is part of the United Kingdom. In 2011, the population of Ireland was about 6.6 million (under 4.8 million in the Republic of Ireland and over 1.8 million in Northern Ireland).
The island's geography comprises relatively low-lying mountains surrounding a central plain, with several navigable rivers extending inland. The island has lush vegetation, a product of its mild but changeable climate which is free of extremes in temperature. As of 2013, the amount of land that is wooded in Ireland is about 11% of the total, compared with a European average of 35%. The Irish climate is very moderate and classified as oceanic. As a result, winters are milder than expected for such a northerly area. Rainfall and cloud cover are abundant.
The earliest evidence of human presence in Ireland is dated at 10,500 BC. Gaelic Ireland had emerged by the 1st century CE. The island was Christianised from the 5th century onward. Following the Norman invasion in the 12th century, England claimed sovereignty over Ireland. However, English rule didn't extend over the whole island until the 16th-17th century Tudor conquest, which led to colonisation by settlers from Britain. In the 1690s, a system of Protestant English rule was designed to materially disadvantage the Catholic majority and Protestant dissenters, and was extended during the 18th century.
With the Acts of Union in 1801, Ireland became a part of the United Kingdom. A war of independence in the early 20th century was followed by the partition of the island, creating the Irish Free State, which became increasingly sovereign over the following decades, and Northern Ireland, which remained a part of the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland saw much civil unrest from the late 1960s until the 1990s. This subsided following a political agreement in 1998.
Since the early 17th-century there have been four Provinces of Ireland: Connacht, Leinster, Munster and Ulster. The number of provinces and their delimitation fluctuated until 1610 when they were permanently set by the English administration of James I. The provinces of Ireland no longer serve administrative or political purposes, but function as historical and cultural entities. Irish culture has had a significant influence on other cultures, especially in the fields of literature. Alongside mainstream Western culture, a strong indigenous culture exists, as expressed through Gaelic games, Irish music, and the Irish language. The culture of the island also shares many features with that of Great Britain, including the English language.
About the stamp
The stamp is one of the two Christmas 2017 Stamp SOAR, about which I wrote here.
Ireland - Wikipedia
Sent from Dublin (Leinster / Ireland), on 23.12.2017
Ilustration: Elaine Snowden