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Despite its long history, Ireland has only been a free nation for less than a hundred years. Effectively becoming a republic in 1937 with a constitution and an earlier agreement for independence from the United Kingdom, the free republic includes 5/6 of the island outside of Northern Ireland. Referendums in 1998 known as theThe Good Friday Agreement, largely settled the unrest and paramilitary conflicts between the Republic and Northern Ireland, which remains a part of the U.K.

With a population of less than 5 million, the tiny country has produced an impressive number of writers, musicians, and dancers. IrishNovelists, poets, and playwrights in particular have contributed much to the English language in the past two hundred years and include Jonathan Swift, James Joyce, William Butler Yeats, Seamus Heaney, Samuel Becket, George Bernard Shaw, and Oscar Wilde. Musically and more recently music groups like U2, the Waterboys, the Pogues…

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