The Book of Kells is Ireland's greatest national treasure. Created by Celtic monks around AD 800, it contains the text of the...Read More >>The Book of Kells is Ireland's greatest national treasure. Created by Celtic monks around AD 800, it contains the text of the four gospels of the New Testament and many exquisite illustrations. This is an illustration of St Matthew.Ireland's rich history stretches back to 7500 BC, when its land was first settled. From the construction of Newgrange in 3200 BC, Irishmen have built some of the greatest ancient monuments and designed among the most beautiful religious books in the world. In the late 300s AD, Ireland became one of the first countries outside the Roman world to be converted to Christianity. In 1169, English knights invaded Ireland, marking the start of English, and later British, domination of their neighbour. The British ruled Ireland for more than 700 years and the six counties in the north of the island are part of the United Kingdom to this day. However, the Northern Ireland Assembly, the legislature of Northern Ireland, meets at Stormont near Belfast.
For hundreds of thousands of years, Ireland was covered by a thick sheet of ice. No one could live there. As the climate warmed up around 13,000 BC, the ice retreated and the land became habitable. Around 7500 BC the first people arrived in Ireland across the land bridge from Britain, as the two islands were then connected by land to the rest of Europe. These Stone Age people hunted wild animals and gathered fruits and nuts to eat. They used flint to make tools and built simple shelters made of wood and animal hides. As the temperatures warmed and the sea levels rose, Ireland became a separate island in around 6500 BC. Its people began to farm the land and build wooden houses.
Well-known people of Irish descent include: Diana, Princess of Wales, Argentine-borne revolutionary Che Guevara, politicians Tony Blair, John F. Kennedy and Charles de Gaulle, singer David Bowie, actors Judy Garland and Mel Gibson, Beatles Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison, and boxer Muhammad Ali.
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