Language, Literature and Culture
Part I Landscapes and Language 15
PART I Landscapes and Language Raymond Hickey Rural and Urban Ireland: A Question of Language? Introduction A cursory glance at a map of Ireland not only reveals a geographical division of the country into a northern and a southern part but also a clear delimita- tion of town and countryside. The cities in Ireland are all on the coast and are all some distance from each other. There are no conurbations in Ireland comparable to that of Liverpool-Manchester or Birmingham-Coventry in England or the cities of the Ruhr area of Germany. But both halves of the country are dominated by a single large city: Belfast for Northern Ireland and Dublin for the Republic of Ireland. These cities have extended into their respective hinterlands in the twentieth century, greatly enlarging their metropolitan areas in the process. All other cities are considerably smaller, as can be seen from the following table of approximate sizes (rounded up to the nearest thousand). The figures for Belfast and Derry are based on the 2001 United Kingdom Census. Those for the remaining cities derive from the 2006 Republic of Ireland Census. Note that the tripartite division into (i) city area, (ii) urban area and (iii) metropolitan area only applies to the four largest cities. In both the north and the south of Ireland the metropolitan area of the respective capital occupies well over one third of the entire population. This situation is necessarily ref lected in the culture of the two halves of the country. For...
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