Alongside mainstream Western culture, a strong indigenous culture exists, as expressed through Gaelic games, Irish music, and the Irish language.The culture of the island also shares many features with that of Great Britain, including the English language, and sports such as association football, rugby, horse racing, and golf.However, English rule did not extend over the whole island until the 16th–17th century Tudor conquest, which led to colonisation by settlers from Britain.

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How and when the island of Ireland became Celtic has been debated for close to a century, with the migrations of the Celts being one of the more enduring themes of archaeological and linguistic studies.

Today, there is more than one school of thought on how this occurred in Ireland.

is that the Celtic language, Ogham script and culture were brought to Ireland by waves of invading or migrating Celts from mainland Europe.

This theory draws on the Lebor Gabála Érenn, a medieval Christian pseudo-history of Ireland along with the presence of Celtic culture, language and artefacts found in Ireland such as Celtic bronze spears, shields, torcs and other finely crafted Celtic associated possessions.

The island has lush vegetation, a product of its mild but changeable climate which is free of extremes in temperature.

Thick woodlands covered the island until the Middle Ages.

Politically, Ireland is divided between the Republic of Ireland (officially named Ireland), which covers five-sixths of the island, and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, in the northeast of the island.

In 2011, the population of Ireland was about 6.6 million, ranking it the second-most populous island in Europe after Great Britain.

However, summers are cooler than those in Continental Europe. The earliest evidence of human presence in Ireland is dated at 10,500 BC. The island was Christianised from the 5th century onward.

Following the Norman invasion in the 12th century, England claimed sovereignty over Ireland.

Just under 4.8 million live in the Republic of Ireland and just over 1.8 million live in Northern Ireland.