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How Ireland Got Its Name

Names on their own don’t really mean much, do they? 

It’s what the name represents that matters!

Mention the name “Ireland” on any corner of the globe and most will think of green fields, pints of Guinness, live traditional music, great craic, storytelling, centuries of history, culture and more!

That being said, it’s always interesting to explore the origins of a name as important as that of your country. So, we did a little digging… 

The History Behind Irelands Name

The meaning behind Ireland’s name is long, varied and prone to change depending on whom you ask or what history book you read. 

Earliest indications suggest it could have been the Norsemen, from Scandinavia, who named it “Inis na Fidbadh” which roughly means “Isle of the Woods” and also referred to Ireland as the “westland isle”.

Other suggestions show Proto-Celts referring to the island as the “Abundant land” whilst the Greeks and Romans called Ireland Ierna and/or Hibernia, the latter of which is still seen in some organisations and groups to this very day! 

Éire, and thus Ireland, is said to derive from the old Irish word “Éiru” who was said to be an Irish Goddess and the matron Goddess of the island and sovereignty.

With Ireland’s strong pagan and religious links, throughout the centuries, this connection seems highly likely but a connection, and mashing, of all the names seems even more likely.  

Modern Day Ireland

Nowadays the country is generally still known simply as Éire or Ireland. On some occasions you might see the name “Republic of Ireland” used to differentiate between sports teams but it’s generally infrequent. 

The modern titles of “Éire” or “Ireland” have been in official use since the passing of the Irish Constitution by Eamon de Valera in 1937. Since then Éire has featured on everything from money, including Irish Euros, to postage stamps, passport seals and the seal of the President of Ireland.

You might also see the country referred to as the “Emerald Isle” and this usually refers to lush greens of much of the landscape and countryside. 

If you’ve ever flown over Ireland (hopefully within the safety of a airplane…) you’ll know exactly why its called the Emerald Isle.

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Nothing like a little history to brighten your day!

Like we said at the beginning, names don’t really mean a whole lot without context, history and memories or stories. 

The fact that Éire, or Ireland, could stem from Goddesses, Proto-Celtic settlers, Viking Norsemen, Greeks and Romans, or a whole mix of the above sounds about right to us.

Ireland is a wonderful country full of rights and wrongs, paradoxes, oxymoron’s and so much more, so the name seems to fit perfectly! 

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