Business and Economics
COUNTRYAAH, Ireland was primarily a farming country for a long time.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the industrial sector grew, but the
1980s saw a deep economic crisis with high unemployment.
After the crisis year of the 1980s, the economy underwent a
rapid transformation, and agriculture today plays a more
obscured role than before.
From 1995-2007, Ireland had an average GDP growth of 6
percent per year, and the country began to be called the
Celtic Tiger. Foreign investment led to the emergence of a
high-tech industry. The recipe for success was EU
contributions, low corporate taxes that attracted foreign
companies and a well-trained workforce.
However, around the middle of the 1990s, growth began to
slow down and in 2008 the country was hit by a sharp
recession with the subsequent collapse of the domestic real
estate and construction market and a severe banking crisis.
At the end of 2010, Ireland received emergency loans from
IMF and EU support funds. In connection with this, the
government prepared a comprehensive austerity package.
The measures did not have the desired effect in 2011 and
2012, but at the end of 2013 several positive signals came
as unemployment began to fall and housing construction
increased. At the end of 2013, Ireland was able to announce
that it had rescued the rescue programs from the aid funds.
Thereafter, the economic recovery continued and in 2018 the
country had a GDP growth of 8.2 per cent, which is the
highest in the EU area.
||Change in GDP (%)
||Government debt share of GDP (%)
||Budget deficit or budget surplus
share of GDP (%)
||Inflation, CPI (%)
||Unemployment of total workforce (%)
Source: IMF, OECD and World Bank
Irish agriculture is dominated by smaller family farms.
Many of the farmers are partly provided with other
employment. Ireland has a sunny, rainy and mild climate that
is unsuitable for grain cultivation but better for livestock
management. The country is the EU's largest exporter of
The importance of agriculture to the Irish economy has
diminished, but agriculture plays a greater role in Ireland
than in most other Western European countries. About
two-thirds of the land is agricultural land, but only 13
percent of it is agricultural land; 20 per cent of grassland
is cultivated, and a full 67 per cent is pasture. Animal
production is of great importance, and beef and milk are the
most important products. The most common crops are potatoes,
sugar beets, barley and wheat. The entry into the European
Communities (1973) led to new marketing markets and higher
prices for Irish products. Initially, the country received
major regional support, but in the 1990s they declined
State forest planting has been ongoing since the 1930s
and has resulted in a tripling of the forest area. Despite
this, only 11 per cent of Ireland's area is covered by
forests. Just over 65 percent is owned by the state.
Although the surrounding coastal waters are rich in fish,
fishing plays only a marginal role. The most common species
of fish are mackerel and herring, but the country is also
known for its crab fishing. In addition to sea fishing,
salmon fishing occurs in the rivers as well as extensive
Ireland is rich in commodity resources, but the sector
only makes an economically marginal contribution; minerals
make up 1 percent of the export value and the mining
industry contributes 1 percent to GDP.
Ireland is the largest zinc producer in Europe and one of
the largest in the world; lead recovery is also significant.
Lead and zinc are mined in mines north of Tipperary, in
Tynagh and in Navan, where Europe's largest mine is located.
Aluminum and silver are also mined.
Gas is extracted at sea off Kinsale southeast of Cork and
peat is harvested in the central parts of the country.
Ireland imports 90 percent of its energy needs, primarily
oil and gas. Own production consists mainly of peat and
natural gas, but 40 per cent are renewable fuels. Of the
total energy use, 5 percent is made up of renewable energy
sources and the goal is to increase this proportion to 30
percent by 2020.
A state-owned company has broken peat since the 1940s and
this type of energy is still significant for large-scale
electricity generation and household needs. Organic interest
organizations have put pressure to save the unique peatlands
For many years, Ireland's industry was characterized by
small-scale and low-technology, focusing on the domestic
market. After the country's entry into the EC in 1973 and
especially during the 1980s, the industry developed rapidly.
With the help of generous location grants, tax relief, state
aid for research and development and, after 1993, access to
the EU internal market, the country managed to attract
foreign, mainly US and Japanese, major companies in the
electronics and pharmaceutical industries.
Nowadays, the country has a high-tech, capital-intensive
and export-oriented industry, largely owned by foreign
groups from the USA, the UK and Japan, among others. The
industry is concentrated mainly in the Dublin region and the
area around Shannon International Airport north of Limerick.
The traditional food sector (slaughterhouses, breweries,
distilleries, sugar refineries) has been supplemented by the
pharmaceutical, electronics and chemical industries.
Ireland has had a deficit in the balance of trade during
much of the post-war period, but since the 1980s there has
been a surplus. About 1/3 of foreign trade is done with the
UK; other important trading partners are other EU countries,
the US and Japan. Important export goods are machines,
computers and pharmaceuticals. The most important import
goods are electronic components, machinery, oil products and
Tourism and gastronomy
Ireland is considered to be one of the world's best
tourism organizations in terms of development and marketing,
and this has also resulted in high visitor numbers and
tourist revenue. The country is visited annually by 6-7
million visitors. Most come from the UK, the rest of Europe,
the US and Canada. Ireland has launched itself as "the green
island", where, above all, the beautiful scenery and age-old
lifestyle attracts tourists. Killarney on the southwestern
part of the island and the entire west coast with its steep
cliffs are well-visited tourist destinations because of the
mild climate and natural beauty. Other destinations are the
cities of Dublin, Kilkenny and Cork. All over the island
there are monasteries and churches from the Middle Ages.
There are also many Celtic monuments here. Golf is a popular
sport in Ireland, and therefore golf courses are everywhere.
Although the island is surrounded by sea and flooded with
countless streams, Ireland, like the United Kingdom, is a
carnivorous country. Traditional Irish home cooking rarely
includes fish recipes, but Irish stew, cooked on
mutton, potatoes and other root fruits,
drisheen (blood sausage) and champ (mashed
potatoes with milk and vegetables). However, the potatoes,
the crop the poor peasants were persuaded to focus on, which
caused starvation when the island was hit by potato plague
in the mid-19th century, have been farmer's rescue for other
years and are part of a number of everyday recipes such as
bread, cakes, pancakes etc.