what is the difference between northern ireland and ireland

what is the difference between northern ireland and ireland

So, Eire vs Northern Eire… what’s the distinction? We get this query fairly a bit, normally over e mail and at all times from these visiting Eire from lands afar.

In a nutshell, the 6 counties of Northern Eire are technically inside the UK, whereas the remaining 26 are a part of the Republic of Eire.

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We’ll dive into this deeper within the information under.

Now, it’s value noting prematurely that this can be a matter that may fire up fairly a little bit of anger for these dwelling in each Eire and Northern Eire.

One thing that irritates me significantly about most of the Northern Eire vs Eire guides on-line is that they fail to supply any perception into the historical past of the partition of Eire.

Many guides simply inform vacationers of the variations that they’ll encounter at this time, like forex and street indicators, whereas failing to supply perception into the historical past behind the division.

Eire vs Northern Eire

The primary distinction between Eire and Northern Eire is that they’re two separate international locations. The Republic of Eire is an unbiased sovereign state, whereas Northern Eire has been a part of the UK since third Could 1921.

northern ireland vs ireland map

A fast introduction

OK – first issues first: the map above reveals the partition between Eire and Northern Eire (Northern Eire is the part in greeny-yellow).

There’s at the moment (Oct. fifteenth, 2019) no bodily border between Eire and Northern Eire, though many maps would make you imagine that there’s.

That being mentioned, we’re in a really weird state of affairs with Brexit, at the moment, with talks of a tough border changing into increasingly more frequent.

Hopefully, a border between Eire and Northern Eire won’t ever come to be, because it may end in the kind of battle that plagued the island for a few years, through the mid-to-late-1900s.

The primary variations between Northern Eire and Eire

There are a number of very actual variations between Northern Eire and Eire that you simply’ll encounter at this time.

Let’s say that you simply’re visiting Donegal for a weekend and also you resolve to take a spin into Derry.


  • Technically be passing from Eire into the UK
  • Want pound sterling
  • Encounter totally different street indicators
  • Probably incur extra prices out of your rental automobile firm
    • Sure, some rental automobile firms will cost as much as €30 a day in case you cross from the Republic of Eire into Northern Eire, so verify the contract prematurely!

Eire vs Northern Eire: Counties, Governance, Forex, Extra

howth harbour

The counties of Eire and Northern Eire

32 counties make up the island of Eire. Out of those 32 counties, 26 are situated within the Republic of Eire and 6 are situated in Northern Eire.

Right here’s a breakdown of every:

The counties of the Republic of Eire

  • Dublin
  • Meath
  • Wicklow
  • Wexford
  • Carlow
  • Kilkenny
  • Waterford
  • Cork
  • Kerry
  • Limerick
  • Westmeath
  • Clare
  • Mayo
  • Sligo
  • Galway
  • Leitrim
  • Cavan
  • Donegal
  • Louth
  • Longford
  • Monaghan
  • Tipperary
  • Kildare
  • Laois
  • Roscommon
  • Offaly

The counties of Northern Eire

  • Antrim
  • Armagh
  • Down
  • Derry
  • Fermanagh
  • Tyrone
duress island cork
Picture by Hillwalk Excursions

Governance: President v Queen

Governance is a key distinction between Eire and Northern Eire. The 26 counties of the Republic of Eire are what’s known as a ‘parliamentary constitutional republic’. Eire’s Head of State is the President of Eire (at the moment Michael D. Higgins).

The 6 counties of Northern Eire are a part of the UK. Their present Head of State is the British monarch (Queen Elizabeth).

Forex: Euro v Pound

Within the Republic of Eire, we use Euro. In Northern Eire, they use Pound Sterling.

Now, we continually get requested questions on whether or not they settle for the Euro in Northern Eire. The reply? Sure and no.

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I’ve been in Northern Eire a number of instances over the previous few years. Typically, whenever you stroll right into a bar or store, you’ll see an indication saying ‘Euro accepted’, or one thing alongside these traces.

Your greatest wager is to make use of card. Or to only take out some Sterling to make use of throughout your go to.

Titanic museum belfast
Picture by Chris Hill

Totally different capitals: Dublin v Belfast

One other distinction between Northern Eire vs Eire is their capital cities. The capital of Eire is Dublin, whereas the capital of Northern Eire is Belfast.

Each have worldwide airports and every has in depth (though not at all times dependable) public transport serving it.

Languages: Irish vs English

English and Irish (aka Gaeilge) are the 2 official languages of the Republic of Eire.

You’ll see Irish utilized in many avenue indicators and inside official paperwork, however you don’t have a tendency to listen to it spoken exterior of faculties, the place it’s taught, or in Gaeltacht areas, that are primarily Irish-speaking areas.

Though English is the official language of Northern Eire, Ullans (a variant of Scots – a language dropped at Ulster by Scottish settlers within the seventeenth century) and Irish are each seen as culturally important.

Automobile rental

Renting a automobile in Eire could be a ache. I picked one up from Europcar not way back.

After I was amassing it, I used to be shocked to listen to that if I drove into Northern Eire I’d be hit with a further €25 – €35 (I can’t bear in mind precisely how a lot) cost that will be routinely debited from my card.

I’m unsure if so with each automobile rental supplier, so verify prematurely.

Bes time to visit cliffs of moher
Picture by Chris Hill

“Wait, how will I truly know after I’m passing into NI?”

