Ancient Ireland began when the first settlers, probably from Scotland, arrived on the island in 8000 or 7000 BC. It is thought that there may have been some natives on the island before this, but there is no record of them. The end of ancient Ireland is still debated. Some say it ended with the arrival of the Celts around 250 BC. Others claim that it ended at the end of the early middle ages, in 1166 AD.
This early period in Ireland's history was a time of kings, gods, and myths. Ireland was broken up into separate clans, which later combined to form small kingdoms. The history of Ireland's kings can be found at RootsWeb- Early Irish History. The Irish also had several queens, most notably Queen Maeve, who ruled Connacht during the Iron Age.
There were many myths and legends that came out of Ancient Ireland. The Irish believed in the Tuatha De Danann, a divine race that inhabited the island before humans. The Divine Races of Ancient Ireland and Timeless Myths- The Tuatha De Danann explain the Irish's beliefs about these deities. More of Ireland's mythology is available at Wikipedia-Primitive Irish Language page.
There is a lot known about the life of the Irish during ancient times. Some of the best resources are A Smaller Social History of Ancient Ireland, Library Ireland, and Iron Age Celts. Daily life involved a lot of work and hardships. The clans and kingdoms had strict social classes. Higher-up Irish nobility sometimes held slaves. There were also a lot of celebrations and good times. Music and storytelling were popular ways to spend the time. Women were mostly equal to men, being able to hold property on their own, even if they were married. Eire Lore has a lot of information about the culture of Ancient Ireland.
Modern Ireland is a combination of old and new. Residents embrace modern conveniences and culture while still holding firmly to their past. This makes Ireland a fascinating place to visit. About.com-Go Europe has great resources for those who are interested in visiting this country.