Foreign citizens who want to enter Ireland, whether on a short, long term or permanent basis, must apply to the Irish government for permission to do so. You may need to fill out forms such as an Irish residence permit, a visa application, or a general work permit, depending on the reason you are going to Ireland. One of the main routes for Americans to emigrate to Ireland is through family ties. If you are the spouse or civil partner of an Irish citizen, you might be eligible to emigrate to Ireland based on your relationship.
For an American citizen, the best place to start is at the Irish Embassy. There is the Irish Naturalization and Immigration Service (INIS) that stipulates immigration requirements. Here you will get all the information about immigration, visas, asylum or citizenship. A visa allows you to enter a country, while a work permit allows you to work during your stay.
The visa and work permit application processes are independent and are granted by two different government departments.