Why is Ireland green? Simple. The North American Gulf Stream flows northward out of the tropics bringing warm water up the east coast of North America. It then continues into the north Atlantic and southward along Ireland’s west coast. Storms follow the Gulf Stream. A storm traveling along the Gulf Stream from North America hits Ireland a week later, dumping rain. Rain on fertile soil brings rich grasslands and forests which are food for animals. Man, The Hunter, came to Ireland after the last Ice Age for these animal herds. (Figure 1).
Minerals in the soils are beneficial to animals, such as horses. (Figure 2) Ireland has become famous for horse breeding. Serious afficionados, such as Queen Elizabeth II (Figure 3) and Aga Khan buy and race horses in Ireland. (Figure 4). Irish equestrians are serious competitors in the Olympias and other competitions. (Figure 5).
Another animal that thrives on the grass is the cow. (Figure 6). While not as glamourous as horses, they provide money when exported. Sheep, (Figure 7). are probably the most numerous. They provide wool for clothing (Figure 8) and mutton for export.
Plants are important. The potato blight caused failure of the potato crop several times in the 1840's and1870's. The Great Famine resulted in over a million people dead and caused about 2 million to emigrate. (Figure 9). This was in part caused by reliance on a single crop for food. Today, crops are diversified, and diets varied. (Figure 10). Wheat, corn, sugar beets, oats, and, of course, hops are grown. The latter to make Ireland’s famous Guiness stout. (Figure 11). Another important crop is flax, used in making linen as seen on stamps of Northern Ireland. (Figure 12).
The climate is warmed enough by the Gulf Stream to allow some semi-tropical plants to grow, such as the palm tree, not far from the Cliffs of Moher. Even more interesting, but harder to see, are the plants growing in the rock crevasses on The Burren. (Figure 13). Conditions are right for smaller plants to grow in this seemingly barren area of County Clare. Migrating birds have carried seed from as far away as North Africa. Water, warmth, and minerals did the rest.
Agriculture has been a way of life for centuries, and has warranted philatelic visibility.
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