One of many methods I do know that I’m after passing into Northern Eire is the street indicators.

In Northern Eire, they present distances in miles (see picture above), whereas within the Republic of Eire, we use kilometres.

Clearly, in case you cross a large ‘You are actually getting into Derry’ signal, it’ll be fairly apparent. Additionally, in case you’re utilizing a sat nav and the sound is on, you are typically instructed that you simply’ve simply entered the UK.

The Partition of Eire: A Transient Historical past

Many on-line guides that purpose to supply an perception in Northern Eire vs Eire fail to maneuver previous the present day variations of street indicators and forex.

To supply the mandatory context, you’ll discover a temporary perception into why a partition of Eire occurred under.

Disclaimer: this can be a very temporary historical past of the partition of Eire. Many individuals misplaced their lives through the occasions which might be solely briefly touched on under, so please take a while to learn into them additional.


The division of the island of Eire into two separate areas – Northern Eire and Southern Eire – passed off on the third of Could, 1921.

The UK initially meant that every one of Eire would stay a part of the UK, however the Irish Warfare of Independence (a guerrilla struggle that was fought in Eire from 1919 to 1921 between the Irish Republican Military and British forces) noticed that this didn’t occur.

Dunhill Castle from afar
Picture by Luke Myers

The UK of Nice Britain and Eire

Eire and Nice Britain had been merged into one on the first of January 1801 (this occurred whereas Britain was at struggle with France).

Eire had been having fun with a short interval of independence following the Irish Revolt of 1798 (sure, the Brits occupied Eire earlier than this) when paranoia hit the British authorities.

They felt that there was an actual threat of Eire becoming a member of forces with the French, and determined that Eire wanted to be beneath British rule as soon as once more, to keep away from this taking place.

The third Residence Rule invoice

In case you’re not accustomed to Residence Rule, it was a requirement that Eire’s governance be returned from Westminster, within the UK, to a home parliament on the island of Eire.

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Many fought for this over time, like Daniel O’Connell within the 1830s and 1840s, however it by no means got here to be.

Then, on the eleventh of April 1912, the Prime Minister launched the Third Residence Rule Invoice which granted Eire self-government.

Unionists (individuals in favour of the union of Northern Eire with Britain) significantly opposed this Residence Rule Invoice, with many forming a paramilitary drive, often called the Ulster Volunteer Power (or the UVF), with the intention of resisting Residence Rule by violent means.

They pledged that they wouldn’t acknowledge any Parliament out of Dublin nor:

  • Obey its legal guidelines
  • Pay taxes put in place by its authorities

The Irish Volunteers was arrange in response to the creation of the UVF.

exterior shot of Narrow Water Castle
Picture by Bernie Brown through Tourism Eire

Then the first World Warfare occurred…

Earlier than the state of affairs could possibly be resolved, the first World Warfare arrived. This resulted in a disaster in 1914 being averted.

Nonetheless, whereas the UVF and the Irish Volunteers ready for what appeared like sure battle, arms had been imported into Eire.

The 1916 Easter Rising

It was in April 1916 when bother got here to a boil and the Easter Rising passed off. The Rising was launched by Irish republicans in an try to finish British rule in Eire.

Some fast info and figures:

  • The Rising began on the twenty fourth of April 1916
  • It lasted for six days
  • Members of the Irish Volunteers seized key areas throughout Dublin and proclaimed an Irish Republic.
  • The British Military introduced in 1000’s of reinforcements (+ a gunboat) and managed to suppress the Rising
  • Round 3,500 individuals had been taken prisoner by the British
  • Most of the leaders of the Rising had been executed

The partition

As talked about earlier, I’m oversimplifying the occasions that led to the partition of Eire, so please do take a while to do additional studying into the topic (this can be a nice useful resource).

The Authorities of Eire Act was launched in 1920. Its objective was to offer for the higher authorities of Eire.

This Act resulted in Eire being break up into two self-governing territories:

  • Northern Eire
  • Southern Eire

Northern Eire would stay in the UK and, as of Could of 1921, Northern Eire was formally shaped.

On the sixth of December 1921, the Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed, marking the tip of the Irish Warfare of independence.

Doonagore castle doolin
Picture through Tourism Eire

Often requested questions on Northern Eire v Eire

Hopefully, I’ve answered a great chunk of the questions that you’ve concerning the variations between Eire and Northern Eire.

Beneath, I’m going to deal with some particular questions that we’ve acquired concerning the matter.

Is Eire a part of the UK?

Though the article above is pretty straight-forward, we nonetheless obtain on-average 7-15 emails per thirty days asking is Eire a part of the UK.

There are six counties in Eire which might be a part of the UK. The remaining are a part of the Republic of Eire.

How is Northern Eire totally different from Eire?

Eire and Northern Eire are technically two totally different international locations. They’re dominated by totally different governments, they use totally different currencies, and there’s a special metric system, to call however a number of.

Is Northern Eire British or Irish?

Northern Eire is a part of the UK. Nonetheless, beneath the Good Friday Settlement, individuals which might be born in Northern Eire have the flexibility to decide on to be British residents, Irish residents or each.

Is Dublin in Northern Eire?

No. Dublin is the capital of the Republic of Eire.

Have a query about one thing that we haven’t lined? Let me know within the feedback under!

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