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During the last glacial period, and up until about 10,000 BC, most of Ireland was periodically covered in ice.
Sea levels were lower and Ireland, like Great Britain, formed part of continental Europe.
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.
The island's geography comprises relatively low-lying mountains surrounding a central plain, with several navigable rivers extending inland.
An extensive field system, arguably the oldest in the world, consisted of small divisions separated by dry-stone walls.
The fields were farmed for several centuries between 3500 BC and 3000 BC. The Bronze Age – defined by the use of metal – began around 2500 BC, with technology changing people's everyday lives during this period through innovations such as the wheel; harnessing oxen; weaving textiles; brewing alcohol; and skilful metalworking, which produced new weapons and tools, along with fine gold decoration and jewellery, such as brooches and torcs. Koch and others, Ireland in the Late Bronze Age was part of a maritime trading-network culture called the Atlantic Bronze Age that also included Britain, western France and Iberia, and that this is where Celtic languages developed.
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.