EASA has adopted sailplane as the term to cover the area. It is defined in 1178/2011 as "a heavier-than-air aircraft which is supported in flight by the dynamic reaction of the air against its fixed lifting surfaces, the free flight of which does not depend on an engine."
The term 'Glider' is often used to refer to this area of flying and refers to various categories of aircraft including touring motor gliders, hang-gliders, paragliders and gyrogliders.
For many years, Ireland was one of the few countries in Europe where a licence had not been required for flying gliders. The introduction of the Aircrew Regulation (1178/2011) introduced a licence. New rules in the form of Part-SFCL have been developed by EASA and are now in effect in Ireland.
The Irish Gliding & Soaring Association (IGSA) currently oversees all aspects of gliding operations conducted in Ireland.