Is Ireland part of the UK?


The straightforward answer is no, however certain geographical considerations mean that often when someone is referring to the UK, they mean to include Ireland.

Great Britain, the UK, United Kingdom and the British Isles are used almost interchangeably, but they in fact have slightly different political and geographical meaning. The differences in terminology, and Ireland’s part in British geography, has much to do with the rich history of the British Isles. This post looks at what exactly each of these terms mean, and the history that surrounds them, particularly how they relate to Ireland.

The British Isles

The British Isles is the collective term for the group of islands off of the North West coast of Europe. In modern times, this includes; Great Britain, Ireland, the Isle of Man, the Hebrides, and up to six thousand smaller islands (many are only visible at high tide, many are uninhabited, and many are very small)

Great Britain

Great Britain is the largest island in the British Isles. It is also the largest island in Europe, and the ninth-largest island in the world. The term is generally used to refer to the territories of Scotland, England and Wales, although some parts of these territories include outlying islands.

The UK (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland)

The United Kingdom is a sovereign country, as opposed to a geographical area and is made up of the four constituent countries of Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This can be confusing, as the UK is a country as a whole, but is made up of the four smaller countries. The Republic of Ireland is not part of the UK.


Politically, the island of Ireland is divided between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, with many Northern Irish people identifying as being British. When people refer to Ireland, they are normally referring to the Republic of Ireland, which is independent of the United Kingdom. The Republic of Ireland is also part of the European Union, and will continue to be part of the European Union regardless of Brexit.


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  • Maureen Calderon

    1st generation born in the US love my heritage and reading about it. All my family has passed on so this is now my only source. I pass on what I can to my grandkids in hopes they will remember.

  • Talbot

    Hi, just thought I’d mention that the term “British Isles” is never really used in Ireland (the Republic and the nationalist community of NI). For any treaties or agreements between Ireland and the UK that term is never used out of sensitivity to the Irish position, instead they say “these islands”

  • Ron

    Thanks for clarifying the British Isles, UK, etc., but I noticed an error you might want to fix. The smaller islands would only be visible at low tide.

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