Irish Culture, language, religion, geography, art, sport and entertainment
All teachers in the Republic must pass an oral examination in Irish in order to be able to teach. The Ceard Teastas is a requirement for teachers in all subjects and not just those teaching Irish.
Children normally attend school from the age of four; it is compulsory between the ages of 6-14. The age of children attending second-level school [secondary] is usually 12-19. Vocational schools, where students with skills relating to the trades are taught, were quite popular from the mid-1960s but have since declined. Having had a stringent points system to attain university entry, the so-called "points race" ended in 2006 when supply for university places in the Republic had greatly exceeded demand. This is a price to be paid for a thriving economy where school leavers can obtain full-time employment with ease.
The principal religion of the Republic is Roman Catholicism which constitutes over 91% of the population. The remaining 9% are mainly Protestant and Jewish with an increasing representation of Islamic and other world religions [source: CSO].
The Church of Ireland is the Anglican church, a Protestant (episcopal) church. It was the official church during British rule and was disestablished in 1800.
Dublin is very unusual in having more than one cathedral within its city limits. You might suspect it has two and would be wrong - there are three cathedrals. Why? The answer, unsurprisingly with anything Irish, is history and religion. In the medieval period, St. Patrick's Cathedral was built at the location where the great saint converted and baptised early Christians. Later, Christ Church Cathedral became the seat of the Archbishop of Dublin (St. Patrick's becoming the national cathedral of Ireland). The British conquered Ireland from the late middle ages; when Henry VIII rejected catholicism in the sixteenth century and formed the Anglican church, this also affected Irish catholic establishments and thus the two cathedrals become Protestant. The third cathedral in Dublin, St. Mary's Pro-Cathedral, was finished in 1825 and named in the hope that one of the two Protestant cathedrals would be given to the Catholic church.
Divorce is now available in the Republic. Abortion is illegal and there have been referenda on both subjects in the last 15 years.
Irish people love sport. Unfortunately, few international teams are comprised of cross-border members with the notable exceptions of rugby, hockey and swimming.
The official sports are run by the Gaelic Athletic Association - football, hurling and camogie. Association soccer is very popular also.
Irish (Gaelic) is the first language of the Republic and is compulsory in all schools up to secondary level (along with English and Maths). A few areas speak Irish fluently including parts of Galway, Cork and Waterford.
Signage in the Republic is bilingual. Much amusement can be had by seeing the historic attempts at converting the Irish names into English! Distances are mainly in kilometres, although miles survive in rural areas [a picture of an old sign in miles]
The Republic of ireland has no nuclear power. The country's electricity stations are mostly peat burning, turf (peat) being found in large quantities in the Irish midlands, and parts of the north-west. Dublin has one oil burning power station, using imported oil. While some peat-burning stations have recently been closed, it would appear that turf will continue to form the mainstay of the country's power.
There is no national identity card - driving licences are commonly used for identification.
Drivers must carry their driving licences when driving.
Criminal suspects are innocent until proven guilty.
The Euro is Ireland's currency although the Central Bank will still exchange Irish punts.
Smoking is officially prohibited in all public buildings and many private spaces, including government offices, trains, buses, pubs and restaurants.
Interesting facts about Irish culture