About Ireland: Irish History
We can consider that Irish History started around the year 8000 BC, with hunter-gatherers from Great Britain and Europe. These nomadic people then moved on to farming. This new 'settled' life allowed time for reflection & for social structures to develop. From this time onwards Irish History develops real substance in the form of burial mounds and monuments such as the prehistoric site, Newgrange (older than the Egyptian pyramids) and history shows Irish society became rich in culture and education.
Irish society was pagan for thousands of years only changing when Christian missionaries, including St. Patrick, arrived. Irish History took another path in the early ninth century when Vikings invaded . They plundered monasteries and villages but eventually settled in Ireland and history shows us how they built important towns such as Dublin Limerick Cork and Wexford.
The History moved forward in 1169 when Norman mercenaries marking the beginning of more than seven centuries of Norman and English rule invaded. By the 13th century, the Norman/English invaders also became assimilated into Irish society just like the earlier Vikings and peace reigned.
History then shows military campaigns around 1534 conquering Irish chiefs who strongly resisted the rule of the English King Henry VIII & Queen Elizabeth. A policy of Irish “plantations” began: land was confiscated from Catholic Irish landowners, and given to Protestant settlers from England and Scotland. Irish history is riddled with with the fact that religion became a source of division and strife until recent times.
During the 18th century, history shows many laws were passed discriminating against Irish Catholics. The native Irish language was banned in schools. By 1778, only five percent of the land was owned by Irish Catholics. In 1801, the Irish parliament was abolished and history was made when Ireland became part of “the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland”. Catholics could not hold parliamentary office until 1829.
Ireland became very poor and in 1845, disaster in the form of potato blight struck a lasting blow. The history of the effect of the blight is well known - approximately a million Irish people died of starvation or disease whilst another million emigrated to countries all over the world but mainly the United States of America – changing their history forever.
The Irish population fell from more than eight million in 1841 to about six million in 1852 and the history of the decline was never reversed until the wave of hard working Polish immgrants settled in Ireland as a result of the EU 'Freedom of Movement Stategy'.
The history of efforts to gain home rule went on during the 19th century and makes very interesting reading. History books on the famous Easter Rising of 1916 abound. The execution of the leaders of this Rising tipped public opinion in favour of independence and there are many more wonderful history books dealing with the Irish War of Independence. Ties with Great Britain were finally cut in 1948 and Republic of Ireland was born. The other six counties form Northern Ireland and are part of the UK.
The History of sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland is well known.
The history of Irish economic improvement up to and after joining the EEC (now the European Union) is also well documented and led to the “Celtic Tiger boom. How history will deal with this modern Irish phenomenon remains to be seen.