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Ireland joined the European Economic Community, the forerunner of the European Union, in 1973, but Irish participation in the development of European identities dates back more than a thousand years.

After the collapse of the Roman Empire in the West, Europeans built on its foundations to develop their own culture and identity.

The Irish played an important role in this great enterprise.

St Columbanus was the first of the Irish missionaries and scholars to make a home on the Continent and in around the year 600, became the first to write ‘of all of Europe’ (totius Europae). He and his followers contributed to the shaping of a European heritage that endures today.

Researched, written and curated by Dr Damian Bracken, University College Cork, and Dr Angela Byrne for the Department of Foreign Affairs. Graphic design by Studio Suss.

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