CULTURE OF IRELAND
Ireland’s culture comprises elements of the culture of ancient peoples, later immigrant and broadcast cultural influences (chiefly Gaelic culture, Anglicisation, Americanisation and aspects of broader European culture). In broad terms, Ireland is regarded as one of the Celtic nations of Europe, alongside Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Isle of Man and Brittany
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, and sports such as association football, rugby, horse racing, and golf.
The Republic of Ireland’s national theatre is the Abbey Theatre, which was founded in 1904, and the national Irish-language theatre is An Taibhdhearc, which was established in 1928 in Galway. Playwrights such as Seán O’Casey, Brian Friel, Sebastian Barry, Conor McPherson and Billy Roche are internationally renowned.
Ireland has made a large contribution to world literature in all its branches, both in Irish and English. Poetry in Irish is among the oldest vernacular poetry in Europe, with the earliest examples dating from the 6th century. Irish remained the dominant literary language down to the nineteenth century, despite the spread of English from the seventeenth century on.
Irish dance or Irish dancing is a group of traditional dance forms originating from Ireland, encompassing dancing both solo and in groups, and dancing for social, competitive and performance purposes. Irish dance in its current form developed from various influences such as French quadrilles and English country dancing throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Dance was taught by “travelling dance masters” across Ireland throughout this period, and separate dance forms developed according to regional practice and differing purposes. Irish dance became a significant part of Irish culture, particularly for Irish nationalist movements.
Gaelic football is the most popular sport in Ireland in terms of match attendance and community involvement, with about 2,600 clubs on the island. In 2003 it represented 34% of total sports attendances at events in Ireland and abroad, followed by hurling at 23%, soccer at 16% and rugby at 8%. The All-Ireland Football Final is the most watched event in the sporting calendar.