Ethnicity: By virtue of being born in Northern Ireland, a constituent country of the United Kingdom, Irvine was a British citizen throughout his career. He also held a racing licence issued by the National Sporting Authority of the Republic of Ireland. (Drivers are not compelled to obtain their licence from their home country.) The FIA's International Sporting Regulations state that drivers competing in FIA World Championships shall compete under the nationality of their passport, rather than that of the National Sporting Authority that issued their racing licence, as is the case in other racing series. This situation created some confusion as to Irvine's nationality when he appeared at podium ceremonies in the Formula One World Championship. At his third podium, a second place for Ferrari at the 1997 Argentine Grand Prix, an Irish Tricolour was mistakenly flown by the race organisers. This led to his family receiving threatening phone calls. Irvine then requested that at subsequent races, a politically neutral shamrock flag be flown, and the non-sectarian Londonderry Air be played to mark a victory.
Eddie Irvine was born in Newtownards, County Down in Northern Ireland, to Edmund Sr. and Kathleen and spent his childhood in the small village of Conlig. Irvine was influenced by his parents, who were also involved in motor racing. His father, Edmund Sr, and his sister, Sonia (now a physiotherapist), worked with him during his career.