Standard & Poor's raised on Friday Ireland's credit rating one notch to A+, citing the eurozone country's strong growth and debt reduction.
"The upgrade reflects our view of Ireland's improved fiscal performance, higher state asset sales, and robust economic performance, which have combined to lead to a quicker decline in net general government debt than we had previously forecast," the agency said.
Standard & Poor's noted that Ireland's economy had outperformed most of its eurozone partners, growing by 4.8 percent last year compared to the eurozone average of 0.9 percent.
Although much of the strength of the growth was due to the severity of the crisis that saw Ireland forced to take an 85-billion-euro bailout from the EU and IMF in November 2010, the agency said it expected Ireland's economy to expand.
"We expect Ireland's recovery to remain steady with real GDP growth of 3.6 percent over 2015-2018," said Standard & Poor's, with a week euro helping the country's important export sector.
Ireland's economy is expected to return to its pre-crisis peak in 2007 this year in nominal terms.
Despite an election next year, Standard & Poor's said it expected Ireland to keep reducing its public deficit, which should fall under the EU's desired threshold of 3 percent this year.
The ratings agency also noted that Ireland had successfully lowered its borrowing costs by tapping the markets and returning IMF loans early.
It said it also expects the country's public debt to fall to 85 percent of GDP by 2018.
Ireland welcomed the upgrade, the third by Standard & Poor's in the past 12 months.
"An A+ rating will have a positive impact on investor sentiment towards Ireland and broaden the universe of buyers for Irish Government bonds," said Frank O'Connor, Director of Funding and Debt Management at the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA).