Ireland vs UK comparison: which country is better?

It’s the fight of a lifetime, which is better? Check out our Ireland vs UK comparison and decide for yourself.

Picking one country as being better than another is always a subjective decision. Obviously, one’s personal and emotive feelings will play a large part in an individual’s choice, especially if you are Irish and the country you are comparing Ireland with is the United Kingdom.

Let’s take a light-hearted look at what put the Great into Britain and what makes the Emerald Isle shine. Without further ado, time to see if Ireland or the Uk are better.

Ireland Before You Die’s top facts about Ireland and the UK

  • The UK and Ireland benefit from the Common Travel Area (CTA), which enables passport-free travel between both countries.
  • The UK and Ireland have a shared history, with centuries of political, social and economic conflict. Mostly recently, the Good Friday Agreement emerged in 1998 to end the conflict in Northern Ireland. 
  • English is the primary language of both the UK and Ireland. However, Irish is an official language in Ireland and indeed is the native language. Prior to the British occupation of Ireland, Irish was the main language. 
  • Both Ireland and the UK have Celtic connections. The UK, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall and the Isle of Man are part of Celtic heritage and history. 
  • There is a strong diplomatic relationship between the UK and Ireland. Both nations have embassies in each other’s capitals, while both countries cooperate on various international and security interests.

It’s all in the name

In our Ireland vs UK comparison it turns out Ireland is older than the UK.

Like it or not Ireland and the United Kingdom have a fascinating history, not just the recent one of the last few hundred years, but even further back than that. Technically, and in geographical circles, both islands are classified as being part of the British Isles, a group of six-thousand islands in the North Atlantic.

Interestingly, but not surprisingly, the use of the term the British Isles has given successive Irish governments — to use a non-diplomatic word — “the hump.” The name is seen by many to carry imperialist overtones. Its use has been frowned upon by successive Irish governments. They would rather the Island be “simply” referred to as either the Atlantic archipelago or the British-Irish Isles.

In a rare incidence of both governments actually agreeing on something, all official documents and treaties refer to both countries as “these Islands.”

Ireland is older than Britain — yes, believe it or not, and long before Brexit, way back in 12,000 BC, because of funny technical things to do with Ice-Ages and continental drifts, Ireland upped and left the landmass of what we call Europe.

Ireland was inhabited by 8,000 BC, whereas Britain waited until around 5,600 BC before its first Brexit from the continent, forming itself into an Island.

Apologies to all Saint Patrick fans but that’s the real reason we don’t have snakes in Ireland.

RELATED: Take this debate Stateside with our article – Ireland vs USA comparison: which country is better to live in & visit

Size matters in this Ireland vs UK comparison

When it comes to a Ireland vs UK comparison, size matters, and England beats us hands down.

Britain is bigger than Ireland by a good 133,000 square kilometres, but that’s probably a good thing as they need the extra space having a much larger population of seventy-one million, compared to Ireland’s mere six and a half.

That population size does, however, mean that with a population density of 300 people per square kilometre you have much less chance of finding a bit of solitude in Great Britain than you have in Ireland, with only 78 people hanging around every square kilometre.

While the UK may have more people, Ireland has the largest river, the Shannon, which beats Britain’s Severn by six whole kilometres. Ok, not much to write home about but in these cutthroat competitions, every little thing counts.

READ MORE: What do the visitors say? Find out in our article on Ireland vs Britain: 7 Things Tourists Prefer About Ireland


Another element of our Ireland vs UK comparison is the history of the countries.
Saint Patrick

This is where it gets tricky, and to avoid pouring any more fuel on an already burning fire, we’re going to simplify the often turbulent past.

Britain was invaded by the Romans and the Vikings. The Romans never got as far as Ireland. Some say they just couldn’t be bothered. Anyway, while the Britons were busy defending themselves from the Romans, the Irish carried out raiding parties to the west coast of Britain to get a few slaves — St. Patrick is probably the most famous.

All was grand for a few centuries until the sixteenth century when the British invaded Ireland — they used the more polite term “plantation”. They hung around in various guises until 1922 and then kind-of left. That’s more or less it in a nutshell.

READ MORE: You can learn a lot about this mixed history if you read our article on the top 10 best books on Ireland for history

Which is more beautiful?

We'll let you decide but for this Ireland vs UK comparison we think Ireland takes it.

Well, you know our opinion on that, so we’re gonna skip this one.

Cost of living

Euro is used in Ireland whereas Sterling is used in the UK.

Living in Ireland vs UK is a big point to investigate. You might be trying to decide whether to live in Ireland or the UK and asking how much it costs to live in either country. This is a difficult question to answer — unless you’re a super economist — as Britain uses a weird form of currency called the pound sterling.

Ireland used to use the pound until…well that’s another story. Anyway, we’re going to simplify it as best as we can with one sentence. If you want to save money either stay in or move to the UK.

A few facts: consumer prices in Ireland are 13.73% higher than in the UK, rent prices in Ireland are 52.02% higher; grocery prices in Ireland are 11% higher. In fact, when you look at comparison lists, everything in Ireland seems higher except for a person’s purchasing power, which is 15% lower. Harsh but true. Hopefully this gives you a good overview of life in Ireland vs UK.

READ: Delve more into what it is like living in Ireland with our article on the 5 best and 5 worst things about living in Ireland

People, culture, and our present relationship

In terms of literature, we gave the world Wilde and Yeats.

The Irish gave the British Yeats, Wilde, Joyce, Beckett, and so many more. The English gave us Coronation Street, EastEnders, and, of course, the Spice Girls. No, but seriously, obviously both countries have significantly contributed to what is termed English literature. But it has to be said that for a small little country like Ireland, culturally we Irish have made our mark.

In popular culture, both countries share the same likes and dislikes, and there is a fantastic intermingling of tastes. We watch the same soap operas, listen to the same music, support the same teams — except when Ireland is actually playing against England. Our geographical and historical closeness has, like it or not, bonded the people of the two countries uniquely.

As to which is the better country to live in… well, you decide. Let us know by commenting under this post! Who do you think wins in our Ireland vs UK comparison?

NEXT: Deep links remain between the Ireland and UK, who will both host the 2028 Euros

Your questions answered about the Ireland vs UK comparison

Below, we have outlined the most frequently asked questions about the Ireland vs UK comparison.

Is Ireland or the UK better to live?

Over the last number of years, Ireland has consistently ranked higher than the UK for a higher quality of life, and also better earnings.

Which country is richer Ireland or UK?

The UK has a larger economy than Ireland. However, Ireland is 3rd in European rankings for highest GDP per capita. The UK is 13th.

Are wages higher in Ireland than UK?

£1 now equates to around 1.14 or 1.15 euros, meaning the Irish minimum wage is almost 20% higher than the UK’s.

Are Ireland and the UK friends?

Yes. Ireland and the UK are each other’s closest neighbours, and also work together on economic and security issues.

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