Irish people

The Irish people ( or Na hÉireannaigh) are a nation and ethnic group who originate in Ireland, an island in northwestern Europe. Ireland has been inhabited for about 9,000 years according to archaeological studies (see Prehistoric Ireland). For most of Ireland’s recorded history, the Irish have been primarily a Gaelic people (see Gaelic Ireland). Anglo-Normans conquered parts of Ireland in the 12th century, while England’s 16th/17th century (re)conquest and colonization of Ireland brought a large number of English and Lowland Scots to parts of the island. The Lebor Gabála Érenn, a medieval Christian pseudo-history of Ireland, traces the Irish to key Biblical figures. It says that the Irish people’s earliest forebears came to Ireland via Scythia and Iberia. Other medieval texts mention a belief that the Irish all descend from Éber Donn, who appears to have been a god of the underworld. There have been many notable Irish people throughout history. The 6th-century Irish monk and missionary Columbanus is regarded as one of the “fathers of Europe”, followed by Kilian of Würzburg and Vergilius of Salzburg. The scientist Robert Boyle is considered the “father of chemistry”. Famous Irish explorers include Brendan the Navigator, Robert McClure, Ernest Shackleton and Tom Crean. By some accounts, the first European child born in North America had Irish descent on both sides; and an Irishman was the first European to set foot on American soil in Columbus’ expedition of 1492. The population of Ireland is about 6.3 million, but it is estimated that 50 to 80 million people around the world have Irish forebears. Historically, emigration from Ireland has been the result of conflict, famine and economic issues. People of Irish descent are found mainly in English-speaking countries; especially Great Britain, the United States, Canada and Australia. There are also significant numbers in Argentina and Mexico. The United States has the largest number of Irish descendants, while in Australia those of Irish descent are a higher percentage of the population than in any other country. Icelanders have Irish and Scottish Gaelic forebears.