The Constitution provides (Article 4) that the name of the State is �ire, or in
the English language,
Ireland. Normal practice is to restrict the use of the name �ire to texts in
the Irish language and to use
Ireland in all English-language texts, with corresponding translations for
texts in other languages.
The Republic of Ireland Act of 1948 provides for the
description of the State as the Republic of Ireland but this provision has not
changed the usage of Ireland as the name of the State in the English language.
The root of the name �ire is uncertain and various theories have been advanced
but there is no doubt but that it is a name of considerable antiquity. It first
appears as Ierne in Greek geographical writings which may be based on sources
as early as the 5th century BC. In Ptolemy's map (c AD 150) the name appears as
Iouernia; some such form was transliterated into Latin as Iuverna.
Latin form, Hibernia, first appears in the works of Caesar, who seems to have
confused it with the Latin word hibernus (wintry). �riu, the Old Irish form of
�ire, was current in the earliest Irish literature.
The modern English word
Ireland derives from the Irish word �ire with the addition of the Germanic word
Land. In mythology, �riu was one of three divine eponyms for Ireland, together
with Banba and Fodla. The idea of Ireland as a heroine reappears as a common
motif in later literature in both Irish and English.