The island of Ireland is situated in the extreme north-west of Europe between
51.5 and 55.5 degrees north latitude and between 5.5 and 10.5 degrees west
longitude. The Irish Sea to the east, which separates Ireland from Britain, is
from 17.6 to 192 km (11 to 120 miles) wide and has a maximum depth of about 200
metres (650 feet). Around the other coasts the shallow waters of the
Continental Shelf are rather narrow and depths increase rapidly into the
The Republic of Ireland covers 70,282 sq. km (27,136 sq.mi.) and
consists of Munster, Leinster, Connacht and three counties of Ulster, making a
total of 26 counties governed by The Republic.
Northern Ireland is only 5,500 square miles in area - about the size of Yorkshire or Connecticut
- and is made up of the remaining 6 counties of Ulster.
The island comprises a large central lowland of limestone with
a relief of hills surrounded by a discontinuous border of coastal mountains
which vary greatly in geological structure.
The mountain ridges of the south are composed of old red sandstone separated by
limestone river valleys. Granite predominates in the mountains of Galway, Mayo
and Donegal in the west and north-west and in Counties Down and Wicklow on the
east coast, while a basalt plateau covers much of the north-east of the
country. The central plain, which is broken in places by low hills, is
extensively covered with glacial deposits of clay and sand. It has considerable
areas of bog and numerous lakes. The island has seen at least two general
glaciations and everywhere ice-smoothed rock, mountain lakes, glacial valleys
and deposits of glacial sand, gravel and clay mark the passage of the ice.
The highlands of the north, west, and south, which rise to more than 3,000 ft
(914 m), are generally barren, but the central plain is extremely fertile and
the climate is temperate and moist, warmed by southwesterly winds.
Ireland's greatest length is 485 km (302 miles) and it is 304
km (189 miles) at its widest point.
Among Ireland's natural advantages is 5,631 km (3,500
indented that you are never more than 70 miles from the sea. Add to this the
800 lakes and rivers of inland
Ireland and you can be fairly certain
of being in sight of some body of
water anywhere in Ireland!
The highest mountain is Carrantuohill (1,040 metres/3'414
feet), near Killarney in County Kerry.
The longest river is the Shannon (370 km/230 miles,
which opens at the sea in county Limerick.
largest lake is Lough
Neagh (396 ssq km/153 ss.quare miles) in the North
and is bordered by
counties Armagh, Down, Antrim, Derry and Tyrone.