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Éire

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Éire (in the Irish language, translated as "Ireland") is the name given in Article 4 of the 1937 Irish constitution to the twenty-six county Irish state that was created under the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty and which had been known between 1922 and 1937 as the Irish Free State.

Since 1949, the term Republic of Ireland has generally been used in preference to Éire, to clarify that the country rather than the whole island is under discussion. It is sometimes felt that use of "Éire" is associated with a condescending attitude to Ireland, or with disapproval of the partitioned state. Technically, however, as the Republic of Ireland Act enacted in 1948 makes clear, the 'Republic of Ireland' is actually a description not a name, even if generally used as such.

The use of Éire in the 1937 constitution was deliberate and indicative of the claim to the entire island. The change of name to Éire from the Irish Free State under the Fianna Fáil party government (1932-48) of Eamon de Valera followed his government's enactment of an entirely new constitution, called Bunreacht na hÉireann by plebiscite in 1937. Among the new features of that new constitution were a President of Ireland, a renamed prime minister called taoiseach, a new senate called Seanad Éireann, and a more Roman Catholic tone to the document which included a reference to the "special position of the Roman Catholic church" (since repealed). It also provided for no constitutional link with the Crown, though the Crown continued to be used in external relations through a combination of Article 29 of the Constitution and the External Relations Act, 1936. The repeal of the latter Act by the Republic of Ireland Act, 1948 created the Republic of Ireland in 1949, hence the appearance of the new title in public usage.

In 1948 John A. Costello, Taoiseach of a Fine Gael party dominated coalition government formed after the 1948 general election, formally declared the Republic of Ireland. He made the announcement in Ottawa while on a visit to Canada. When asked in 1945 when he planned to do so, de Valera had replied, "We are a republic", having refused to say so before for eight years. The Republic of Ireland Act was enacted to finally clarify matters. These changes involved the country leaving the British Commonwealth.

The word Éire features on all Irish (and since 2002 Euro-Irish) coins and postage stamps issued since 1937. Before then, Saorstát Éireann, the Irish translation of Irish Free State, featured.

Preceded by:
Irish Free State (1922-37)
Irish States (1171-present) Alternative Description Used:
Republic of Ireland (1949- present)



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