Ireland is an island country on the western edge of Europe. It is the continent’s second largest island (after Great Britain). Ireland’s nickname is the Emerald Isle because of its stretches of lush, green fields. But there are also large areas of rugged, rocky landscape.

About 15,000 years ago, Ireland was completely covered by thick glaciers. The midlands and west coast of Ireland are dotted with damp peat bogs, the soggy remains of dried-up ancient lakes left by the glaciers. Ireland’s highlands are mainly in the southwest, often ending at sheer cliffs that plunge thousands of feet into the Atlantic Ocean.

The Irish have a great affection for nature and rural life. Low levels of development and pollution there have left most of Ireland’s rural spaces largely unspoiled. For thousands of years, Ireland’s economy has been based on farming and agriculture. But since the late 1950s, successful businesses have located there, turning Ireland from one of Europe’s poorest countries to its second wealthiest.

Today Ireland is a multicultural country, however most of the people are Irish (82%). English is the official language but about 40% also speak Gaelic, the traditional language of Ireland. Many children in Ireland are supporters of Missionary Children (Mission Together). Through prayer and sharing they support children living in poverty all over the world. Like the pupils below who donated some of their First Holy Communion gifts to Missionary Children.