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Ireland's Wild Life

The land called Ireland separated from the European mainland in the time period following the last Ice Age. Because of this separation and effects of the glaciers the island has a smaller range of flora and fauna than is found elsewhere in Europe. Much of Ireland was once covered with forest, which have been cleared over most of the country. These forests were very rich in lichens, mosses, liverworts and ferns. Remnants of the forest, in the Killarney area, include oak interspersed with holly and birch, with ash, hazel and yew forests in limestone areas. In recent decades the planting programs have favoured Sitka spruce, Scots, contorta and other pines, larches, Norway spruce and Douglas fir. Most species of wild fauna and several species of wild flora are protected. Conservation is a responsibility of the National Parks and Wildlife Service of The Office of Public Works.

Raised peat bogs occur in the Central Plain in areas, varying in size from a couple of hectares to a few square kilometres, while mountain bogs are common in western areas. The flora of the bogs consists of a large variety of bog-moss species as well as heather and sedges. Glengariff and Killarney (Cork/Kerry) are very rich in bryophytes and lichen species of extreme oceanic and even tropical distribution. The Burren in Co. Clare is a region of bare carboniferous limestone, containing arctic-alpine species surviving from the last glacier and Mediterranean species at the northern end of their range.
Rivers and lakes contain a wide variety of fish. Salmon, trout, char, pollan and eel all occur naturally and other varieties, such as pike, roach and rainbow trout, have been introduced to the waters. The only amphibians are a single species each of frog, toad and newt. There are no snakes; the only reptile is the lizard. 380 species of wild birds are recorded in Ireland, 135 breeds in the country. There is considerable migration of birds to Ireland in spring and autumn, while winter migration brings a number of species from Greenland and Iceland. Three-quarters of the world population of the Greenland white fronted goose winter in Ireland, which has been marked by the establishment of an internationally important wildlife reserve in Co. Wexford. There is also considerable migration, which passes Ireland from birds which nest further north. Game shooting is strictly controlled and, there is a national network of refuges where all game shooting is prohibited. Some wild game bird stocks, such as pheasant and mallard duck, are augmented through State-assisted restocking programmes. Inland waters support colonies of swans, geese, waders, duck, tern and gulls.
31 species of mammals exist. Examples of native development are the Irish stoat and the Irish hare. Other animals include the fox, badger, rabbit, otter, squirrel and hedgehog. Conservation of wildlife habitats is achieved through the creation of nature reserves of which there are 75, together with 5 refuges for fauna.
There are twelve large forest parks and over 400 smaller amenities. The National Parks and Wildlife Service is also responsible for the development and management of national parks and nature reserves, they have established five national parks. These parks are located at Killarney, Co. Kerry; Glenveagh, Co. Donegal; Connemara, Co. Galway; The Burren, Co. Clare and the Wicklow Mountains, Co. Wicklow.

Ireland's Provincial Flags
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 Gaelic is the Celtic branch of the Indo-European family of languages. About one person in five in Ireland can speak Irish today, but only one in 20 use it daily. In Scotland approximately 80,000 people speak Gaelic.
 Saint Patrick (about 389-461) is the patron saint of Ireland. Patrick was born in Britain.
  Ireland, together with Britain, joined the European Economic Community in 1973.
 The population of the island as a whole is just under 6 million(2006), 4.20 million live in the Irish Republic and 1.7 million live in Northern Ireland.
Ireland is a parliamentary democracy. The National Parliament (Oireachtas) consists of the President and two Houses: Dáil Éireann (the House of Representatives) and Seanad Éireann (the Senate) Northern Ireland has a parliamentary monarchy and an electoral democracy. The voting age is 18 in both parts of Ireland.


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