Begorra! Don't put all your investment eggs in one island

Q: How can I invest in Irish stocks?

A: Irish whiskey and Irish-made Waterford Crystal are popular here. So why not Irish stocks?

Don't get me wrong, there are ways to buy Irish stocks. Perhaps the easiest way is by buying American Depositary Receipts (ADRs) of Irish companies. ADRs are shares that trade on U.S. markets; they represent ownership of a specified number of shares of a foreign company. An ADR, for instance, would trade on the New York Stock Exchange, but it would mirror the performance of a stock that trades on the Irish Stock Exchange.

But not all foreign stocks are available as ADRs. You can get a list of most of the available Irish ADRs at www.adr.com. Click the DR Universe button at the top of the screen. Next, change the Country drop-down menu to "Ireland" and click the Submit button.

You can also buy the shares directly from the Irish Stock Exchange. But this exposes you to the hassles of dealing with currencies, and the commissions can be costly. If this is the avenue you're interested in, you'll need to contact your broker.

ADRs can be a good option if you want to buy shares of a single company. But normally, investors like to buy a dozen or so stocks from a country or region to diversify the risk that one stock could run into serious trouble. Normally, this is done by buying a mutual fund or exchange-traded fund (ETF) that concentrates on a certain part of the world. I wasn't able, though, to find a mutual fund or ETF that focuses on Ireland. That means it'll be up to you to research individual Irish stocks.

Just be sure you really want to do this. There are plenty of high-quality and low-cost mutual funds and exchange-traded funds that invest in European companies. Some of those will certainly own shares of Irish companies. Perhaps this would be the wisest option for you, unless you have your heart set on having a 100% Irish portfolio.

Matt Krantz is a financial markets reporter at USA TODAY and author of Investing Online for Dummies. He answers a different reader question every weekday in his Ask Matt column at money.usatoday.com. To submit a question, e-mail Matt at mkrantz@usatoday.com. Click here to see previous Ask Matt columns.

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