Environment in Ireland Essay

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Ireland is an island country, the third largest in Europe, at the edge of the northwestern European continental shelf. It is surrounded on the north, west, and east by the Atlantic Ocean. The Irish Sea separates it from Britain. Four-fifths the size of South Carolina, it has an area of 27,136 square miles (70,238 square kilometers), stretching 290 miles (465 km) north to south and 177 miles (285 km) east to west.

Topographically, Ireland has three main features-coasts, lowlands, and mountains. The Irish coastline surrounding is 1,738 miles long (2,797 kilometers) are cut by numerous inlets and bays, especially on the northern and western sides.

The Shannon River runs through the center of the country into Galway Bay, where the ports of Limrick and Galway are located. Bantry, Clew, Dingle, Donegal, and Sligo Bays are also on the western side of Ireland along with hundreds of islands. The most important of the western islands are Achil Island, Aran Islands, and Valentia Island. Dublin Bay is on the east coast, with Cork and Waterford are on the south coast. The north coast of Ireland has in recent decades become an important vacation center with its long sandy beaches and miles of dramatic chalky cliffs beaten by sea waves.

The Giant’s Causeway is located on the north coast in North Antrim. Irish lore says that the basaltic blocks in geometric shapes are the work of the giant Finn McCool. There are 40,000 basalt columns that lead to the sea and beneath it. Most are hexagonal, but some have four, five, seven or eight sides with the tallest extending 40 feet into the air.

The lowlands are mainly in the center of the country, which is cut by the Shannon River. It rises in the northwest and flows 230 miles to the Atlantic at Galway Bay. Numerous peat bogs covering a tenth of Ireland are scattered across the rolling hills of the central lowlands. The area is actively farmed for potatoes, vegetables, and other crops.

The coasts of Ireland are the location of its mountains. In the southwest are the Kerry Mountains. The Donegal Mountains are in the northwest. The Sperrin, Antrim, and Mourne Mountains are in the north. The Mountains of Mayo and the Mountains of Connemara are in the west. The highest elevation in Ireland is Carrautoonhill (3,414 feet, 1,041 meters) in the Connemara Mountains. The Wicklow Mountains in the east are the source of the Liffey River, which empties into the Irish Sea at Dublin.

The Boyne River is in the northeast; the Barrow, Nore, and Suir Rivers are in the southeast; and the Moy flows through the northwest. The rivers are fed by the mild wet ocean winds that bring rain, which is heaviest in the western mountains with flooding a regular problem in the lowlands. The North Atlantic Current, a branch of the Gulf Stream, warms the island, making snow rare along the coast although it does occur in the mountains.

There are no snakes in Ireland, driven out by St. Patrick according to Irish legends, and only three amphibians. Of the mammals on the island, only 31 are native. These include the red fox, Irish hare, red deer, and the hedgehog. Other mammals including rabbits were introduced at one time. There are, however, over 400 species of birds.


  1. Paddy Dillon, Connemara (Collins Ramblers Guides) (HarperCollins, 2001);
  2. Wendy Walsh, Irish Florilegium: Wild and Garden Plants of Ireland (Thames & Hudson, 1988);
  3. Philip Watson, The Giant’s Causeway: A Remnant of Chaos (Hmso, 1996).

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