Ireland

Why are the Irish so lucky? What is a leprechaun? Is there really gold
at the end of a rainbow? And why does everyone drink green beer on St.
Patrick\'s Day? These questions all have one thing in common, they are myths
from the Emerald Isle we all call Ireland. In this paper I will try to
explain these myths through Ireland\'s people, their Celtic tradition, and
their religion.
To understand the people of Ireland, you first need to understand where
Ireland is and what it\'s like there. Ireland is an island, to the West of
England. The climate in Ireland is rainy, year round. Ireland has a little
bit of everything from the mountains and castles, to the coasts and pastures.

People first came to Ireland about 10,000 years ago. Ireland was one of
the last parts of Europe to become inhabited. The people who came to
Ireland probably went across the land bridges that linked England to
Scotland, and Scotland to Ireland. These first people lived mostly along the
coasts of Ireland eating berries, small animals, and shell fish. Then about
6,000 years ago, these tribes of people started to become more advanced and
civilized. They raised cattle and sheep and farmed the land for crops. They
also moved further inland and had very extravagant burial grounds. Next
around 2000 BC, the Bronze age came upon Ireland. The Irish people quickly
became infamous for their weapons made of metal, especially their swords.
This encouraged trade amongst other European countries, mainly England,
Spain, and Portugal. By 500 BC the Celtic people had started to invade
Ireland. The Celts as they were known were a very aggressive tribal group
that originated as a Germanic tribe. They had defeated the Romans for a
slight time period, but eventually they were run out of Europe. Their only
safe haven was Ireland. For some reason, the Romans stopped their Empire at
England.
In Ireland, the Celtic people easily over threw the simple Irish tribes.
This happened for two main reasons, 1) The Celts were much better fighters,
and 2) There was about five times as many Celts as there were Irish tribes
men. The Celts were not just great fighters though, Roman writers described
them as being \'lively, imaginative people fond of fighting and hunting as
well as poetry and storytelling. They had a complex tribal community made up
of chieftains, warriors, poets, and Druids, (the priests of their mystical
religion.)\' Ireland pg. 37 The Celtic people gave more to Ireland though
than just myths, they brought it it\'s first language, a language still spoken
today.
Through it all, the Celtic language, Gaelic or Irish has survived.
Through out the country, people still speak this original language. It is
especially prevalent in the western parts of the country. This is why the
native Irish sometimes call Ireland Erin, or Erie the ancient Celtic names
for their pagan goddess of nature that the island was named after.
The island of Ireland is a divided island, not by physical boundaries,
but religious ones. Over 95% of the people in Ireland are Roman Catholic,
followed by 3-4% Protestant. The reason that Ireland is primarily Catholic
is because of the work done by St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. St.
Patrick was captured at the age of 16 by Celtic warriors and forced into
slavery in Northern Ireland where he tended sheep. Because of his situation
he became very religious and when he escaped six years later, he went back to
England to become a priest. Fifteen years later, Patrick was sent back to
Ireland, this time by the Pope, to take the position of bishop. Within 30
years, Patrick had successfully converted most of the Druid Irish to
Christianity. He is said to have used a 3 leafed clover, known as a shamrock
to explain the Holy Trinity to the Irish people, this is why the shamrock is
still known today as a good luck charm all over the world. Along with this,
Patrick established over 300 churches and personally baptized over 100,000
people. One myth about St. Patrick was that he chased all the snakes out of
Ireland. This has two meanings. The first is that the snake represented the
devil and as he traveled the