The Irish are an ethnic group and nation native to the island of Ireland, who share a common identity and culture. Ireland has been inhabited for about 12,500 years according to archaeological studies (see Prehistoric Ireland). For most of Ireland's recorded history, the Irish have been primarily a Gaelic people (see Gaelic Ireland). From the 9th century, small numbers of Vikings settled in Ireland, becoming the Norse-Gaels. Anglo-Normans conquered parts of Ireland in the 12th century, while England's 16th/17th-century conquest and colonisation of Ireland brought many English and Lowland Scots people to parts of the island, especially the north. Today, Ireland is made up of the Republic of Ireland (an independent state) and the smaller Northern Ireland (a part of the United Kingdom). The people of Northern Ireland hold various national identities including British, Irish, Northern Irish or some combination thereof.
- What captivity has been to the Jews, exile has been to the Irish. For us, the romance of our native land begins only after we have left home; it is really only with other people that we become Irishmen.
- Stony seaboard, far and foreign,
Stony hills poured over space,
Stony outcrop of the Burren,
Stones in every fertile place,
Little fields with boulders dotted,
Grey-stone shoulders saffron-spotted,
Stone-walled cabins thatched with reeds,
Where a Stone Age people breeds
The last of Europe's stone age race.
- John Betjeman, "Ireland with Emily", in New Bats in Old Belfries (1945)
- There is one thing that the people of Ireland know how to do and that is to survive.
- Pierce Brosnan, as quoted in "Pierce Brosnan talks about his deep Catholic faith" (March 2011), Irish Central
- The truth is, the people here [in Ireland] know nothing of the republican Negro hate prevalent in our glorious land. They measure and esteem men according to their moral and intellectual worth, and not according to the color of their skin. Whatever may be said of the aristocracies here, there is none based on the color of a man's skin.
- Charge of inferiority is an old dodge. It has been made available for oppression on many occasions...When England wants to set the heel of her power more firmly in the quivering heart of old Ireland, the Celts are an 'inferior race'... If he knows as much when he is sober as an Irishman knows when drunk, he knows enough to vote.
- Every Irishman has a potatoe in his head.
- I never touch a drop when I'm happy. But it's a well-known fact that Irishmen are never happy.
- Richard Harris, quoted in Hellraisers: The Life and Inebriated Times of Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Peter O'Toole, and Oliver Reed (New York: Macmillan, 2011) p. 58
- The Irish are not in a conspiracy to cheat the world by false representations of the merits of their countrymen. No, sir, the Irish are a fair people—they never speak well of one another.
- We're not here to take part, we're here to take over!
- We are good people. We just like to have a good time. No trouble, we just want to have a good time.
- [T]he hospitable and generous Irishman has almost no friendship for any race but his own. As laborer and politician he detests the Italian. Between him and the German American citizen there is great gulf fixed…but the most naturalized thing for the Americanized Irishman is to drive out all other foreigners, whatever may be their religious tenets.
- The New York Times (1880)
- Encyclopedic article on Irish people at Wikipedia